QMJHL Playoffs: Semifinals Finals Preview

As exciting as the first round was, the second round of the QMJHL playoffs were much more brief. Two of the four series were sweeps, while the other two saw the eliminated team only win a single game. It will be interesting to see if the semifinals will be short like round two, or if fans will see two very competitive and longer series with a trip to the President’s Cup Finals on the line. With the ‘Q’s format, the final four are re-seeded, with now having the semis consist of inter-conference matchups.

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies vs. Rimouski Oceanic

This is the closest the Oceanic have come to the Finals since they won the President’s Cup back in 2015. They have made it this far in short order. After an easy sweep of Chicoutimi, Rimouski took care of Cape Breton in five games. They are the only team in the semis to only have one loss to their name this postseason. Of course, Alexis Lafreniere was on top of his game, as per usual. After eight points in round one, the future first round pick scored 10 points in the second round, maintaining his two-point-per-game average. Olivier Garneau played exceptional, as the over-aged winger scored eight points against the Screaming Eagles. Despite giving up eight goals in round two, Colton Ellis looked good in net. The Nova Scotian had a .936 SV%, including a shutout in game three.

The Huskies got their act together after the slip up against Shawinigan. Rouyn-Noranda burned through Victoriaville in four games, and look to make it to the finals for the third time in franchise history. The Tigres only scored three goals in the series. Much thanks to the play of the Huskies’ back end with players such as Noah Dobson and Justin Bergeron and Samuel Harvey in net. Peter Abbandonato scored eight more points in round two, increasing his playoff scoring lead with 21 points. Joel Teasdale was steady throughout the series, including a big game in game four where the Montreal prospect scored a hat trick. 

This matchup could have very different outcomes. It could go the distance, or one team could make quick work of their opponent. The Huskies won all four meetings between the two, outscoring the Oceanic by a score of 20-7. The Oceanic have not had the toughest of opponents in their first two series, and have not had to play against a tough defence and top-notch goaltender such as Harvey. This means Ellis will have to stand on his head to give Rimouski a chance in this series. 

My Pick

Each game will be tight, but that does not mean there will be a lot of them. Huskies in five.

Drummondville Voltigeurs vs. Halifax Mooseheads

The Voltigeurs come in to their first semifinal since 2010 looking to make it to the President’s Cup Final for the first time since they won back in 2009. After an easy series against Gatineau, Drummondville eased their way passed Sherbrooke in five games. The first two games saw the Voltigeurs outscore the Phoenix 16-5. After Sherbrooke earned a win on home ice, Drummondville won game four, and ended the series in exciting fashion, as Maxime Comtois’ fourth goal of the series in the second overtime eliminated the Phoenix. Felix Lauzon was big contributor in the series. The Roxton Pond, PQ native scored five goals and two assists against the Phoenix. Pavel Koltygin also had a breakout series, as the Nashville prospect garnered eight points in the five game series, leading the Voltigeurs in round two.

After a tight series against Quebec in round one, the Mooseheads took their second round matchup against Moncton much more seriously. That does not mean the Wildcats gave everything they had against the best team in the East. Three of the four games were determined by two goals because of empty net goals by Halifax. However, the Mooseheads were able to get the job done swiftly to move onto the semis for the first time since 2014. Raphael Lavoie continued his impressive postseason, scoring six goals in the series. Antoine Morand stepped up his game in round two. The Anaheim draft pick only scored four points against Quebec in the first round, but really helped out the offence with seven assists in the four-game sweep.

Two very talented offences heading into this series. Drummondville was able to show against Sherbrooke they have more offence than just Joseph Veleno, who only scored three points in Drummondville’s five game series. Where it seemed Halifax needed to rely on Lavoie in round one, the resurgence of Morand gives optimism for the Mooseheads offence. While Jared McIsaac was solid in his own zone, he will have to help out offencively if Halifax wants to hang with the high-flying Drummondville attack. The teams only played twice this season, with each team picking up the win on the road.

My Pick

While Drummondville is playing for a chance to make it to make it to the Memorial Cup, Halifax as the host is not. That will be a factor in this series, and the Voltigeurs will come away with the series in six games.

