Cleat Geeks

Comebacks, Surprises, and Miracles! Oh My!

Starting tonight, the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadians go head to head for a chance at continuing to compete for the most important trophy in the National Hockey League, the Stanley Cup. The two very different teams each have a strategy going into the playoffs that they believe is the way to win. Many key match-ups are going to be advertised, and bold predictions made.

 

Entering the playoff, each team has their own unique strategy on winning. For the Senators that means timing. Timing is important going in, and Ottawa has proved to be very successful at timing their triumph. Specifically in their last games of the regular season, Ottawa has shown that they can be a difficult team to beat. They were fourteen points out of a playoff spot February tenth of this year, and continued with a final record of 21-3-3. A major part of the accomplished record was their recalled goalie Andrew Hammond from the AHL. Hammond finished the regular season with a personal record of 20-1-2.

Montriel Goalie Carey Price.

Montreal Goalie Carey Price.

 

Like the plan the Senators used with their goalie carrying their team, Montreal is planning to use Carey Price. Goal-tending wins in the playoffs, and the Canadians have the best goaltender in the league. Price finished the season with forty-four wins, a 1.96 goals-against-average , and .933 save percentage. Last season, Price was forced to watch the Canadians lose to Ottawa in game five of the playoff series after hurting his knee the game before. This was a year ago, and now Price is going to come into the game looking for revenge, and playing hard for what he couldn’t last year. Price is a candidate for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. Ottawa’s goalie Hammond was a good story, but he is no Price. Many say that Price could win a playoff series on his own. Goalies are often called the most important factor in a playoff game, it really does come down to them. It is the most deciding factor in a playoff series. The Canadians definitely have the advantage when it comes to goalies but, who knows maybe Hammond will surprise us.

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You could say the match-up isn’t exactly what the Senators were hoping for but,  the Senators did beat the Canadiens in the playoffs last year. This was however without their number one goalie, Carey Price.

Moving on to forwards, the Senators are the only team in the league with five 20-goal scorers. The key for the Habs is their top scorer Max Pacioretty. However he suffered a head injury last week and although he skated Saturday but his return hasn’t been declared certain yet. The two teams’ forwards would have to be declared equal with healthy lineups.

Ottawa Defenceman Erik Karlsson.

Ottawa Defense-man Erik Karlsson.

As for defense, it’s mainly going to come down to Eric Karlsson and P.K. Subban. They’re two of the best defensemen in the whole NHL. They both have a high amount of talent, and are going to be put to the test once again. Both are game breakers on the defensive end but, the overall edge has to be given to the Senators strictly based on their better defensive reputation.

Montreal finished the regular season with 110 total points, second in the league, while Ottawa finished with 99. Most neutral fans want to see the Senators win because they are the underdogs of the series. You could say the match-up isn’t exactly what the Senators were hoping for but,  the Senators did beat the Canadiens in the playoffs last year without their number one goalie, Carey Price. Eventhough, Ottawa did win the series last year they still failed to win the cup. This year, the Canadians are going to want revenge.

My prediction for this series is that the Canadians take it in six. The theory behind this is that the Canadians have a stronger goalie, and are also ranked higher than the Senators. Playoff games are hard to predict because each team playing in them becomes a new team on the ice when vying for “The Cup.” Even the worst team in the league can beat the best during a playoff game. Players put everything they have into the game and sacrifice lots to play in them. Six is the estimated number of games because if Ottawa does have a chance it would be tonight’s game and their game played at home.

There is an unpredictable wild card in this series. Ottawa will be playing for their assistant coach, Mark Reeds who passed away due to cancer this week. Emotion is a funny thing, it can make players have unpredictable actions. That is something that will need to be watched in this series. Playoff games are full of comebacks, surprises, and miracles! What’s your prediction?

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