1) Which player (for either team) is going to have opposing fans calling for their head first?
Adnan: Boro is usually a safe bet for these things.
Ary: Marchand for Boston, Borowiecki for Ottawa. I'll say that Borowiecki will do something silly first to get the B's mad. I think Marchand will tread carefully to start the series coming off of a suspension, but will definitely be annoying later ;-)
Beata: Brad Marchand. The guy is a pest and a great player, which is a deadly combination. Speaking as someone who grew up cheering for the Canucks on the side... there are levels of hatred that hockey fans do not know until their team has faced Brad Marchand in the playoffs.
B_T: I give Marchand one, maybe two shifts.
Callum: The master of the crosscheck: Dion Phaneuf. And, of course, Brad Marchand will continue to be Brad Marchand.
Colin: Mark Borowiecki seems like the easy bet. He's immune to scratches, and led the NHL in both hits and penalty minutes this season.
Ian: Boro usually drew the hatred of other teams pretty quickly in the regular season. Without question, he'll have Bruins fans calling for his head by the end of game 1.
nkb: Borowiecki has already drawn the ire of the Bruins' faithful for a couple of big collisions, so I'd be shocked if we even got two games into this series before there's a sensational headline in a Boston newspaper with his name in 24 point font.
Peter: It's gotta be Marchand. Even if Burrows were at his pestiest (and he doesn't seem to be) and even if Borowiecki and Phaneuf are their usual physical selves, Marchand is a league leader in drawing the ire of opposing fans and players.
Ross: I think Mark Stone will make his third or fourth takeaway in Game 1 and it'll lead to a goal, and he'll celebrate like he's won the Cup, and Bruins fans will hate him the rest of the series. I think Marchand will make Bruins fans hate him well before Sens fans do.
Trevor: I feel like there's no way that Brad Marchand won't become even more hated amongst Senators fans.
2) Who will be the biggest factor for each team?
Adnan: Erik Karlsson and Patrice Bergeron for me. If Bergeron's line can neutralise Karlsson, Ottawa is going to be in big trouble.
Ary: I think the battle between Patrice Bergeron and Erik Karlsson will be fun to watch.
Beata: Karlsson for Ottawa and Bergeron for Boston.
B_T: Tempting to go with Andy, but it’s Karlsson that is the game-breaking talent. With Torey Krug sounding like he’ll be out for the series, and Brandon Carlo missing at least the start of the series, Zdeno Chara is going to have to stand tall for the Bruins.
Callum: If Erik Karlsson can stay healthy, he might take over this series. Tuukka Rask has also been playing out of his mind recently. He has only allowed four goals in his last six games.
Colin: Ottawa's biggest factor will be Craig Anderson, who I'm guessing will face at least 35 shots each game. For Boston, I think David Pastrnak will rise to the occasion. His combination of speed and skill will be too much for Ottawa to handle, especially when the Bruins get the man advantage.
Ian: Ottawa will go only as far as Karlsson can take them. If Marchand can distract the Sens from their game by being a pest and still producing, things could go very poorly for the Sens.
nkb: Erik Karlsson is the Senators' best player, but he can only play half of the game at most; if the Sens are going to win, it will hinge largely on Craig Anderson keeping the B's at bay. For Boston, Patrice Bergeron will be the key to their success.
Peter: Karlsson for Ottawa, Marchand for Boston.
Ross: For Ottawa, it'll be Karlsson. If he's fully healthy, the Bruins won't stand a chance when he's on the ice.
For Boston, it'll be Bergeron. He's the best two-way centre in the game, and Ottawa will have to figure out how to shut him down if they want to have a shot.
Trevor: When Craig Anderson is on, he can steal some games, so that'll be key. For Boston, if Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo are out for all/most of the series, look for Charlie McAvoy to make a real impact (because they're going to need it).
3) Does Chris Neil make it into the lineup? If so, which game?
Adnan: Good God I hope not. Chris Neil does not belong anywhere near a playoff game.
Ary: Nope - don't think he does. If a Sens player gets injured, I wonder if White will be given a game in a 4L role.
Beata: Yes. Against any other team, I would be dubious, but I'm guessing the Sens get a little banged up in their first two games, and fans start frantically calling in to TSN1200 to explain why none of this would have happened if they'd only had the sense to play Neil. Boucher then decides to dress him for game 3 and nothing changes, but he keeps Neil in anyway because Neilership.
B_T: All depends on how much funny stuff the B’s get up to. Enough of that, and I think Neil draws in. I’ll say game 4.
Callum: I don't think Guy Boucher gets Neil in for any games. This club can't risk anything; they need to win a round.
Colin: No, although I think he's higher in the depth chart than many may think. Should a right winger go down with an injury, Neil could be the first guy to come in.
Ian: Don't think so. The Sens have too many players who should be ahead of him on the depth chart.
nkb: Nope, unless the Sens go down 3-0 and things are looking very dire (which I don't think is very likely). The Sens' coaching staff have made their feelings pretty clear on Chris Neil's position in the forward hierarchy.
Peter: Yes, but not necessarily in this round (is that cheating?). If Ottawa goes down two games at any point, he will draw in.
Ross: Yes, in Game 5, so Boucher controls the matchups. I think it'll be the only one he plays.
Trevor: I feel like Neil plays in game 4 after Ottawa goes down 2-1. Just the one game though.
4) Which Ottawa player will be the biggest (positive) playoff surprise?
Adnan: If Jean-Gabriel Pageau is going to play with Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, he has a good chance of surprising with some better than expected offensive output.
Ary: Derick Brassard
Beata: Alex Burrows. Some Sens fans like him better than others, but in general I don't think many people are expecting him to have a big impact. I think Burrows will finally win us over by finding another gear in the postseason.
B_T: Dion Phaneuf. Not necessarily on the score sheet, but he’ll end up making life miserable for the Bruins.
Callum: Zack Smith is going to score 5 goals.
Colin: I'll agree with Ary and say Derick Brassard, as Rangers fans have been raving about how he steps up his game in the playoffs. He's also been plagued with a low 7.2% shooting percentage all season (less than half of his SH% in 2015-16), which should inevitably rise.
Ian: Bobby Ryan will bust out of his slump in a big way and push the Sens to a series win. Let's see it Bob.
nkb: Chris Wideman is going to surprise a lot of people who haven't paid close attention to the Sens this season.
Peter: I think Derrick Brassard could finally start cashing in on the chances he's been getting all season.
Ross: Jean-Gabriel Pageau will score a couple goals early in the series, and fans will be thinking back to the 2013 playoffs.
Trevor: Bobby Ryan. Somehow he'll score a few timely goals.
5) Finally, what is your series prediction?
Adnan: I am not sure if I really believe it, but let's say Ottawa in seven for fun.
Ary: Sens in 6!
Beata: I'll go with Sens in 6 because I'm not betting against my team, but I really have no idea. It should be a fun series.
B_T: Sens in 7.
Callum: Bruins in 7. I know. I'm sorry.
Colin: Bruins find ways to exploit The System, and take the series in six games.
Ian: Sens close it out at home in 5 games.
nkb: My head says Bruins in 6, but my heart says Sens in 7 and this time I'll stick with my heart.
Peter: Sens in six. Naturally.
Ross: Sens in 6.
Trevor: Bruins in 7.
What is your series prediction?
This poll is closed
Sens in 4
Sens in 5
Sens in 6
Sens in 7
Bruins in 7
Bruins in 6
Bruins in 5
Bruins in 4