April 06, 2012

Round 2 Preview: Ottawa 67’s (2) vs Barrie Colts (3)

By Kathryn Jean

Ottawa 67’s 1-1-1-1
Barrie Colts 3-1-0-0

This was a very close battle all season long.  All four games were decided by 1 goal with the exception to the third game of the regular season series where Ottawa netted a late insurance goal for a 2 goal win.

Nov 18/11 Barrie 6 @ Ottawa 5, OT
Dec 17/11 Ottawa 6 @ Barrie 4
Jan 28/12 Ottawa 1 @ Barrie 2
Feb 24/12 Barrie 5 @ Ottawa 4, SO

The two teams match up very well from top to bottom including goal differential.  Both have great firepower, but lack the same level of talent on the blueline.  Ottawa’s depth at scoring could become a determining factor.

OTTAWA                            POST-SEASON
Goals For- 268                    Goals For- 16
Goals Against- 216             Goals Against- 16

BARRIE                             POST-SEASON
Goals For- 248                    Goals For- 16
Goals Against- 210             Goals Against- 16

The top performers during the regular season between these two clubs are as follows: 

Tanner Pearson- 3 goals, 7 points in 3 games
Ivan Telegin- 4 goals, 5 points in 4 games
Colin Behenna- 3 goals, 5 points in 4 games
Mark Sheifele-1 goal, 5 points in 3 games

Tyler Toffoli- 4 goals, 7 points in 4 games
Shane Prince-3 goals, 4 points in 3 games
Dalton Smith- 2 goals, 4 points in 4 games

With Tanner Pearson out with an injury, the Colts will look to Telegin, Behenna and Sheifele to fill Pearson’s vacant role. Toffoli has performed well so far in these playoffs, but the likes of Shane Prince and Dalton Smith have a lot of room to improve.

Barrie’s Tanner Pearson will likely miss the remainder of the playoffs after breaking his fibula early in the final game of the regular season.  The Colts are also unsure about centre Zach Hall who has been out with a concussion since game 2 vs Mississauga.

After sitting 5 games for a pre-game spearing incident, Ottawa Captain Marc Zanetti is eligible return for game 1 of this series.  Joining Zanetti will be Daniel Broussard who was sitting the full first round series with an injury.  These two additions will help solidify the Ottawa defense back to how it was this regular season.

The 67’s powerplay has suffered, but they are still up 5% from the regular season.  Their penalty killing continues to be strong up 1.4% from the regular season.  Meanwhile the Colts stats have gone down from their series with the Mississauga Majors – down from 22.7% on the powerplay and 75.0% on the penalty kill.

Ottawa                   Barrie
PP- 25.0%             PP- 17.6%
PK- 82.4%            PK- 75.0%

With Pearson out, the Colts will rely on the other three big guns to fill the void left by him.  Overage captain Colin Behenna was paired with World Junior and Winnipeg Jet standout Mark Scheifele.  The two players complement each other.  Behenna’s hard work and Scheifele’s hockey sense and playmaking skills have helped them become solid forces to beat on the Colts.  Ivan Telegin is another Colt that had an impressive regular season.  He represented Russia in the World Juniors and is also a prospect of the Winnipeg Jets. He started off slow, but really turned things around once he returned from the tournament finishing 64 points in 46 games. 

Tyler Toffoli, Shane Prince and Sean Monahan were the three top standouts in terms of offensive production for the 67’s.  While Prince and Monahan have shown some flashes of brilliance, Toffoli has stolen the show with 9 points in 6 games.  Monahan has some great moves, but has not been able to finish.  It seems as if the loss of newly acquired centreman John McFarland has added some extra pressure on Monahan’s role.  If Prince and Monahan can find their game, they will be hard to beat.  Add in Dalton Smith and Tyler Graovac (two players who have put up the points before) and the depth is just that much stronger than the Colts.

The skill and speed of the forwards are interchangeable on both sides.

It is a young defense on the Colts that have been taken advantage of in the past.  Aaron Ekblad has arguably been one of Barrie’s best defenseman.  This young underaged player has logged high minutes and been put in important situations (PP & PK) by his coach. He needs to work on his consistency to stay effective in this series.  His d-parter, Reid McNeill has also been a standout this season.  He has also been places in key situations and has more importantly been a mentor for Ekblad.

The 67’s blueline is relatively young and inexperienced like the Colts.  The team really suffered when the lost both Zanetti and Broussard for the first round.  The 67’s relied heavily on Cody Ceci, Jake Cardwell and Sean Callaghan.  Cody Ceci has had an outstanding year.  This draft prospect has rose to the challenge and has a key role with quarterbacking the powerplay.  Jake Cardwell has also shown some great skill and work ethic.

The two teams match up well with defense… as long as they can both stay healthy.

Mathias Niederberger was the early favorite for starting goaltender after a strong camp.  Alike the rest of his club, but started to struggle in late October.  After appearing in the recent World Juniors (Division 1-A) and being awarded the tournament’s best goaltender, things started to turn around.  He hasn’t been outstanding in the playoffs but has played well enough to win.

Petr Mrazek been coasting most of the season.  A few bad games, a few great game - but ultimately gave Ottawa a chance to win on any given night.  He struggled with the Barrie Colts this season losing both games – one in OT and one in a SO.  His play in the post-season has been mediocre to great.  He started to come back to form in the last two games after helping Ottawa close out their first round series in 6 games.

Because of Mrazek’s previous experience with OHL playoffs and the World Juniors – the difference in this series could come down to goaltending & Mrazek could potentially steal this series.

Chris Byrne has been with the 67’s since the 2006-07 OHL season.  Byrne took over as head coach in 2009.  He has consistently coach his team to a top spot in the OHL Eastern Conference standings.  Unfortunately, playoffs have not been the strongest point.  Of the five years with the 67’s, this is only the second time the 67’s have made it past the first round.

On the other end, Dale Hawerchuk is only entering his second OHL season.  Barrie did not make the playoffs last season and has since rebuilt into a contender this season.  His first OHL playoff experience is now.

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