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.
1. Which former Norris winner and current Norris-candidate will score more points, P.K. Subban or Erik Karlsson?
Ary: Karlsson, just like he's done for 3 of the 4 past seasons (and would've in all 4 if he wasn't injured)
Ross: Karlsson. I think I'd get fired if I picked Subban
Adnan: Erik Karlsson. He's the best overall defenceman in the NHL but offensively no one is near him.
Michaela: Erik Karlsson - He's been a huge factor in the Sens' late-season push, and I imagine he will continue the streak into the playoffs.
Peter: I'll pick Karlsson. He had more points in the regular season, and the Sens had a higher-scoring offence along with a better powerplay (although only slightly). Price is a great goalie, but the Sens are still going to get a few goals past him.
Ian: I definitely think Karlsson. His speed can turn the tide of the game in one rush. Subban sometimes keeps the puck on his stick for too long and has gotten frustrated in the past. Hopefully we can get under his skin and force him into some dumb penalties.
Amelia: Karlsson. Subban is great but Karlsson is the best.
Richard: Karlsson- when he's had decent partners he's out produced Subban by half a point per 60 minutes. It's not going to be close unless Hammond collapses or our penalty kill is terrible.
Brad: Karlsson, no question. Subban is very, very good at generating offense but Karlsson is just on a different level altogether.
Nate: I'll go against the grain a bit here and say Subban ends up with more points, mostly because Ottawa plays a very passive box on the penalty kill that's tailor made for a guy like Subban to bomb away against.
2. Who will win the battle in the crease, Carey Price or Andrew Hammond?
Ary: I think Price, but the Sens will still squeak out wins against him. It's like the Sens facing Toronto with Price - no matter how good you are, there's always kryptonite (sobs)
Ross: Hammond will get more wins and have the better GAA, but Price will have the better save percentage.
Adnan: * grumbles and mumbles an incoherent answer * Fine, Andrew Hammond just because
Michaela: Carey Price (I'm sorry! Please don't hate me!) - I agree with Ross, Hammond will get more wins, but Price will probably have a better save percentage. Price is the Canadiens' strongest asset. Hammond is good, but it's the Sens' strong play in front of him that's led to their success.
Peter: This is a pretty terrifying thing to predict... Hammond is a total wild card, and we're all sort of holding our breath waiting for him to fall back to earth. Since Price has far more experience behind him, I'll guess he wins the battle in the crease.
Ian: I'm hoping Hammond but it will likely be Price. It's an interesting question because Ottawa seems to play more of a team game defensively with Hammond in goal and tend to not give up a thousand odd-man rushes. Hopefully that mentality won't change going into the playoffs.
Amelia: It would be fantastic if Hammond kept rolling as he has for the past two months but it would be foolish to ignore the season Carey Price has had. The favourite for both the Vezina and Hart trophies, I have to give the edge to him.
Richard: Hammond will win the battle in the crease. Price's numbers against Ottawa in the recent past have been pretty terrible. If they get off to a hot start though and he gains confidence early, that could hurt us.
Brad: Barring either team getting into the other goalie's head, I think Price will put on more of a show just by having more opportunity to shine.
Nate: Craig Anderson's not even an option anymore at this point eh? I'll go with Price because it's hard to fathom him continuing to struggle as he has against the Sens.
3. Thinking back to 2013, how has the 417 rivalry changed? What are you looking forward to in the 2 first round series between the Sens and Habs in 3 years?
Ary: I don't think it's changed much at all since what began in 2013. I think it'll be fantastic for the City to face the Habs again, and though they shouldn't be underestimated, I feel like Ottawa matches up well against them.
Ross: Everyone entered the 2013 series with almost no hate for the Habs. Most Ottawa fans kind of liked them. That's all changed. The hate factor between the clubs will be there from Game 1.
Adnan: I think the Habs have become the Sens biggest rivals and the Subban - Karlsson comparisons have only amplified it. Aside from the two defencemen, I am looking forward to the Pageau chants in the Ottawa games and generally going to playoff games and making random Quebec jokes.
Michaela: The rivalry between the Sens and Habs has only grown since last time they met in the post season. The 2013 playoff series gave us the rivalry that exists today. It was a building block, and a significant one. If it's possible, the fans and players want it even more than last time. Oh, and Brandon Prust will have to find someone else to pick on in post-game interviews.
Peter: The faces have changed (both teams have new captains today), but there remain a few key players and some of the protagonists are still in play. I think the Senators have changed the most since then, especially with the exit of the bug-eyed fat walrus, and we'll see what that means for the outcome.
Ian: The 2013 series was incredible, such a unique series. Not often do you see playoff fights, let alone a 5-on-5 brawl. I don't think the rivalry has changed too much as we can easily respond to Habs fans in the same way Leaf fans have ripped on us, with a simple "you can't beat us in the playoffs!!!". A Sens series win would give Habs fans nightmares for years to come.
