Needless to say, I'm definitely embarrassed by my 4-4 record in round 1 of the playoffs (predictions found here). Only one upset in the first round, with the 5 ranked Battalion defeating the 4 ranked Frontenacs. And I'd argue that wasn't even an upset because everyone had Brampton winning. Whoever said that they felt the parity among the OHL's elite and average was huge was complete right. Seriously though, I stand by my predictions, even in the face of defeat. I felt like hot squads in Guelph and Saginaw (especially) would really give London and Kitchener a run for their money. But, we move on.
Now I've got to go 4-0 this round to get some respect back.
Let's get to the picks...
1. Barrie Colts vs. 5. Brampton Battalion
Season Series: Colts - 6-0
My Analysis: Even if Matt Clark (the best defensive defenseman in the East and maybe OHL) was in the line up for Brampton, I don't think I'd be giving the Battalion much chance in this one. But he's not after getting suspended indefinitely for his hit on Ethan Werek in game six of round 1. Without Clark back there, this Battalion team just won't be able to handle the overwhelming forward depth of the Colts...even if the Battalion play a solid team defensive game. And even if the Battalion have Cody Hodgson up front, I'm not convinced he's healthy enough to really carry this club and even if he was, the secondary scoring isn't good enough to stay with Barrie. Look out folks, this one could get ugly too.
Prediction: Barrie in 4
2. Ottawa 67's vs. 3. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Season Series: Majors - 4-0
My Analysis: I think a lot of people are expecting this one to be a close series. I'm not really one of them. I bet by now 67's fans think I've got some problem with their team or something, but it's nothing personal. Outside of top end offensive skill, I think it comes down the Majors being able to do everything just a little bit better. I think the team plays a much safer defensive game (as evidenced by the lowest GAA in the league) and that every one of their lines is capable of grinding down the 67's defense...who didn't look tremendous against Niagara. If Petr Mrazek continues to play and play well, he could steal a few games for the 67's, but Chris Carrozzi is no slouch at the other end too. I think we'll get that much desired Colts vs. Majors showdown everybody is rooting for.
Prediction: Mississauga in 5
1. Windsor Spitfires vs. 4. Plymouth Whalers
Season Series: Spitfires - 5-3
My Analysis: Alright, now we're getting down to business in the West. Even though I secretly wanted to see the Whalers lose to the Hounds in round one, I also wanted to see this match up. It's really unfortunate for the Spitfires too, because I think (despite the Whalers being the 4th seed) that Plymouth is the only team in the West capable of beating them. With Matt Hackett in goal at the other end, Windsor is absolutely going to need to get better goaltending from Philip Grubauer than they got in round 1 (and all season for that matter). In essence, I think all the moves Michael Vellucci made this season were to give this team a chance to beat Windsor. All the physicality added has made a difference and really gave the Soo a hard time in round 1. Can the Spits handle it better? There is absolutely a chance they do, however I don't think the team can be AS physical as Plymouth (at least without taking stupid penalties). To beat Plymouth, the Spits are just going to have to use their speed and skill advantage and fight through the checks.
Prediction: Plymouth in 7
2. London Knights vs. 3. Kitchener Rangers
Season Series: Knights - 5-1
My Analysis: Part of me really wants to choose the Rangers. They played much better against Saginaw in round one than I had anticipated and Brandon Maxwell really showed what he was made of with a great performance. But London has been playing some really good hockey and they had no problem with the Rangers during the regular season. With Nazem Kadri at the top of his game and the Knights still getting solid secondary scoring, I'm just not sure the Rangers can hang with London for a full seven game series. I know the Rangers and their group of tenacious forwards won't quit and I'm confident they can win a couple of games, but four? I just don't see it based on the way the Knights fared against them in the regular season.
Prediction: London in 6
Again, would absolutely love to hear your predictions as comments!