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hockey123
01-21-2010, 07:16 AM
Will the Icedogs make the playoffs?
By: Chuck Lafleur
January 20th, 2010 @[NO EMAIL POSTING ALLOWED] 3:49pm

Heading into this weekend's play, the Niagara Icedogs have 23 games remaining, and are 6 points behind the Brampton Battalion for the 8th and final playoff spot in the OHL's Eastern Conference. The Icedogs also trail the Belleville Bulls by 2 points in the standings. First off, let's go out on a limb and predict Niagara will finish ahead of Bellevile .The Bulls traded away most of their talent , either before or during the season. Gone are the likes of Cameron, Pither,Tipoff,Grubauer, Johnston, and Cantin, replaced by very young, unproven entities. I can't help but believe the Bulls will end up with the second pick in next May's OHL draft, picking right after the Sarnia Sting, who seemed hellbent at the trade deadline on getting the first overall selection.Shouldn't be a problem in that regard. The Sting, prior to this weekend, are 1-8-1-0 in the past 10 games, and would appear to be a lock to finish dead last amongst the 20 teams.
Brampton is going to be tough to catch. The Battalion have played solid defensively, for the most part, this season, a style that was necessitated by the loss of their top guns from last year. They have some good young players in the lineup, but I think may have overachieved until now.
Both the Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals begin the weekend 10 points up on the Icedogs, and would have to have near total collapses down the stretch for Niagara to catch them for 7th place. There is a big prize for finishing 7th and not 6th in the Eastern Conference this season. Division winners in each conference are seeded 1-2 for the playoff matchups, so what looks to be one of Ottawa or Peterborough will get the # 2 seed, even though the Mississauga St. Mike's Majors will have a far superior record to all of the teams in the East Division.The Majors , who are enjoying their best regular season ever, have the unenviable task of trying to catch the Barrie Colts for top spot in the Central Division. Forget about it.
So, how do the Icedogs make the playoffs? Simple.......play at least .500 hockey from here on in, a goal that is very much attainable.I figure the way Niagara is playing as a unit, with any luck at all, they could win 11 or 12 games, finishing with somewhere around 55 points.Now in order to finish in the coveted 7 spot, that would mean one of Sudbury or Oshawa could not win any more than 6 games of their remaining 23....O.K., probably not going to happen. So let's zero in on the Brampton Battalion. Cody Hodgson is not coming back, to the best of my knowledge, anytime soon, so the Battalion will have to keep on keepin' on with a rather difficult schedule to deal with. It could well all come down to the 3 games Niagara and Brampton play head-to-head in the final 4 weeks,in Niagara February 18th,in Niagara March 4th (Army Day....March 4th, get it?!) and in Brampton on Sunday,March 7th. The Icedogs have one win in three tries against Brampton this season, with all 3 games oddly enough having been played in the month of October.It will be imperative that Niagara take at least 2 of these games to have any hope of moving past Stan Butler's troops and into the post season.
Honestly, I like Niagara's chances of qualifying for the playoffs. They've won games at home recently, against Plymouth and Kitchener, that not many pundits thought they would win. They've beaten Mississauga 3 times, and the Majors don't lose often. They are bound to pull off another upset or three from here on in.
And oh yeah, the prize for finishing 8th in the East is a first round matchup with the Barrie Colts, who really should be in the American Hockey League. Oh well, as the late U.S. politician Ted Kennedy once said to a passenger in his car, "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it!"
Later
Chuck

three dog night
01-21-2010, 02:46 PM
yes they should catch brampton a team that cannot score plus the battelion now on a tough five game road trip

AlphaDog
01-22-2010, 12:33 AM
With the added help of Gron and Strome, the boosted morale of beating Missy and the Rangers, and Vizzy being hot, especially after coming off a great prospects game, hopefully we can keep the ball rolling and start chalking up some wins. Lets get a streak going!

fishfan51
01-25-2010, 08:37 PM
If they continue to play as they have as of late, they have a shot. Beating Kitchener, Missy, and Plymouth latley has shown the team is improving. Belleville has packed it in, Brampton can be caught and Peterborough just suffered some injuries to key players that will hurt them.

hockey123
01-25-2010, 11:03 PM
Need to get to 7th. Brampton, Kingston, The Swa, Sudbury and the Pete's can all be caught. Dog's need to pass two of them.

three dog night
01-27-2010, 01:25 PM
with the petes and gens banged up may open the door a bit wider for the icedogs esp if we keep healthy