The QMJHL Playoffs are half way done, but things only get tougher and more intense from here. With four teams continuing in their quests for the President’s Cup and the elusive spot in the Memorial Cup Tournament that comes with it, LWOS is here to break down the four teams still standing.
QMJHL Final Four Preview
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies vs Moncton Wildcats
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were the QMJHL’s best team all year, racking up 113 points, and losing only 9 games in regulation during the regular season. They have rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, dominating Drummondville in four straight lopsided games, and then taking out Blainville-Boisbriand in five games. They have racked up five shutouts in two rounds, and given up just 6 goals in 9 games. The best offence in the league is led by Sharks prospect Timo Meier who put up 51 points in 29 regular season games after being acquired at the trade deadline. He has nine goals and 15 points in 9 playoff games. Senators prospect Francis Perron has long been a leader on the team, and won the QMJHL MVP and put up 108 points this season. He has 14 points in seven playoff games (he was suspended for two games). Jean-Christophe Beaudin and Martins Dzierkals provide support. Beyond those four though there is plenty of offensive firepower upfront. The defence is led by Bruins prospect Jeremy Lauzon who quarterbacks things from the back end. Phillipe Myers and Nicolas Brouillard provide the team with a big three who protect their own end. Chase Marchand and Samuel Harvey are both capable goalies, Marchand has started eight playoff games and should start this series but Harvey proved his worth when Marchand was hurt this year, and in his only playoff start.
The Moncton Wildcats took out Gatineau in six games in the second round of the playoffs, after beating Victoriaville in five games to open the post-season. They feature star forward Connor Garland who led the QMJHL in scoring for the second straight season, putting up 128 points. Even more impressive, the team’s second leading scorer was Cameron Askew who had 65 points in 66 games. Garland has 12 points in 11 playoff games this year. He’ll be the focus of plenty of defensive attention from the Huskies in this series. In a surprising move it has been Manuel Wiederer, a German import, who has been leading the Huskies in points with 15 so far. The Wildcats looked to add depth at the trade deadline, picking up Vaclav Karabacek, Campbell Pickard, and Joey Richard up front and Cody Donaghy on the blueline. They also bolstered the goaltending with Keven Bouchard. Things didn’t go as planned for the Wildcats who were leading the division at the time, but went into a slump and saw themselves passed by the Sea Dogs. They’d eventually recover and were playing good hockey down the stretch, and have looked impressive in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
LWOS Pick: Huskies in six games.
Shawinigan Cataractes vs Saint John Sea Dogs
Shawinigan lost their first game of the playoffs to Sherbrooke, but then won the next four to take the Series. The followed that up with a six game win over Charlottetown. The team has been led by the play of Islanders first round pick Anthony Beauvillier all season. With 40 goals and 79 points in 47 regular season games and six goals and 14 points in 11 playoff games he’s been a force nearly every time he stepped on the ice. Alex D’Aoust and Dennis Yan also bring offence. The trade deadline additions of Dmytro Timashov, Danny Moynihan, and Gabriel Gagné took the team’s offence from very good to great and made them a contender. Timashov’s 17 playoff points lead the team and put him in third spot on the QMJHL Playoff Scoring list. On defence 17 year old Samuel Girard may be undersized, but he is one of the most dynamic offensive defencemen in the QMJHL. Cavan Fitzgerald, Jonathan Deschamps and Matt Klebanskyj were all added this year, and give the team improved defensive depth; but the biggest addition might be in goal where Phillipe Cadorette came in as an overager and put up a .914 save percentage.
Saint John rolled over Acadie-Bathurst in five games in the first round, but were given all they could handle in a seven game series against Cape Breton in round two. The strength of the Sea Dogs is on the blue line where they feature the deepest and best group in the league. Jakub Zboril, Thomas Chabot and 2016 draft eligible player Luke Green all have bright NHL futures ahead of them. Chabot has an incredible 17 points in 12 playoff games, leading all defencemen in the league, and tying him with Timashov for third overall in playoff scoring. Matt Murphy has long been a reliable QMJHL defenceman and could also have a pro career. Their defence play well in their own end and have the offensive skill to move the puck to a strong group of forwards including Sam Povorozniouk (second in QMJHL scoring with 18 playoff points), Matthieu Joseph, Matthew Highmore, Joseph Velano, Daniel Del Paggio and Nathan Noel. The Sea Dogs one weakness may be in goal where one of Marc-Antoine Turcotte will need to step up if they are to get through this series.
Pick: Cataractes in seven games.