OHL Conference Semi Final Previews

So, my Conference Quarter Final predictions are not something I am proud of. Getting three incorrect teams is something I usually do in an entire playoff, not one round. I had picked Windsor over Kitchener in 5 games (Kitchener won in 4), Sudbury over Peterborough in 7 games (Peterborough won in 4) and Flint over Saginaw in 7 games (Saginaw won in 7).

But here I am again to look at the Conference Semi Final matchups and once again give my prediction.

Western Conference

(2) London vs (8) Kitchener

Regular season record45-21-2-033-29-6-0
Playoff record4-04-0
Home record (regular season)22-11-1-019-11-4-0
Away record (regular season)23-10-1-014-18-2-0
Goals scored (regular season)269257
Goals scored (playoffs)2020
Goals against (regular season)214240
Goals against (playoffs)67
Powerplay (regular season)21.3%21.1%
PP home (regular season)23.0%22.7%
PP away (regular season)19.7%19.5%
Powerplay (playoffs)29.2%30..0%
PP home (playoffs)25.0%33.3%
PP away (playoffs)60.0%100.0%
Penalty kill (regular season)78.9%77.4%
PK home (regular season)76.9%76.5%
PK away (regular season)80.4%78.3%
Penalty Kill (playoffs)69.2%93.8%
PK home (playoffs)75.0%83.3%
PK away (playoffs)60.0%100.0%
Powerplay vs opponent13.0%14.8%
Penalty kill vs opponent85.2%87.0%
Leading after 1st (playoffs)2-03-0
Leading after 2nd (playoffs)3-04-0
Trailing after 1st (playoffs)0-00-0
Trailing after 2nd (playoffs)0-00-0
1-goal games (playoffs)2-00-0
2-goal games (playoffs)0-01-0
3 goal games (playoffs)0-01-0

Despite the disparity in the regular season, the two teams were relatively equal in offence and specialty teams. As I said in the opening round series between Kitchener and Windsor, you just don’t know which Rangers team is going to show up. What we saw against the Spitfires is what we should have seen all season. Now the question is: which team will show up against the Knights?

If we get the same Rangers team we did in the opening round, this may come down to two things: First, the goaltending. Marco Costantini had a great first round. He appeared in 4 games against the Knights in the regular season allowing 15 goals and a 3.70 goals-against-average .891 save-percentage. Brett Brochu appeared in 3 games against the Rangers allowing 4 goals for a goals-against-average of 1.34 and a .945 save-percentage.  

The second thing is coaching with the veteran and savvy Dale Hunter against the green Mike McKenzie. Whoever can get the matchups they want will be key. And whoever can up the impact of their specialty teams will benefit the most. McKenzie did just that in the opening round. But never underestimate Hunter.

Prediction: London in 7 games.

(3) Sarnia vs (4) Saginaw

Regular season record41-18-5-436-27-3-2
Playoff record4-24-3
Home record (regular season)21-7-4-217-16-0-1
Away record (regular season)20-11-1-219-11-3-1
Goals scored (regular season)298244
Goals scored (playoffs)2728
Goals against (regular season)224244
Goals against (playoffs)1920
Powerplay (regular season)26.0%23.8%
PP home (regular season)27.2%20.9%
PP away (regular season)24.6%27.6%
Powerplay (playoffs)12.0%14.8%
PP home (playoffs)23.1%25.0%
PP away (playoffs)0.0%0.0%
Penalty kill (regular season)81.4%78.8%
PK home (regular season)82.5%77.6%
PK away (regular season)80.3%80.0%
Penalty Kill (playoffs)92.3%88.9%
PK home (playoffs)93.8%93.8%
PK away (playoffs)90.0%81.8%
Powerplay vs opponent25.9%21.1%
Penalty kill vs opponent78.9%74.1%
Leading after 1st (playoffs)1-03-0
Leading after 2nd (playoffs)2-03-1
Trailing after 1st (playoffs)2-10-1
Trailing after 2nd (playoffs)0-20-1
1-goal games (playoffs)2-11-2
2-goal games (playoffs)0-10-0
3 goal games (playoffs)0-02-1

Saginaw won all 3 games in the first half of the season – all in Sarnia, while Sarnia won the last 3 games in the second half – all in Saginaw. That means two things: Home ice advantage doesn’t mean much in this series and it shows Sarnia’s dominance after trade deadline. Sarnia has the majority of statistical advantages through the regular season.

