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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #5

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

POWER UP: After losing 1-0 on road ice on Wednesday night, the Habs will return home looking to rediscover their offensive touch in Game 5. The most obvious place to find a renewed scoring spark would be on the power play, where the Canadiens have gone 1-for-16 through the first four games of the series. It's a familiar storyline for the boys in bleu-blanc-rouge, who scored just two power play goals on 13 opportunities in the first round in 2014, before going all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. While a dangerous power play would help turn on some red lights in the immediate future, the ability to score with the man advantage hasn't been the biggest indicator of potential postseason success of late. Three of the four most recent Stanley Cup Champs have hoisted the Cup while boasting power play efficiencies near the bottom of the playoff pool, including the 2013 Blackhawks (11.4%, 13th of 16 teams), the 2012 Kings (12.8%, 12th), and the 2011 Bruins (11.4%, 14th).

CONNECT FOUR: Since the NHL adopted a best-of-7 playoff format in 1939, the Canadiens have taken a 3-1 series lead on 27 occasions. In Game 5s of those series – 26 of 27 of which have been played on home ice – the Canadiens own a lifetime 21-6 record. The only Game 5 not played in Montreal was the deciding game of the 1986 Stanley Cup Final in Calgary that led to the Habs hoisting a 23rd Stanley Cup that June. The 2015 Canadiens will look for a 22nd Game 5 win when the Sens come to town on Friday, but even if they aren’t able to close it out in five games, history suggests there’s no reason to panic; the Habs own a perfect 27-0 record when leading a series three games to one.  

MORE RUBBER: While many goalies will profess a preference for facing more shots than less in a game to stay focused, it would behoove the Canadiens to launch as much rubber as possible in Craig Anderson’s direction in Game 5. The 33-year-old netminder faced over 35 shots 11 times in the regular season, and came away with a win in just three of those outings. His lone loss of the 2015 postseason? A 47-save effort in the Canadiens 2-1 overtime win in Game 3.

PRIMARY SCORING: Depth is important for springtime success and the Canadiens have been able to count on different players to light the lamp in the first round so far, but they know they’ll need contributions from their stars if they want to make a deep run. The team’s Top 6 scoring leaders this season, Max Pacioretty (37 goals), Tomas Plekanec (26), Brendan Gallagher (24), Alex Galchenyuk (20), P.K. Subban (15) and Lars Eller (15) have combined for just five goals between them through four playoff games against the Sens so far, including just one game winning marker. They may have had a slow start to the postseason, but after seeing a third of the team’s 50 GWGs come off the sticks of Pacioretty or Eller in 2014-15, don’t expect the usual suspects to stay quiet for long.

In four playoff games so far this spring, the Habs have yet to score first. While they were able to rally back after spotting the Sens a lead in the first three games, they weren’t able to even it up in Game 4. Throughout the regular season, the Canadiens enjoyed a 32-3-4 record when opening the scoring compared to 18-19-6 when giving up the first goal. With 64% of the team’s 2014-15 victories having come after breaking the goose egg, scoring the first goal on Friday might not be a bad idea.


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