Down the homestretch of the regular season, it was looking more and more likely that the Senators were gonna find themselves in the 8 seed on a collision course with the Pens. Instead, the Sens got up to the 7 seed and have dispatched of the 2nd-seeded Canadiens easily -- very easily. And that's because the Senators weren't as advertised coming in the playoffs. They aren't your typical 7 seed, just like the Islanders weren't your typical 8 seed.
And that all boils down to Erik Karlsson. He's the game-changer for the Senators, and Ottawa coach Paul MacLean probably has the Jack Adams Award on lockdown for keeping the Senators above water long enough to sneak into the playoffs without Karlsson. But now they're in the playoffs, Erik Karlsson is back, and his presence alone makes that "7 seed" title meaningless. If he's the game-changer he's advertised to be, he's probably good for a couple of wins. Those extra wins for the Senators while Karlsson was rehabbing his Achilles injury could've jumped the Senators all the way up to the 2 seed.
There's a lot of chatter about the Senators being a better matchup for the Pens than the Islanders were. That's all poop talk. By definition, having a surefire Jack Adams nominee behind your bench means your team is well-coached. If the Pens are routinely careless with the puck and make the same mistakes they did in the first round against the Isles, the Senators will capitalize.
We aren't predicting the outcome of this series, but here's some more info: