The 2013 Conference Finals are set to begin tomorrow night. Time to take a look at the match-ups.
Throughout the first two rounds, I'm 10-2 on my predictions. Let's keep the good times going.
1. Belleville Bulls vs. 2. Barrie Colts
Season Series: 1-1 TIE
My Analysis: Honestly, both of these Conference finals set up to be terrific match-ups. Both the Bulls and the Colts ran over their second round opponents. In fact, the Colts have yet to lose a game in these playoffs, despite losing their captain, Ryan O'Connor, to a 10 game suspension. O'Connor will be eligible to return Game 5 (should there be one). It's hard to find a match-up discrepancy between these two squads. Both teams have been terrific on special teams. Both teams have been getting sensational goaltending. Both teams are putting the puck in the net and getting scoring from all lines. So how do we predict a winner? I'm going on a gut instinct here. While both teams have good size up front and some physicality from the forward position, I like Barrie's larger and more physical defense more than Belleville's. I think the Bulls will have a harder time scoring than Barrie and if this series goes long (which I think it will), the Colts will get an emotional lift from O'Connor's return in game 5.
Prediction: Barrie in 6
1. London Knights vs. 2. Plymouth Whalers
Season Series: 3-1 London
My Analysis: You can throw London's dominance in the season series out the window. These teams haven't met since 2012 (Dec. 29), and anyone who covers the OHL can tell you how much better the Whalers look in 2013. They're a significantly more confident team since the new year. Bottom line, London hasn't played the Vincent Trocheck version of the Whalers. Goaltending is going to be a big factor in this series. Stolarz and Nedeljkovic have both been fairly solid for their respective teams thus far. But, neither has been perfect. Let us not forget that both are OHL rookies. Going against the offensive firepower both team's possess will be a big test for both goalies. I think the other big factor (possibly in swaying the series in Plymouth's favor) has been London's lackluster special teams play this offseason. In particular, their powerplay just isn't running on all cylinders right now. I absolutely can't wait to watch this series. Again, I'm going with a gut instinct, and that's Plymouth.
Prediction: Plymouth in 7