Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Eastern Conference Round 1: Mississauga Steelheads (2) vs Ottawa 67's (7)


Record vs "East" Should say "West"

Record vs "East" should say "West"


Interesting Series as you cant put much stock into their season series as all but 1 game was before the trade deadline and Mississauga didnt truly ice a full lineup till game 4. Ottawa on the other hand has played all the top teams in the East very tough. Conversely the Steelheads absolutely feasted on the bottom 5 in the East suffering only 2 regulation losses all year.


Players to Watch
Mississauga
Spencer Watson: OA forward who came over in a mid season trade with Kingston. Was still recovering from surgery at the time of the trade and Mississauga's turn around coincided with his insertion into the lineup on December 12th. Picked up 53 points in 41 games helping solidify the top 6 of the Steelheads. Added 17 points for Kingston last year in the playoffs in 9 games. Look for him to put up similiar numbers for the Steelheads.

Ville Saarijarvi: Another aquisition whose Steelheads debut was delayed due to injury. One of the best possesion defenders in the OHL and an elite offenise driving pick moving defender. Saarijarvi picked up 31 points in 34 games while taking an insane 154 shots in that period of time.

Ottawa:
Auston Keating: 2015 1st round pick has had a stellar sophomore season with 41 assists. Voted 3rd most underrated player in the Eastern Conference.

Tye Felhaber: 3rd year forward who came over in a mid season trade with Saginaw. Missed part of February and March with injury but suited up in the 67's final 3 games of the regular season. In my opinion was the Spirits best forward vs SSM in the 2015 playoffs. If he can become that player again it could be real trouble for Mississauga.

Keys to the Series

Mississauga: The Steelheads need to keep the puck away from the 67's. They are more skilled and have better finishers. Maintaining possession and dominating in the chances department will make a difficult task almost impossible for Ottawa.

Ottawa: Ottawa has had lots of success this season vs the top 5 teams in the East. They are a team that seems to play better against stronger competition. They are clearly the underdogs on paper but have the pieces to push Mississauga. They will need strong goaltending which is a given. They will need to force the Steelheads into penalties. Mississauga was on the PK 50 more times than on the PP during the season. If Ottawa can exploit this it could make a big difference in a short series.

Season Series

Nov 13th
OTT 5 @ MISS 3
Dec 4th
MISS 6 @ OTT 3
Dec 18th
OTT 4 @ MISS 3
Jan 24th
MISS 6 @ OTT 1






Other Series Previews

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

From @NaitSayger comes his OHL playoff preview for SportsNet

Prediction

Steelheads in 6. A healthy Mississauga team will be just too difficult for Ottawa to overcome. This 67's team is still another year away but should be able to steal a game or two.

Eastern Conference Round 1: Oshawa Generals (3) vs Sudbury Wolves (6)

(2) Mississauga vs (7) Ottawa
(4) London vs (5) Windsor




This is the first meeting between these two Eastern Conference combatants in the playoffs since 1994. A series which was won by the Sudbury Wolves.

The season series between these two teams has been spirited to say the least with plenty of fights, majors and game misconducts. On paper these two teams are evenly matched so it may come down to who keeps their composure. A category I give an edge to Oshawa in. While both like to play physical the Generals tend to be more composure highlighted by the fact that they have more PPs this year than PKs where Sudbury has been shorthanded a league high 69 more times than on the PP. 


Players to Watch

Oshawa
Allan McShane: Came over to Oshawa from Erie in the Cirelli trade and has been one of the highest scoring trade deadline aquisitions with 21 points in 29 games.

Medric Mercier: Picked up from SSM early in the season Mercier lead all Dmen in the OHL with 22 goals this year. 21 of which came with Oshawa. His breakout allowed the Generals to move Vande Somple to London without expieriencing too much of a drop off.

Sudbury

Dimitry Sokolov: The Russian sniper potted 48 goals this season and was particularly dangerous on the power play where he added 17 which led all OHL players.

Macauley Carson: The 2nd year forward has blossomed this year picking up his first 30 goal season and watching his points per game total jump from .18 to .74. A relentless play with the puck and on the forecheck he will need to add secondary scoring to take pressure off of Sokolov.

Keys to the Series

Oshawa: Oshawa needs to stay composed. They are the better team and cant let Sudbury and more specifically the Pilon brothers to get under their skin and off their games. I physical and disciplined Oshawa will be difficult for Sudbury to overcome.

Sudbury: Needs to get Sokolov in a position to dominate. Oshawa will be trying to shut him down so making that job difficult will be key for the Sudbury coaching staff.

