Canadiens vs. Lightning – Playoff Series Preview

Photo: Ryan Remiorz, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Photo: Ryan Remiorz, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Oh boy. The Habs will have to face the Lightning in the second round. Let’s not forget this is the team that the majority of Habs fans wanted to avoid in the East. Despite the Habs sweeping the Bolts in last season’s playoffs, they got destroyed by them during the regular season. The Habs and even Carey Price struggled as he went 0-4-1 with a .907sv% vs. the Lightning this season. Worrying is logical, but I’m not too scared.

Advanced Stats (Regular Season):

CF%: MTL –> 48.5% (22nd)        TBL –> 53.0% (4th)

PDO: MTL –> 101. 6 (2nd)            TBL –> 101.0 (6th)

SCF% (% of scoring chances): MTL –> 47.8% (23rd)         TBL –> 53.8% (2nd)

Tampa Bay is a very good possession team, especially in comparison to Montreal. It’s not hard to understand why Tampa destroyed the Canadiens this season. Our almighty saviour Carey Price didn’t perform to his insane level of play and they are simply the better team at developing chances and possessing the puck. That tends to lead to wins much more than losses. The Habs will have to resort to their #1 plan, which is Carey Price, doing Carey Price things. Price has to continue to be amazing for the Habs to win this series. The possibility of Tampa dominating Montreal is legitimate. The Canadiens cannot afford anything less than their full effort and support for their goalie.

X-Factors:

My X-Factors were easy choices. Pacioretty vs. Stamkos. The two of them were top ten goal scorers (Stamkos finished second with 43G) but both players had an underwhelming first round. Pacioretty (2G, no assists in 5 games) and Stamkos (no goals, 3 assists in 7 games) are both expected to step it up in the second round. These two snipers have a ton of potential to swing the series in their team’s favour and I’m expecting them both to try and do just that. I pray that Pacioretty’s concussion is not a nagging issue for him going forward.

Goaltending:

I could not care less about their regular season match up and stats against one another. Carey Price is the better goalie and it’s not even close to being debatable. The last player I’m worried about showing up is Price. He will give the Canadiens a chance to win on any given night. All due respect to Ben Bishop, but he isn’t Carey. Plus, if you get him moving side to side, he tends to have an issue. Look at the series against Detroit. Montreal has the edge here, as they would against any team in the world.

Prediction:

Habs in 7. This series will be a battle. Montreal tends to step up in the playoffs and I’d be more than happy to throw the regular season advanced stats out the window. That being said, there are many reasons to fear Tampa and I’m not taking them lightly, nor should you. All in all, the Habs have Carey Price and they do not. That point alone can justify my prediction.

Go Habs Go.

Talk to me on Twitter!  – @HabsNewsAndTalk

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