Monday, February 12, 2018

Playoff hopes are still alive

The Saint John Sea Dogs' playoff hopes took a hit with Saturday's ugly 8-5 loss to the Shawinigan Catarctes.

The loss pushed Saint John back into the league's basement at 18th overall, one point back of the 17th place Cataractes and five points back of the 16th-place Val-d'Or Foreurs - the team that currently holds the league's final playoff spot.

There's still some hockey to be played, but gaining five points to pull even with Val-d'Or - and leapfrog Shawinigan - will not be a simple task given Saint John's recent struggles. Saint John and Val-d'Or have 15 games remaining while Shawinigan has 14.

As last Friday's win against Halifax showed, anything is possible. But Saint John will need to take advantage of some of the more "winnable" games remaining on their schedule - like this Friday's in Val-d'Or - if they want to make the playoffs.

The Sea Dogs have not missed the playoffs since the 2013-14 season. Even if the team does sneak into the post-season this year, the club will be massive underdogs going up against the league's top team.

As the Rimouski Oceanic showed last season, making the playoffs is no longer the end of the world in a rebuilding season. The Oceanic made the playoffs but, thanks to the league's new lottery system, won the first overall pick.

The bottom five clubs will all be included in the lottery. Saint John has won all the lotteries they have been involved in previously - but those lotteries featured just two clubs.

The Sea Dogs also own Gatineau's first round pick in this year's QMJHL Entry Draft, but the Olympiques have not fallen as far as expected after selling at the trade deadline. Gatineau currently sits 10th overall and, at this point, probably won't fall much further.

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