The Conference semi-finals kick off tonight so it's time to preview the second round. I went 6-2 in round one, and was only wrong about the two game sevens (Kingston and Niagara).
Here's the Round Two breakdown:
1. Oshawa Generals vs. 6. Peterborough Petes
Season Series: 5-3 (Oshawa)
My Analysis: This is a dangerous series for Oshawa. They've been off for a while so they could be a bit rusty. Meanwhile, the Petes are riding a major high after that epic comeback against Kingston. These two teams played each other incredibly tough in the second half of the season so this isn't as cut and dry as some people may think. Ultimately, I think this series comes down to offensive depth and goaltending. The Generals are deeper at the forward position and I think that wins them a hard fought series. I also have more faith in Daniel Altshuller, even if Andrew D'Agostini played his arse off in round one. The Gennies take this by winning the majority of their games on home ice, where they dominated the Petes during the regular season.
Prediction: Oshawa in 6
2. North Bay Battalion vs. 4. Barrie Colts
Season Series: 3-3 (TIE)
My Analysis: Another tough one to predict. North Bay clawed their way through a tough first round match up against the Dogs, while the Colts breezed through theirs against the Wolves. Barrie seems to be hitting their stride at the right time (although they did pick apart a disoriented and slumping Sudbury team). Realistically, the Colts are a team who is stronger on paper than they appeared in the standings this year. But they have a huge veteran core and they know what it takes to win. Goaltending is likely a wash between Blackwood/Gibl and Smith. Defense is a wash. So it'll come down to the offense and I think Barrie's veteran group has to be given the advantage there. I look for guys on their OHL swan song, like Athanasiou, Hall, Theoret, to really step up their game and get the Colts back to the Eastern finals.
Prediction: Barrie in 7
1. Guelph Storm vs. 4. London Knights
Season Series: 3-3 (TIE)
My Analysis: I feel bad for London, I really do. I mean, they've already got a Memorial Cup bid secured (as hosts), but no one wants to go in through the back door. Unfortunately that's how I see things unfolding. The Knights will be without Stolarz, Bell, and Austin this series. Those three form a critical component to the team's defense. Jake Patterson's development hasn't been terrific this year and he's going to have to be fantastic to stop Guelph's potent offense. I felt like Guelph was probably the stronger team even before all of those injuries/suspensions, so the recent news only puts the icing on the cake for me.
Prediction: Guelph in 5
2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. 3. Erie Otters
Season Series: 1-1 (TIE)
My Analysis: I must admit, I'm a bit worried about Erie's goaltending. Their series against Saginaw proved that neither Devin Williams or Oscar Dansk are at the top of their game. The Soo play an up tempo game with a very balanced attack. You won't escape a series against them without solid goaltending. Meanwhile, the Soo have been getting great goaltending all year from Matt Murray and he should be up to the test in stopping the Otters two line attack. This one is so close to call, but I'm leaning towards the Soo. I've underestimated them throughout the year and I really like how their forwards are engaged at both ends of the ice. They'll get better goaltending and I think they play a better team defense than Erie. It'll be tight, but I'm going with my gut instinct here.
Prediction: Sault Ste. Marie in 7
What do you think?