On to Round Two
And we're back, because the wait between rounds has proven to have gotten the better of me and SERIOUSLY, IS IT FRIDAY YET?
Recap: Last Round
(1) Saint John Sea Dogs vs. (16) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles: Prediction: Saint John in 4. Result: Saint John in 4. ✔ ✔
(2) Montreal Juniors vs. (15) Halifax Mooseheads: Prediction: Montreal in 5. Result: Montreal in 4.
But one game nearly went to OT, okay? ✔
3) Québec Remparts vs. (14) Val d'Or Foreurs: Prediction: Quebec in 5. Result: Quebec in 4. ✔
(4) Drummondville Voltigeurs vs. (13) Chicoutimi Saguenéens: Prediction: Drummondville in 5. Result: Drummondville in 4. ✔
(5) Gatineau Olympiques vs. (12) Rimouski Océanic: Prediction: Gatineau in 6. Result: Gatineau in 5. ✔
(6) Acadie-Bathurst Titan vs. (11) Victoriaville Tigres: Prediction: Bathurst in 6. Result: Victoriaville in 4. (Okay, honestly, no one got that right. Leave me alone.)
(7) Shawinigan Cataractes vs. (10) PEI Rocket: Prediction: Shawinigan in 6. Result: Shawinigan in 5. ✔
(8 ) Lewiston MAINEiacs vs. (9) Moncton Wildcats: Prediction: Lewiston in 7. Result: Lewiston in 5. ✔
That's literally about half right. Okay! Rock on.
(1) Saint John Sea Dogs vs. (11) Victoriaville Tigres:
SJ: Jonathan Huberdeau (4 GP, 5-7-12)
VIC: Phillipe Maillet (4 GP, 3-6-9)
SJ: Jacob DeSerres (3 GP, 0.67GAA, .964SV%)
VIC: David Honzik (4 GP, 2.67GAA, .930SV%)
Victoriaville pulled off the biggest opening-round surprise in sweeping the Acadie-Bathurst Titan proving that, despite the challenges posed by the new playoff format, the post-season mantra of "anything can happen" rings true. The Tigres have history with the Sea Dogs dating back to last year's semi-final against them that saw six games disputed between the two clubs and Saint John moving on to the finals. Recently, however, Victoriaville proved to be one of the rare entries in the Saint John "loss" column as they were both the hosts and victors in a 2-1 contest on February 26th. Now that they're faced with a best-of-seven series against the league champions, they might be able to steal another game, but barring recapping the gruesome end of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, there are plenty of reasons the Sea Dogs should still be able to avoid making it a lengthy one.
Prediction: Sea Dogs in 5
(2) Montreal Juniors vs. (8 ) Lewiston MAINEiacs:
MTL: Jeremy Gouchie (4 GP, 2-5-7)
LEW: Michael Chaput (5 GP, 3-3-6)
MTL: Jean-François Bérubé (4 GP, 1.25GAA, .955SV%)
LEW: Nicholas Champion (5 GP, 1.95GAA, .930SV%)
Montreal struggled a little to get things off the ground in their games against Halifax, but ultimately made easy work of the Mooseheads by sweeping them in four games. For their part, Lewiston dethroned last year's President's Cup winners in only five games, and after having made hasty exits in postseasons past, are definitely going to look to make things more difficult for the Juniors this round. Depending on how keen they are to stay out of the penalty box and shell quality shots and chances on netminder Nicolas Champion, the Junior would do best to not take too much time in this series. They won the season series 4-0, and I hesitate on the number of games it would take here, but since my untrustful mind says six, I'm going to go with five.
Prediction: Juniors in 5
(3) Québec Remparts vs (7) Shawinigan Cataractes:
QUE: Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (4 GP, 5-10-15)
SHA: Benjamin Casavant (5 GP, 1-6-7)
QUE: Louis Domingue (4 GP, 2.00GAA, .922SV%)
SHA: Gabriel Girard (5 GP, 1.58GAA, .959SV%)
These two teams also have a bit of semi-final history, with Shawinigan taking a five-game series to move on to the 2009 President's Cup finals. Things are much different this time around, but each team is poised to renew their rivalry. Forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was recently rewarded with CHL Player of the Week honours as the top scorer in Round 1, but he will face a top goaltender in Gabriel Girard. The Remparts have the best power play record in the playoffs thus far, at 50%, whereas the penalty killing of the Cataractes is also tops leaguewide at 95%. It will take a lot to wear them down, but Patrick Roy's experienced pests (this is a compliment, I promise) should ultimately have the upper hand.
Prediction: Remparts in 6
(4) Drummondville Volitgeurs vs (5) Gatineau Olympiques
DRU: Ondrej Palat (4 GP, 4-5-9)
GAT: Tye McGinn/Jean-Gabriel Pageau (5 GP, 3-4-7)
DRU: Guillaume Nadeau (4 GP, 3.18GAA, .861SV%)
GAT: François Lacerte (4 GP, 2.13GAA, .915SV%)
Get out your knitting needles, folks, because this is going to be a long one. Both teams have battled constantly throughout the regular season, and not only for the other's higher spot in the rankings. Gatineau won the acquisition-lottery over Christmas break in the league's leading scorer, Philip-Michaël Devos, and can count on several returns to the lineup from key players such as Hubert Labrie, who missed just about the whole season due to injury. Drummondville's twin towers of power, Ondrej Palat and Sean Couturier, were lethal once again in the Chicoutimi series where even the Voltigeurs' depth came to play; rookie Maxime Villemaire, author of only 6 goals in the regular season, already has three in the playoffs. The key in this series is going to be goaltending, and both teams have had their share of weaknesses in that area.
Prediction: Voltigeurs in 7