December 16, 2016

The 67's and the Pittsburgh Model

They aren't going to be overly vocal about the 'Pittsburgh Model' -- team executives that speak on it never seems to end well -- but the 67's aren't doing a lot to curb the idea of the hockey world as a copycat one.

It's following the model of what just worked at hockey's top level.
Not the Pittsburgh Model as it pertains to continually tanking for number one picks -- the Sarnia Sting have more than proven that to be a losing strategy in a league with such heavy turnover.

But by loading up the depth chart at forward and hoping that the back end sorts itself out down the stretch as tighter-checking games become the norm, they're going out on a limb that worked perfectly fine in the NHL.

The acquisition of Tye Felhaber has worked as hoped, he's nearing a point-per-game to perfectly fill out an Ottawa attack up front that leads the East in scoring.


While the Penguins won the holy grail of hockey, it was with a very raw back end.

Once ex-OHL blueliners Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta went down, it was superstar Kris Letang and a collection of middling-to-bottom-pairing d-men.

The quality of the defence didn't seem to be an issue, as long as the front end was loaded and the defence moved the puck quickly.

Which brings us to the junior team in the Nation's Capital.

Ryan Orban is the elder statesman of sorts on the blueline, while a young, raw defence is lead by Noel Hoefenmayer and, to a lesser extent, Hudson Wilson.

While the OHL's physicality pales in comparison to the NHL's, especially in the league's first year trying to eradicate contact that's deemed 'blindsided', there's no doubt the games become tighter-checking down the stretch.

In the NHL, Pittsburgh's defensive woes became less and less apparent as the games became more physically daunting.

With a rookie- and sophomore-heavy d-corps, the 67's are probably looking for a bit of the same magic.


Part of this winning 'model' was also going through a slightly weaker conference, praying that the teams in the more talented, much more physical beat one another to a pulp, and taking advantage of a worn-down foe for the championship.

Enter the OHL's Eastern Conference, crowned property of the Mississauga Steelheads before the season began, until they miserably stumbled out of the gates, and now with home ice advantage up for grabs.

Despite toiling with the bottom-feeders in their division for most of the year, the inconsistent Barberpoles would host Hamilton in round one if the season were to end today.

All the firepower is in the West, but whichever team squeaks through the East will probably have done so in a manner far less daunting than their out-of-conference counterparts.

As far as this year is concerned, the 67's are hoping that's them.

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