Series preview: (1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) Ottawa Senators
By PAT PICKENS
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (4) Ottawa Senators
Season series: Senators won 3-1
These teams last met two seasons ago, with the Senators stunning the Habs in five games. The sweaters are the same, but the faces for Ottawa are very different. It has a new coach, a new goaltender and a whole new array of players.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens scuffled down the stretch but still boast two of the world's best players in Carey Price and P.K. Subban. Montreal may have the Eastern Conference's second-most points, but it isn't a lock to even survive this first-round series.
Sens-e of belonging: Ottawa enters the playoffs as the East's hottest team, winning 23 of 31 and claiming points in 27 of them. Led by Andrew Hammond in goal, and a collection of young, exciting forwards like Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, the Sens came from 14 points back to reach the postseason.
Coach Dave Cameron, who took over midseason after Paul MacLean was fired, has calmed the dressing room, and the Senators are playing like they have nothing to lose.
Price is right for Habs: Carey Price will likely be the Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy winner this season, as he won a franchise-record 44 games, posting a .933 save percentage and 1.96 goals-against average. If not for Price, Montreal likely would've finished second or even third in the Atlantic Division, given the fact they netted just 221 goals -- tied for eighth in the East.
Subban is a dynamic player, and their power play improved as the season moved along. Max Pacioretty appears to be healthy, which is essential for the Habs. Pacioretty scored 37 goals and led the team in points with 67.
Series X-factor: Goaltending. If Price is other-worldly, the Canadiens shouldn't have trouble handling the Senators. But if Hammond continues the run he's on, the Senators can definitely spring the upset.
Pick: Canadiens in 7.
Carey, Carey, Carey. Too much Price, and the Habs find a way.