OHL Power Rankings March 14th - March 20th
This is the last weekend of the OHL schedule. It's the end of the proverbial sixty-eight game grind. Only one playoff spot has yet to be determined and that's the eighth and final playoff spot in the OHL's Eastern Conference. The Belleville Bulls have a three point lead over the Peterborough Petes for that spot and both teams have three games to play. Let's get to this week's power rankings.
1. Mississauga Majors (1st Central, 1st East)
The Memorial Cup hosts got the hiccups a couple weeks ago but they're back into fine form now. Make no mistake, the boys from the Hersh are the team to beat in the OHL's East this playoff. I don't think that the Majors are a team on the calibre of past OHL winners which tells me that if they run into a team with either considerable offensive depth or white hot goaltending, they'll be in trouble.
Last Week's Rank: 2
Key Match-up This Week: at Niagara Ice Dogs (03/17/2011)
2. Oshawa Generals (2nd East Division, 4th Eastern Conference)
The Gennies have been playing playoff hockey for most of the last month. Embroiled in a lot of tight, one goal games, Oshawa has been coming out on top to the tune of better than .700. Christian Thomas is on pace to be the OHL's goal scoring champion netting numbers 53 and 54 last weekend while Nicklas Jensen, Calvin de Haan and Lucas Lessio have all stepped up behind him.
Last Week's Rank: 5
Key Match-up This Week: at Ottawa 67s (03/18/2011)
3. Owen Sound Attack (1st Midwest, 1st West)
There was a lot of talk last week about how the Bayshore Boys weren't getting any respect this season. They didn't earn any on Friday as goaltender Jordan Binnington stole a win for them over divisional rival Kitchener in a game where the Attack were handily outplayed. Good news though is that they earned the first banner to ever go into the Bayshore's rafters.
Last Week's Rank: 1
Key Match-up This Week: at Guelph Storm (03/18/2011)
4. Erie Otters (3rd Midwest, 5th West)
The Otters are probably the hottest team in the whole league. Erie has the chance to secure home ice advantage if they win out this weekend and get a little help from the Saginaw Spirit who play a home-and-home against the Windsor Spitfires. With goaltender Ramus Sadikov back and healthy, the Otters are a dark horse in the West.
Last Week's Rank: 6
Key Match-up This Week: at Saginaw Spirit (03/18/2011)
5. Niagara Ice Dogs (2nd Central, 3rd East)
The Dogs quietly go about their business playing some of the best, most consistent hockey in the League. They're a deep offensive team, buttressed at centre by Ryan Strome and David Pacan who are flanked by the likes of Steven Shipley, Freddie Hamilton and Andrew Agozzino. The story in Niagara this playoff, though, will be Mark Visentin. They'll go as far as he can take them.
Last Week's Rank: 8
Key Match Up This Week: vs. Mississauga Majors (03/17/2011)
6. Kitchener Rangers (2nd Midwest, 3rd West)
The key for the Rangers this playoff is just getting healthy. If they get Ryan Murphy, Julian Melchiori and Matia Marcantuoni back into their line up, this team is as deep and as deadly as any in the League. The Rangers are one of the few teams lucky enough to have two goaltenders who would be starters on every other team in the League.
Last Week's Rank: 4
Key Match Up This Week: at Guelph Storm (03/16/2011)
7. Ottawa 67s (1st East Division, 2nd Eastern Conference)
The 67s got whacked with the injury bug at exactly the wrong time. Star forward Shane Prince was run over in a game against the Niagara Ice Dogs last week and will be out for a while with concussion-like symptoms. While Sean Monahan is more than capable of standing in for him, this loads all of Ottawa's scoring power on to one line.
Last Week's Rank: 3
Key Match Up This Week: vs Oshawa Generals (03/18/2011)
8. Windsor Spitfires (2nd West Division, 4th Western Conference)
That the Spits have a shot at their third consecutive division title is more a story about Saginaw's meltdown than Windsor's success. However, if the Spits win out this weekend and the Spirit lose in Erie, Windsor would win the division. If the Spits drop both games this weekend to Saginaw, they not only lose the division but likely home ice as well and lock themselves into a first round match with the red hot Erie Otters.
Last Week's Rank: 10
Key Match Up This Week: at Saginaw Spirit (03/19/2011)
9. Saginaw Spirit (1st West Division, 2nd Western Conference)
After the trade deadline, most figured that the Spirit were the team to beat in the West. But the meltdown in the Saginaw goal has put the Spirit in danger of losing their division. If Mavric Parks can't step up in the playoffs, and nothing in his track record suggests he will, they could be easy pickings in Round One if they catch the wrong match-up.
