When one victory meant the difference in facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs versus either the Boston Bruins or the Montreal Canadiens, the Sens concluded their 2013 shortened season by coming away with a much needed regulation win.
That’s not meant to underscore the threat that either the Habs or Bruins pose to Ottawa’s chances of advancing to the next round, it’s simply an assessment of how much better the Penguins are relative to the rest of the Eastern Conference. (As an aside, facing Montreal is a nice change of pace from years past. Not only do the Habs/Sens matchups lack the vitriol that we’ve grown accustomed to with our cities in close geographic proximity, I’m sick of seeing the Penguins every second year; even if this Montreal matchup just delays meeting the Pens until the second round.)
So with these two points, the Senators will face the Montreal Canadiens, a team that went 4-6-0 in their last ten regular season games, which conveniently coincided with the number of games played without Alexei Emelin, the non-Markov half of the Habs top-pair.
In the eight games that Price played since Emelin’s injury, the goaltender had 2-6-0 record with a 4.18 GAA and an .856 save percentage. Fortunately for him, the Senators have the unmatched ability to make any goaltender look good. The Senators conclude their regular season owning the NHL’s worst team shooting percentage - a paltry 6.9%.
Scoring goals has obviously been a challenge, but with the return of a few key offensive players who were able to get in some games down the stretch, we can hope that there will be some regression to the mean. Conversely, goal prevention has been one of Ottawa’s strengths.
Blessed by some fantastic save percentages from their goaltenders at even strength and while on the penalty kill, the Senators finished the season with the league’s top ranked penalty kill (88.0-percent) and allowed the second fewest total number of goals in the league.
They’ll need Craig Anderson and/or Robin Lehner to maintain their strong play to help keep Montreal’s vaunted power play, ranked fifth in the NHL at 20.7-percent, at bay.
Alas, there will be more time to break down the series over the course of the next few days, but here’s all you need to know about Ottawa’s playoff schedule from NHL.com:
SERIES B TIME (ET) #2 Montreal vs. #7 Ottawa Networks
· Thursday, May 2 7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, RDS, CNBC
· Friday, May 3 7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, RDS, CNBC
· Sunday, May 5 7 p.m. Montreal at Ottawa CBC, RDS, NBC Sports Network
· Tuesday, May 7 7 p.m. Montreal at Ottawa CBC, RDS, CNBC
· *Thursday, May 9 7 p.m. Ottawa at Montreal CBC, RDS (if necessary)
· *Saturday, May 11 TBD Montreal at Ottawa CBC, RDS (if necessary)
· *Sunday, May 12 TBD Ottawa at Montreal CBC, RDS (if necessary)
Other News and Notes:
- The Binghamton Senators are down 2-0 in their AHL quarterfinal series versus Wilkes-Barre Scranton. This one could be over shortly as first round series are best of 5 in the AHL.
- Stefan Noesen’s Plymouth Whalers bowed out of the playoffs with a loss to London last Friday, which means he could shortly be joining fellow OHL grads like Cody Ceci and Matt Puempel in Binghamton .