SAINT JOHN – It’s hard to find any negatives from the Saint John Sea Dogs’ first round playoff sweep of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. But there is an obvious one – penalties.
The Sea Dogs served 90 penalty minutes in the first round, averaging 22.50 penalty minutes per contest. Their totals in the four-game series is the highest of any team in the playoffs so far.
Saint John averaged 13.13 penalty minutes per game during the regular season.
Going into the series, it was expected to be full of rough stuff as the Eagles tried to take Saint John’s top players off their game. They certainly did that and, not surprisingly, the Sea Dogs occasionally fought back and picked up matching penalties.
But the somewhat concerning part is that not all the penalties were roughing and fighting penalties. There were plenty of slashing calls, hooking calls, interference calls, etc. The undisciplined play was really noticeable in Game Four when the Eagles were awarded seven man advantage chances.
In that fourth and deciding game, the Dogs took one roughing, boarding, hooking, and cross checking penalty. They also took two tripping penalties and three hooking calls.
Luckily for Saint John, it didn’t cost them. The offensively challenged Eagles failed to score on any of their 24 man advantage opportunities in the series.
Not every team in the President’s Cup playoffs will be as offensively brutal as Cape Breton. The Sea Dogs must be more disciplined as the playoffs progress. Even though the team had the best penalty kill during the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season, the constant travel to the sin bin will surely catch up with them eventually.