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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Round Two Predictions and Other Notes

Just took a look at my first round predictions.   Not bad... not too bad I must say.  In the Eastern Conference, I nailed 3/4 series and the correct number of games, failing only in the Mississauga/Barrie series as I had Barrie in 5.  Full credit to the Steelheads for stretching the Colts, and exposing some flaws and inconsistency.  Barrie coughed up a 3-0 lead, losing 6-3 and then got thumped 7-0 in Game 6.  You can't have games like that in the playoffs going forward if you expect to have a deep run.   Game 6 was a real red flag as Barrie completely lost their collective minds and formed a steady parade to the penalty box with some horribly undisciplined play.   In the West, I, like many misfired on Sarnia and Sault Ste Marie as I had Sarnia in 6.  The rest I got right, though I only correctly picked Erie to sweep  Saginaw.   

I will say it was a great first round of hockey for the OHL. Normally with the selling off of assets by lower ranked teams, you get the ice tilted a fair bit, but to have three game 7's made for one heck of a night of channel flipping, and who would have thought that Sportsnet would grab a Tuesday night game for their network? Gotta give RJ Broadhead and Sam Consentino a lot of props for the work they do.  Even though the travel can be taxing and they are not covering a regular team, these guys are always prepared and call a very good game.   

Enough preamble- On to the second round!   

Here's the thing.  My choices in this were Kingston in 5 or the IceDogs in 6.  Weird split right?   Even though the IceDogs played some of their best hockey at times versus Ottawa, there is always that inconsistent green monster that can rear its ugly head with the IceDogs.    To me, it all comes down to goaltending.  This is the series that the IceDogs got Alex Nedelkjovic for and I think he will be the difference maker in this series.    That said for Kingston Hevig and Peressini are a pretty formidable duo in net too.  Add in Lawson Crouse, Michael DalColle, Warren Foegle and Spencer Watson, you can see why Nedelkjovic will have to be at his best.   I haven't been called a homer in a while, so if you want to call it a homer pick be my guest! (But you'd be wrong)

Another one in which no one would begrudge me if I said Barrie in 6.   Barrie's inconsistency was unnerving to watch.  They were terrible at times vs Mississauga.  Plus, Dylan Sadowy missed Game 7 , and who knows if MacKenzie Blackwood is 100%?  North Bay fought hard to win a seven game series over Peterborough, who were a lot of people's sleeper pick for good reason. Stan Butler normally has his teams prepared and disciplined and have in my opinion one of the top 3 or four players in the league in Mike Amadio.   He will have plans for Justin Scott, who potted 10 goals in the series versus Mississauga

I was surprised that Kitchener only needed five games to beat Windsor, but many of those games were close and Windsor blew many a lead during the series.  Plus, Windsor lost Brendan Lemieux for a couple of games in the series.  In short, Kitchener got a break or two in the series and took full advantage of it.  London lost Max Jones for what could the be rest of the playoff run, but can roll out a plethora of offensive talent with the likes of Dvorak, Tkachuck, Marner. Tyler Parsons played well, and he needed to be at his best against an Owen Sound team that was relentless.  I like London's talent level, if they can stay somewhat disciplined.  

You have to give the Soo tons of credit.   Sarnia had a sold out building and a crowd waiting to bust out as the Sting were on the brink of the second round.   The Sting even opened the scoring, but the Soo remained composed and used the talents of Zack Senyshyn Gustav Bouramman among others and outstanding goaltending by Brandon Halverson to win Game seven on the road, not small feat.     Erie had Devin Williams a little banged up but are well rested, and whatever uneven play they demonstrated late in the season they seemed to avoid in sweeping Saginaw.   Give this one to Erie in five hard fought games, and it would not surprise me to see a couple of these go to OT. 

The schedule for Kingston/ Niagara calls for the series to start Thursday and Friday evening with the good folks in Kingston handling the call for Cogeco.    Our crew will cover Sunday's game (start time 2pm) and Wednesday's game.

I noted how well Sportsnet cover the game of junior hockey.   They really do a bang up job with their production from the studio to the game coverage.  I suppose if there is one criticism, they could be a little more representative of all three leagues, but I have a feeling that travel budget may play a role.  Their NHL coverage has come under a lot of fire, much of it being unfair.     In a cost cutting move, one of the key men in bringing you NHL coverage was let go.  His name is Gord Cutler. I know people do not normally sprinkle sunshine and rainbows over Rogers, and they surely could get along fine without the likes of me defending them, but I have to say that they were dealt a lousy hand for the first two years of the deal.   They've had a lousy areLeafs team who have admitted that the playoffs are not on the radar.  This year they had a lousy Leafs team, a lousy Montreal team, a Connor McDavid injury, all the Canadian teams missing the playoffs, and even strong American draws like Boston, Pittsburgh and Detroit all guilty of indifferent play at times, and two of those teams may not make the playoffs.  It does not matter what bells and whistles you come up with, that is tough to overcome and Rogers has paid for it in the ratings. In TV land, less ratings mean less ad revenue.  When you have $5.2B to make up, then you can imagine the hand wringing.   Next year the luck cannot be that bad for them, and they can get ratings to rebound.  That said, they do need strong teams from Montreal and Toronto to help drive the ratings bus, and I expect there to be some coverage streamlining.  Good luck to them and hopefully the playoffs can provide good story lines! 

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