Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Notes: Every game will matter

It's safe to say every game will matter for the Saint John Sea Dogs down the stretch.

The Sea Dogs enter play tonight with the best record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 88 points. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies sit second with 83 points while the Shawinigan Cataractes have 82.

All three teams have played 60 games.

With a five-point lead over the Huskies, the Sea Dogs have some breathing room. It's the Maritimes Division that could cause some problems for Saint John.

The Charlottetown Islanders technically sit fourth overall in the league standings because division leaders are seeded one-to-three. But the Isles have the second best record in the league with 85 points. They've also played 60 games.
The Sea Dogs' three-point lead with eight games left is anything but safe. The two remaining meetings between Saint John and Charlottetown- March 10 at Harbour Station and March 17 at Eastlink Centre - could very well determine the QMJHL's regular season champion.

But, a lot could change over the next couple weeks. A regular season title - or even a division title - isn't a sure thing for the Sea Dogs, which makes every remaining game that much more important (and hopefully entertaining).

Some notes...
  • Of Saint John's remaining games, four are against teams below .500 (Rimouski, Moncton and Halifax twice). The Sea Dogs will also play five of their remaining regular season games on home ice.
  • Charlottetown, meanwhile, will play three teams that are below .500 (Halifax twice and Moncton). Five of their remaining games are at home. The Isles have a few challenging games left, including a home game against Blainville-Boisbriand on Saturday and two games against the red-hot Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
  • According to the league website, "since Jan. 1, both clubs have been tied: Saint John and Charlottetown have collected 38 points in 24 games, making them the most point getting team in that period."
  • The Titan, winners of eight straight, will finish above .500 for the first time since 2011-12 and will have their highest point total since 2010-11. The team hasn't made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2008, a streak that should be broken this year.
  • Rimouski, Saint John's opponent tonight, is in a battle at the bottom of the standings with Drummondville, Baie-Comeau and Sherbrooke for the final few playoff spots.
  • As mentioned in today's pre-game, a couple franchise records could be broken this weekend. Matthew Highmore has 152 career assists with the Sea Dogs. Jonathan Huberdeau holds the franchise record with 153. Spencer Smallman has played in 287 games with Saint John. Mike Thomas has the franchise record of 288.

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