Today in the Ramblings we take some time to take a closer look at the OHL, QMJHL and WHL Finals. Updating where the three series stand, who has been producing and which teams needs to step their game up.
OHL – Mississauga Steelheads vs Erie Otters – Erie leading series 2-1
After Erie took the first two games of the seven game series at home, Mississauga got one back on Monday as the series shifted to Ontario. The Steelheads came from behind led by two New Jersey Devils 2016 NHL Entry Draft selections in Michael McLeod (12th) and Nathan Bastian (41st) who scored third period goals to secure the game three victory. A pivotal game four is tonight.
Erie has the four leading scorers in the OHL Playoffs in Alex DeBrincat (35), Dylan Strome (29), Taylor Raddysh (28) and Anthony Cirelli (27) all of whom have averaged over a point-per-game over their 20 playoff games. Warren Foegele has also been a standout for the Otters playing a terrific two-way game and chipping in with 20 points in 20 games. He continues to make plays like this…
Unsurprisingly, Mississauga has been led by McLeod, who has 10 goals and 16 assists in 18 games. He has scored at pivotal moments with four game winning goals, and has won 61% of his faceoffs. Two 2018 eligible prospects in Ryan McLeod and Owen Tippett have played well, and are in the top four Steelhead point-producers in the playoffs. Tippett continued to show off his first round potential with his goal on Monday.
QMJHL – Saint John Sea Dogs vs. Blainville-Boisbriand – Saint John leading series 3-0
Saint John have been the class of the Q all season, so the Sea Dogs being up 3-0 in their playoff series is not a huge shock. Through three games, there has not been much question which team is superior, as the Sea Dogs have outscored their opponents 12-3, holding the Armada to a goal per game. Blainville-Boisbriand has one last opportunity to keep the series alive at home tonight in game four.
Callum Booth has continued his stellar play from his breakout 2016-17 season, stopping 73 of 76 shots in his three series victories, including shutouts in games two and three. The Canes prospect was a trade deadline acquisition by the Sea Dogs, and has paid dividends in the playoffs.
As they have been all year, Saint John has been aided by their balanced scoring, with five of their players averaging over a point-per-game. Tampa’s Mathieu Joseph and Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot have led the way with 28 and 21 points respectably in their 17 playoff games. Here’s a closer look at Chabot’s potential that he has shown all season. He will have a huge impact in Ottawa.
On the other side of the coin, Blainville-Boisbriand has their fair share of solid to high-level prospects as well. 2016 NHL Draft picks Alex Barre-Boulet (LA) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (CBJ) were acquired mid-season by the Armada, and have led the team throughout their run to the QMJHL final, but have run into a buzz saw in Saint John.
WHL – Regina Pats vs. Seattle Thunderbirds – Regina leading series 2-1
Of the three CHL Finals, the WHL has been by far the most intriguing, with all three games thus far being decided by one goal and two of the three needed bonus hockey to declare a winner. Regina has won the last two contests after Seattle opened the series with a win on the road over the Pats in game one.
Sam Steel has continued his phenomenal post-draft season with a 28-point output in the playoffs to this point. In a re-draft scenario it’s highly unlikely that the Alberta native would most certainly go higher than the 30th overall that he was selected in 2016. Steel, who posted 131 points in 66 games, was named WHL Player of the Year last week.
Going up against Steel for the Thunderbirds has been Islanders prospect Mathew Barzal. The two are similar in terms of offensive production and build and by far the marquee matchup for the series after they finished 1-2 in the WHL Player of the Year voting. Barzal, who spent time with the Islanders this season as well as Team Canada, only played in 41 games but put up 79 points in the regular season and has added 21 in 13 playoff games.
In a series with so much potent offense, it has been the goaltenders who have been dueling for wins. Carl Stankowski stopped 31 of 32 in Seattle’s game one win, and Regina’s Tyler Brown has been terrific as well, with a .924 save percentage to this point and two wins under his belt.
Like the other two series ongoing, game four of the WHL Finals is tonight.