With the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 win over the New York Rangers this afternoon, the Canadiens first round matchup is now set in stone. They will be in Washington on Thursday to play the Capitals in a seven game set that pits the NHL's leading club against the Eastern Conference's eighth seed.
It's safe to say that Montreal may not have drawn its prefered foe of three possible scenarios today, but it is very interesting to note that the Canadiens have fared well against the Capitals, being one of a few teams to actually win (technically) its season series against the NHL's beasts.
Incredibly, Montreal have two wins and an overtime loss against the Caps, taking five of a possible eight points over the season. Washington, for their part, also have two wins and an overtime loss against Montreal. The teams were quite evenly matched in many areas.
What follows, is a recap and statistical breakdown, with some notes and analysis, looking back on the four games involving the two teams this season.
Montreal and Washington, in four meetings, each scored 14 goals, discounting Washington's shoutout winner. The scores were as follows. Click the links to tale a closer look at individual games from the Canadiens official site.
November 20: Montreal 3 Capitals 2
November 28: Capitals 4 Montreal 3 (SO)
January 5: Capitals 4 Montreal 2
February 10: Montreal 6 Capitals 5 (OT)
For Montreal, there were 10 different goal scorers, with 21 players participating in the goals. That is quite well spread out. For the Capitals, less balance across the lineup, with eight goal scorers doing the damage, and five others contributing assists.
In the four games, the Canadiens best player was Tomas Plekanec (4-1-5), followed by Roman Hamrlik (0-4-4), Travis Moen (2-1-3), Mike Cammalleri (1-2-3) and Sergei Kostitsyn (0-3-3).
Other multi-point getters for Montreal were Scott Gomez (1-1), Tom Pyatt (1-1), Jaroslav Spacek (1-1), Max Pacioretty (0-2), and Marc-Andre Bergeron (0-2). Maxim Lapierre, Josh Gorges, Benoit Pouliot and Glen Metropolit added singles, with assists going to Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Mara, Ryan O' Byrne, Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, David Desharnais and Hal Gill.
Brooks Laich (3-2-5), Mike Green (1-4-5), Tomas Fleischmann (1-4-5) and Eric Fehr (4-0-4) lead the way for Washington.
Other multi-pointers for the Capitals were Niklas Backstrom (1-3), Alexander Ovechkin (1-3), Alexander Semin (2-1). Brendan Morrison scored one goal for Washington, with single assists going to Mike Knuble, Tom Poti, Alexandre Giroux, Kyle Alzner and Mathieu Perreault.
On November 20, the Canadiens won by a 3-2 score.
Fehr (Perreault, Green)
Moen (Hamrlik, Cammalleri)
Plekanec (A. Kostitsyn, Pacioretty)
Cammalleri (Mara, Plekanec)
Morrison (Green, Backstrom)
On November 28, the Capitals won 4-3 over Montreal in a shootout, with Niklas Backstrom netting the winner.
Fehr (Alzner, Laich)
Ovechkin (Backstrom, Giroux)
Spacek (Hamrlik, Pacioretty)
Plekanec (Hamrlik, Spacek)
Moen (Bergeron, Cammalleri)
Fehr (Ovechkin, Fleischmann)
On January 5 the Capitals defeated Montreal 4-2, the only game of the four not decided by a one goal margin.
Fehr (Laich, Green)
Semin (Poti, Fleischmann)
Pouliot (Bergeron, Markov)
On February 10, the Canadiens and Capitals played the most wide open game of the four, with the Canadiens winning 6-5 in overtime.
Gomez (Gionta, Pyatt)
Laich (Fleishmann, Semin)
Pyatt (O' Byrne, Gomez)
Backstrom (Ovechkin, Green)
Metropolit (Desharnais, Hamrlik)
Lapierre (S. Kostitsyn, Moen)
Plekanec (S. Kostitsyn, Gill)
Laich (Knuble, Ovechkin)
Plekanec (S. Kostitsyn)
In terms of goaltending, here are the stats for Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price against Washington for this season, and in their careers.
Halak has a career mark of 3-2-0 2.60 GAA .905 SV% with 2 of those starts coming in 2006 when the Capitals finished 26th in the league. He has not faced Washington this season.
Price has a career mark of 2-1-3 3.53 GAA .891 SV%, including 2-1-1 3.38 GAA .899 SV% marks this season. He played all four games against Washington.
Against Montreal, the Capitals have used three goaltenders this season, including Jose Theodore and Simyon Varlamov once, and Michal Neuvirth twice.
Theodore is the likely starter in the series and against Montreal he has career marks of 2-1-1 4.05 GAA .877 SV%, with 1 SO. This season, he is 0-0-1 6.49 GAA .840 SV% against Montreal. Varlamov (1-0-0 2.82 GAA .875 SV%) and Neuvirth (1-1-0 2.90 GAA .887 SV%) are unlikely to see action against Montreal.
Among the many obvious stats and facts that differentiate the clubs, it is curious to note that the Capitals surrendered 10 goals more (233 to 223) than the Canadiens over 82 games, while scoring 101 more. Clearly, the Caps could be the 1977 Habs incarnate.
Washington have a 50 goal scorer (Ovechkin), a 40 goal man (Semin), a 30 goal scorer (Backstrom) and four players having hit for a least 20 (Laich, Knuble, Fleishman and Fehr). Additionally, their top defensemen Mike Green has counted 19 goals. Four Capitals players have in excess of 70 points.
The Canadiens for their part, seems a desperate mismatch, with only three 25 goal scorers in Gionta, Cammalleri and Plekanec. Next are Pouliot, Metropolit and Andrei Kostitsyn with 17, 16 and 15 respectively. Plekanec is their lone 70 point player, while defenseman Markov, injured half the season, normally posts near to Green's number. Bergeron on the blueline, numbered 13 goals in 60 games with Montreal.
Perhaps it will be in the smaller details that such a first glance mismatch could play out. Stay tuned to this posting for some later updates.