2013 NHL Playoffs: Biased predictions for the Ottawa Senators-Montreal Canadiens series

We're admittedly biased (well, most of us), but what does that matter? Here are our predictions for the Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

Do these predictions matter much? Probably not, but they're still a lot of fun. So take a look, and make your own predictions for these questions in the comments!

1. Who will score more points, Erik Karlsson or P.K. Subban?

  • Adnan: Erik Karlsson though these are dependent on both question #2 and question #3.
  • Peter: I'm predicting six points for EK, five for PK, so Erik comes out ever so slightly ahead.
  • Darren: PK. Erik is still far from 100%, and he's playing without Jason Spezza, who is a key offensive contributor. I think these two things give PK a slight edge in the points department.
  • Mark: PK Subban, because Montreal's Power Play is good, and Ottawa's sucks.
  • Ryan: Erik Karlsson, and I've put money on it. For charity.
  • Amelia: Erik Karlsson. Karlsson will score 15 points in the series, including 9 goals. PK will get 8 points.
  • Mullet: I think Erik Karlsson starts each game with a handicap of 1 point, so I'll have to give him the edge there. I'm thinking 4 points for Subban and 6 for Karlsson.
  • Dave: Karlsson, but it will be closer than my pride wants to admit. PK gets all his pts on the powerplay and the Sens take their fair share of penalties.
  • Bobby: Okay, so Erik Karlsson isn't himself quite yet, but even his hobbled form changes the look of this team. PK, apart from a lockout that lasted longer than the actual lockout, is healthy. That matters, but not enough for me to say Subban and here's why: I think the Senators win. And if they win, Karlsson is an important part of the equation. So, by saying Ottawa wins, I must also say Karlsson has a bigger impact. That's nice and convenient.

2. Who will win the battle in the crease, Craig Anderson or Carey Price?

  • Peter: Since Craig Anderson's had the better season, I'll pick him, but I am wary of Carey Price's potential to catch lightning in a bottle for short stretches.
  • Darren: Craig Anderson. Anderson's been the better goalie this year, and I don't think that changes within the next four-to-seven games.
  • Mark: I'm loathe to assume that Anderson is as good as his numbers and Price is as bad as his, but my feeling is that Anderson has been the more consistent goalie this season--so I'm taking the consistency and saying Anderson.
  • Ryan: Anderson. It's tough if Peter Budaj comes in, though. But just like when they were a tandem in Colorado, Budaj will lose.
  • Amelia: Craig Anderson.
  • Mullet: Carey Price will lose the crease battle due to malicious interference on the part of Jakob Silfverberg.
  • Dave: Don't want to hedge here, but I call this a push. Andy hasn't been the same since the injury and Price is better than he's played of late.
  • Bobby: Craig Anderson. Andy shows up in the playoffs. He had a monstrous regular season. He wasn't in top form in the final few games, but Price had a rougher end to the season than an early 90s Sens goalie. Advantage Ottawa.
  • Adnan: Craig Anderson in a small number of games, has had an incredible season. Carey Price has had a below average season. Anderson is by far the better goaltender this year.

3. Can Ottawa's league-leading penalty kill contain Montreal's potent powerplay?

  • Darren: I think they'll cancel each other out -- Montreal's powerplay won't be as effective as it was in the regular season, but neither will Ottawa's penalty kill.
  • Mark: 88% is too much to hope for. So, it all depends on your definition of contain. I think Ottawa's penalty kill will allow some goals, but not enough to get steamrolled. Short answer: Yes.
  • Ryan: Neither team will be as successful. Montréal won't score as much, but Ottawa won't be able to defend as well.
  • Amelia: Ottawa's penalty killing won't be as good as in the regular season. But the refs will be calling playoff rules so it's a wash.
  • Mullet: Ottawa's PK should have no trouble shutting down Montreal's P.K.
  • Dave: That's where the series hinges. Since I think the Sens can pull this one out, the PK will hold strong.
  • Bobby: Advantage Ottawa on the man disadvantage. As a sidenote, I wonder what will be lower: the Sens' shooting percentage, or their powerplay effectiveness. I have a haunting suspicion it'll be the latter. As for the question, Ottawa's penalty kill has been very good- that won't change. Montreal might have a bit of success, but, again, since I'm picking the Senators, I don't see the Senators losing the special teams game and the Senators winning the series. Elementary logic, then.
  • Adnan: I don't think Ottawa is going to have a penalty kill around 90% but I don't think it will be under 80% either. I call this one a draw.
  • Peter: Yes and no: I don't think Ottawa will be able to maintain their 88 per cent killing efficiency, but I also don't think Montreal will maintain their 20 per cent playoff potency. So the Sens' PK won't be as strong as it was in the regular season, but it will mitigate the Habs PP to an extent./

4. What form do you think the 417 Rivalry will take, once the series is said and done? Which players from either team will animate the rivalry, if anyone?

