Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reality at times

We were wondering how to say to the New York Ranger and New York Islander fans that there were way too many playoff mismatches whenNeate Sager and his crew at Buzzing the Netsaid it perfectly for us.

"They just don't have 30 teams in each league to create competition for those last few spots."

It is a reality when you have just don't have enough quality talent in your league to go around. To us what makes matters worse is teams that load up at the trading deadline to "make that all in run."

It was no surprise when we read Sager's piece about which 5 teams had a less than a 10% chance at winning their first round playoff that 2 were in the QJMHL and 1 was going to be an OHL team we would be talking about today. Remember yesterday when we said "Why bother playing playoff series when you know that the other team has no realistic chance to even avoid being swept out in four games?"

The article gives the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies a 6% chance of upsetting Kirill Kabanov and his Shawingian Cataractes in their playoff series. Hockey does not win when the regular season has little meaning other than to eliminate 1-2 teams per league.

In the QMJHL they played 68 games to eliminate 1 team, the OHL played 68 games to eliminate 4 teams and the WHL plays 72 to eliminate 6 teams. They (the CHL) won't listen to any suggestion to cut the playoffs down to 8 teams per league because of the amount of money involved.

The OHL Playoffs

In the OHL, Islander prospects Ryan Strome and Mitchell Theoret will lead their Niagara IceDogs against Christian Thomas's Oshawa Generals. In the "Buzzing The Net" piece the Generals have an 8% chance of pulling off the upset.

They were being kind in our eyes as we took one look at the matchup and started looking to see how soon Christian Thomas would be joining the CT Whale (4 game sweep says March 29). We like the Oshawa folks as they have been very helpful keeping us informed about Thomas's progress but we would be telling Thomas to pack his bags now to be able to join the Whale next weekend.

Niagara has a regular lineup that starts 4 NHL 1st round picks and 8 other players who were drafted in the later rounds. They are the favorites to come out of the OHL's Eastern Conference and with good reason as they are deep at every position; they are able to shut you totally down on defense or blow you out in a shootout.

In the Western Conference, Ranger prospect JT Miller will lead his Plymouth Whalers against Islander Prospect Andrey Pedan's Guelph Storm. On paper it is a dangerous matchup for Plymouth because Guelph had their number at times including whipping Plymouth 9-1 on February 18th as the 2 teams split their season series.

Plymouth should beat Guelph but the Storm will make Plymouth sweat this series out. If Pedan plays like he did down the stretch for Guelph then Plymouth will their hands full trying to stop him.

As for Miller, he has to rediscover the energy he appears to have lost over the last few games. Has the number of games finaly caught up to Miller?

Scott Stajcer and his Owen Sound Attack will face the Kitchener Rangers in what can be best described as the "battle of slumping teams." Neither team is coming into the playoffs playing anything close to good hockey.

Owen Sound just does not play any kind of team defense and if either Stajcer or Jordan Binnington are not playing like Henrik Lundqvist in goal then the Attack will get blown out. Making matters worse for Owen Sound is their best player/team captain Islander prospect Mike Halmo is serving a 10 game suspension and you have a huge problem.

Owen Sound can steal this series if they can get one of their goalies to play like they should if not this will ugly for Owen Sound. We see ugly happening.

Game Action

The Penticton Vees lost only 4 games during the BCHL regular season but in 4 playoff games they have already lost 2 games. The playoff version of the Penticton Vees is nothing even remotely close to the team that set records by winning 42 straight games.

Game 4 went the way of the Chilliwack Chiefs 3-1 as Penticton was outworked and outsmarted in defeat. The Chiefs have been the team that wants it more and it showed on special teams as they held the Vees to an 0 for 5 on their power plays while cashing in on 2 of their own (actually 3 as they scored a second after a power play ended).

Fogarty has been mostly quiet in the series but more than anything else one has to ask if that winning streak has hurt the Vees more than it helped them? Vees play game 5 back home on Thursday and right now the Vees just have no answer for the Chiefs.

(Strome- Aaron Bell of OHL Images)

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