Amelia: I agree with Adnan that the Habs have become the Sens biggest rivals, at least that's what it feels like when we play them. I also agree that the Subban-Karlsson comparisons have added something on the ice and in debates.
Richard: I don't think there really was a rivalry before. I feel like it used to be more of a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" as it applied to the Leafs. Now I hate them as much as I hate anyone and I want to beat them very badly. That definitely wasn't the case last time.
Brad: Well, for one thing I think only one player out of the game 3 line brawl is likely to see the ice this time around (Smith). I'm looking forward to seeing if Pageau keeps up his winning ways against Montreal, and just that ability Ottawa seems to have to set up shop right in the heads of the Canadiens.
Nate: The biggest thing that's changed is Ottawa's overall make-up. Montreal's blueline is slightly upgraded but they return much of the same core they had two years ago. Meanwhile, the Sens' core forward group is radically different than two years ago.
4. Who will be the biggest factor for each team?
Ary: Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman for Ottawa; P.K. Subban, Carey Price, Alex Galchenyuk for the Habs
Ross: Mark Stone / Carey Price
Adnan: Karlsson for Ottawa, Carey Price for the Habs. The Habs have generally been unable to carry play, so they are most likely going to need Price to carry them instead.
Michaela: Karlsson and Price - Erik Karlsson drives the offence that's been deadly at times for the Sens, and Carey Price is Carey Price.
Peter: Karlsson for Ottawa and Price for Montreal. They are the teams' respective MVPs.
Ian: I think this pick is almost a consensus across the board, but I'd have to agree and go with Price for Montreal and Karlsson for Ottawa.
Amelia: I fully expect Price and Subban to perform for the Habs, just as I expect Karlsson and Stone to perform for the Sens. Going to go off the board and say Bobby Ryan will be the biggest factor if he can get going because that would give Ottawa two potent scoring lines and a pretty good top-9.
Richard: Pageau for us, Price for them. I think we win this battle pretty handily in terms of forward depth. If we can keep effectively using that 3rd line against their top players and in defensive situations then we'll have a massive advantage. Their whole game plan rests on Price bailing them out.
Brad: Hammond, Pageau and Karlsson for Ottawa. Price, Pacioretty and Subban for Montreal. Pacioretty's questionable health could be a big x-factor working against Montreal.
Nate: Mika Zibanejad will be the biggest factor for Ottawa, and Carey Price will be for Montreal. I expect Therrien will want to get Plekanec out against the Turris line as much as possible and Zibanejad will feast on Eller or Desharnais. Ottawa's going to outshoot Montreal so Price will have to be good to keep the Habs in the series and I expect he will be good
5. Who's the more annoying player to play against, Brendan Gallagher or Jean-Gabriel Pageau?
Ary: Gallagher - walks the line so well
Ross: Gallagher. Pageau isn't annoying, just good. Gallagher is both.
Adnan: I am biased so I don't find Pageau annoying. :-)
Michaela: Brendan Gallagher - Pageau is only annoying because he scores, Gallagher is more of an agitator.
Peter: I'm biased, but I'll say Gallagher. I do think he drives the net a touch more recklessly than Pageau, and he also gets more ice time in which to get under your skin.
Ian: Gallagher annoys me the most. He goes hard to the net, "accidentally" falls into the goalie after the whistle, and is always the center of scrums, and then he skates away with a sheepish grin on his face.
Amelia: I think Pageau is earning a rep and not just in Montreal, just ask Ben Bishop or Steve Mason. But Gallagher has so far been far more successful as a pest. I'm a gentle person and even I want to punch Gallagher in the mouth some times.
Richard: Pageau from their end. I really don't care for Gallagher, but Pageau has gotten more confident and feisty since the last series. I can't imagine how irritating it must be for Habs fans to hear that Pageau chant.
Brad: Specifically for this match-up, I think it's a coin flip. In general though, I've got to go with Gallagher. Pageau really elevates his pest game against Montreal, but Gallagher is keeps it up against every team. If the refs actually call penalties for things done to Pageau this time, though...
Nate: Speed kills so I'll go with Pageau here though Gallagher certainly does seem to have a special talent for getting under his opponents' skin.
6. What is your series prediction?
Ary: Sens in 6!
Ross: Sens in 6, just so they win it at home this time
Adnan: 4-2 Ottawa.
Michaela: Sens in 6!
Peter: I've been pessimistic for most of the season, and it's served me well so I'll say Habs in six. Their edge in experience has me a little nervous, as does the Senators' recent propensity to blow leads.
Ian: Sens in 6. Hammond hasn't even lost 4 NHL games in his career, no way he can lose 4 of 7!
Amelia: Sens in 4. Next.
Richard: Sens in 5. MTL has not been playing great hockey and unless something drastic happens we should continue to dominate them. They have everything to lose and we're playing with confidence, purpose and an underdog story for the ages.
Brad: Sens in 6.
Nate: Sens in 6. Ottawa gets the better of the 5v5 play, MTL is better on special teams but the Sens get a bit more puck luck and Ottawa pulls out a hard fought series that they clinch at home.