MONTREAL -- All the talk can finally turn to action.
After three days of anticipation and buildup, all the finger pointing about who is the favourite, who has the pressure, and the predictions of who will win will come to a halt as the Ottawa Senators take on the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca
, 6:30 p.m. ET).
With an extra day to prepare for the start of the first playoff series
between these two teams in modern-day history, the Senators and Habs are both ready to drop the puck
"We want to play. It's been a long couple of days, we've talked about everything there is to talk about, you guys have got all your stories that you need to get, now it's about the battle on the ice and playing in the fun time of year," Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges said Thursday morning.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson didn't mind the break.
"It's been nice to have a few days before the first game," he said. "It's been a hectic regular season and having a few days to regroup and get ready has been nice. It's going to be fun tonight. Hopefully, we can go, play our game and get off to a good start."Doing the splits
The Senators have a simple goal in Montreal: Win one game. The Bell Centre is never an easy place to play, but the Senators have had success there this year and are hopeful if they can get a victory in one of the first two games they'll go home for Game 3 on Sunday in good shape.
"Winning one game would be ideal," said centre Zack Smith. "If you can do that then you can go home and see what happens."Roster rumblings
Expect the Habs to dress a fourth line of Travis Moen, Ryan White and Brandon Prust. That means veterans Jeff Halpern and Colby Armstrong could be healthy scratches.
"I'm just trying to do what I can to help the team," said White. "The guys who aren't playing will be ready when they do get a chance and it's the same for me. If I'm there I'll be ready to go, if not I'll be ready when I get the call."
The Senators will scratch defenceman Patrick Wiercioch. That's a little surprising because he had a goal and two assists in four games vs. the Habs this season and has been one of the club's better players.
Ready to roll
All eyes will be on Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson and his counterpart Carey Price. Anderson is looking forward to the chance to get into the playoffs.
"It's an exciting time of year. Everybody is looking forward to getting that first shift out of the way," said Anderson. "Definitely want to come out and play hard."
Coach Michel Therrien said Price is ready. "He is in his bubble ... Exactly what I wanted," said Therrien.
Anderson isn't worried about being the focus of the Montreal fans.
"The good news is I don't really understand French so they can yell at me all they want," said Anderson, smiling. "It's going to be an exciting building. They're energetic and they know the game."
Montreal defenceman Jarred Tinordi is looking forward to his playoff debut. "I had a really good sleep last night. But we'll see how it goes with the nap this afternoon," said Tinordi .... Habs' captain Brian Gionta liked the fact the club had an extra couple of days to work. "We got back to details with our system, our gameplan and, for sure, you have to take advantage of that time because we haven't had it all year long. It's not a bad time to have it," said Gionta. The Senators have a 10-11 record lifetime in Game 1 of the playoffs while the Habs are 50-27-2. The club has a 54-62 record in the post-season ... The Habs have won 69 of 92 first round series that have started on home ice ... Coach Paul MacLean made a small change to his defensive pairings in the skate. He moved Chris Phillips to play with veteran Sergei Gonchar and Eric Gryba was with Jared Cowen. Phillips has played with Gryba and Gonchar has been with Cowen most nights down the stretch.
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