All statistics and records from the QMJHL and Elite Prospects.

Puck77 has an agreement with the QMJHL to use their logo as our featured image.

QMJHL Playoffs: Second Round Preview

QMJHL Playoffs: Second Round Preview

After a couple of interesting series, including three game sevens, the second round is set. Some teams that were expected to make it to this point almost did not, while a couple of clubs surprised many by making it this far. This makes up for four matchups that are sure to watched closely, because, as we saw in round one, anything can happen.

Eastern Conference

(1) Halifax Mooseheads vs. (7) Moncton Wildcats

Moncton turned things around and was able to upset Baie-Comeau in a seven-game thriller, and are the lowest seed to make it to the second round. The Wildcats were led by Jeremy McKenna once again, with 11 points in the series, and four multi-point games. Mika Cyr was huge in this series. Moncton’s four wins came in the four games where Cyr got a point, and he had 10 in the series, including the game-winning goal in game seven. Gabriel Sylvestre was an important piece on the blueline, with five assists, and was never a minus in a single game in the series, finishing with +6 rating.

The Mooseheads are coming into the second round after surviving a seven-game series against the Quebec Remparts, where Halifax went down 2-0, and needed to win games six and seven to advance. Raphael Lavoie led the league in scoring in the first round with 13 points, and his seven goals were also the most among fellow QMJHLers. Only games one and seven saw Lavoie held to less than two points. Maxim Trepanier missed most of the last two months of the season with concussion-like symptoms, but still averaged a point a game in the regular season. After missing game one, Trepanier put up six points in six games. 

With the Mooseheads hosting of the Memorial Cup, they may not feel the pressure to win, which was noticeable in their series against Quebec. The Wildcats had to scratch and claw (no pun intended) to slow down one of the best offences in the league, thanks to the play of the d-core and netminder Francis Leclerc. While Moncton only won two games in the regular season against Halifax, the desperation they played with in the first round could be the difference in this round two matchup.

My Pick

Halifax right now is going through the motions, and the Wildcats want it more. It’ll be close, but Moncton in seven.

(3) Rimouski Oceanic vs. (5) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

Rimouski was the lone team to move on in the minimum number of games, as they took care of Chicoutimi in four games, including a marathon game two where D’Artagnan Joly’s scored his lone goal in the series in the fourth overtime. Alexis Lafreniere was exceptional as always, averaging two points a game in this series, leading the team. Lafreniere’s linemate, Jimmy Huntington, scored seven points in the series, with three-point performances in games one and three. Colton Ellis was solid in goal for the Oceanic, only giving up 11 goals on 148 shots, including making 53 saves in the game two overtime win.

Cape Breton is coming off upending Charlottetown in a six game series where the Islanders went up 2-0, before the Screaming Eagles reeled off four straight victories. Three of which were one goal games, with the series-clinching game six ending in overtime after Egor Sokolov’s fourth goal of the series. The man who tied that game to send it to overtime, Mitchell Balmas, was stellar throughout the series. With five goals and six assists, his 11 points were tied for the third-most points in first round scoring. Kevin Mandolese was clutch in net for Cape Breton. After allowing eight goals in the first two games, the Ottawa prospect only allowed nine the rest of the series.

These two teams play vastly different styles. Rimouski likes to open up and use their offence to dictate the game, whereas Cape Breton will do their best to grind their opponent down to win. Rimouski, of course, will be rested heading into game one, as they have not played since March 27th. The teams only met twice in the regular season, with the Screaming Eagles pulling out two, one-goal, victories.

My Pick

Rimouski’s rest will hurt them at first, but the Screaming Eagles will fall off late in the series. Oceanic in seven.

Western Conference

(1) Rouyn-Noranda Huskies vs. (4) Victoriaville Tigres 

Victoriaville punched their ticket to the second round in the most dramatic way possible. After winning game six to force a game seven against Val-d’Or, Olivier Mathieu’s second goal of the series 35 seconds into overtime won the Tigres the game and the series. Simon Lafrance and Dominic Cormier led the Victoriaville offence in the first round, with each scoring nine points. Lafrance was clutch for the Tigres, as he had two points in both games six and seven. Similar to Lafrance, Cormier managed to earn three multi-point games in the seven games.

