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Round One, Game One preview: Ottawa Senators @ Canadiens de Montréal

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A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and Montréal Canadiens on 15 April 2015.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Having finished the season 21-3-3 and qualified for the playoffs, the Ottawa Senators now just have to win four out of every seven games. Their opponents to open the first round will be the hated, villainous, Canadiens de Montréal. For quite a while, the Pittsburgh Penguins were my most hated team, but the Canadiens are now getting up there. I hate everything about them, their players, their fans, their obsession with their 24 cups (the last of which was won 22 years ago). So I really want to beat them. They may pretend that they don't care about us, but I assure you, they hate us just the same. That's what makes rivalries so much fun.

Ahem, with that out of the way, Milan Michalek will return to the lineup. Zack Smith, Chris Neil, Jared Cowen and Colin Greening will be the healthy scratches while Andrew Hammond will start. No one knows the whereabouts of one Chris Phillips. Here are the lines and pairings from Sylvain St-Laurent.

MacArthur - Turris - Stone
Michalek - Zibanejad - Ryan
Condra - Pageau - Lazar
Hoffman - Legwand - Chiasson

Methot - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Ceci
Borowiecki - Gryba

Some notes for tonight:

  • Ottawa will catch a break as Montréal will be without leading scorer Max Pacioretty.
  • It is wonderful to see Chris Neil being kept out of the lineup. This also makes it even more important to not fall behind in the series so as not to tempt Dave Cameron to bring him back.
  • You have to feel for Mike Hoffman being on the fourth line but that line should dominate the Habs fourth line. Milan Michalek was playing excellent before his concussion as well so I really like the look of the Senators forwards on every line.
  • Erik Karlsson didn't practice on Sunday and Monday but says that he is 100%.
  • Mark Stone has been on fire in 2015, capping it off with a nine game points streak to end the season.
  • Ottawa won three out of four games against the Habs this season.
  • After winning just 9 of their first 27 road games (9-13-5), Ottawa hasn't lost in regulation on the road since 3 February going 11-0-3.
  • Hard to believe but of the players playing tonight, Karlsson and Michalek have been on the team the longest, playing their first game in 2009-2010.
  • The Senators haven't missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for around two decades.
  • Carey Price has continued to struggle against Ottawa since their last playoff series with a save percentage under 90% in 10 games starting from the 2013 playoffs.

Here are some regular season stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net.

Category Ottawa Montréal
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 27 Max Pacioretty 37
Assists Erik Karlsson 45 P.K. Subban 45
Points Erik Karlsson 66 Max Pacioretty 67
Shots Erik Karlsson 292 Max Pacioretty 302
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 27:15 P.K. Subban 26:12

Category Ottawa Montréal
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.83 9th 2.61 20th
Goals Against 2.54 13th 2.24 1st
Score adjusted Corsi % 50.6% 18th 48.5% 22nd
Score adjusted Fenwick % 49.2% 20th 48.9% 21st
Shots For 31.0 8th 28.5 25th
Shots Against 32.1 25th 30.1 21st