Total Points: 287
Total Points: 209
Montreal can boast what the Sens boast at forward = depth, and a lot of it. Their rookies Galchenyuk and Gallagher are young forces to be reckoned with. They benefited from playing the game the right way and being a strong 2nd line force most nights to combine for 55 points between the two of them.
Pacioretty is one of the budding power forwards of the league. He's got size, he's got loads of skill and should benefit from seeing time with playmakers such as Plekanec and Ryder - who seems to have found a new lease on life in Montreal.
Don't discount what Prust brings to the Montreal lineup. Not only can he grind with the best of them, but he's not at all afraid to drop the mitts if the need arises. A true energy player who is built for the playoffs, Ottawa must make sure to keep an eye on him at all times.
What to watch for from Montreal:
An at-times viciously aggressive forecheck that can leave defenders in poor positions leading to turn overs.
The league's 5th best PP is a powerful machine. Avoid taking penalties, or you'll have the duo of Subban and Markov hop over the boards to control the back end. A tough, tough PP to hold in check.
What to watch from Ottawa:
Ottawa can roll 3 nice lines at an opposition. Ottawa's been doing this all year, they can't really score, but they can shut down opponents long enough to score the odd 'clutch' goal. With Alfredsson, Turris, Michalek and the Swedish Mafia, there should be some offense to go around. Conacher, Pageau and Condra has come forward as the 'it' line - as in, a line that forechecks every bit as hard as Montreal's lines and has provided some much needed offense.
To combat Montreal's solid powerplay, Ottawa has the top ranked PK in the entire league at 88%. Power on power - should be interesting to watch. Condra is a staple of Ottawa's league leading PK, Methot, Cowen, Gryba and even Karlsson will be leaned on, as they have been all year.
Advantage = Montreal
What to watch for from Montreal:
With an ill timed injury to Emelin, Montreal will likely give Tinordi some playoff minutes - and he's been very solid as a first year player.
But what to really watch (out) for....is obviously the one-two punch of Subban and Markov - particularly on special teams as mentioned. Subban's 38 points place him in a tie for top spot in the league with Letang.
After Markov and Subban, Josh Gorges has proven himself to be a sturdy defensive player, especially shot blocking, where he ranks 7th in the league with 119 in 48 games (by that comparison Ottawa's highest shot blocker is Marc Methot with 81).
What to watch for from Ottawa:
Many things. Erik Karlsson comes to mind as the top thing to watch for from Ottawa. With 12 points in 14 games in a shortened regular season, he's obviously a titan when it comes to offense, but as we all know, he can do much more than that.
Perhaps just as noteworthy is Marc Methot, who's played at a fantastic level all year and proven that he can shutdown teams with the best of the them, while having excellent mobility and some offense.
Sergei Gonchar has a career resurgence this year with Ottawa, stepping up as much as anyone when Karlsson went down. Gonchar is a guy who can continue to elevate his play when the chips are down, so a lot of eyes will be on him to lead this defensive core through the ups and downs.
Also worth keeping an eye on are the Sens' rookies - not to even mention the heralded return of Jared Cowen. Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch (who may not play too much this post-season), Benoit (see Wiercioch) have all provided needed sparks throughout the year, with Gryba seemingly cementing himself as a shutdown D-man with Methot for most of the year. The question will be: can they sustain their levels of play going into the post season?
Advantage = Ottawa (barely)
Pretty simple here...it's very close for both teams. Anderson vs Price is an excellent matchup that was probably not even on the radar two years ago. Since then Anderson has emerged as a true starter - one of the top in the Eastern conference. Going toe to toe with Lundqvist last post-season began what would end up being a record setting 2013 season, finishing with a .941 save %.
This is a draw in my eyes, but either goaltender can steal a win on any given night.
Advantage = Even
This should be a heck of a series. Fast paced, great goaltending, aggressive forechecking , this one could and probably will go down to a game 7. It's hard to give one team the edge over the other, but if Carey Price can up his game, this'll probably go to Montreal.
If he sputters, the Sens could take this series and run.
But it'll be a long one, that you can bet on.