Posts Tagged ‘ohl playoffs’

IMG_3658If the Whalers want to make the playoffs this season, they have to win this morning.

No, that’s not an over-dramatization, the Whalers are two points behind the 8th place Spirit and with nine games remaining, they face Saginaw four times. That is a huge eight points needed to move up to the eight spot.

Can the Whalers win? The short answer, yes. The Whalers have been playing better hockey in the past ten games, going 5-4-1-0 while the Saginaw Spirit are currently licking their wounds from a 12-3 shellacking from the London Knights, and have choked to a 1-9-0-0 record in the past ten games.

The Whalers play Saginaw this morning before hosting them at Compuware Arena on Thursday. The other team in the mix is Windsor, and they face the Soo on Thursday. All I’m saying is that there is a decent chance that the Whalers can move up to the eighth spot by the end of Thursday’s game.

I’ll repeat it again. If the Whalers want to make the playoffs this season, they have to win this morning.

 

The Whalers beat the Belleville Bulls on Saturday, but Kitchener also pulled out the win over the Ice Dogs. The win lowers the amount of points needed down to  34. What needs to continue to happen…

  • The Whalers win.
  • Kitchener  and Sarnia loses.

All three teams play on Friday, but Kitchener play the Guelph Storm tonight. So we have four games to look at going into Friday.

  • Guelph (38-9-2-1 | 79 points | 3rd place in the West) at Kitchener (17-30-1-1 | 36 points | 9th place in the West)
    • Season Record: The Storm have had the Rangers’ number this season winning all five meetings so far. Guelph has also shutout the Rangers two times this season.
  • Oshawa (32-15-0-4 | 68 points | 1st place in the East) at Kitchener (17-30-1-1 | 36 points | 9th place in the West)
    • Season Record: Kitchener beat the Generals 5-3 back on September 29th.
  • Sarnia (15-30-1-5 | 36 points | 10th place in the West) at Ottawa (17-28-1-3 | 38 points | 9th place in the East)
    • Season Record: This is the meeting between these two teams.
  • Sault Ste. Marie (35-12-1-4 | 75 points | 2nd place in the West) at Plymouth (18-27-0-5 | 41 points | 8th place in the West)
    • Season Record: The Soo hold a 3-0-0-1 lead in the season series against these two teams.

There are a lot of scenarios that can happen with these four games, too many to list really. What I can tell you is that best case scenario, the Whalers will be down to needing 28 points to clinch. Worst case is that we are stuck at 34 points.

 

I cannot stress this enough, the Whalers are in the drivers seat in this situation. They cannot control the games that Kitchener and Sarnia are playing this weekend and they have the sights set on overtaking the Whalers in the standings. Like the Seahawks did in the Super Bowl this past weekend, you don’t let up.


36. That’s amount of points the Whalers need to get to secure a playoff spot and there are two ways that number goes down.

  • The Whalers win.
  • Kitchener (as of now) loses.

There are nineteen games remaining for the Whalers including two against the Rangers and another against the Sting. Here’s what the matchups look for the next game for each of the teams.

  • Kitchener (16-30-1-1 | 34 points | 10th place in the West) at Niagara (17-27-2-4 | 40 points | 8th place in the East)
    • Season Record: Niagara beat Kitchener in OT on January 10th.
  • Mississauga ( 19-27-1-3 | 42 points | 7th place in the East) at Sarnia (15-29-1-5 | 36 points | 9th place in the West)
    • Season Record: Mississauga beat Sarnia 4-3 on November 10th
  • Belleville (14-31-2-2 | 32 points | 10th place in the East) at Plymouth (17-27-0-5 | 39 points | 8th place in the West)
    • Season Record: Belleville beat Plymouth 4-1 on December 18th

What happens if:

  • Plymouth, Sarnia and Kitchener win
    • Whalers would need 34 points to clinch
  • Plymouth and Sarnia win, Kitchener loses. / Plymouth wins, Sarnia and Kitchener lose.
    • Whalers would need 32 points to clinch.
  • Plymouth, Sarnia, and Kitchener lose
    • Whalers would need 34 points to clinch
  • Kitchener wins, Plymouth loses
    • 18 games remaining for the Whalers and they would still need 36 points to clinch.

It should be of note that Kitchener has a game in hand on us right now, but they will catch up when they face Guelph on Tuesday. In the best case scenario that number can drop by four by the end of the day. Worst case, we will still be at 36.

Back in December this is what I wrote about the upcoming second half.

With Hartman and Rakell off in Russia for World Juniors, and Noesen rejoins the team after his 10 game suspension after January 11th, the Whalers are going to need to pull together for the next few games. Mahalak had a good showing last game stopping nearly 50 shots, however Mike Vellucci should not be afraid of benching him and putting in rookie Nedeljkovic if Mahalak gets to be as shaky as he was earlier in the season.

Also fans, I would not be surprised to see some Vellucci magic as the trade deadline nears. I doubt that Vellucci will be quiet at the deadline like we was last year. This team is not bad. It is far from it, but when you watch this team you know that there is something missing from this team and this is a team that needs a spark. Maybe that will come in with a trade. Time will only tell. This is a team that can have a strong second half, but the players need to make this happen. They control their destiny for the rest of the season. It could be great or they could be a very low seed.

So where are the Whalers after a 15-11-5-3 first half?  How does a 27-6-0-1 sound? To me it sounds great seeing as the Whalers finished there season with a second straight West Division title and a second seed in the upcoming OHL playoffs. There were some changes that caused the amazing second half.

Trade Deadline

Just a few days after the half-way point of the season, OA Mitchell Heard was returned from the AHL Lake Erie Monsters to finish out the season. This left Plymouth with one two many OA players and a guarantee that Vellucci had to make a move at the deadline. The Whalers said goodbye to Alex Aleardi, Zach Bratina, and Simon Karlsson and hello to Zach Lorentz, Saginaw Spirit Captain Vincent Trocheck, and Sebastian Uriva. Trocheck added 59 points while with the Whalers and grabbed the OHL scoring title on the final day of the season.

Goaltending

Nedeljkovic started a lot more games in the second half. He finished with a 19-2-1-1 record on the season, a 2.28 GAA and a .923 save percentage. The accolades don’t stop there as the Whalers rookie goaltender picked up aVaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week nod, the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Month for March, Rookie of the Month in the OHL and the F.W. “Dinty” Moore award for Best Rookie GAA. Mahalak has been good as of late posting two straight shutouts to end the season, earning him Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week this week. He finished the season with a 2.86 GAA, .906 save percentage, and a 22-11-4-3 record with two shutouts.

The team as a whole has been running on all cylinders coming into the playoffs, and that’s with resting Colin MacDonald, Ryan Hartman, Tom Wilson and Rickard Rakell in the final week of the season. The Whalers scored a league-leading 292 goals throughout the season (granted 10-2, 8-2, and 9-2 wins help pad that stat) and went 9-1 in their final 10 games.

The Whalers got a spark (more like a few sparks) at the right time and showed everybody the depth of this squad. The prediction is that London and Plymouth are going to meet in the conference finals, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. The Whalers have to take on the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the OHL Playoffs. Granted anything can happen (such as the second round upset last year) but I for one am ready for a long playoff run this year.