The Huskies had their struggles against the Shawinigan Cataractes, as Shawinigan won their first game since February 9th in game two, then won again in game four. However, routs in games five and six by the Huskies put any thoughts of an upset to bed. Peter Abbandonato was the dominant playmaker in Rouyn-Noranda’s first round as he was in the regular season. With 11 assists in the six games, his 13 points tied Lavoie for most in round one. Noah Dobson showed that he is back to form, as he scored 10 points from the blueline.

While the Huskies had issues with lowly Shawinigan in the first round, do not expect them to overlook another opponent, especially a scrappy team like Victoriaville. Rouyn-Noranda won all four games in the regular season, but the Tigres put up good efforts at home, with both games only being decided by a single goal. Tristan Cote-Cazenave was clutch for the Tigres against Val-d’Or, but he does not measure up to Samuel Harvey, who, despite losing twice, was still one of the better netminders in the first round with a 1.90 GAA and .912 SV%.

My Pick

Huskies will not take the Tigres lightly, Rouyn-Noranda in five.

(2) Drummondville Volitgeurs vs. (3) Sherbrooke Phoenix

After being stunned in game one against Blainville-Boisbriand, Sherbrooke settled down and ran through the next four games to move passed the Armada into round two. Samuel Poulin led the charge for the Phoenix offence, scoring nine points in the five-game series. Felix Robert produced well for Sherbrooke, as he scored eight points in the series, including a three-point night in game three. Dakota Lund-Cornish was exceptional in net, only allowing 10 goals on 134 shots with a shutout in a bounce-back game two win.

The Volitgeurs had an easy time beating the Gatineau Olympiques in the first round in five games. Joseph Veleno was ever impressive, with a hat trick in game one, and three more points in game five on his way to nine points against Gatineau. Maxime Comtois was also a solid goal scorer for Drummondville, as he potted four goals in the series. Anthony Morrone had the easiest workload compared to the rest of the league, but he only allowed nine goals in the series with a shutout to boot.

This series will come down to effort. It may sound cliché, but if the Phoenix want any shot against the talented Voltigeur lineup, they are going to have outwork them for an entire seven-game series. It will be tough, especially since Drummondville swamped the Phoenix in the six regular season meetings. The Voltigeurs won all six games, outscoring 33-9 in the process. 

My Pick

Too much offence for one team to handle, Drummondville in five.

All statistics and records from the QMJHL and Elite Prospects.

Puck77 has an agreement with the QMJHL to use their logo as our featured image.

QMJHL Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Preview

QMJHL Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Preview

The playoffs are here, and there is a lot to look at heading into the first round. Eight of the 10 teams from the QMJHL’s Eastern Conference are resting, and preparing for the biggest grind in sports. There are a couple of series that are going to be sure-things, while other series may end up surprising a lot of folks.

(1) Halifax Mooseheads vs. (8) Quebec Remparts

While finishing the season with the third best record in the entire league, the Mooseheads really don’t have a whole lot to play for, giving that they are hosting the Memorial Cup in May. However, that does not mean they will take the playoffs lightly. With talented scorers Samuel Asselin and Benoit-Olivier Groulx leading the charge up front, and extremely talented two-way d-men Jared McIsaac and Justin Barron holding the blueline, the Mooseheads certainly have the ability to make a run deep towards the President’s Cup Finals.

Despite the Remparts poor end to the regular season where they lost their final five games, there is a lot to be intrigued in with this Quebec roster. Chicago draft pick Philipp Kurashev leads the team with 65 points, with 27 of them coming on the power play. Rookie Aleksei Sergeev has been a really adequate playmaker. With 45 points in the regular season, Sergeev was sixth in scoring among rookies.

My Pick

While Quebec could surprise Halifax and pull out a win, the Mooseheads will waltz the rest of the way through the series, winning in five.

