Playoff Preview and Predictions Round Three

Let’s start by looking back at my first two rounds of predictions:


(1) Hamilton vs (8) PeterboroughHamilton in 4Hamilton wins 4-0
(2) North Bay vs (7) OttawaNorth Bay in 5North Bay wins 4-0
(3) Kingston vs (6) OshawaKingston in 6Kingston wins 4-2
(4) Mississauga vs (5) BarrieMississauga in 7Mississauga wins 4-2
(1) Windsor vs (8) SarniaWindsor in 5Windsor wins 4-2
(2) London vs (7) KitchenerLondon in 6Kitchener wins 4-3
(3) Flint vs (6) Owen SoundFlint in 6Flint wins 4-3
(4) Sault Ste Marie vs (5) GuelphSault Ste Marie in 7Sault Ste Marie wins 4-1

CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS                                                                                                                                        

(1) Hamilton vs (4) MississaugaHamilton in 5Hamilton wins 4-0
(2) North Bay vs (3) KingstonNorth Bay in 6North Bay wins 4-1
(1) Windsor vs (7) KitchenerWindsor in 6Windsor wins 4-1
(3) Flint vs (4) Sault Ste MarieSault Ste Marie in 7Flint wins 4-1

As you can probably guess, not happy about my results when getting two incorrect winners in 12 series and only two correct in the right number of games. I really did try to find a loss for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Conference Semi Finals, but it just didn’t materialize. So, I’ll try again for the Conference Finals!

 HamiltonNorth Bay
Season series2-2-02-2-0
Last 10 games10-0-08-1-1
PP vs opponent0.0%15.4%
PP Playoffs37.0%36.7%
Penalty Kill80.9%80.6%
PK vs Opponent84.6%100.0%
PK Playoffs87.9%87.5%
Goals for RS300267
Goals for Playoffs3843
Goals against RS176198
Goals against Playoffs1531
Team PIM / Game RS11.3/game9.1/game
Team PIM / Game Playoffs14.9/game7.0/game
Leading after 1st period34-2-422-2-3
Leading after 2nd period43-2-127-0-2
Trailing after 1st period5-9-13-6-0
Trailing after 2nd period3-9-27-14-2
Outshooting opponents36-5-226-5-4
Outshot by opponents15-7-317-12-2

Not too much to say here. In many ways, Hamilton and North Bay were close in the regular season. And North Bay dominated specialty teams against Hamilton through the season. They even split the season series versus each other. But this is the Hamilton Bulldogs we’re talking about and they were built just for these playoffs. Somehow, my head is saying to find one loss for them and it likely won’t come until the next round. But….

Prediction: Hamilton in 5 games.

Season series7-0-11-5-2
Last 10 games8-1-17-3-0
PP vs opponent26.5%10.0%
PP Playoffs13.3%20.0%
Penalty Kill82.6%84.3%
PK vs Opponent90.0%73.5%
PK Playoffs78.0%83.3%
Goals for RS305286
Goals for Playoffs4144
Goals against RS248238
Goals against Playoffs2732
Team PIM / Game RS10.3/game10.4/game
Team PIM / Game Playoffs12.6/game9.5/game
Leading after 1st period23-5-022-4-1
Leading after 2nd period32-0-231-1-3
Trailing after 1st period7-7-28-12-3
Trailing after 2nd period6-14-33-14-2
Outshooting opponents34-12-420-8-1
Outshot by opponents10-4-320-13-4

You know what they say about the playoffs and special teams: Win the special teams battle and you stand a better chance of winning the series. The Spitfires had a far superior powerplay during the regular season. And head-to-head the Spitfires powerplay was two and a half times better than the Firebirds. But to date in the playoffs? The Firebirds have doubled their regular season proficiency while the Spitfires was cut in half.

On the penalty kill, the Firebirds were less than 2 percentage points better than the Spits during the regular season. Through the playoffs, the Firebirds were still above the Spits.

But head-to-head, the Spitfires hold a decisive advantage in both powerplay efficiency and penalty kill. It’s only reasonable to assume that the Spitfires hold a big advantage when it comes to specialty teams in this series.

The Spitfires like to come at you and produce a lot of shots having outshot their opponent’s 70 percent of the time. On the flip side, the Firebirds are outshot more times than not and rely more on their goaltending. And that was slightly better than the Spitfires during the regular season.

Both squads are great at protecting the lead, but the advantage goes to the Spitfires when it comes to coming from behind. I think this series will be tight and the difference will be specialty teams.

Prediction: Windsor in 7 games.


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