OHL Playoff Breakdown – Western Conference - Explained
By: Brandon Sudeyko
So a few days ago I put it out there all the possible matchups that could happen for the OHL playoffs. I also listed based on the matchups what I would think that could happen in terms of winners and losers and how many games. What I didn't give you is a reasoning why Plymouth could score an upset, or why Windsor doesn’t stand a chance... Well now it is explained.
(1) Owen Sound Attack vs. (8) London Knights – OS in 6
It is the big bad number one seed going up against the lonely 8 seed. And this is a case where it isn’t a lonely 8 seed who will be disposed of quickly. The London Knights are definitely a surprise team to be here in the playoffs considering that the team was complete sellers at the deadline and managed to continue winning. After trading away Erlich, DeSousa and D’Orazio 3 top guys on the team… they went on a 6 game winning streak. Coupled that with the fact that Michael Houser feels he gets no respect in the league and that it is his draft year, this London team is running off of heart and Soul. On the flip side is the team no one wishes to respect. Don’t know what it is but the feeling of belonging at the top and saying the phrase ‘powerhouse Owen Sound Attack’ doesn’t sit easy. Even after 68 Games. They are number one in the west and we need to realize this. Everyone is familiar with Wilson and Hishon as they have been near the top of league scoring all season. But no one gives them credit. Their goaltending has stood up far better than anyone has ever imagined and they will turn heads because simply… they are hungry for the Wins. The Knights will push them but this is not much of a contest.
(2) Saginaw Spirit vs. (7) Guelph Storm – SAG in 5
Even though the Spirit went 13-17 since the trade deadline the team still has too much firepower. And there was also injuries. Everyteam does get injuries but when 2 of your top 6 is out with nagging upper or lower body things can get tough. But the team is healthy now and the anemic fashion of the Guelph Storm puts no doubt in my mind that this will be easier than the previous series I discussed. The top 4 on Guelph is hard to stop. There is no possible way to stop Holland, Latta, Beck and now Panik. But facing them is a previous member of the 4 Stormmen Matt Sisca. Not that his knowledge can throw off Guelphs big 4. But alongside him is Jordan Szwarz, Josh Shalla, John McFarland Brandon Saad Vincent Trocheck and Ivan Telegin… A top 6 that has 7 players… Scary. On the backend the advantage in the unspectacular but tries his heart out award in the crease goes to Mavric Parks who… face it is not as good as his stats suggest but this man does go balls to the wall every single game and I will never question his desire to win. Simply put the Spirit will come out firing and a blaze of glory to show everyone what happened after the trade deadline was a fluke.
(3) Kitchener Rangers vs. (6) Plymouth Whalers – PLY in 6
Without even giving a reason why I have gotten so much flack for this pick. People have been tweeting me telling me why I am wrong… I haven’t even posted a reason. But here it is. I am a big proponent of the Mental aspect of this game. Specifically at this level. A prime example is Jason Akeson signing his NHL Entry level contract and then buring out after being on a white hot streak. Yes streaks are suppose to end but not go cold turkey. Compile that with the fact that Kitchener enters on a 7 game skid and the Whalers defeated the Rangers in the historic Aud. There are a lot of mental hurdles for Kitchener to climb. The Goaltending I believe washes out. Maxwell and Wedgewood is even, maybe a slight nod to Wedge of PLY while Morrison and Mahalak is also a wash but maybe a slight nod to Morrison. The other argument I received is that KIT had too many injuries to 3rd and 4th line guys… Ok I see that response and raise you the fact that Matt Mahalak beat Brandon Maxwell as PLY rested their starter and Rickard Rakell was also out for the PLY. Thus negating the complaints that Rangers were missing players. Look folks, as much as I am still a closet Knights fan and would still kill to see the Rangers fall at any given moment, this series is going to be awesome. And like I have in the past… I am not afraid to admit that I am wrong. This is why it is called a prediction. You can not fault me for having my own opinion and explaining why. But please feel free to tweet the heck out of me and tell me I am dumb. Great Players. Great Teams. Great Series.
(4) Windsor Spitfires vs. (5) Erie Otters – Erie in 6
I said if Erie had home ice it would be 5 and now I say Erie on road is in 6. This gives Jack Campbell an opportunity to harness his power from when he is wearing a USA Jersey… maybe he should wear one underneath. Or sew the logo under the Spits… in any event this year Windsor does not have the same fire power while the Otters are now dripping with it. McKegg, Thompson, Szydlowski, Varone, Yogan and even timely Appio goals will be tough to stop. Ryan Ellis will have to play 40 minutes a game… wait he does… Ok so that could be neutralized right there. But I still say that USA Junior Jack is not showing up for this dance and we will see Ramis Sadikov continue his insane season. My Otters concern is the blueline corps. Name me a player back there… I’m waiting… see it is a bit disconcerning but then again they have been doing a good job all year. Erie’s transition game makes Charlie Sheen jealous… yeah that # slogan thing he has… not the blood one the opposite of Losing… Yes I still refuse to use it.
Not the most analytical or scientific reasoning for why these teams will win they way they willl. But then again if you are a fan of the OHL you don’t need me to explain why these teams will win. You just want to know why I am crazy when I say Plymouth in 6.