(2) Baie-Comeau Drakkar vs. (7) Moncton Wildcats

If you looked at these two teams back in December, you would not think these two teams would play in the first round. Yet, after the Wildcats tailed off in the second half of the season, they have really put themselves in a tight spot heading into the playoffs. Jeremy McKenna led the team in scoring with 97, but he, like the rest of his team, fell a bit off towards the end of the regular season, only putting up 40 points in the last 34 games. Jordan Spence is one of the best, all-round rookie defencemen in the league. With 49 points coming from the back end, he is ninth in defencemen scoring and fourth in rookie scoring.

The Drakkar have had an incredible turn-around season with one of the best offencive clubs in the entire QMJHL, led by Ivan Chekohovich. The San Jose prospect finished tied for second in league scoring with 105 points, and his 43 goals is tied for fourth. Nathan Legare and Gabriel Fortier have also been big producers on the offencive end for the Drakkar. The biggest question for Baie-Comeau will be in net, as Alex D’Orio has been mediocre at best this season. Since being traded from Saint John at the trade deadline, the Pittsburgh prospect went 16-7, with a 2.55 GAA and .899 SV%.

My Pick

Moncton keeps it a close series, but the Drakkar offence will take control when it matters most, Baie-Comeau wins in six.

(3) Rimouski Oceanic vs. (6) Chicoutimi Sagueneens

The Oceanic did not have high expectations coming into this season. However, with the coming-out party of Alexis Lafreniere, and the confidence that grew within the team around him, Rimouski became one of the best teams in the QMJHL. Lafreniere ended the season with 105 points, tied with Baie-Comeau’s Chekhovich. His 25 assists while with the man advantage is tied with teammate Charle-Edouard D’Astous. D’Astous’ 66 points also leads the QMJHL in d-man scoring. With Lafreniere, centre Jimmy Huntington’s production increased exponentially this season, finishing second on the team with 92 points.

 Chicoutimi does not have the same offencive arsenal that Rimouski has, but that has not stopped the Sagueneens from taking the season series from the Oceanic, as Chicoutimi won four of the seven meetings. If the Sagueneens want a chance to win four more, they will rely on goaltender Alexis Shank. Shank went 27-11-4 this season, with a 2.61 GAA and .913 SV%, both sixth-best in the league. 

My Pick

Lafreniere lights up the score sheet, however that’s all it will be for Rimouski. Chicoutimi wins an extremely close series, and upsets the Oceanic in seven.

(4) Charlottetown Islanders vs. (5) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

Two teams that are on hot streaks heading into the postseason, this could be another fun series to watch. The Islanders won 10 of their last 13 games of the season, including two wins over Cape Breton, and a shootout win over Halifax to ramp up the momentum heading into the playoffs. Even though Charlottetown does not have any star scoring compared to some other teams, they do have some very solid, and wide-spread scoring. Daniel Hardie has been big for the Islanders down the stretch, registering a point in each of the final six games with 10 assists. 

Despite losing a pair to the Islanders, the Screaming Eagles have been really good in the last month of the season, going 5-2-1 in the month of March, and winners of seven of their last 10 games. Mitchell Laferriere and Mitchell Balmas have been the big duo for Cape Breton this season. Laferriere finished second in team scoring with 74 points, while Balmas finished tied for fourth in the league in goal scoring with 43 goals. That top line is what the Screaming Eagles are going to have to die on in this series.

My Pick

Even though there is more offence with Cape Breton, Charlottetown will find a way to pull it out in seven games.

All statistics found on the official QMJHL website and Elite Prospects

Puck77 has an agreement with the QMJHL to use their logo as our featured image.

Looking Ahead At The Top 2020 NHL Draft Prospects

As you may know, I love looking at future drafts and prospects. The 2020 draft has to be one of my favorites in the near future, even though it is still a ways away. So, with that said, I’ll be looking at five players of the best projected players in the 2020 draft.

Alexis Lafrenière

Embed from Getty Images

The projected #1 overall pick in 2020 plays as a left wing for the Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL. Lafrenière is very swift on his skates, has an excellent shot and has astonishing hand to eye coordination. Lafrenière is looking like a generational talent and I see no huge problems in his game. He currently has 36 goals and 67 assists for 103 points in 60 games. He also played with Canada at the World Juniors.

