Which Canadiens Team Will Show Up For Game Three?
With the first round series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators set to resume tonight at Scotiabank Place, Habs fans are hoping to the Canadiens from game two rather that the team that fell apart in game one following Eric Gryba’s crushing blow to Lars Eller’s head.
As if the loss of Eller wasn’t bad enough, news came on the day of game two that Max Pacioretty and captain Brian Gionta would be out of the line-up due to a couple of upper body injuries. The Habs however put together a convincing 3-1 win to put the minds of all skeptics at ease…at least for the time being.
The key to this series for the Sens is Craig Anderson. The Ottawa netminder posted a record breaking .941 save% to go along with a 1.69 GAA. With only 24 games played due to injury, Anderson came into the playoffs well rested. The Canadiens looked to be in good position to take game one before the Eller injury and Anderson is the main reason the Senators were able to come away with the win. Montreal fired 50 shots on net and were only able to get two pucks past Anderson.
In order for the Habs to take game three, they will need to play the way they did in game two. While they didn’t fire as many shots in the second game they did play for 60 minutes. The Habs showed up and played the style of hockey that won them the Northeast division. They were first on the puck at both ends of the ice and won the battles along the boards.
While Anderson is the key to a Sens win. the Canadiens have more depth and multiple factors that lead to them knotting the series at one.
It’s fair to point out the Ottawa rearguard Erik Karlsson is coming off of an injury that saw 70% of his achilles tendon sliced, but Subban has nevertheless outshined the reigning Norris Trophy winner. Subban has just switched gears in these past two games and when the puck is on his stick it doesn’t leave until he chooses. P.K. controls the game when he’s on the ice and as long as he’s playing the way he is the Habs have a much better chance of moving on to round two.
It seems almost pointless to focus on Price at this point. No matter what he does these days he can’t seem to win over all the Carey haters out there. After a sub par performance in the series opener Price bounced back the next night making multiple big saves to earn the win. Price gave fans cause to worry when he went down in the second period after getting hit in the mask by Jarred Tinordi’s skate. Price simply skated to the bench, dropped off his tooth with the trainer and returned to the crease to backstop his team to victory. As mentioned earlier, Anderson is a top quality goalie and if Price can out play him, or at least give his teammates time to figure him out, then the Senators will be in trouble.
Gally gee, how good are these kids? With two points a piece so far in the series these young guns are showing no signs of playoff jitters in their first go at the NHL post seasson. They showed tons of heart when they instinctively stood up for Eller after his season ending hit. There isn’t much doubt they would be pummeled by pretty much any of the opposition but they did their best to go after Gryba regardless. After being reunited with fan favorite Brandon Prust in the second game, the rookies teamed up for what proved to be the game winning goal.
Ryder has always been a streaky scorer. After re-joining the Habs in a trade that sent Erik Cole to Dallas, Ryder put up 17 points in as many games before slowing down and notching only four in the Canadiens final ten contests. Ryder was held off the scoresheet in game one but provided the Habs with the insurance marker in game two. If his goal on Friday was the start of one of his streaks then this could prove to be a short series.
Regadless of all these factors that could lead to a series win, the Canadiens absolutely must play with the desire to win they displayed Friday night. The Senators may be without Jason Spezza and a fully healthy Erik Karlsson but just by getting to the playoffs despite an injury ridden season they have proven that it’s not a safe bet to write them off just yet.
Which Canadiens team do you think will show up for game three?
Can the Habs carry the momentum over to Kanata and win on the road, or will the Senators answer back the way Montreal did after their loss?