If you were fortunate enough to be able to watch the entire Penguins and Rangers game last night you got a real taste of what playoff hockey is all about. The Rangers came out of the gates hard as many would expect given their home ice advantage and they were on the board just 28 seconds in to take a very early 1-0 lead. The Rangers carried the majority of the play for the remainder of the first period, but for the rest of the game it was arguably the Penguins who outplayed the hometown Rangers but in the end were unable to fully dig themselves out of a 2-0 hole and lost game 1 by a 2-1 score. We did take a loss on this one as I had the Penguins to upset the Rangers at +158, and in my opinion Pittsburgh did in fact deserve a better fate on this night. I don’t mind taking losses like this quite as much and if you watched last night’s game it was evident Pittsburgh was right in the game up until the final buzzer and played much better than most people would have thought coming in. I like this series to be much tighter than the consensus picks will tell you and I see the Pens winning at least a couple games and giving the Rangers a solid run for their money. At the end of the day a loss is a loss and I will look to avenge the disappointment of last night’s result with a winner here tonight.
Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens
My Pick – UNDER (+115)
With tonight’s pick why not go right to the series that will grab most viewers’ attention due to what was a crazy game 1 between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. You knew right from puck drop that these two Canadian rivals were going to go to war against one another as they have done in the past, and this series certainly has no shortage of headlines entering game 2. P.K. Subban was ejected from game one after he slashed the wrist of Ottawa’s Mark Stone and actually caused a microfracture, the extent of which is currently unknown. However, after seeing the post-game press conferences of both teams it is apparent revenge is certainly a possibility tonight and this series is about to get ugly. What hasn’t been ugly this season though is the play of the two goaltenders who started game one and in all likelihood will start game two. While Carey Price had just an .875 save percentage against the Senators this year his dominance over the rest of the league can’t be ignored and I believe a rebound performance is in order for the Vezina Trophy favorite. Price’s league-high 44 wins and 1.96 goals against average and .933 save percentage this year warrants consideration for the Hart Trophy as well and he has proven in the postseason (last year before his season ending injury) that he has the ability to lead Montreal to the promise land. Andrew Hammond was arguably the biggest story of the last few months of the NHL season as his .941 save percentage and 1.76 goals against average over 24 games with the Sens came out of absolutely no where and was a monumental reason why Ottawa qualified for postseason play. Both of these goalies stumbled in game one but it’s clear with the numbers provided above that they are fully capable of stifling the opposition. It is important to note that the slash Subban laid on Stone gave the Sens a five-minute powerplay in which they scored twice, and also ejected Subban from the game which left Montreal without it’s best player. If that had not occurred and the Sens didn’t have a five-minute powerplay to work with it’s quite reasonable to assume the game would not have produced so many goals. Stone is questionable for tonight’s game and it’s obvious that even if he does play he will not be playing at 100%. Max Pacioretty is also questionable again tonight which could leave both teams without their best offensive players, something that bodes very well for this pick. The goaltending is going to show up tonight and in what will be a very physical game, I expect not nearly as many goals in a low-scoring game 2 from the Bell Centre in Montreal.