Tomorrow night the Conference finals get under way, so let's preview the match-ups. I'm 8-4 through the first two rounds.
1. Oshawa Generals vs. 2. North Bay Battalion
Season Series: 2-2 (TIE)
My Analysis: Wow, the Battalion just keep on trucking. It ain't pretty but it's working. The veteran leadership core of the team (Goodrow, Thomson, Paul, Blujus, Miller) has been fantastic, as has goaltender Jake Smith. They're going to make this one tough series for Oshawa. Meanwhile, the Generals haven't really been tested thus far and are also riding a big time confidence high. I think the teams are a wash on defense as both teams have terrific veteran leadership on the backend. In net, even though Jake Smith is playing well, I have to give the edge to Daniel Altshuller as the veteran (and he's been fantastic thus far too). At forward, North Bay is stronger than you would think and they are getting the most out of their line-up right now (chemistry is fantastic). However, Oshawa does have more game breakers in their line-up. The one big discrepancy between the two teams is special teams play. Both team's PK units have been terrific in the postseason, however North Bay's powerplay has been pitiful. If they intend to beat an offensive powerhouse like Oshawa, they're going to need to take better advantage, one man up. In the end, I think Oshawa's higher skill level on offense, special teams play, and veteran goaltending edge out North Bay.
Prediction: Oshawa in 6
1. Guelph Storm vs. 3. Erie Otters
Season Series: 4-2 (Guelph)
My Analysis: Erie's goaltending sure wasn't strong in the first round against Saginaw, but it did a complete 180 thanks to Devin Williams against the Greyhounds. The argument could be made that their goaltending is still a situation that could be exploited by a powerful Guelph offense, however Guelph's goaltending is equally inexperienced when it comes to the playoffs (even if Justin Nichols has been terrific this year). Goaltending is a wash for me. Everything else tips in Guelph's favour though. They're the deeper team at forward and the more difficult team to match up against defensively. Guelph's has 3 hot lines right now who are putting the pressure on opposing defenses, where as Erie really only has two (all be it two fantastic ones). I like Guelph's chances here. They would have been my pick to go all the way at the start of the playoffs so there is no changing that now.
Prediction: Guelph in 6
What do you think?