Last Week's Rank: 7
Key Match Up This Week: at Windsor Spitfires (03/17/2011)
10. Kingston Frontenacs (3rd East Division, 5th Eastern Conference)
The Fronts have actually played .500 hockey over the last ten games and gotten points in seven of those games. Pretty impressive when you consider that this team has basically had a split personality all season. Erik Gudbranson's consistency has returned, the Fronts just have to hope Franky Palazzese can hold the fort until Philip Grubauer returns.
Last Week's Rank: 12
Key Match Up This Week: at Belleville Bulls (03/16/2011)
11. Guelph Storm (4th Midwest, 7th West)
The Storm have cooled a little heading into the playoffs. Guelph's success in the playoffs is going to depend on two things: Brandon Foote and secondary scoring. The totals put up this season by Taylor Beck, Michael Latta and Peter Holland are impressive but they're going to need help to go far in the playoffs. But even if they get it, Foote will have to be better in goal than he was in last year's playoffs against London.
Last Week's Rank: 11
Key Match Up this Week: at Plymouth Whalers (03/19/2011)
12. Brampton Battalion (3rd Central, 6th East)
There's a clear delineation in the Eastern Conference. The Top Five teams in the East are better than the bottom five. Even if Brampton were to overtake Kingston in the standings, that wouldn't change. It's tough to see Brampton's postseason lasting longer than five games this season regardless of who their first round opponent is.
Last Week's Rank: 13
Key Match Up this Week: vs. Belleville Bulls (03/20/2011)
13. Plymouth Whalers (3rd West Division, 6th Western Conference)
The Whalers peaked just a little too early. They're unlikely to pass Erie or Windsor this weekend but they can prevent themselves from sliding to eighth by beating Guelph on Saturday night. The physical Whalers do have an ace in the hole in the playoffs and that is the fact that Scott Wedgewood can get hot enough to steal series on his own.
Last Week's Rank: 9
Key Match Up This Week: vs. Guelph Storm (03/19/2011)
14. Sudbury Wolves (4th Central, 7th East)
This playoff is basically a test of how good Jake Riley is. The Wolves have snuck into the playoffs as a low seed in the past and managed to Dark Horse their way to the League Final on the back of strong goaltending. While that's unlikely to happen this time, Riley's performance will at least let the Wolves know if their goaltending situation is solid for next year.
Last Week's Rank: 14
Key Match Up This Week: at Belleville Bulls (03/19/2011)
15. London Knights (5th Midwest, 8th West)
The Knight are now playing for pride. They're probably going to play Owen Sound in the first round. But you can't count a Dale Hunter team out and no one enjoys playing at the JLC in the playoffs. The boys in black and green will drop the curtain on the season playing arch-rival Kitchener on the last night of the season.
Last Week's Rank: 15
Key Match Up This Week: vs. Kitchener Rangers (03/20/2011)
16. Soo Greyhounds (4th West Division, 9th Western Conference)
It's going to be an offseason of change in the Soo but at least the Greyhounds are showing something of a heartbeat down the home stretch. The long term question in the Soo is if GM Dave Torrie survives or is fired so that a more extensive rebuild can take place.
Last Week's Rank: 17
Key Match Up This Week: vs. Sarnia Sting (03/19/2011)
17. Belleville Bulls (4th East Division, 8th Eastern Conference)
The Bulls, on pure performance, could be the worst team to make the playoffs in quite awhile. With Tyson Teichmann missing games last weekend, I'm not convinced the Bulls have a goaltender with the requisite skill to keep them from being swept by Mississauga in round one.
Last Week's Rank: 16
Key Match Up This Week: vs Sudbury Wolves (03/19/2011)
18. Sarnia Sting (5th West Division, 10th Western Conference)
The Sting have fallen off from being a young team that started strong earlier in the season. Now, they can only hope to play spoiler this weekend and maybe avoid the absolute cellar in the West by beating the Soo.
Last Week's Rank: 18
Key Match Up This Week: at Soo Greyhounds (03/19/2011)
19. Barrie Colts (5th Central Division, 10 Eastern Conference)
At least centre Mark Scheifele is finishing the season strong. A two goal performance last weekend was the first time I saw the big centre truly take over a game and show that he'll be capable of leading the Colts back to the playoff Promised Land next season.
Last Week's Rank: 19
Key Match Up This Week: vs. Peterborough Petes (03/19/2011)
20. Peterborough Petes (5th East Division, 9th Eastern Conference)
The Petes are limping across the finish line. One Bulls win coupled with two Peterborough losses this weekend would put the final bullet in their playoff hopes and start the remodel in the Kawarthas. Probably not the way they wanted to meet the spring in cottage country.
Last Week's Rank: 20
Key Match Up This Week: at Barrie Colts (03/19/2011)