Hockey Correspondent and Occasional Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine
Welcome to the Canadian matchup nobody wanted to see. Well, that’s not really true or fair, is it? But, it was a tad shocking to hear the almost unanimous excitement (across the country) for a predicted and probable Toronto v. Montreal showdown. Maybe it was a way of making the Leafs charming. Maybe it wasn’t true at all, and maybe every collaboration of major media pushers from East-to-West was putting it all on. Maybe they were faking it. Maybe they let their imagination cloud their judgement, like they did with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Either way, it’s Ottawa v. Montreal. That’s that, and it should be damn fun.
The Key Players:
The Habs will roll tide with the Brothers Gally (rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk), veterans Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, and Andrei Markov, and the slightly shady play of Carey Price.
The Senators, meanwhile, counter with their own pair of rooks in Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad, but the fate of their squad rests with defenceman Erik Karlsson and goalie Craig Anderson. Kids like Kyle Turris can fill a void once in a while.
The X Factor:
Right now, you’re saying, “But, he’s not playing. How can he be the X Factor?”
Montreal Wins If…
They don’t all of a sudden realize they finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference. The worst thing you can do in a dream is pinch yourself.
Ottawa Wins If…
They hit, hit, and hit. Anderson will have to be good, but the Sens have the talent to match Montreal, and they were just here last year — and oh, so close to beating the No. 1 New York Rangers. They’re smarter than Montreal, and they might have more to play for and more to prove.
The Habs have had a great year, and a second seed is nothing to scoff at or discredit. Simply put, though, these teams know each other far too well for seedings or rankings to play any real effect. Ottawa knows Montreal, and they’d play them the same if they were No. 2 or No. 7.
Ottawa in 6.