Monday, April 15, 2013

Setting the stage

The Plymouth Whalers of the OHL knocked off the Owen Sound Attack on Sunday eliminating them from the OHL playoffs and setting the stage for the next playoff round that the remaining New York Ranger and New York Islander prospects to face. It is ironic that it was the Whalers because had the Rangers had not kept J.T. Miller this season then we would be talking about him playing for the Whalers now instead of the CT Whale.

The matchups involving the Ranger and Islander prospects are set and chances are good that when the smoke clears from this round that most if not all of them will advance to play for their league championships.

In the QMJHL

Samuel Noreau (NYR 2011 5th) and his Baie-Comeau Drakkar will take on the Blainville-Boisbrand Armada in one of the semifinals as the Drakkar attempt to reach the QMJHL finals. The Drakkar in the 15 years they have been a part of the QMJHL have reached the semifinals twice but have never advanced to the QMJHL Finals.

Will the 3rd time be the charm? The Drakkar will be favored against the Armada but this should be a very contested series.

In the OHL

Tommy Hughes (NYR 2013 UFA) and his London Knights will be facing the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL Western Conference finals. These two teams have been rivals for a long time and there will be a lot of yapping back and forth on and off the ice.

Dale Hunter of London and Mike Vellucci of Plymouth are the respective coaches and their battle in the media just might be as entertaining as the games played on the ice. London is looking to win their 2nd straight OHL Championship but Plymouth might give them a tougher challenge than either Barrie/Belleville will.

Speaking of Barrie/Belleville; Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) and the Barrie Colts held the OHL's Eastern Conference lead for most of the season but faded down the stretch allowing Belleville to pass them. On paper, Barrie might be slight favorites thanks to the Winnipeg Jets sending Mark Scheifele back to the Colts.

Scheifele is one of the players to watch but Belleville has firepower of their own thanks to Tyler Graovac who is just ahead of Scheifele in the OHL playoff scoring race. Another good series is in store for the fans of the OHL.

In the WHL

The hockey media has been having fun with the Edmonton Oil King/Calgary Hitmen matchup as the 2 teams owned by the NHL teams in their respective cities are fighting for a conference championship while their NHL owners most likely won't even make the NHL playoffs. Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and Griffin Reinhart (NYI 2012 1st) will lead their Oil Kings against the Hitmen as they look to repeat as the WHL Champions.

The danger that the Oil Kings face is going to be overlooking the Hitmen who finished 11 points behind the Oil Kings during the regular season. The Oil Kings have been sticking to their "unfinished business" mantra in the 1st two rounds and if they do then they will have just too much depth for the Hitmen to overcome.

It feels really strange having all this time off between series but it gives me a chance to turn in a hat trick of interviews for the Blueshirt Bulletin featuring exclusives with the newest Ranger prospects Josh Nicholls and Tommy Hughes. I can tell you that the crew back east has a really good issue in the works so take a wander over to the website and subscribe today.

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