The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs begin tonight. Here are our predictions for the opening round.
Baie-Comeau Drakkar (1) vs Shawinigan Cataractes (16)
Kevin: Bottom line in this series - too much firepower and too much depth on the Drakkar side of the ice for the Cataractes to handle. Baie-Comeau is the No. 1 seed for a reason and Shawinigan traded away its best offensive players at the deadline in Frederick Gaudreau and Francis Beauvillier. Marvin Cupper will have to stand on his head just to steal a game - and he may come close - but in the end an easy series for the league’s regular season champs. Drakkar in 4.
Jamie: Got to respect the Cataractes for not just mailing it in this season after such a bad start. They went 1-4-0-1 against the Drakkar this season, which isn’t terrible but not good either. I don’t see Baie-Comeau having a lot of trouble. Drakkar in 4.
Halifax Mooseheads (2) vs Charlottetown Islanders (15)
Kevin: The defending President and Memorial Cup Champions will have an easy first round against the Islanders. Charlottetown cleaned house at the deadline and will rely on rookie standout Daniel Sprong. Halifax just has way too much depth and throw in Drouin, Ehlers, and others and the Isles will be lucky to steal a game in this matchup. Mooseheads in 4.
Jamie: Mooseheads should roll through this series. Unlimited points for Ehlers and Drouin coming up. Daniel Sprong’s time will come. Mooseheads in 4.
Val-d’Or Foreurs (3) vs Acadie-Bathurst Titan (14)
Kevin: This, for me, might be the most lopsided matchup of the first round. The league’s most potent offense against the league’s lowest scoring team just about says it all for this one. The Foreurs have the league’s scoring champion in Anthony Mantha, the most dangerous offensive defenseman in Guillaume Gelinas, and they added Antoine Bibeau to sure up the ‘tender position. This one is not even close. Foreurs in 4
Jamie: Can’t say I’m too excited about this series. Anthony Mantha will probably average five goals per game or something ridiculous. Foreurs in 4.
Rimouski Oceanic (4) vs Chicoutimi Sagueneens (13)
Kevin: The Oceanic were the hottest team at the end of the season and should continue that through the first ound of the playoffs. The Oceanic have a fairly balanced attack including Michael Joly who tallied 44 goals this season. The Sags on the other hand will face former teammate Sebastien Sylvestre and traded away fan favourite Charles Hudon to the Drakkar. The Sags will have to rely on Dauphin, Beauchemin, and 2013 first overall pick Nicholas Roy. Oceanic in 5.
Jamie: Rimouski is rolling. Oceanic in 4.
Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (5) vs Moncton Wildcats (12)
Kevin: The Armada ended the season pretty average but the good news is the Wildcats didn’t fare any better. The Armada are more of a balanced team that has no real game breaker while the ‘Cats will look to their two Russian Imports, Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tkachev, along with 40-goal scorer Christophe Lalonde. Connor Garland’s status is still unknown but would definitely provide an offensive spark. Goaltending will be close but the Armada have the edge on defense and that’s where I think the biggest difference in this series will be. Armada in 5.
Jamie: Enjoy those draft picks, BLB, and also enjoy this series win. Armada in 4.
Drummondville Voltigeurs (6) vs Victoriaville Tigres (11)
Kevin: This is where some of the series can become very interesting. The Tigres have a very dangerous team and are very capable of pulling off an upset. The Volts have been very good and are going into the playoffs on a six-game winning streak. Getting hot at the right time can go a long way in the playoffs and the Volts are just that. These teams are pretty evenly matched. Voltigeurs in 6.
Jamie: Looking forward to this series. Battle of the ‘Villes. Wouldn’t be shocked if the Tigres were able to pull off an upset, because that is what this franchise seems to be good at when they are the underdog. The Volts won all four games in the season series, though. Voltigeurs in 6.
Quebec Remparts (7) vs Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (10)
Kevin: One of the more talked about things this year was the Remparts being allowed to have three import players (not all that popular). The Remparts have a very dangerous team in the playoffs and are very capable of knocking off some of the top dogs if they can remain consistent. The Huskies made some interesting moves at the deadline, adding a few vets to the lineup while trading away Maxime St-Cyr - one of the team’s better offensive players. This series could come down to goaltending and the edge goes to the Remparts. Remparts in 6.
Jamie: Yeah. Couple of tough buildings to play in in the playoffs. Remparts in 6.
Gatineau Olympiques (8) vs Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (9)
Kevin: Gatineau was thought to be a contender out of the gate this year and while they are still a dangerous squad they aren’t the team many expected them to be at the start of the season. They were unwilling to pay the price needed to solidify their goaltending and in the end it might be their undoing in this year’s playoffs. Cape Breton has some offensive firepower and could be another dangerous team with some of the weapons they have. The good news for Gatineau is that Cape Breton will have a similar concern regarding keeping the puck out of their own net. Should be a close series. Olympiques in 6.
Jamie: The drive from Sydney to Ottawa must take forever. I think the Eagles will take a game at Centre 200 but no more. I mean, who wants to drive that again? Olympiques in 5.