CHL Playoff Finals Breakdown
In the WHL the Portland Winter Hawks will be taking on the Edmonton Oil Kings. This should be a high profile matchup and plenty of skill to go both ways. The Oil Kings have been dominant this year but the Winter Hawks have the skill and drive to push them and ultimately win this match up. The Oil Kings will be relying heavily on the likes of Curtis Lazar, Griffin Reinhart, Mark Pysyk, Michael St. Croix and Martin Gernat to help them succeed. Lazar has had the best playoffs out of any Oil King so far (16 points in 13 and will be key if they want to beat the Winter Hawks. Reinhart,Pysyk and Gernat will need to shut down Ty Rattie, Brad Ross, Sven Bartschi and Marcel Noebels if they want to have success in this series. The Winter Hawks also have some firepower from the back end in Joe Morrow and Derrick Pouliot and will need to be kept under control by the Oil Kings if they want to have success. With the talent the two of these teams posses it could and probably very well will come down to whichever team gets the better goaltending in this series. Laurent Brossoit has been absolutely lights out to this point in the playoffs with 13 wins, a 1.65 GAA and a .944 SV%. The Winterhawks haven’t quite gotten the same kind of goaltending out of Mac Carruth this season, but if they can get to Brossoit early and Carruth can make the saves when needed the Winter Hawks could take this series and be headed to the Memorial Cup.
Prediction: Edmonton Oil Kings in Six Games.
The OHL Finals is a matchup of the 2 best teams in the regular season. Each team comes into the series having not really been tested in their 3rd round matchup, the London Knights having faced the Kitchener Rangers made easy work of them and beat them in 4 straight and the Niagara Ice Dogs dispatched the Ottawa 67’s in 5 games. Each team has plenty of goal scorers and big point producers to go around, London possessing Seth Griffin, Olli Maatta, Austin Watson, Vladislav Namestnikov, Max Domi, Greg McKegg, Jared Knight and Jared Tinordi. The Ice Dogs not to be outdone boast a lineup of Freddie and Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome, Tom Kuhnhackl, Brett Ritchie, Jamie Oleksiak, Andrew Agozzino and Mark Visentin in net. The key to winning this series will be containing the big guys on either team. Dougie Hamilton and Jamie Oleksiak will be very difficult for the Knights offence to penetrate and may take a game or two to figure out. The Ice Dogs should have a much easier time getting past Maatta and Tinordi but it won’t be a cake walk for either side. Much like the WHL series the teams are loaded with position players and the series could hinge on the success of either goaltender. Michael Houser had a very good year and has continued that play here in the postseason, Visentin however out played him in the regular season and has outplayed him to this point in the post season. However he has a tendency to be shaky in big games and I expect much of the same as this series wears on.
Prediction: London Knights in Six games.
The defending Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs are looking to win their 2nd straight QMJHL Championship and the teams 2nd straight Memorial Cup. The Sea Dogs have been the team to beat all year and it certainly will not be any different in this series. The Sea Dogs did face their toughest test of last round against Chicoutimi Sagueneens which they still won in 5 games but were forced to overtime in 3 of those 5. Their opponent the Rimouski Oceanic are a surprise team here in the Finals. No one really expected them to get to this point knocking off Val-D’Or, Blainville-Boisbriand and Halifax to earn a berth. The Oceanic may have caught a break however with Jonathan Huberdeau serving a 2 game suspension they have a chance to get out to a start they may not of otherwise had and make this series much closer then what it was originally supposed to be. Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips, Tomas Jurco, Nathan Beaulieu, Jonathan Huberdeau and Stanislav Galiev matchup very well against the likes of Jakub Culek, Petr Straka and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and will most likely overwhelm them and completely dominate this series. This years playoffs have been full of surprises and the Oceanic might catch the perfect wave and ride it all the way to the Memorial Cup, but expect much of what we have seen so far the Sea Dogs dominating their opponent and the other team never really standing a chance.
Prediction: Saint John Sea Dogs in Five Games.