QMJHL Report: Shawinigan Cataractes and Saint John Sea Dogs Battle for a Playoff Berth
With the final weekend of the regular season in view, all but one of the playoff spots are taken in the QMJHL. With Acadie-Bathurst having, historically, one of the worst seasons league history, the only two teams vying for an opportunity to take part in the postseason are the Shawinigan Cataractes and the Saint John Sea Dogs. Both teams have really struggled compared to years past, and both teams will fail to reach the 20-win mark. Despite the facts, they have an opportunity to play at least two more home games later this month. As of Thursday, the Cataractes lead the Sea Dogs by one point for 16th in the league.
Shawinigan Can’t Buy a Win
If you said the Cataractes would fall off the top of the mountain to the base following their 2012 Memorial Cup, you would most certainly be right, as Shawinigan gave up the farm to stack their roster when they hosted the tournament seven years ago. Since then, they have been mediocre at best. However, a playoff berth is a playoff berth, and the Cataractes would love to return to the postseason after missing out last year. However, they have not helped their cause with their play in the last month. Shawinigan has lost 13 straight games, and 15 of their last 16 contests. The Cataractes last victory was back on February the 9th, in a rather convincing 5-1 victory over Quebec. Of course, playing both Rouyn-Noranda, Baie-Comeau twice in that time frame certainly did not make it any easier.
They do hold their own fate with two more games remaining. They will first visit Chicoutimi on Friday, before returning home to take on Victoriaville in the season finale. The Cataractes have fared rather well against the Sagueneens, going 2-2-1 so far this season. It won’t be an easy game against Chicoutimi, as they have won five-straight, including a big win over Drummondville on Wednesday. The Tigres are one of many teams that have had the Cataractes number this season, as they have won four of the five meetings this season against Shawinigan.
Two Real Tough Games Ahead for Saint John
Another past Memorial Cup Champion that has struggled in recent memory, the Sea Dogs are trying to get to the playoffs after missing last season. The Sea Dogs missed a big opportunity on Wednesday to jump ahead of Shawinigan, when they led Cape Breton heading into the third period. However, the Eagles stormed back with three goals to hand Saint John their 48th loss of the season. Unlike the Cataractes, though, the Sea Dogs have won a game in the last month. After losing 11 straight, Saint John beat the lowly Titan last Friday.
However, the final two games for Saint John are not going to be easy. First, on Friday they will be tasked with taking on the third-best team in the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads. Halifax has dominated Saint John this season, as they have won all seven meetings by a combined score of 46-9. The contest will take place at the Scotiabank Centre, where the games have been severely lopsided as the Mooseheads have put up 10 or more goals in the three games against the Sea Dogs. On Saturday, the Sea Dogs will play the Moncton Wildcats. While Moncton has fallen of since their hot start, they still sit in the eighth playoff spot. The Sea Dogs have played the Wildcats close throughout the season, winning three of the seven games, but have dropped the last two to the Maritime foe.
Tight playoff races are always fun to watch, especially when anything can happen in the final weekend of the regular season. It will be interesting to see if the Cataractes can finally pick up a win, or if the Sea Dogs can jump Shawinigan for the final spot. Shawinigan does have a decent record Chicoutimi, as does Saint John over Moncton. However, the Sea Dogs/Mooseheads matchup certainly makes it look bleak for Saint John.
Just a shame that whoever clinches will have to play Rouyn-Noranda in the first round…
My pick: Shawinigan clinches, Not because they win, but because the Sea Dogs lose their final two games.
All Statistics and notes found on theqmjhl.ca and eliteprospects.com