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Free 2015 Stanley Cup Series Picks – Senators vs. Canadiens

NHL Predictions: Ottawa vs Montreal Futures

The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is not short on tantalizing match ups, but perhaps the biggest one (for fans hockey fans in Canada at least) is the series between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. Cappers Picks will provide NHL picks throughout the playoffs so check back before every round.

NHL Playoffs Betting

Ottawa vs Montreal
Series Odds: Sentaors +128 / Canadiens -148
Game 1: Wednesday, April 15 at Bell Center, 7:00 pm EST
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Series Schedule

GAME 2: AT MON FRI APR 17, 7:00 PM ET
GAME 3: AT OTT SUN APR 19, 7:00 PM ET
GAME 4: AT OTT WED APR 22, 7:00 PM ET
GAME 5: AT MON FRI APR 24, TBD
GAME 6: AT OTT  SUN APR 26, TBD
GAME 7: AT MON TUE APR 28, TBD

The Ottawa Senators were the darlings of the NHL for the last month, making a historic charge to the playoffs on the back of AHL call up Andrew Hammond in between the pipes. The “Hamburglar” put together an incredible run and the Senators were able to rocket into the playoff picture and lock up the first round match up that they probably would have hand picked before the season even started. The Canadiens did what they needed to do in clinching the Atlantic Division and guaranteed themselves two rounds of home ice advantage, though with the proximity of these two teams to one another, every game might as well be at a neutral site.

Senators

This team was just plain fun to watch down the stretch as they rode a hot goaltender and the timely scoring of rookie Mark Stone into a post season berth. The Sens went 6-2-2 in their final 10 games, including a three game win streak to close out the season and secure a spot in the playoffs.

You have to figure coach Dave Cameron will go with Hammond in goal to start this series, subscribing to the old adage of “dance with the one that brought you.” Hammond is a huge reason that the Senators are where they are and he deserves to play until he proves he can’t. That is the big question in this one, Hammond will be going head to head with this year’s Vezina winner (yes I’m giving Carey Price the award right now), and he will be in tough to match the league’s best save for save.

The Sens are going to have to dig deep and lean on belief in this series, as for the most part Montreal is just the better team. For whatever reason though, Ottawa seems to have the Habs’ number and won the season series 3-1, outscoring Montreal by a count of 16-9.  Anyone familiar with these teams knows that Ottawa blew the Canadiens out of the water the last time they met in the post season by a count of four games to one in a series that wasn’t even close where Ottawa won by a score of 6-1 twice, including the series clinching fifth game.

This Senators team has a bit of a different look with the additions of Kyle Turris, Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan, along with the maturation of captain Eric Karlsson. If there’s one team in the East that the Senators have to really like their chances against, it’s Montreal.

Canadiens

This is a solid team that was on the door step of the Stanley Cup finals a year ago before Carey Price went down with an injury in the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers. There have not been a lot of big changes to this line up from last year, as the core of Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, P.K. Subban and Carey Price are still with the team.

The young guys are a year older and wiser, and the big gun Pacioretty is in the prime of his career right now, though he is coming off an injury.

Price is  the X-factor in this series, if he’s on his game and can figure out the Senators’ shooter, Montreal should be able to walk through the Sens without a lot of resistance. The Canadiens however have this propensity for panicking against Ottawa which has been a big reason why they’ve had struggtles against them.

When the Habs get down early to this team they tend to get scrambled and Ottawa just continues to plug away and frustrate the Habs. Montreal needs to take a look at some game film from, of all teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who defeated the Sens twice in the last two weeks of the season. The Leafs took the no fear route against Ottawa and welcomed an open, track meet style game and eventually were able to break the Sens down by just sending wave after wave of attacks.

Canadiens’ coach Michel Therien doesn’t usually subscribe to this style and likes his team to play a sound defensive game and build from that, but he might be well advised to loosen the reins on some of his forwards and let them go after a defense that, aside from Karlsson is pretty slow.

Senators vs. Canadiens Series Pick

This is a very interesting one and could be a coin flip in all honesty. The Senators are one of those teams that could be feast or famine and I’m always tentative about picking teams like them. Ottawa has been playing playoff hockey for about a month now and that can work out one of two ways; they come in rolling and just keep picking up steam and bulldoze everyone like the L.A. Kings did as an 8 seed two years ago, or they have spent so much just getting in that there’s nothing left in the tank and they fizzle in the first round.

I’m leaning towards the latter in this one, as the Sens had to do just so much to even get in and I don’t know if they can get to that next gear, or if they even have another level to go to.

Montreal isn’t going to take this team lightly and will go right after them from the jump. At the end of the day I just can’t go against Carey Price against a guy like Hammond, who deserves a ton of credit, but is just too unproven at this level for me to get in his corner. Go with the Habs to win this series in six.

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About Matt Durnan

A (self-proclaimed) fantasy sports guru since 2004 and a journalist since 2007. He has been offering unsolicited sports gambling advice to his circle of friends for years and has now put himself at the mercy of online readers everywhere. "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how much fun you have"... His hockey coach told him that when he was 7. His team lost every game that year.


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