Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 QMJHL Playoff Predictions

QMJHL playoffs are underway, and these predictions wouldn’t truly be mine if they weren’t late due to nothing but pure laziness. Game one in each series is underway – the Halifax-Montreal series is ahead of the curve, with game one having been played on Thursday. I took the pre-emptive strike of calling that series early on Twitter.

Before I make playoff predictions, let’s see how my attempt at regular season predictions held up. This is how I ranked it, with each team’s actual finish in brackets:

1. Saint John (1)
2. Acadie-Bathurst (2)

3. PEI (4)
4. Moncton (3)
5. Halifax (5)
6. Cape Breton (6)

Telus East:
1. Rimouski (4)
2. Quebec (1)
3. Lewiston (2)
4. Chicoutimi (5)
5. Vicoriaville (3)
6. Baie-Comeau (6)

Telus West:
1. Montreal (1)
2. Drummondville (2)
3. Gatineau (3)
4. Shawinigan (4)
5. Val-d’Or (5)
6. Rouyn-Noranda (6)

So I somehow managed to nail the Telus West division and did pretty well with the Maritimes. Also: lol Rimouski. What a bad season they had. Hopefully my playoff predictions turn out as well as the regular season ones did.

(1) Saint John vs. (16) Cape Breton

78 point & 40 win differential. This one is going to be absolutely hideous. I’ve seen these two match up three times this season and the Sea Dogs played pretty poorly every time. They still managed to win two of them and hold the Eagles to four goals in the three games. The Eagles should count their blessings if they can win a period in this series.

Prediction: Saint John in 4 games.

(2) Montreal vs. (15) Halifax

Montreal shouldn’t have too much trouble with Halifax. They basically ran away with game 1 aside from two late Mooseheads goals to make it close and it’ll probably be much of the same throughout the series. I give the Mooseheads the benefit of the doubt that they might be able to surprise the Juniors at the Metro Centre, as I’d expect there will be quite a crowd when the series shifts to Halifax.

Prediction: Montreal in 5 games.

(3) Quebec vs. (14) Val d’Or

I’m not as sold on Quebec as a legitimate threat to the title as I am for some teams that they finished ahead of. That said, they should be able to handle the Foreurs fairly easily. These are a couple of teams I haven’t seen a whole lot of this season, unfortunately.

Prediction: Quebec in 5 games.

(4) Drummondville vs. (13) Chicoutimi

The Voltigeurs have added some solid pieces for a run this year. With Sean Couturier leading the charge, anything could happen, though they’re a long way from favourites. Having said that, they shouldn’t have much of a problem with Chicoutimi. Chris Gibson might be able to steal a game or two for the Sags but I’d expect this one to be another laugher.

Prediction: Drummondville in 4 games

(5) Gatineau vs. (12) Rimouski

This one has the potential to be an entertaining series. Gatineau geared up for a run by adding league scoring leader Philip-Michael Devos, not to mention the return of captain Hubert Labrie from an injury that kept him out nearly the entire season. Rimouski hasn’t played to their potential all season and I’m not inclined to expect them to now.

Prediction: Gatineau in 6 games

(6) Acadie-Bathurst vs. (11) Victoriaville

The Titan are an odd one. They clearly indicated their intention to gun for it this year by trading the farm for Olivier Roy in the summer, but haven’t done a whole lot to solidify themselves as a favourite. Roy could carry them far, but he’s had an off year. They should be able to get past Victoriaville, at least, without much trouble.

Prediction: Acadie-Bathurst in 5 games

(7) Shawinigan vs. (10) PEI

Shawinigan has a great team, and one that seems to play a style that would be successful in the playoffs. They work hard and get contributions from the whole lineup. However, they don’t have Evan Mosher. The Rocket goaltender has been a total monster all season and could easily come in and steal two or three games in this series. PEI has a good enough team that they could win another game or two without Mosher standing on his head, and that’s why I’m calling an upset here.

Prediction: PEI in 6 games

(8) Lewiston vs. (9) Moncton

This is a tough one to pick. Lewiston could hand this series to Moncton if they get into penalty trouble. Moncton also has some players still on their roster that won the President’s Cup last year en route to the Memorial Cup, so that experience could pay off. But goaltending could shoot them in the foot, too. Lewiston probably has the better team on paper, but there aren’t many players in the league who can control the game like Wildcats D Brandon Gormley. Difficult call? Yep.

Prediction: Moncton in 7 games

I doubt I’ll get to many playoff games this season as the two Nova Scotia teams are likely to be decimated early. Maybe a Saint John-Cape Breton game next week if I’m feeling masochistic, and if Halifax does indeed manage to steal one from Montreal, a road trip could be in order next weekend. In any case, I’ll be watching along with the Telus package before casting it off into the abyss at the end of the playoffs, never to be seen again. What a terrible service. Really looking forward to seeing how the 2011-eligibles boost their draft stock before June, along with watching the Sea Dogs win 16 straight en route to the Memorial Cup and thinking the whole time, “These guys are planning to peak NEXT season.” Enjoy the playoffs, folks.

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