Season Series

Sept 23rd
OSH 3 @ SBY 4
Oct 16th
SBY 5 @ OSH 3
Oct 28th
OSH 3 @ SBY 1
Nov 13th
SBY 2 @ OSH 4


Other Previews

From @Generalsupdates is his preview of the Oshawa/Sudbury Series

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

Prediction

This one is really close for me and I feel Oshawa is a prime upset candidate. While I like Sudbury's fire power I just dont trust them when the pressure is on or their ability to avoid stupid penalties which will give Oshawa the edge. For that I am picking the Generals in 6.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Eastern Conference Round 1: Kingston Frontenacs (4) vs Hamilton Bulldogs (5)

(4) London vs (5) Windsor




A battle of Black and Gold proportions as these Eastern Conference Rivals renew playoff acquaintances. Kingston comes into this series after making it to round 2 last season for the first time in ages. Hamilton meanwhile make the playoffs in their 2nd season in Hamilton after moving from Belleville.

Which team will advance as the black and gold champion and who will exit black and blue will be exciting to watch as these are two teams that do not get along.

Players to Watch

Hamilton

Matt Luff:


The offensive catalyst for the Bulldogs this season has battled injuries and Hamilton has struggled to create offence when he isnt healthy. When healthy however he is a point per game player capable of taking over a game offensivly. Hamilton will need him on top of his game against the top team in the league at preventing goals.

Justin Lemke:
Veteran of 200 OHL regular season games with the Belleville/Hamilton franchise. Has rebounded with a solid year for Hamilton after breaking his leg last October that cost him all but 19 games of his 18 year old season. With the play of the Hamilton blueline has failed to live up to expectations this year a strong showing in the playoffs will go a long way towards building momentum heading into next season.

Kingston Frontneacs

Jason Robertson:

The '99 4th round pick has built on his phenominal rookie season and has turned himself into an elite OHL sniper with (insert goals). He has accounted for (team pertentage of goals) this year and while he will need help to beat Hamilton he will still have to shoulder a significant amount of the load.

Stephen Desrochers:

The Maple Leafs 2015 6th rounder is one of 3 Leafs '15 draft picks playing in the OHL who have yet to earn a contract from the club. Desrochers will look to build upon his strong year where he set career marks in assists and points as he tries to impress Leafs brass and earn a contract. A vetren of 240 OHL regular season games as well as 42 playoff games which include an OHL championship and Memorial Cup title.

Keys to the Series

Hamilton: Lock down home ice and steal a game in Kingston. The Fronts are a vastly different team at home than on the road. At home they have a positive goal differential and are one of the best teams in the league. On the road they the exact opposite.

Kingston: Prevent Hamiltons fast starts. The Bulldogs have dominated Kingstonin the Opening period this season and with the Fronts lack of fire power they are not built to play catch up.

Season Series

Head to Head Results

Sept 24th
KGN 2 @ HAM 7
Oct 30th
HAM 4 @ KGN 2
Dec 3rd
KGN 3 @ HAM 2 SO
Jan 21st
KGN 0 @ Ham 2
Feb 26th
HAM 1 @ KGN 3
Mar 17th
HAM 3 @ KGN 5



Other Series Previews

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

Predictions

Kingston in 7. I know what you are thinking "What kind of idiot would pick Kingston to win a playoff series" Well I am sure people felt the same way when I picked Peterborough to win the division. This will be a close series but Kingston is such a different animal on home ice that getting home ice advantage should be enough to swing it in their favour. Also after being a Bulldogs season ticket holder this year I am just not sold on this team.

Eastern Conference Round 1: Peterborough Petes (1) vs Niagara IceDogs (8)

Other Previews

A first time playoff meeting between these two franchises if my quick research on Wikipedia is correct. This is the first Division and Conference regular season title for the Petes since 2005-06 which also happens to be the last time this storied franchise claimed the OHL title.

For the Icedogs the make it 10 straight playoff appearances while in St. Catharines as they avoided a "play-in" game when Kingston came roaring back against the Battalion on Sunday. The IceDogs are definitely in the rebuild faze of the junior hockey cycle but they have some fantastic pieces to build around especially '16 1st round pick Akil Thomas.

Players to Watch

Peterborough

Zach Gallant: After a disappointing rooking campain in '15-'16 the Petes 2015 1st round has blossomed in year two where he has jumped from .08 points per game to .78. On top of that he has become one of the best faceoff men in the OHL.

Matt Timms: The '98 born defender has been an offensive catalyst for the Petes from the back end this year when he became the first Petes defenceman to pick up 50 assist in a season since Zach Bogosian.

