Usually when I do these previews, I am pretty good at it with a success rate in the high nineties percentile. But this season it’s a crapshoot like I have not seen before, especially after how some teams loaded up at trade deadline.
I will come out of this looking either very smart or very stupid, but hey, it’s what we do right? So, here is a look at how the playoff teams stack up in their respective series along with some quick notes and of course, my predictions:
(1) Windsor Spitfires vs (8) Kitchener Rangers
Talk about a team that went all in around trade deadline! The Windsor Spitfires added Shane Wright, Brett Harrison, Rodwin Dionicio, Aidan Castle and Jacob Homes to a roster that already had OHL leading scorer Matthew Maggio. The Rangers were no slouches either. They added Francesco Arcuri, Danny Zhilkin and Lleyton Moore.
The difference at the deadline is the Spitfires went from a good team to a great team. The Rangers on the other hand were inconsistent from the first puck drop. On paper, they should have been a good team but in the end are the eighth seed.
The Rangers best chance to defeat the Spitfires is to keep games close. Both teams can close it out when protecting the lead but that’s a tall task if the Spitfires are healthy and firing on all cylinders.
Prediction: Windsor in 5 games.
(2) London Knights vs (7) Owen Sound Attack
|London Knights||Owen Sound Attack|
|Regular season record||45-21-2-0||33-28-6-1|
|Powerplay at home||23.0%||24.2%|
|Penalty kill overall||78.9%||77.1%|
|Penalty kill at home||76.9%||74.3%|
|Penalty kill away||80.4%||74.3%|
|Powerplay vs opponent||24.0%||13.0%|
|Penalty kill vs opponent||87.0%||76.0%|
|Leading after 1st||28-4-0-0||7-1-2-0|
|Leading after 2nd||30-4-0-0||24-1-2-1|
|Trailing after 1st||6-13-1-0||8-19-4-1|
|Trailing after 2nd||7-15-1-0||3-24-4-0|
|3 goal games||9-9-0-0||13-8-0-0|
Yes, they split the season series. At trade deadline the Knights added Ryan Winterton and Ryan Humphrey, both with championship experience. Owen Sound added Landen Hookey, James Petrovski and Jackson Stewart.
London has the ability to shut things down and their blueline is solid with a good mix of defenders that can move the puck and shut it down with Logan Mailloux (Montreal Canadiens), Oliver Bonk (draft eligible), Jackson Edward (Boston Bruins) and Isaiah George (New York Islanders). That’s as good a top four as anybody. The key cog for London will be Brett Brochu in net, one of the best goaltenders in the OHL with something to prove.
Owen Sound has trouble scoring goals and are led by Colby Barlow (draft eligible) with 79 points in 59 games. However, the Attack offence is pretty spread out after Barlow with 4 other players scoring at least 20 goals.
Prediction: London in 6 games.
(3) Sarnia Sting vs (6) Guelph Storm
|Sarnia Sting||Guelph Storm|
|Regular season record||41-18-5-4||35-28-4-1|
|Powerplay at home||27.2%||28.2%|
|Penalty kill overall||81.4%||73.5%|
|Penalty kill at home||82.5%||77.1%|
|Penalty kill away||80.3%||69.0%|
|Powerplay vs opponent||38.9%||16.7%|
|Penalty kill vs opponent||83.3%||61.1%|
|Leading after 1st||25-2-3-0||21-3-2-0|
|Leading after 2nd||32-0-3-2||23-1-2-1|
|Trailing after 1st||3-12-1-2||6-21-1-0|
|Trailing after 2nd||5-16-1-1||8-24-1-0|
|3 goal games||10-7-0-0||8-8-0-0|
Two of the hottest teams since January 1 and both made some key acquisitions at the trade deadline. If this comes down to goaltending, the advantage goes to Sarnia with Ben Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) a step ahead of Patrick Lever (undrafted) or the youngster Brayden Gillespie (draft eligible). If it comes down to special teams, Sarnia once again holds the advantage. Both teams possess quality powerplays with Sarnia’s being tops in the league while Guelph’s ranked fifth however, Guelph has the league’s second worst penalty kill while Sarnia was fourth best and Sarnia could feast on that.
The series features the two best playmakers in the league with Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) dishing the puck for Sarnia and Matthew Poitras (Boston Bruins) trying to work his magic for Guelph. Voit will be feeding pucks to 50 goal scorer Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators), 40 goal scorer Luca Del Bel Belluz (Columbus Blue Jackets) while Poitras will be feeding 39 goal scorer Max Namestnikov (draft eligible) and 33 goal scorer Braeden Bowman (undrafted).
Sarnia also holds the advantage on the blue line led by Christian Kyrou (Dallas Stars), Ethan Del Mastro (Chicago Blackhawks) and Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins).
Prediction: Sarnia in 6 games.
(4) Saginaw Spirit vs (5) Flint Firebirds
|Saginaw Spirit||Flint Firebirds|
|Regular season record||36-27-3-2||35-28-4-1|
|Powerplay at home||20.9%||21.5%|
|Penalty kill overall||78.5%||78.3%|
|Penalty kill at home||78.8%||78.8%|
|Penalty kill away||80.0%||77.9%|
|Powerplay vs opponent||27.6%||25.0%|
|Penalty kill vs opponent||75.0%||72.4%|
|Leading after 1st||17-5-1-0||22-5-1-1|
|Leading after 2nd||23-1-1-0||25-1-0-0|
|Trailing after 1st||10-17-0-0||7-14-2-0|
|Trailing after 2nd||5-22-1-0||5-22-3-1|
|3 goal games||7-9-0-0||6-5-0-0|
This may be the most even series in the Western Conference. Flint has a very good offence led by Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings) and his 102 points. Gavin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) 81 points, Riley Piercy (undrafted) 70 points, Coulson Pitre (draft eligible 60 points and Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) provide a lethal offence.
Saginaw is led by Hunter Haight (Minnesota Wild) with 60 points Matyas Sapovaliv (Vegas Golden Knights) with 56 points and exceptional status rookie Michael Misa with 56 points (in 45 games). They also have 2024 draft eligible defenceman Zayne Parekh who set an OHL record for goals by a 16-year-old defenceman with 21.
This one will come down to the Western Conference fourth best defence (Saginaw) versus the third best offence (Flint).
Prediction: Flint in 7 games.
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