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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #2

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

STREAKY FRIDAY: With a rare lack of Saturday night dates penciled in on their first-round schedule, the Habs will have to count on a less familiar day of the week when it comes to Game 2 on Friday night. Although the Canadiens have enjoyed a 13-0-2 home record at the Bell Centre on Saturdays this season, historically, the team has been just as handy at kicking the weekend off with a win when given the chance. In over a century of history, the Canadiens have given new meaning to T.G.I.F, racking up a stellar 12-0-4 record while outscoring opponents 84-36 on everybody’s favorite weekday. Clearly not believers in casual Fridays – especially during the postseason – the Habs have also dressed down their opposition to the tune of an 8-2 all-time home playoff record on the final day of the workweek. Their lone win during the 2012-13 series against the Sens? That came at home on Friday, May 3, 2013 of course.

SCORING MAXIMUS: There’s no denying the importance of a healthy Max Pacioretty when it comes to besting the Senators, as the Habs’ undisputed scoring king for four years running has definitely had Ottawa’s number this season. In addition to accounting for 16.74% of the Canadiens’ total offensive production with 37 goals in 2014-15, that ratio bumps up to an impressive 44.44% when the Senators are on the other side of the ice. With four goals and two assists in four games against Ottawa this year, Pacioretty led all NHLers in points against the Sens, making the American sniper’s pending return to active duty one of capital importance for the Habs.

COOLER HEADS: With two of Ottawa’s three goals in Game 1 coming on a single five minute Sens power play and hostilities boiling over in the form of a combined 40 penalty minutes being dished out after the final buzzer, discipline will clearly be essential to winning the second game of the series. The Habs went 0-for-1 with the man advantage in the opening game, but still managed to score a shorthanded marker after P.K. Subban was sent off for a slashing major. With a 40% power play efficiency in Game 1, the Sens currently lead the league in that category through one game of postseason action. 

EXPERIENCE COUNTS: Icing an opening night lineup with a combined 248 games of NHL postseason experience, including a rookie netminder playing his first career playoff game, the Senators could look to bolster their experience level heading into Game 2. If Mark Stone isn’t able to play due to a micro fracture in his wrist, Chris Neil could find himself donning a Senators jersey for the first time since February 14, adding his 91 career playoff games to the team’s experience totals, bringing the Sens closer to the 436 games of NHL postseason experience the Habs had in their lineup in the opening game. 

SCORE FOUR: Scoring more often than not is always a sound hockey strategy, but specifically scoring four in a game has been the sweet spot for the Habs this season. Carey Price boasts an impressive 18-0-1 record  when his teammates put up at least four in front of him, good for a 0.947 win percentage in those outings. More importantly, four has also been the magic number so far in the playoffs. Through eight NHL postseason games, four teams have lit the lamp four times, and all came away with wins to open the series, including the Canadiens.

- canadiens.com

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