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Silver Nuggets: Matchups from Game 1 (and what needs to go better for Game 2)

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Will the physical play in this series continue? Or will everything quiet down due to the increased attention from referees.
Will the physical play in this series continue? Or will everything quiet down due to the increased attention from referees.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

To be quite honest, I didn't know that I'd have so many things to link after just ONE GAME of hockey, but alas, this is what games vs. the Montreal Canadiens are like. There's a ton of excellent content and differing perspectives that are really interesting to read that I'll link below, but for this small blurb, I'm going to talk about the hockey. Specifically, I'm going to use the always-excellent datarink's visualization to talk some observations from Game 1 and comment on what needs to go right for Game 2.

game 1 matchups

To clarify what all of this means, the colour of the circle signifies how a player on one axis did in terms of shot attempt differential (corsi) vs. the player on the other axis. If the colour is red (darker = stronger), the Habs player did better; for example: Lars Eller torched Milan Michalek when they were both on the ice. If the colour is blue (darker = stronger), the Sens player did better. For example, Jean-Gabriel Pageau did really well when matched up against De La Rose. The size of the bubble represents the amount of ice-time, so the big bubbles mean that the two players spent a lot of their 5-on-5 minutes against one another.

A couple of key things to point out from Wednesday night's tumultuous affair:

  • Methot - Karlsson, despite being in the negative in terms of shot attempt differential overall, played relatively well when matched up against the Habs top-six of Gallagher - Plekanec - Galchenyk and Smith-Pelly - Desharnais - Parenteau
  • Often, it looked like Therrien matched Cameron with power on power, with the Turris line vs. the Plekanec line (big bubbles); Turris often got the better hand of these matchups. It'll be interesting to see how Turris and MacArthur play with Michalek instead of Stone, as I think Stone was the possession driver on that line and was responsible for a lot of its success.
  • Ottawa's third pairing of Borowiecki - Gryba did the best possession-wise on the club, with both in the double-digits. Pivotally, they were matched up against the Habs second line (Desharnais), and their big bodies may limited whatever effect Smith-Pelly's physical game was supposed to have. It'll be interesting to see if this continues as Borowiecki - Gryba are often negative possession players.
  • Also going against what I expected was the fact that the Habs bottom six (Eller, Mitchell) was their strength, when I thought it's where Ottawa could've exploited the Habs based on their regular season matchups. The Flynn - Mitchell - Prust line had three of the Habs goals (Flynn had 3 points after scoring 0 in his 9 previous games in a Habs uniform) and played against everyone equally, winning almost every matchup. I'm doubtful that this will continue, but their physical presence was duly noted and is something that can negatively impact Ottawa over a small number of games, such as a playoff series.
  • The other line, made up of De La Rose - Eller - Weise primarily played against Michalek - Zibanejad - Ryan and did exceptionally well. Part of this is because of the ineffectiveness of the Zibanejad line, but Eller was extremely strong in the neutral zone. This is a matchup Ottawa has to absolutely get right, and having Ryan - Zibanejad - Chaisson, a line that has a 41.7% GF% rate and a 46.4% CF% rate in ~150 5-on-5 minutes, is likely not a good bet. I really don't understand why they'd move Bobby Ryan, who's struggling, to his off-wing to accommodate Alex Chiasson when Mike Hoffman, FOR WHATEVER DEFENSIVE FAULTS HE HAS, is significantly better offensively, with 26 even-strength goals and a 60.4 GF%, 51.8% CF% in the ~550 minutes with Zibanejad and Ryan. (all stats cited here from Hockey Analysis)
  • The Sens second-pair of Wiercioch - Ceci, despite really good regular season numbers, were outplayed in Game 1. Out of everyone, they really have to improve for Ottawa to have a chance in this series, and can't afford to get torched by the Habs physical fourth line, or the second-pairing featuring Jeff Petry, who was excellent on Wednesday night.
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Sens Links
  • Begrudgingly, your game recaps from Wednesday. Steph from WTYKY is doing drawing recaps for all of the Sens playoff games, so check it out!! [Silver SevenRank the PerformancesWTYKYOttawa Citizen, SensChirpSenShot]
  • In addition, the Silver Seven Staff (including me) had a quick email hotstove featuring our thoughts on Game 1, including Stone + Hammond's play. [Silver Seven]
  • ALLLLLLL the links on Mark Stone's injury. B_T has a piece on intent to injure, and Amelia has thoughts on the incident once the injury was confirmed. Travis, from SenShot, has a post on how the slashing incident serves to grow the already-heated rivalry between Montreal and Ottawa. Sean McIndoe (Down Goes Brown) has 10 (!) thoughts on the slash, Game 1, and the Sens - Habs rivalry from the perspective of a Leafs fan. Pierre LeBrun also shares his thoughts and includes the league's perspective on incidents like this. James Mirtle has thoughts on the officiating, which was questioned continuously (??) after the Subban call.
  • There's about two whole pages of Ottawa Citizen coverage on Game 1 and the rivalry that you're free to check out here, but here's Wayne Scanlan's piece on Subban, and a bit of news that the Sens will be hosting a celebration of life ceremony for assistant coach Mark Reeds.
  • To lighten up a bit, the folks over at Bonk's Mullet had a playoff roundtable that was a great (and much-needed) happy read. Luke Peristy has a similar post on WTYKY that serves as a round one preview. [Bonk's MulletWTYKY]
  • Nichols has a piece on Subban's suspension and other thoughts on the Sens-Habs storylines. [6th Sens]
  • Amelia has a wonderful piece on adversity, friendship, and hockey that I highly recommend you check out. [Silver Seven]
  • Joe has a humorous post on the relationship between Sens fans and Habs fans. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Frozen Four runner up and NCAA free agent Matt O'Connor will be visiting a number of NHL teams over the next two weeks. His first stop? Ottawa, where he'll be attending Game 3. [6th Sens]