I have to give the nod to Sarnia in the crease and also their blueline which will make it difficult for Saginaw to overcome. History however, is not on their side. Since moving to Sarnia in the 1994-1995 season the team has never gone beyond the second round in the playoffs. I have a difficult time seeing that futility continue.

Prediction: Sarnia in 6 games.

Eastern Conference

(1) Ottawa vs (4) Peterborough

Regular season record51-12-3-235-29-2-2
Playoff record4-14-0
Home record (regular season)29-4-0-118-13-1-2
Away record (regular season)22-8-3-117-16-1-0
Goals scored (regular season)286247
Goals scored (playoffs)2715
Goals against (regular season)171207
Goals against (playoffs)98
Powerplay (regular season)23.8%21.7%
PP home (regular season)26.1%22.1%
PP away (regular season)21.0%21.3%
Powerplay (playoffs)31.8%17.9%
PP home (playoffs)33.3%14.3%
PP away (playoffs)33.3%21.4%
Penalty kill (regular season)84.1%81.3%
PK home (regular season)84.8%80.2%
PK away (regular season)83.3%82.4%
Penalty Kill (playoffs)81.3%84.6%
PK home (playoffs)71.4%85.7%
PK away (playoffs)88.9%83.3%
Powerplay vs opponent17.5%13.8%
Penalty kill vs opponent86.2%82.5%
Leading after 1st (playoffs)2-10-0
Leading after 2nd (playoffs)3-12-0
Trailing after 1st (playoffs)0-02-0
Trailing after 2nd (playoffs)0-00-0
1-goal games (playoffs)1-11-0
2-goal games (playoffs)1-03-0
3 goal games (playoffs)0-00-0

On paper it appears that this should go relatively easy for the best team in the regular season but don’t count Peterborough out for one big reason: Michael Simpson. Simpson is quite capable of stealing games for the Petes but can he steal a series – this series?

Ottawa has the league’s 7th best powerplay while Peterborough is 9th best. Ottawa’s 2nd best penalty kill goes up against Peterborough’s 6th best. Peterborough can’t match Ottawa’s offence or their stinginess at keeping the puck out of their own net. Simpson is going to have to stand on his head.

Prediction: Ottawa in 6 games.

(2) North Bay vs (3) Barrie

Regular season record48-17-2-142-17-6-3
Playoff record4-24-2
Home record (regular season)27-5-1-121-9-3-1
Away record (regular season)21-12-1-021-8-3-2
Goals scored (regular season)285284
Goals scored (playoffs)2531
Goals against (regular season)183239
Goals against (playoffs)1521
Powerplay (regular season)22.9%25.3%
PP home (regular season)25.0%28.3%
PP away (regular season)20.9%22.3%
Powerplay (playoffs)20.8%39.3%
PP home (playoffs)15.4%47.1%
PP away (playoffs)27.3%27.3%
Penalty kill (regular season)87.1%81.6%
PK home (regular season)90.3%84.2%
PK away (regular season)84.4%78.9%
Penalty Kill (playoffs)84.6%76.9%
PK home (playoffs)80.0%85.7%
PK away (playoffs)90.9%66.7%
Powerplay vs opponent14.3%4.0%
Penalty kill vs opponent96.0%85.7%
Leading after 1st (playoffs)3-03-0
Leading after 2nd (playoffs)4-13-0
Trailing after 1st (playoffs)0-11-0
Trailing after 2nd (playoffs)0-00-2
1-goal games (playoffs)1-11-0
2-goal games (playoffs)0-00-1
3 goal games (playoffs)1-12-1

These are two pretty evenly matched teams through the regular season except for one category: goals against – where North Bay dominates here and were second in the league. Barrie was better on the powerplay and third best in the OHL. North Bay was better on the penalty kill and the best in the league. Barrie was no slouch at third best.

But head-to-head? North Bay dominated special teams against Barrie. Both teams are capable of protecting leads, not so much coming from behind. Whoever can get ahead may just hold the advantage. This is a tough series to call.

Prediction: North Bay in 7 games.


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