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Thursday night the #7 seed in the East, the Ottawa Senators, head to Montreal to take on the #2 seed Montreal Canadiens. To give us the lowdown from the Senators perspective, we’ve reached out to Peter Raaymakers of Silversevensens.com.  Make sure to check the site out and follow them on Twitter at @SilverSevenSens.

1. Congrats on the big win in Boston. How important was it that the Senators avoided the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round?

Avoiding Boston was good, but I’m always cautious about picking opponents–Montreal finished where they did in the standings, so it still won’t be easy for the Senators. However, the smaller and faster Canadians are a slightly better match than the Bruins, in all likelihood; either way, it will make for a fast and exciting series that will have no shortage of either offensive chances or physicality. It’ll be a great playoff series.

2. For those of us in the U.S. who don’t know, how big is it for Canada to have 4 teams represented in the Stanley Cup playoffs?

I’m not sure it’s that big… I’d be just as happy if the Canadiens and Leafs had missed the playoffs, because I don’t like those teams. Politicians will likely enjoy it and try to score some points, but the fact that a team happens to be based in a Canadian city doesn’t make me any more likely to cheer for them.

3. On Feb. 13 Norris Trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlsson suffered a 70-percent tear in his left Achilles tendon. How in the world was this guy able to come back already AND played 27 minutes in his first game back?

The next person who’s able to explain his return in a coherent manner will be the first. But it’s clear based on his mobility that Erik Karlsson isn’t 100 per cent, even if his Achilles’ tendon is. He’s slightly less mobile side-to-side, and although he’s still fast when moving up the ice, he’s got to work on his agility–something you’d expect from a guy who was kept off his feet for two months. Even a slightly less-than-full-strength Karlsson is pretty darn good, though, as his 4P in 3GP will testify.

4. The Sens obviously don’t light up the scoreboard. Is that directly correlated with Karlsson and Jason Spezza’s absence?

Yes, it’s been hard to produce offence without the team’s two biggest offensive producers. Time without Milan Michalek was also challenging, and Guillaume Latendresse missed time as well. It’s put a lot of pressure on Kyle Turris, who hasn’t been consistently capable of providing offence, as well as a lot of the team’s rookies and role players. The key, as it has been all season, will be in the crease with Craig Anderson.

5. The Sens and Canadiens play almost the complete opposite styles of hockey. Does this play more into the Sens hands?

I think the Sens and Habs play pretty similar styles of hockey, although the Senators will probably be a bit more structured and physical in the series. That physicality may pose challenges for the Habs’ top two lines, but they’ve got plenty of size in the bottom six. I think the teams are fairly well-matched. The key will be Montreal’s potent powerplay against the Sens’ league-leading penalty kill.

6. Craig Anderson isn’t exactly a household name. Please tell everyone how good this guy really is.

Craig Anderson has been ridiculously good this season, to the point that it’s even surprised people in Ottawa. He’s set a modern-day record for save percentage this season, and he’s a playoff performer. He’ll definitely be amped up for the first round of the playoffs, you can be sure of that.

7. Kyle Turris was give a lot of money to be a big offensive force. Has he been a bit of a disappointment?

Well, Turris’ contract extension hasn’t really kicked in yet, so he’s still on his $1.4M deal–and even when the extension kicks in, it’s a very reasonable $3.5M per year. Would fans have liked to see more production from him? Absolutely, but I think we all also realize that he’s been thrust in a pretty tough situation without Jason Spezza and he’s also still a pretty young player. I’m not sure we’ll ever see him become a first-line centreman, but I’m still convinced that he’d make a very good second-liner at the least.

8. Is this the end of the line for Daniel Alfredsson?

He hasn’t announced anything officially, but I don’t think so. He still seems to have a lot left in the tank, and I think he’d like to see what can happen next season when the team gets a full season of a roster that includes Karlsson, Spezza, Anderson, Jared Cowen, Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg, and everyone else. It’s an exciting time, and I’m not sure Alfie will be excited to walk away from that.

9. Series prediction?

True Sens homer that I am, I’ll take Ottawa in six. The key is playing physical while avoiding taking many penalties and some stellar play from Craig Anderson.

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