The first time these two have met in the playoffs and this could be a fun ride, with both clubs favoring a quick-transition game that could turn this into an entertaining best-of-seven eastern Canada track meet. No matter what happens, Ottawa’s Paul MacLean has to be the Coach of the Year, based on how he kept the club together despite injuries to key performers Jason Spezza (still sidelined), Norris-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, and top netminder Craig Anderson. With P.K. Subban leading the charge from Montreal’s back end, and Karlsson working his wizardry from deep in Ottawa’s zone, no other series has this kind of puck movement and potential for rink-length rushes. The Habs pulled off an effective rebuild after not qualifying for last year’s playoffs, much to the credit of new GM Marc Bergevin and new coach Michel Therrien. Their new approach led, in part, to key roles for rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. Look for Therrien to try to slow things down a little, especially on the road, perhaps making it all the more vital for the Senators to try to split the first two in Montreal.
Prediction: Senators in seven.