Niagara

Akil Thomas: The highest scoring '00 born forward in the OHL. Thomas broke the Icedogs rookie scoring record this year and should lead the Niagara offence next season. Don't let his age fool you, he has the ability to cause Peterborough problems this round

Ryan Mantha: After the New York Rangers decided not to sign their 2014 draft pick Mantha came back as a man on a mission and blew all his career scoring marks out of the water on his way to earning a FA NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

Keys to the Series

Peterborough: Wells gets to star in a playoff series against his hometown team. Peterborough will look to have all 4 lines rolling and overwhelm the Icedogs as they will need balanced scoring in the later rounds.


Niagara: The IceDogs have been putred this year vs the top 5 teams in the East. Dhillion has the ability to steal a game or two but can the offence produce enough to make this plausible?

Season Series

Oct 2nd
NIA 3 @ PTB 5
Nov 8th
NIA 1 @ PTB 3
Jan 6th
PTB 3 @ NIA 4
Feb 3rd

PTB 3 @ NIA 2



Other Series Previews

They guys over at Icedogs This Week have already released their Series Preview

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

From @NaitSayger comes his OHL playoff preview for SportsNet

Predictions

Petes in 5. Dhillon will steal a game but over all Wells and the depth of the Petes are too much for the IceDogs to over come.

Western Conference Round 1: London Knights (4) vs Windsor Spitfires (5)

Other Previews


The reigning Memorial Cup champion London Knights and the 2017 Memorial Cup hosts Windsor Spitfires in a monumental first round match up. This will be the 6th time this century that these 2 bitter rivals have met in the playoffs with London holding a 5-1 advantage.

Both teams were buyers at the deadline looking add pieces to augment a deep run but alas one of these teams will be exiting the OHL playoffs after round one. Windsor though has the insurance policy of being the Memorial Cup hosts so not all is lost with an early exit.

Players to Watch

London

Max Jones: Injuries and suspension have slowed Jones down to only 33 games this year but when in the lineup he has been a Spitfires killer with 3 goals and 2 assists in only 3 games against Windsor. Was limited to 6 games last playoffs due to suspension issues so it is imperative he plays with a certain level of restraint while not taking away from the aspects of his game that allow him to dominate.

Victor Mete: Arguably the best defenceman in the OHL. Mete has been limited to 50 games this year. His ability to move the puck is very beneficial to the London offence and often hides how much of an asset he is defensively.

Windsor

Sean Day: Day recently signed with the New York Rangers and is enjoying his best OHL season. He will need to continue to build on that in the post season to shoulder some of the load for Sergachev with Stanley till injured

Logan Brown: Brown picked up 6 assists vs London this season the only problem was they game from 1 4 assist game and 1 2 assist game. Windsor will need Brown to be a consistent threat if they want to knock off the Knights.


Keys to the Series

Knights: This has been a tight series all year with both teams battling incomplete lineups. On paper there is no denying that London is the better team. Coming together and playing as the elite unit they should will be imperative. Windsor has the pieces to win this series and it will only get harder from this point on.

Spitfires: Special Teams, goaltending and convincing Michael DiPietro that every game is a Teddy Bear Toss game for London.

Season Series

Oct 9th
LDN 4 @ WSR 5
Oct 14th
WSR 0 @ LDN 4
Nov 20th
WSR 2 @ LDN 3 OT
Jan 3rd
LDN 1 @ WSR 5
Feb 24th
WSR 1 @ LDN 4
Mar 4th

LDN 1 @ WSR 4



Other Series Previews

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

From @NaitSayger comes his OHL playoff preview for SportsNet

Prediction

I really want to pick London in 6 but I just dont see the Knights sealing the deal in Windsor. Game 7 however anything can happen and Windsor could bring in a hypnotist and brain wash DiPietro into thinking it is a Teddy Bear toss night and then London is in real trouble. Because of this I am going with Windsor in 7 games.

Western Conference Round 1: Owen Sound Attack (3) vs Kitchener Rangers (6)

Other Previews




This is the first time these two Mid-West division rivals have met in the Opening round since 2011-12 when Kitchener came out victorious. Owen Sound comes into this series having set a franchise record in wins and points, breaking their previous high set in their OHL championship season of 2011. The Attack though have only won 1 playoff series since that fairy tale season and will be looking to make a deep run again.

Kitchener entered the season with high hopes but injuries put the team behind the 8 ball to the point where selling and building up assets made the most sense. Adam Mascherin became the first Ranger to hit the 100 point plateau since Jason Akenson but Mascherin along wont be able to knock off the Attack.

Players to Watch

Owen Sound
Kevin Hancock: Voted most underrated player in the Western Conference in the OHL Coaches poll. Has exploded this year with 29 goals and 54 assists after finishing with a total of 28 points as a 17 year old rookie last season. Important cog in a very dangerous and underrated Owen Sound attack.