Pro Comparison (Not skill based, just similar play styles): Artemi Panarin

Noel Gunler

The Swedish right winger has shot up the 2020 draft rankings. He currently has split time playing for Luleå HF J20 and Luleå HF in the SuperElit and the SHL. Gunler’s best asset is his knack for the net. He has great vision and is able to rush to get rebounds. He might struggle a bit because of his size, but I see no reason why he can’t be a great player in the NHL. He currently has 25 goals and 19 assists for 44 points in 30 games with the Luleå HF J20 team.

Pro Comparison (Not skill based, just similar play styles): Jake Guentzel

Anton Lundell

Embed from Getty Images

The Finnish center, like Noel Gunler, has shot up draft rankings for 2020. He has split time between HIFK U20 and HIFK in the JR. A SM-Liiga and Liiga. He has spent most of his time with HIFK which is quite impressive for a 17 year old. He’s a great playmaker thanks to his passing and his vision. Besides being a great playmaker, Lundell, is a great two way forward. He currently has 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points in 36 games with HIFK. He also played with Finland at the World Juniors.

Pro Comparison (Not skill based, just similar play styles): Bo Horvat

Quinton Byfield

The Canadian center plays an excellent power game. He currently plays for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. He was granted Exceptional Status during last year and was drafted 1st overall. He plays with lots of power and strength, yet still has great offensive skills in his passing and his shot. He has a big frame at 6’4″ 214 pounds and should continue to grow. He currently has 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points in 61 games with the Sudbury Wolves.

Pro Comparison (Not skill based, just similar play styles): Sean Couturier

Jamie Drysdale

The Canadian defenseman plays an excellent puck moving game. He currently plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL. He has outstanding passing and excellent speed. When he’s on his game he is untouchable. He has an amazing work ethic as well. He is not a slouch on defense and always gets back in position thanks to his speed. He currently leads Under-17 defenseman in the OHL in points with 38, 7 goals and 31 assists in 59 games.

Pro Comparison (Not skill based, just similar play styles): Duncan Keith

Just Missed Prospects

Kaiden Guhle (Defenseman, Prince Albert Raiders, WHL)

Alexander Holtz (Winger, Djurgårdens IF J20, SuperElit)

Cole Perfetti (Center, Saginaw Spirit, OHL)

Lucas Raymond (Right Winger, Frölunda HF J20, SuperElit)

Justin Barron (Defenseman, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

stats from – Elite Prospects

Special Thanks to Gray Fox at The Upper Bowl for the scouting report on Jake Guentzel

 

Puck77

Puck77 Content Roundup – Version 1

In our first Puck77 Content Roundup, we’ve provided links to some of our content from the last week of so that you should take a look at. 

Who Are The Chicago Blackhawks Top Ten Prospects?

In WallMaz’s new post on Puck77, he wrote about the top ten prospects in the Chicago Blackhawks farm system. The Blackhawks have a few extremely talented defensive prospects who could emerge as stars down the road.

Who Are The Chicago Blackhawks Top Ten Prospects?

QMJHL Report: The Impact Of Alexis Lafreniere On Rimouski

In Tyler Kuehl’s new post on Puck77, he talks about Alexis Lafreniere and his decision to remain with the Rimouski Oceanic. He talks about what that means for his development and how that impacts the Oceanic. 

QMJHL Report: The Impact of Alexis Lafrenière on Rimouski

Tampa Bay Lightning: Panarin To The Sunshine State?

In Kyle Pereira’s new post on Puck77, he talks about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Lightning trading for Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin. 

https://puck77.com/2019/02/12/tampa-bay-lightning-panarin-to-the-sunshine-state/

Minnesota Wild: Zach Parise’s Comeback Season

In Kate Johansen’s new post on Puck77, she talks about Zach Parise’s season and how he’s rejuvenated his career.

Minnesota Wild: Zach Parise’s Comeback Season

What’s Gone Right For The New York Islanders

In Josh Tessler’s new post on Puck77, he talks about what’s gone right in Brooklyn this season. The biggest improvement is in net. 

What’s Gone Right For The New York Islanders?