Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NWJHL Playoffs

NWJHL Playoff Match-ups

1. Whitecourt vs 8. Sexsmith (Still not sure if this series will be played)
Sexsmith might be forced to fold after forfeiting a number of games late in the season. Whitecourt will win easily if they do play the series.

Key Players:
Whitecourt - Take your pic. I will say Lavoie. I could have picked between 8 to 10 guys and you would have a hard time arguing.
Sexsmith - God. Seriously if God was at center and Jesus was in net (he does save after all) I still think the Wovlerines would win the series. What I am getting at is that there is no chance for Sexsmith.

- Whitecourt in 3. And only if and because they have to play 3 games. If a team could find a way to win a best of 5 in 2 games it would be Whitecourt against Sexsmith.

2. FSJ vs. Slave Lake
The Huskies looked so good this weekend that I have decided they will blow away Slave Lake. I don't think the Huskies will lose a game in that series.

Key Players:
Huskies - I would go with Jordan Shipton if he was going to be in the lineup but since we don't know how often if at all we will see the gritty forward I will go with Payden Wongstedt. He was fabulous over the last weekend. Anytime the number 2 team in a league plays number 1 and you are the best player on the ice for most of both games that shows how good you are. Dave Dawson from the Whitecourt broadcast was blown away with Wongstedt's ability. Needs to stay composed and disciplined and stay on the ice.
Wolves - Alex MacIsaac. This kid led his team in scoring but in 5 games against the Huskies he only had 3 points. And they all came in the same game. Needs to be better and more consistent against the Pups if Slave has any hope of causing an upset.

Prediction - Huskies in 3.

3. Peace River vs. Beaverlodge
Peace versus Beaverlodge. Now this is an interesting series. The Navigators are a defence first team that are usually (Friday against FSJ not included) very good in their own zone. They play a good system, they are very well coached, and say what you want about Gerry Young but the kid scores in big games. He had two in the third last night to ice the Jr Canucks and clinch 3rd overall for his team.

Key Players:
Navigators - Bretton Stewart. He will be tested by the Blades who do have a talented if not deep group of forwards led by Dumas and Robinson. Stewart will need to be solid and focused as he may go long stretches without seeing any shots before a flury of activity that will test him. The Navs don't score a ton so he has to avoid the weak goal.
Blades - This is tough. Dumas, Robinson or Longson. I am going to have to go with Dumas. The temptation is to go with the goaltender who will have to stand on his head at times to win games in this series. But even if Longson does stand on his head he will need to see some pucks go in at the other end. So against a team that plays solid D I am going to go with the talented forward. Is there a better offensive player in this league not named Lavoie? Oh yeah, and Dumas has 12 points in 5 games against Peace River this season. If he can do that in this series it might just go 5 and then anything can happen.

Prediction - Peace River in 5 games. I want to pick an upset here but based on what I saw last night as the Navs shutout Dawson I have to think they will find a way to win this series.

4. Dawson Creek vs. Grand Prairie
Grand Prairie actually won the season series over Dawson Creek with one of those victories coming in overtime. Part of the reason Dawson fell apart a little at the end of the season and didn't challenge for 2nd and then missed out on 3rd overall was the fact that Radke was out of the lineup for most of the stretch drive. Sounds like he will be back for the playoffs though.

Key Players:
Jr Canucks - Jason Higson. 5 points in 5 regular season meetings between DC and GP. Also has close to 50 minutes in PIMs in those games as well. Can be excellent or almost non-existent. Needs to be good all series long and stay out of the box.
Wheelers - Cory Littman - 3rd on the team in goals despite only playing about half the games. Hasn't been playing in many games of late. If he is the in lineup GP has a more balanced attack and some of the pressure comes off of McVey.

Prediction - Wheelers in 5. Have to pick an upset at some point right? Based on season series and the total lack of effort by Dawson last night in a massive game I think that the Wheelers might pull this series out.

If I am right about all of this it would set up a match-up between the two most storied franchises in NWJHL history. Navigators versus Huskies would not only be fun and a great series but would bring back a lot of good and bad memories for the fans of each team. Playoffs get underway tomorrow in Peace River. I will try to update the playoff scenario as often as possible.

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