Ottawa finished the season with a 25-17-6 record, good for seventh in the conference. They face the Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5) as their first round opponent, who they met four times in the regular season finishing with a 2-1-1 record. Here’s a look at each game:
January 30th 5-1 Ottawa (boxscore)
The Sens gave up the first goal of the game, but then rolled over Montreal in the only lopsided match between the teams this season. Jason Spezza and Jared Cowen were the only key members of the roster absent from the game; Anderson got the win, while Budaj took the loss.
February 3rd 2-1 Montreal (boxscore)
Ottawa took the early lead (Jakob Silfverberg), but could not come back after the Habs went up 2-1 in the first (the now departed Erik Cole with the winner). Spezza and Cowen were the only key members of the roster absent from the game; Anderson took the loss, while Price earned the win.
February 25th 2-1 (SO) Ottawa (boxscore)
The Sens scored first (David Dziurzynski), but the game had to be settled by the shootout. Spezza, Cowen, Milan Michalek, and Erik Karlsson were all absent from the game; Ben Bishop got the win, while Price took the loss.
March 13th 4-3 (SO) Montreal (boxscore)
The Habs gave up 1-0 and 3-1 leads to the Sens, but won the game in the shootout. Spezza, Cowen, Michalek, Karlsson and Craig Anderson were all absent from the game; Robin Lehner suffered the loss, while Price got the win.
A few things stick out from the summary: no lead is safe (the team scoring first is 2-2 and one of those win’s required a shootout); Anderson has only played the Habs twice; Price has a winning record against the Sens; Ottawa has yet to play Montreal with a fully healthy roster (their playoff lineup is the healthiest they’ve been against Montreal missing only Spezza). There’s no reason not to expect the series to be close and while the normal cliche would be that it all boils down to goaltending, I think goal scoring is the key factor here. It won’t matter how well Anderson plays if Ottawa can’t score. On the Montreal side of things there’s a lot of emphasis put on the absence of hardnosed defender Alexei Emelin and clearly he’s an important cog on the blueline for the Habs.
Who will win? I see the match-up as a toss-up, but I’ll give the edge to Ottawa as I have to think the dam has to burst on their horrific shooting percentage at some point. Sens in seven.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)