Let’s start by looking back at my first two rounds of predictions:
CONFERENCE QUARTER FINALS
|(1) Hamilton vs (8) Peterborough||Hamilton in 4||Hamilton wins 4-0|
|(2) North Bay vs (7) Ottawa||North Bay in 5||North Bay wins 4-0|
|(3) Kingston vs (6) Oshawa||Kingston in 6||Kingston wins 4-2|
|(4) Mississauga vs (5) Barrie||Mississauga in 7||Mississauga wins 4-2|
|(1) Windsor vs (8) Sarnia||Windsor in 5||Windsor wins 4-2|
|(2) London vs (7) Kitchener||London in 6||Kitchener wins 4-3|
|(3) Flint vs (6) Owen Sound||Flint in 6||Flint wins 4-3|
|(4) Sault Ste Marie vs (5) Guelph||Sault Ste Marie in 7||Sault Ste Marie wins 4-1|
CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS
|(1) Hamilton vs (4) Mississauga||Hamilton in 5||Hamilton wins 4-0|
|(2) North Bay vs (3) Kingston||North Bay in 6||North Bay wins 4-1|
|(1) Windsor vs (7) Kitchener||Windsor in 6||Windsor wins 4-1|
|(3) Flint vs (4) Sault Ste Marie||Sault Ste Marie in 7||Flint 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!
|Last 10 games||10-0-0||8-1-1|
|PP vs opponent||0.0%||15.4%|
|PK vs Opponent||84.6%||100.0%|
|Goals for RS||300||267|
|Goals for Playoffs||38||43|
|Goals against RS||176||198|
|Goals against Playoffs||15||31|
|Team PIM / Game RS||11.3/game||9.1/game|
|Team PIM / Game Playoffs||14.9/game||7.0/game|
|Leading after 1st period||34-2-4||22-2-3|
|Leading after 2nd period||43-2-1||27-0-2|
|Trailing after 1st period||5-9-1||3-6-0|
|Trailing after 2nd period||3-9-2||7-14-2|
|Outshot by opponents||15-7-3||17-12-2|
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.
|Last 10 games||8-1-1||7-3-0|
|PP vs opponent||26.5%||10.0%|
|PK vs Opponent||90.0%||73.5%|
|Goals for RS||305||286|
|Goals for Playoffs||41||44|
|Goals against RS||248||238|
|Goals against Playoffs||27||32|
|Team PIM / Game RS||10.3/game||10.4/game|
|Team PIM / Game Playoffs||12.6/game||9.5/game|
|Leading after 1st period||23-5-0||22-4-1|
|Leading after 2nd period||32-0-2||31-1-3|
|Trailing after 1st period||7-7-2||8-12-3|
|Trailing after 2nd period||6-14-3||3-14-2|
|Outshot by opponents||10-4-3||20-13-4|
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.