March 22, 2012

Round 1 Preview: Ottawa 67s v Belleville Bulls

by Kathryn Jean

Ottawa 67’s (2)

Record:  40-20-5-3

Last year’s playoffs:  Swept in first round by the Sudbury Wolves

Top performers:
Tyler Toffoli 52 goals, 100 points in 65 games
Shane Prince 43 goals, 90 points in 57 games
Sean Monahan 33 goals, 78 points in 62 games
Cody Ceci 17 goals, 60 points in 64 games

NHL Draft Picks:
Shane Prince, Ottawa Senators, round 2, 61st overall in 2011
Tyler Graovac, Minnesota Wild, round 7, 191st overall in 2011
Dalton Smith, Columbus Blue Jackets, round 2, 34th overall in 2010
Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings, round 2, 47th overall in 2010
John Mcfarland, Florida Panthers, round 2, 33rd overall in 2010
Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings, round 5, 141st overall in 2010

Top Eligible for 2012 Draft:
Cody Ceci, #16 of North American Skaters in CSS’ Midterm rankings

Season review:
The 67’s came out to a good start at the beginning of the season but things really started to click after the first month.  The 67’s found themselves ranked in the CHL Top 10 for several weeks.  Tyler Toffoli, Shane Prince and Cody Ceci – to name a few were at the top of their games.  Despite their outstanding play, none of them were selected to represent their country in the World Junior Championships.  Most came back with extra fire to prove their critics wrong.

By the end of the season, Tyler Toffoli was two points away from winning the OHL Scoring Title for the second year in a row (100 points).  Toffoli did manage to have back-to-back 50 goal and 100 point seasons.  Shane Prince was in the top 10 in scoring for the second half of the season and had the OHL’s longest scoring streak of 40 points in 21 straight games.  Cody Ceci proved to be solid on the back end and saw his stock value rocket up towards the top 10 in a defense-heavy draft.

The 67’s held first place in the Eastern Conference for the majority of the season until the Niagara IceDogs did a full 180 and stormed to the top knocking everyone out of the way.  It wasn’t until the last month that first in the East became unreachable for the 67’s – this was largely in part of the IceDogs stellar play but the 67’s not so great play either. In the last month, the 67’s have struggled offensively and relied on a relatively young defense.  Sometimes the team was bailed out by World Junior standout Petr Mrazek.  Even then, Mrazek has not put up the numbers like he has in the past but alike rookie Michael Nishi, they both were able to put up a solid game consistently. 

Facing the Belleville Bulls for the first time in the post-season is probably the best thing the 67’s could hope for.  After winning only 4 of their last 11 games, the lack of momentum going into the post season could be a killer for confidence and would risk them being heavily under prepared – like last post season.

Keys to victory:
  • Top players & consistency. The 67’s best players have to be their best players.  In the last month, this hasn’t been the case & the players have lacked consistency.
  • Physicality.  Ottawa plays well against Belleville when they throw the body. The Bulls do not respond well to it.
  • Take advantage of opportunities. Specialty teams are important and so is home ice advantage.  This team needs to win right away to gain more confidence.

Belleville Bulls (7)

Record:  35-32-1-0

Last year’s playoffs:  Swept in first round by the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors

Top performers:
Brendan Gaunce 28 goals, 68 points in 68 games
Austen Brassard 27 goals, 51 points in 64 games
Adam Payerl 22 goals, 47 points in 61 games
Jordan Mayer 17 goals, 47 points in 64 games

NHL Draft Picks:
Austen Brassard, Winnipeg Jets, round 5, 149th overall in 2011
Stephen Silas, Colorado Avalanche, round 4, 95th overall in 2010

Top Eligible for 2012 Draft:
Brendan Gaunce, #11 of North American Skaters in CSS’ Midterm rankings
Daniil Zharkov, #19 of North American Skaters in CSS’ Midterm rankings
Garrett Hooey, #61 of North American Skaters in CSS’ Midterm rankings
Malcolm Subban, #1 of North American Goalie in CSS’ Midterm rankings

Season review:
The Bulls were off to a fantastic start in the first 28 games of the regular season with a record of 19-9-0.  But were subject to a lot of man injuries and found themselves falling in the last half of the season.  The record fell to 16-23-1 in remaining 40 games.

Despite his stats dropping and his games vs Ottawa, Malcolm Subban has the Bulls MVP for a lot of the season.  He finished the season with a 2.50 GAA, save percentage of .923, won two CHL Goalie of the Week Awards and is the top-ranked goaltender in the upcoming NHL Entry draft.  He is capable of stealing wins for his team and has done so a couple times this season.

Brendan Gaunce has been another great player for the Bulls.  He is his team’s leading scorer with 68 points in 68 games.  Gaunce is also ranked high in this year’s NHL Entry draft and has proven to be a very effective on both ends of the ice vs the 67’s.

Keys to victory:
  • Malcolm Subban is the top ranked North American goaltending prospect for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft for a reason; however, he has yet to prove it to Ottawa after losing all 4 games vs 67’s this year.
  • Stick to the game plan. The Bulls need to play to their game plan and not let the 67’s force them into theirs.  Position by position, Ottawa is arguably better on paper.
  • Take advantage of large ice surface. Use the speed to try to beat Ottawa.

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