Leagues of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and Portland)

Well, it’s down to the final 6. Each of the CHL leagues has their finalists and they will be battling it out for both league supremacy and a chance to raise the Mastercard Memorial Cup trophy. Let’s take a look at each of the 6 teams and our predictions for who is going to come out on top.

 

First, the QMJHL. In one semifinal, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar defeated the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in a 7 game series. The Drakkar were the #1 team overall in the QMJHL regular season. They finished with a record of 47-16-2-3, good for 99 points. They gave up the fewest goals against, 170 over 68 games, but also led the league in penalty minutes with 1284. Defense is the name of their game. They did have a scorer in the top 20 (Charles Hudon) but he earned over half his points with the Chicoutimi Saugueneens this season. You have to go all the way down to #24 to find their top scorer who was with them all year. Conversely, their #1 goalie, Philippe Cadorette was #2 in GAA and wins, and #1 in SV% and shutouts. They’ve gotten even stingier in the playoffs, dropping their 2.5 goals against average to 1.73.

In the other seminfinal, the Val-d’Or Foreurs knocked out the defending QMJHL and Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mooseheads in 7 games. The Foreurs were #3 during the regular season with 94 points and a record of 46-20-1-1. They were #1 in the league in goals scored with 306. They’ve continued that scoring in the playoffs as they are averaging a little over 4.1 goals per game. They had 3 of the top 7 scorers during the regular season including the #1 overall, Anthony Mantha, who had 57G 63A 120P in 57 games. Average to good goaltending from Antoine Bibeau (who was acquired from Charlottetown midseason) was more than enough to succeed behind this high-powered offense.

As you can see, this is a contrast in styles. Best defense vs most offensive. The old adage is that defense wins championships and I don’t think it will be different here. It should be a close series but I’ll take the Drakkar¬†in 6.

 

On to the OHL. In the East, the North Bay Battalion are in the league final thanks to a 4 game sweep of the Oshawa Generals. The Battalion, formerly of Brampton, finished their first season in North Bay with a 38-24-4-2 record earning 82 points. Not too much of a offensive team as they scored they 2nd fewest goals of the 8 Eastern playoff teams, averaging 3.2 goals a game. You have to get all the way down to #42 in league scoring to find the Battalion’s leading scorer, Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow did lead the league in short-handed goals, however. They also finished last in power play percentage with 15.7%. However, much like Baie-Comeau, North Bay relied on goaltending. #1 goalie Jake Smith was tied for 2nd in GAA and tied for 5th in shutouts.

Their opponents are the Guelph Storm, winners of the Western conference. They defeated the Erie Otters in 5 games to get to the OHL final. The Storm were the #1 team in the league with a 52-12-2-2 record and 108 points. Guelph is a well-oiled machine without a lot of holes. They were #1 overall in goals against and #4 in goals against. 5 players in the top 20 in scoring, led by Scott Kosmachuk who netted 49G 52A 101P in 68 games. That scoring has continued in the playoffs where they have scored 73 goals in just 15 games. Their main netminder, Justin Nichols, played well enough to be #7 in GAA and #4 in SV% during the regular season.

Another matchup of tough defense vs strong offense. I think this series will also be close but I give the nod to the Battalion in 7, even without home ice advantage.

 

And finally, the WHL. In the east, the Edmonton Oil Kings made it to their 3rd straight WHL championship by defeating the Medicine Hat Tigers in 5 games. They were 50-19-2-1 in the regular season, good for 103 points. They were the 3rd highest scoring team in the WHL, 1st in the East. Their offense was lead by Henrik Samuelsson who had 35G 60A 95P in 65 games. They were #1 in overall defense giving up only 179 goals. Goalie Tristan Jarry was tied with Red Deer Rebel Patrik Bartosak for the CHL lead in shutouts with 8. Jarry also lead the CHL in GAA and wins.

The West (and the entire CHL) was lead by the Kelowna Rockets most of the season but that didn’t keep them from getting bounced by the Portland Winterhawks in 5 games. The Winterhawks were an offensive force, scoring 338 goals in 72 games which was #1 in the WHL. They had 4 players in the top 20 in regular scoring and 2 of the top 3. Nic Petan led the way with 35G 78A 113P in only 63 games. Goaltending by Brendan Burke could be called average but he and trade deadline acquisition Corbin Boes make for quite a duo. Burke was #3 in the league in wins and Boes dropped his GAA by over 1.5 goals a game and lost only twice after coming over from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. His numbers get even better in the playoffs in the 4 games he’s played (and won) so far.

It’s a real goaltending duel between Boes and Jarry, currently #1 and #2 respectively, in playoff GAA. Neither team has lost at home in the playoffs so far. This series is about as close as it can get. I think this one goes the distance with neither team surrendering at home. That is until the end. Oil Kings in 7