In the mug's game of Stanley Cup playoff predictions, it doesn't get much easier for the mugs than the Canadiens' opening round series with Tampa Bay.
The injury to Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop makes Montreal the clear favourite. Bishop's Canadiens counterpart and Vezina Trophy co-frontrunner, Carey Price, is coming off a breakthrough season that included career-bests in goals against average and save percentage and an Olympic gold medal. Never mind the Vezina - Price a frontrunner for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, and anyone who thinks his suspect post-season history is cause for concern hasn't been paying attention. The way Price has embraced pressure situations this season, it wouldn't be surprising if he actually lifts his game to another level in the playoffs.
With Tampa pinning its goaltending hopes on journeyman backup Anders Lindback and/or 21 year old rookie Kristers Gudlevskis, the Canadiens have a decisive advantage at the most important position on the ice. Everything else being equal - and there's not a lot else that separates the Canadiens and the Lightning - the smart money says the Habs take the series in fairly short order.
Montreal in five.