Before I start I’ll be the first to admit that before the Sens victory in Boston put them in seventh place I was not overly optimistic about the playoffs. Maybe it’s the hundreds and hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on playoff tickets the past few years and never so much as getting to see a win talking but the last few times the Senators have made the post season they have been less than successful. Look, I’m not trying to be a bad fan here. I’ve BEEN there all these years: #myredisyourred #unitedintown #hockeymakesourbed all the things! But you saw what happened in that Penguins – Islanders game last night! That’s been us other years! I don’t know how this stuff works. My guess is as good as yours as to how this series will shake out (THANKS FOR READING!). Montreal is a really good team but I think Ottawa has a pretty damn good chance against them. Let’s get into it!
One disadvantage these teams both face here is that they are each missing their elite number one centre. Jason Spezza is still recovering from back surgery and in Montreal…uhhhh…
But the seriousness. These two teams might play a similar game but one glaring difference is definitely that the Habs can put the biscuit in the basket. Leading Ottawa point getter Kyle Turris wouldnt even be in Montreal’s top 5 in scoring. And they’ve scored by committee too with 8 players putting up double digits in goals. Impressive in such a short year. Not so fast though. Does anyone else get a bit of a sleeping giant vibe from the Sens? Its not like Ottawa is devoid of scoring talent. They routinely pepper their opponents with shots and when they get going they have the ability to load up on goals. See: 5-1 victory over Montreal earlier this year. Ottawa has their Habs killer in rookie sensation Daniel Afredsson and Montreal traded away Sens killer Erik Cole but I still give the edge to the more productive Canadiens. It will be up to to Craig Anderson to stem the tide (as usual)
For my insight and analysis on this whole EK vs. PK thing please see this helpful video.
Outside of the E vs. P thing Montreal also possesses Andrei Markov who you know, scored more points than everyone on Ottawa’s roster. So there’s that. The biggest hole in their D corps is that they are missing the bruising Russian Alexei Emelin. Ottawa dodges a lot of devastating hits thanks to this guy missing the series. They’ll need to be physically imposing and bully their way into the zone. Zibby I’m looking at you. Outside of the offensively threatening PK and Markov there’s some stalwarts like Josh Gorges and a bunch of misfit toys like STANLEY CUP CHAMPION TOMAS KABERLE.
Ottawa’s D is an interesting combination of youth and experience. Fun fact: Did you know if you add the ages of Jared Cowen, Erik Karlsson and Eric Gryba, multiply them by two and subtract Patrick Wiercioch’s age you get the same age as Sergei Gonchar’s youngest granddaughter? It’s called MATH PORN. Look it up in a dictionary about differnent kinds of porn that arent porn. Moving forward, despite a D squad with a bunch of green horns and a guy who used to play for Columbus, Phillips and Gonchar combine for 229 games of post season experience. Look to those two guys to keep their heads if things get rough for a game or two. Add to that the Senators have an elite Penalty Kill and allowed the fewest goals against in the East this year. A silver lining of all those injuries was that it forced Ottawa to get their shit together big time defensively. I have to give the advantage to the Senators here.
Okay can we stop pretending that Carey Price isn’t a really fucking good goaltender? Talking a gang of shit is fun but let’s not kid ourselves that a team that has as much trouble scoring as the Senators is going to be in pretty tough against Price. His numbers might not be Anderson-like this season but honestly he is a player I hope does not heat up for Montreal. He finished the year pretty poorly but the playoffs present a clean slate and he shouldn’t be taken lightly. The same goes for Anderson, he hasn’t been quite up to the non-human level since his return from injury but I am confident that we will see the guy who was Ottawa’s best player in last season’s series against New York. You have to give the edge to Anderson here but the Sens difficulty scoring goals makes the matchup closer than I am comfortable with.
Coaches are humans that make all kinds of sports decisions.
and now this…
Smooth Jimmy’s Step Up To Get Your Rep-Up List:
Cory Conacher: Conacher got off to a great start with Ottawa, carrying on from his great rookie campaign that begain in Tampa. CC’s dwindling ice time over the ever-important last stretch of the season suggests MacLean did not like elements of Conacher’s game. If I were to guess it was on the defensive side. He’s still showed flashes of awesomeness like his heads up flip pass to Turris for his empty netter against the Bruins but Cory’s going to really have to earn his ice time out there it seems. I really hope he does as we’ve all seen the chances he can create with Zibenejad and Silfverberg.
Kyle Turris: I noticed teams really going after Turris physically lately. Barring a Brandon Prust head punch special, at his REPORTED 6 foot 1, 195lbs Turris will get to enjoy being a decent sized forward in this series. I don’t know though, I’m not so sure he’s only one inch shorter and three pounds lighter than Lars Eller. Whatever, the point is he ain’t exactly lining up against Jordan Staal up in here. I’ve been a big defender of Turris this season feeling he was thrust into a very tough job. The playoffs are a whole other beast and we are going to see if Turris has that extra gear in his daddy pants role. Turry put up respectable if pedestrian numbers this season (though his production is actually up slightly from last year) but I think he can do a bit better. Anyone who watched him closely knows that his 118 shots contained more than a few Condra-level heartbreakers. That’s not to sound like I’m going into this series down on Turris. He’s not invisible in the playoffs clocking 3 points in 7 games against NY including a sweet snipe I needn’t mention. He was very by all accounts Phoenix’s best player in the playoffs in 2011 with 3 points in 4 games but this year is much different. He’s going to have to be the guy at forward. He’s not only going to have to create chances for Milo and Alfie (OR WHO KNOWS WHAT LINE SHUFFLING SPICE!) but he’s ultimately going to have to find a way to bury more of those shots.
Milan Michalek: Another player who can struggle with the odd goal drought and considering he’s not exactly Adam Oates with the helpers out there, Milo needs to be that 30+ goal calibre guy he showed us he can be last year. Of course he wont be getting dishes from Jason Spezza but when the game is speed there’s few faster than 9MM. Back from an apparently much needed knee scope Michalek looked proper down the stretch but he needs to show he’s a great winger with or without his typical linemates. As an Ottawa Senator this a skill he’ll likely need in the future…when he’s in the lineup.
Jakob Silfverberg: Known for his slow starts that gain momentum, Silfverberg is not going to have the luxury of time in the post season. Despite his status as a rookie Jakob knows what it takes to go the distance in the playoffs as last year he Captained his Byrnas Fluurgendorffs (?) all the way to the Whatever It’s Called Cup of the Swedish Elite League. After starting the year in Binghamton for 34 games and moving up to play 48 more on a compressed schedule for Les Big Boys it’s no secret that Silfverberg looked a little gassed toward the end of the season. His play has had a little more life of late but that rookie line is going to need his possession skills in full effect if its going to be a factor against the Canadiens. Zibanejad and Silf have been on some pretty psychic shit at times this year. If this line can get clicking again that could cause big problems for Montreal.
Eric Gryba: The microscope is going to be trained tight on Grybes by fans and media alike simply for getting picked to play over Patrick Wiercioch. Considering the high flying game that Montreal plays, I personally think it’s a bit of an odd choice to go with Gryba but…Trustache. Maybe the coaching staff thinks the puck moving game is covered with Karlsson getting 45 minutes a night already and Gonchar enjoying top scoring honours among Ottawa defensemen this season. Regardless of the decision to go with the rookie Gryba over …the other rookie Wiercioch the onus is now on Gyba to prove he deserves to keep his spot in the line up. One bad game and MacLean knows he has a very capable replacement (or three) waiting in the wings.
GUILLAUME LATENDRESSE: Alright, I fronted hard on this guy since he got signed but you know what? Since recovering from his whiplash (..ugh whatever moving forward…) problems I grew to like Gui alright. He has pretty great hands and despite his speed issues he finds his way to the front of the net where he’s most effective. He’s also proven he can set up a faster skater charging toward the goal with a beautiful pass. So yadda, yadda Latendresse is p. good. P. Good (copyright) doesn’t mean irreplaceable though. A contract renewal in Ottawa is not exactly guaranteed for Lats. Consider the talent like Stone, Prince, Puempel, Noeson et al on the creep-creep coming into rookie camp in the fall. Latendresse, a heralded draftee of the Canadiens (or as I call it “Skilled Player with the Frenchest Name Selected”) was anointed “Le Sauveur du Mont-Royal”, rushed into the league and promptly booted to the wilderness of Minnesota. My eyes are going to be on Latendresse to see how he reacts to facing his old club. Gui hasn’t exactly been a playoff ruler with a Reginesque 1 assist in 12 career post season appearances skating to a -7 rating. The playoffs are a breeding ground for unlikely heroes and this is the perfect opportunity for Gui to emerge as one. Should he be a big fat zero (see what I did there) he doesn’t give the Senators much reason to give him millions upon millions more dollars. Criticized in the past for issues with motivation, Gui has the opportunity to stick it to the club that told him to hit the trails.
Secret Hobo Spices:
Jean Gabriel Pageau: Look, I dont want to overdo it here, he’s played 9 NHL games but speaking of potential heroes flying under the radar…I have a really good feeling about this kid. He plays a solid, responsible game but there’s a wee bit of magic in that silk scarf of his (what the fuck am I talking about at this point?).
Z. Smith: Maybe he’ll get the odd point, maybe he wont but look for Zmith to be out there punishing the Canadiens every chance he gets. Zack was made for playoff hockey and I’m thinking he’ll quietly be a difference maker out there.
- Colin Greening: Scored the quietest 8 goals this season. Greening has the speed, size and versatility to be a big factor. The quietness of his 8 goals and 19 points comes from a tendency to disappear for long stretches. Which Colin Greening will we see? I’m hoping the surprising game breaker kind.
Welp, that’s all. Now ish gets Real. GO SENS GO!!!!