  • Mark: I'm sure it will be the usual suspects. Guys like Neil and Prust earn their paychecks in the playoffs. But I don't think we'll see any kind of blood feud emerge from this series. Most likely the greatest animosity will come from the fans of the team that loses. They'll call small sample size on their skilled defenseman's stats and dismiss the series results as bullshit, and cross their arms, huffing that their guy is still better, and next season will show it.
  • Ryan: I hope it will become similar to the Leafs-Senators battles of a decade ago. Genuine hate between the teams and fans. We've seen elements of it starting to percolate. I'm going with Brendan Gallagher for Montréal and Z. Smith for Ottawa. Jean-Gabriel Pageau as a dark horse.
  • Amelia: I hope it takes on the form of genuine rivalry. The proximity and games of importance should make it happen, but Habs fans will probably continue to ignore the Sens.
  • Mullet: I'm anticipating a rough and tumble series. Methot, Cowen and Phillips will have to be on the top of their physical game in order to contain some of Montreal's bigger players like Brian Gionta.
  • Dave: Going to get ugly, likely near Leafs-Sens of old level. One player that I feel will be front and centre of senators fans (other than the usual suspects) is Brendan Gallagher.
  • Bobby: At some point in this series, someone will physically engage with Erik Karlsson and/or Daniel Alfredsson, at which point the governor will call in the national guard and declare a state of emergency (read: MacLean sends in Chris Neil, mayhem ensues). This series will foster bad blood, but hopefully the ire won't overly infect the fan base, if only because I'm going to Game One tonight and don't want to endure any unnecessary shenanigans.
  • Adnan: My hope is that this leads to a fewer number of fans in Ottawa supporting both clubs. I can't stand that.
  • Peter: When all is said and done, I have a feeling that I'll have a severe dislike for Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, and maybe even PK Subban (who I don't mind right now). I already dislike Travis Moen, Colby Armstrong, and Brandon Prust, so that will only be magnified. Habs fans probably already hate Chris Neil, and they'll probably add Zack Smith, Eric Gryba, Jared Cowen, and Matt Kassian (if he plays) to their list of hated Sens. I doubt we'll see many fights in the series, but I think there will be a lot of physicality and some questionable infractions. It'll set up an interesting rivalry next season.
  • Darren: I think that things will get pretty heated due to the close geography of the teams as well as the number of Habs fans that are sure to be in attendance at Scotiabank Place. The players to animate the rivalry will be the ones you'd expect -- Neil and Z. Smith from Ottawa; Prust, Moen, Subban and Gallagher from Montreal.

5. What's your series prediction?

  • Ryan: Ottawa in six, because I'm a blatant homer and don't have much faith in Carey Price right now. I really think Ottawa's power play improves. Well, at least I hope it does.
  • Amelia: Ottawa in 5. Always be positive.
  • Mullet: The Habs will take it in 6 games, and by "it" I mean the solemn bus ride back to Montreal after losing the series to Ottawa.
  • Dave: Sens in 7.
  • Bobby: Ottawa, in six. Partly because I'll also be at game six. I'm selfish. And a homer.
  • Adnan: Due to the goaltending advantage, the Montréal skaters will have to significantly outplay Ottawa to win the series. I don't think they will - Ottawa in six.
  • Peter: Sens in six, thanks to the penalty killing unit, Craig Anderson, and Erik Karlsson.
  • Darren: If Karlsson was 100% and Jason Spezza had returned from injury, my prediction would be a Senators victory. But with Karlsson playing on one leg and Spezza still out, I can't help but feel the Habs are the more likely victor. Habs in six.
  • Mark: Throwing out an early season win against Budaj as an aberration, the Senators went 1-1-1 against the Canadiens. In two of those games, a win and overtime loss, the Senators did not have Erik Karlsson and were outshot 90- 56 combined. The other game, with Karlsson, was a 2-1 loss that saw shots more evenly balanced at 33-32 for Ottawa. Karlsson's return is likely going to even out the possession numbers.
    Montreal's penalty kill comes into this series at 79.8% and they're getting .906 goaltending from their tandem. Ottawa's penalty kill, as previously mentioned, is at 88%, and they're getting .939 goaltending from their tandem. Based on those numbers, I'd suggest that Montreal needs to win the possession battle and shot battle to make up the difference, but we know that's going to be hard for them to do with Karlsson playing 27 minutes for the Senators. I think this is one of those series where the teams are matched evenly enough that special teams and goaltending will carry the day, and statistically, Ottawa's better in those areas. An average penalty kill based on this year's numbers would be just a shade under 82%, which would mean if Ottawa regressed significantly, Montreal would get one goal for every six power play chances. Without a shot advantage and a power play advantage, I'll take the team with the more consistent goaltender.
    Sens in 7.

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