Thursday, March 24, 2016

This Could Be A Good Series

In case you weren't aware, the 2016 President Cup playoffs begin on Friday night.

For a change, the Saint John Sea Dogs, the No. 3 seed, will be involved in what could be an interesting and fun first round series against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the No. 14 seed. While the 3-14 matchup is often terrible in terms of entertainment, this has the chance to be attention grabbing. There aren’t many people predicting this series to end in four games, which says a lot.

Here are some things worth noting heading into the series:

The Season Series Was Something
While the Sea Dogs finished the season with a 6-1-2-0 record against the Titan, five of the nine meetings were decided by one goal with three needing extra time. There were also plenty of goals – six of the nine meetings saw five goals or more scored by one or both teams. Could we be in for a wild Pittsburgh/Philadelphia like series here? Please, let this happen. 

The Dogs Are Hurting
We don’t know who will/won’t be available for the Sea Dogs tomorrow, but they ended the regular season in rough shape. Defensemen Thomas Chabot (lower body), Luke Green (upper body), Alex Bernier (upper body) and Bailey Webster (upper body) along with forwards Matthew Highmore (lower body), Mathieu Joseph (upper body) and Adam Marsh (upper body) all missed last Saturday’s game in Sydney. Meanwhile, captain Spencer Smallman dressed but did not play. Of note, Joseph, Highmore and Marsh were Saint John’s leading scorers against Bathurst during the regular season.

The Young Guns
There are some really talented rookies taking part in this series. Along with imports Vladimir Kuznetsov (4th in rookie scoring) and Daniil Miromanov (11th in rookie scoring), the top two picks in last year’s QMJHL Entry Draft – Joe Veleno and Antoine Morand – will go head-to-head. Morand finished seventh in rookie scoring with 14 goals and 50 points in 48 games while the underaged Veleno finished 10th with 13 goals and 43 points in 62 contests.

History Says This Could Be Good
This is only the second time Saint John and Bathurst have met in the post-season. Although the Sea Dogs have had plenty of memorable playoff moments since that 2008 second-round matchup, the series remains one of the most entertaining in team history. Payton Liske sent Saint John to the semifinals with an overtime goal in game six.

Familiar Faces
The Titan feature former Sea Dogs defenseman Jason Bell and forward Dawson Theede. Assistant coach Brad Flynn is also the son of Sea Dogs head coach Danny Flynn.

Hot vs Not
Marc-Antoine Turcotte had a rough end to the regular season. In March, the 20-year-old netminder went 1-5 with a 4.66 GAA and .871 SV% in seven appearances – and that includes losing five straight starts to end the year. Meanwhile, Reilly Pickard, named the CHL goaltender of the week, went 2-3 in March with a 3.32 GAA and .915 SV%.

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