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Just a few short weeks ago, the Ottawa Senators were on the outside looking in at the postseason with little hope that they could get them back into the playoff race. Now, not only do they find themselves in a playoff spot but they may very well face the Habs in Round 1. How do the Canadiens match up against the Senators?

Regular Season Results

December 20: Montreal 4, Ottawa 1
January 15: Ottawa 4, Montreal 1
February 18: Ottawa 4, Montreal 2
March 12: Ottawa 5, Montreal 2

Head-to-Head Leaders


Goals: Pacioretty (4), 5 players tied with (1)
Assists: Markov (3), Pacioretty/Plekanec/Subban (2)
Points: Pacioretty (6), Markov/Plekanec (3)
PIMS: Plekanec (16), Prust (5)


Goals: Condra/Karlsson (3), Pageau/Stone (2)
Assists: Michalek (5), Karlsson/Stone (3)
Points: Karlsson/Michalek (5), Stone (5)
PIMS: Borowiecki (7), Chiasson/Gryba/Puempel (4)

Special Teams


Montreal: 13.3% PP (2/15), 84.6% PK (11/13)
Ottawa: 15.4% PP (2/13), 86.7% PK (13/15)

Regular Season:

(Stats are as of games played through March 25th.)

Montreal: 15.9% PP (33/208, 26th overall), 84.4% PK (195/231, 6th overall)
Ottawa: 16.6% PP (40/241, 24th overall), 82.7% PK (191/231, 11th overall)

Special teams are more or less a wash. Neither side has been particularly strong with the man advantage in the four head-to-head matchups which also lines up well with their season averages. However, with both teams having a premier trigger man at the point, the power play fortunes for either squad could change in a hurry. There’s no real advantage for either team here.


Head-to-Head this season:

Carey Price (MTL): 1-1-0 record, 3.02 GAA, .887 SV%, 0 SO
Dustin Tokarski (MTL): 0-2-0 record, 3.09 GAA, .917 SV%, 0 SO

Craig Anderson (OTT): 1-0-0 record, 1.00 GAA, .962 SV%, 0 SO
Andrew Hammond (OTT): 2-0-0 record, 2.00 GAA, .945 SV%, 0 SO
Robin Lehner (OTT): 0-1-0 record, 4.00 GAA, .862 SV%, 0 SO

Head-to-Head All-Time:
(Regular Season Stats only)

Carey Price (MTL): 17-7-4 record, 2.39 GAA, .919 SV%, 3 SO
Dustin Tokarski (MTL): 0-2-0 record, 3.09 GAA, .917 SV%, 0 SO

Craig Anderson (OTT): 7-7-2 record, 3.13 GAA, .892 SV%, 0 SO
Andrew Hammond (OTT): 2-0-0 record, 2.00 GAA, .945 SV%, 0 SO
Robin Lehner (OTT): 1-1-2 record, 3.11 GAA, .918 SV%, 0 SO

By now, everyone knows the story of Andrew Hammond. Since he was recalled, he has been the only goalie to post numbers similar to those of Carey Price. If he heads into the postseason playing at a similar pace, the Senators would be the one possible first round team that could potentially negate the goaltending advantage that the Canadiens have on a nightly basis.

If Hammond comes back down to Earth, Craig Anderson would likely get the nod in the postseason. Everyone should still remember how well he played against Montreal two years ago in the playoffs, allowing just nine goals in five games with a .950 SV%. Regardless of who is between the pipes, Ottawa should be quite confident that their goalie will get the job done.

As for Price, his career numbers against the Sens are nice but the recent numbers aren’t as pretty. In the past two years (six games) vs Ottawa, he has just a 3.50 GAA and a .888 SV%. There are a lot of teams that Price has dominated recently but this isn’t one of them. It’s hard not to give Montreal the advantage given how well Price has played this year but this particular matchup between the pipes is pretty close to a toss-up.


Ottawa Montreal
Methot – Karlsson
Wiercioch – Ceci
Borowiecki – Gryba

Scratches: Cowen
Injuries: Phillips

Markov – Subban
Gilbert – Petry
Emelin – Pateryn

Scratches: Beaulieu, Gonchar,

(Gilbert is currently injured but is expected to be back well before the postseason.)

It’s a tale of two different styles on the blueline. The Habs, as we know, are more of a mobile unit while Ottawa’s back end has a couple of impressive puck movers but a lot more size and grit.

Ottawa’s forward group has good speed which mitigates Montreal’s defensive quickness when it comes to puck retrieval. Their forwards are also aggressive on the puck which isn’t good for a Canadiens blueline that doesn’t play a physical style.

However, the Sens’ blueline isn’t particularly fleet of foot which is beneficial for Montreal’s quick attackers, particularly if they can catch some of them flat-footed in the transition game.  Of course, as we saw in the postseason two years ago, Ottawa’s defencemen will be aggressive when it comes to physical play which will take its toll as the series progresses.

Obviously, Karlsson and Subban are the keys.  If one of them steps it up while the other one gets shut down, there’s a good chance that the team that has the player who steps it up will be the one moving on.  In terms of overall depth though, I like Montreal’s blueline corps a bit more than Ottawa’s.


Ottawa Montreal
Hoffman – Zibanejad – Ryan
Michalek – Turris – Stone
MacArthur – Pageau – Lazar
Chiasson – Smith – Condra

Scratches: Greening, Legwand
Injured: Neil, Puempel

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
de la Rose – Eller – Weise
Prust – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly

Scratches: Flynn, Malhotra
Injured: None

(MacArthur and Michalek are currently injured but are expected to be back before the postseason.)

When everyone’s healthy, the Sens have a team that can role four quality lines and a few players who seem to play their best against Montreal. This isn’t as big or tough a group as it was when these teams met up two years ago in the postseason, however. That isn’t to say they’re soft – they’re not – but we shouldn’t see a situation where Montreal players are going down left, right, and centre with injuries either.

There are some similarities between these two units, particularly in the top six where both teams have some young players in prime roles. Montreal’s young players have a bit more experience due to their playoff run last postseason but as we’ve seen all too often, when the offence goes cold, boy does it go cold. Ottawa isn’t prone to the frequent ups and downs when it comes to putting the puck in the net although they’re by no means an offensive juggernaut.

By now, you’ve probably sensed there’s a theme when it comes to comparing the two teams, it’s pretty close to the tune of a toss-up in a lot of categories and it’s no different up front. Ottawa has strong depth on all four lines (when everyone is healthy) and so does Montreal. They’re both set up to be score-by-committee teams although the Habs are inconsistent in actually doing that. That’s why I’d give the slight edge to the Sens up front.

Final Thought

It may have just been a few weeks ago that the thought of these two teams meeting up in mid-April would have been laughable. But give Ottawa credit, they’ve played themselves right back into the thick of things and while Hammond is getting all the attention, the rest of the team is playing well too. Can Montreal beat them in the first round if it comes to that? They’re certainly capable of doing so but this is not a team I’d want to face when the puck drops to start the playoffs.