CHL Second Round Preview

[i]Five Lightning prospects have survived and will be playing in Round 2 of their respective league’s playoffs this week. Here’s a look at what’s in store for each.[/i] In the "[b]Q[/b]," Stanislav Lascek and West Division second seed Chicoutimi Sagueneens, rested after sweeping Baie-Comeau in the opening round, will take on the Gatineau Olympiques. No.4 Gatineau defeated No.5 Drummondville 4-3 last night in Game 7 of their opening round series. Their reward is they get to face a team that can seemingly score with their visors blacked out. The series begins Friday night in Chicoutimi. Despite a 19 point difference in the standings between the teams, this could be a close series. The Sags and ‘Piques split their season series 2-2, with three of those games being played the first two weeks of October. The Sags went 2-1 in those three games, winning 4-2 and 4-3 at home and losing 3-2 in a shootout in Gatineau. On January 20, the Olympiques defeated Chicoutimi 4-1. In four games this season against Doug O'Brien's alma mater, Lascek "only" registered four points (2G, 2A). He also led the Sags in penalty minutes vs. Gatineau this season with 10. One of Lascek's three short handed goals on the year came against Gatineau. Lascek currently is tied for the Sags lead in playoff scoring with defenseman Patrick Coulombe. Lascek has 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points in his 4 games. Gatineau claims the league's top playoff scorer thus far in David Krejci, a Boston second rounder, who has 7 goals and 19 points in 7 games. [i]Prediction: Chicoutimi will be tested early, but are ultimately too powerful. Sags win 4-1.[/i] In the [b]OHL[/b], Player-of-the-Week Kevin Beech and the No.5 Sudbury Wolves will visit the Eastern Conference's top team, the Peterborough Petes, tomorrow (April 6) for Game 1 of their Conference Semi-Final series. Peterborough finished 25 points ahead of Sudbury in the regular season, but the two clubs tied their season series 2-2. One of those Wolves wins was by shootout. The Wolves defeated Lightning prospect Radek Smolenak and Kingston 4 games to 2 in the opening round with 2 of those wins coming by shutout. The Petes defeated Ottawa in 6 games, with two of the wins coming in overtime. Beech is currently second in the OHL in playoff GAA at 1.83, just behind Gerald Coleman’s former “creasemate” Ryan MacDonald at 1.75. Beech is third in save percentage with .945 and leads in shutouts with 2. Peterborough is paced by Flames third rounder Daniel Ryder, Flyers first rounder and Canadian World Junior Championship (WJC) representative Steve Downie, and Columbus late-rounder Trevor Hendrikx, who leads the Petes with 8 points in 6 playoff games. The match-up will also feature a battle of brothers between Marc Staal, a defenseman for Sudbury taken in the first round last year by the Rangers, and Jordan Staal, a forward for Peterborough who was recently listed as the No.3 North American prospect by International Scouting Service for this year's draft. [i]Prediction: Benoit Pouliot and Beech are both white-hot right now, and Marc Staal anchors a solid blueline. However, Peterborough is talented, gritty, and deep and should win in six games. Petes 4-2. [/i] Lightning prospect Marek Bartanus and the No.6 Owen Sound Attack, fresh off their 5-game upset of Kitchener, will travel to the Western Conference’s No.1 team, the London Knights, on Friday to open their series. London, the defending Memorial Cup champion, led the OHL with 102 points this season. Gerald Coleman’s alma mater is among the favorites to carry the Joseph Turner Trophy around the ice at the Memorial Cup in Moncton this year. Bartanus had 2 goals and 1 assist against Kitchener and will need to step up his offense even more if Owen Sound is going to have a chance against a team that had 3 of the league’s top 4 regular season scorers. Those three include Oilers first rounder Rob Schremp, who nearly made the NHL out of camp this year, but returned to London and will likely win the CHL Player of the Year. Schremp "just" managed 145 points in 57 games (57 goals) this year. Blackhawk’s second rounder David Bolland had 130 points (57 goals) and Sabres ninth rounder Dylan Hunter had 117 points (32 goals). To say this is an uphill battle for the Attack is an understatement. The Knights, who won the season series 4-2, is the two-time defending OHL champions. Guelph won the championship two years ago on the back of their goaltender, Adam Dennis, who just happens to play for London now. London hasn’t played since March 28, when they finished their sweep of Sault Ste. Marie in the first round. [i]Prediction: Bobby Ryan was awesome in Round 1 for Owen Sound, but one star is not enough to end the Knights’ run. The Attack could push this to 5 or 6 games, but not if London sweeps their two at home early, which they should do. London 4-0.[/i] In the [b]WHL[/b], Blair Jones and the Moose Jaw Warriors will face Mike Egener’s alma mater, the Calgary Hitmen, starting this Saturday in Calgary. Jones is in a three-way tie for the lead among Warrior scorers in these playoffs with 6 points (3 goals) in 6 games. He is also a team-leading plus-5. Calgary is led by Canada’s WJC hero, goalie Justin Pogge. The Maple Leafs third rounder, already with an NHL contract in hand, led the WHL in GAA (1.72) and save percentage (.926) this season. Moose Jaw defeated Ryan Craig’s alma mater, Brandon, in five games to get here. Calgary needed overtime in Game 6 to finally dispose of Nick Tarnasky’s alma mater, Lethbridge. This series will be the somewhat cliché “unstoppable force vs. the immovable object” as Calgary plays a heavy defensive system and high-flying Moose Jaw had three of the league’s top 6 scorers, which included Jones at No.6. [i]Prediction: Hmmmm… A team full of offensive power playing a Calgary team dependant on defense. I’ve seen this before somewhere. Oh, yes. It’s on a DVD of mine that ends with the offensive team hoisting a large piece of suntanned metal. It’s deja-vu all over again. Moose Jaw 4-3.[/i] After beating rival Kootenay in six games, Justin Keller and the Kelowna Rockets will host the Everett Silvertips in the second round starting Friday. The Silvertips beat Montreal first rounder Carey Price and the Tri-City Americans in 5 games in the first round. The Tips were led by Stars third rounder John Lammers in the regular season. The smallish winger had 38 goals and 75 points. Keller had 3 goals and 3 assists in the first round for the Rockets, who have been to the Memorial Cup tournament the last three years and won the WHL championship in 2003 and 2005. In 2004, the year Kelowna won the Memorial Cup, the Rockets were eliminated from the WHL playoffs in the Semi-Finals by Everett. In that 7 game series, every game was decided by just one goal, with the Tips winning games 5, 6, and 7 in overtime to erase a 3-1 series deficit and move on to the WHL finals. Two of those three games were in Kelowna. Everett eventually lost in the finals to Lightning prospect Darren Reid and Medicine Hat. Kelowna, on the other hand, had a free pass to the Memorial Cup as the host team and thanks to a third period goal by a then-undrafted Justin Keller, beat Doug O’Brien and the Gatineau Olympiques 2-1. O’Brien actually led all scorers in the 2004 tournament with 3 goals and 5 assists in 5 games. [i]Prediction: Keller and Kelowna are way too battle-tested to lose in the second round. Kelowna 4-1.[/i]