Santino Centrome: Highest scoring defenceman in Owen Sound Attack History. Really burst onto the scene with 3 goals in 5 games in a 2014 first round loss to the Soo. His game has grown every year peaking this season with 60+ assists and 70+ points.

Kitchener Rangers

Adam Mascherin: I have been a fan of Mascherin's since he was an underaged AP with the Georgetown Raiders in the OJHL. Milton would throw out an all overage line against led by Jeremy Goetzmann hacking and slashing him but all Adam would do is put up points in helping his team to the Sweep. He has continued that development and is now an elite offensive OHL piece.

Giovanni Vallati: The Rangers 1st round pick in 2016 Vallati is one of many very exciting '99/'00 born players on this Rangers team. With the graduation of Di Perna and Hora next year there will be plenty of ice time for him to make a jump. Look for him to start building momentum towards that in this series.

Keys to the Series

Attack: Keep doing what they've been doing since Early December. The Attack have a 14 game winning streak against the Western Conferences bottom 5 teams. There isn't really much reason to think they cant win 4 out of their next 7.

Rangers: Let Mascherin shine. Have Opilka steal some games. Get traffic infont of McNiven and hope for the best. Rangers might steal 1 game but anything more would be a tall task.

Season Series

Oct 15th
KIT 3 @ OS 5
Nov 11th
OS 3 @ KIT 4
Nov 25th
OS 6 @ KIT 2
Dec 30th
OS 3 @ KIT 0
Jan 8th
KIT 2 @ OS 5
Jan 29th
KIT 4 @ OS 6
Feb 23rd
OS 5 @ KIT 0
Mar 18th

KIT 2 @ OS 7



Other Series Previews

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

From @NaitSayger comes his OHL playoff preview for SportsNet
Prediction

Owen Sound 4. Owen Sound has just been so dominant vs Kitchener this season that I cant see the Rangers winning any game.

Western Conference Round 1: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (2) vs Flint Firebirds (7)

Other Previews



This is the first playoff appearance for the Firebirds franchise since they have moved to Flint. These two organizations have a long playoff history from Flints time in Plymouth. The last time these division rivals met in the playoffs was '09-'10 when Plymouth knocked off the Hounds in 5 games in an opening round 4vs5 match up.

This season the series has been heated and interesting with the road team winning all matches and the Firebirds have yet to hold a lead after 40 minutes. Kole Sherwood was also given a 3 game suspension earlier in the season for a grotesquely viscous crosscheck at the end of the game on January 20th. 


Players to Watch

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Hayden Verbeek: Finished 2nd as hardest worker in the Western Conference in the OHL coaches poll. Can cause series match problems for opposing teams bottom 6 with his speed and relentless forecheck. Unsung hero of this Greyhounds team.

Bobby MacIntyre: Finished 3rd as the most underrated player in the Western Conference in the OHL coaches poll. Took his game to another level in the playoffs last year. His game has started to take off again in March and will be looking to carry that into Round 1.

Flint Firebirds

Kole Sherwood: Finished 3rd in the Best Shot category in the OHL coaches poll among Western Conference skaters. Has OHL championship experience from last season with London. Will be leaned on against the Greyhounds.

Mathieu Henderson: OA defenceman has had a career year as his Points per Game has jumped from .53 to .79. With 264 career games he helps form the backbone of the young Flint defense with fellow OA Alex Peters. Their leadership in the first round will be paramount for the Firebirds.

Keys to the Series

Greyhounds: Close the games out. Sault Ste. Marie was outscored 10-6 in the 3rd period. If you takeout the 3 goal 3rd in their 5-0 win on November 5th then the Hounds were outscored 10-3 in the final period. The Greyhounds never trailed after 2 periods against Flint this season so taking care of the 3rd period will go a long way in helping them win what should be a very winnable series.

Firebirds: Flint will need to be disciplined and not give the Hounds extra chances on special teams. Flint will also need to find more balance in their attack as Caamano, Moore and Sherwood accounted for 60% of the teams goals during the season series.

Season Series

Oct 21st
Flint 4 @ SSM 3 OT
Nov 5th
SSM 5 @ Flint 3
Dec 28th
SSM 5 @ Flint 0
Jan 18th
Flint 5 @ SSM 4 SO
Jan 20th
SSM 5 @ Flint 4
Feb 11th
Flint 5 @ SSM 3



Other Series Previews

From @DominicTiano is his Playoff preview for all 8 series

From @NaitSayger comes his OHL playoff preview for SportsNet
Prediction

Sault Ste. Marie in 4. Greyhounds have too much depth and Flint lacks the goaltending needed to steal a series. I expect the Hounds to keep the puck away for the Firebirds and shutdown their top line. While I wont deny I am a big fan of some of the young talent on Flint I just can't see them pulling this one out.