Thursday, April 20, 2017

Five things to watch for in the semis

The semifinals are upon us.

Just like in 2012, the 8-0, top-seeded Saint John Sea Dogs will take on the battled-tested underdog Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the President Cup semifinals. The series begins Friday night at Harbour Station.

Here are five things to watch for in the series.

Rested vs tested
A classic playoff scenario is lined up for this series: the Sea Dogs, coming off a sweep of the Val-d'Or Foreurs and who have had over a week off, will face the Sagueneens, who are coming off a seven-game series upset over Rouyn-Noranda that just ended on Tuesday night. No doubt Chicoutimi will be ready for the top-seeded Dogs, but endurance will be key for them, especially in these first two games.

Boost from the backend
If there ends up being plenty of scoring from the backend in this series, it should come as no surprise. These two teams feature four of the post-season's top six scoring defencemen: Thomas Chabot (three goals and 10 assists), Olivier Galipeau (four goals and seven assists), Simon Bourque (two goals and seven assists) and Frederic Allard (two goals and seven assists). Galipeau scored the game-tying and game-winning goals on Tuesday in Rouyn-Noranda.

Third period fun
You should never leave games early, but you certainly shouldn't do so in this series. Saint John has scored 17 of their 42 goals in these playoffs in third periods. Chicoutimi, meanwhile, has scored 15 of their 38 in thirds.

So many Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes nation is going to be watching this series closely with four prospects playing. The Sea Dogs feature Callum Booth, Julien Gauthier and Spencer Smallman while the Sagueneens have Nicolas Roy.

2012 repeat?
Listen, I know I've mentioned this several times already, but the Sea Dogs-Sagueneens semifinal series in 2012 was fantastic. Three of the five games went to overtime. We even got this:

I know there's a lot of people hoping the Dogs sweep in four and blow out every game. That's cool. But... let's hope this series provides some more drama and playoff-ish excitement that has lacked in a lot of games this year.

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