Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 6, 2010

Are the Ottawa Senators for real and, for that matter, are the Montreal Canadiens?

Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 6, 2010
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

THE STORY: Are the Ottawa Senators for real and, for that matter, are the Montreal Canadiens? The Senators have managed to win four of five, outscoring their opponents 17-11 in the process. Impressive yes, but not one of those opponents could be considered a legitimate contender. The Canadiens’ division-leading record of 8-4-1 suggests they might be one, but it’s probably much too early to say. Whatever they are, they know how to beat Ottawa.

THE SUBPLOTS: Brian Elliott is such an interesting cog in this team. Nothing about his low-key style suggests he’s got what it takes to lead a team as its No. 1 goaltender, but he just finds ways to pick up points. He broke his own franchise record for consecutive wins by a goaltender last season and is stringing together another impressive run as we speak. As such, the now-healthy (for how long?) Pascal Leclaire sits and waits for an opportunity. I’m going to say it now — the Senators would be silly not to re-sign this pending RFA at the end of the season.

THE WILDCARD: When Jason Spezza is on, this team flourishes. He picked up a goal and and three assists against the Islanders on Thursday, making some fantasy hockey GMs pretty happy in the process. It’s been pointed out in this space before, but it bears repeating: Spezza loves playing the Habs. He has 51 points (including 24 goals) in 41 career games against Montreal.

THE OPPONENT: It’s true, the Canadiens have won twice against the Senators this season: One victory was convincing (a 3-0 shutout), while the other was a little iffy (they had to come back after going down 3-1 early in the game). Can they win again? They did play Friday night in Buffalo, so fatigue could be a factor. On the other hand, they won, so that momentum could carry over to a big home game on Hockey Night in Canada.

THE QUOTE: “It keeps you in the game and it gives you a lot of defensive responsibility and I think that’s what I’m looking for. It’s something that I want to embrace and the coach has been helping me out a lot. It has been a few years, but I used to kill a lot of penalties in the past (in the minors). I’ve always been a guy that kills a lot of penalties and I think that if you can get used to where you’ve got to be and make the right reads, I can use my strengths.” — Spezza on his expanding role with the Senators.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Filip Kuba (broken leg, day-to-day), LW Milan Michalek (knee, out until at least late next week). Canadiens — C Tomas Plekanec (undisclosed illness, questionable).

THE PREDICTION: There’s no doubting the fact the Senators have looked good during their current streak, but this match-up will be challenging. It remains to be seen whether Carey Price can sustain his decent play though the entire schedule, but Montreal’s been a handful for Ottawa so far. I think it’s continue at the Bell Centre Saturday. Senators 2, Canadiens 3. Click here to see who the rest of our panel likes in tonight’s game.

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