Friday, April 30, 2010


The QMJHL Championship will be determined by two rival team both located in the province of New Brunswick, the Saint John Sea Dogs (1st overall) vs. the Moncton Wildcats (3rd overall).

Before the playoffs HockeyPoints predicted that Moncton would win the President Cup and nothing that I've seen so far has changed my mind.

The one factor that could hurt Moncton's chances is that they may be feeling a bit banged up and worn down, having faced a strong opponent during each of the first three rounds - Cape Breton (7th overall), Rouyn Noranda (6th overall) and most recently Drummondville (2nd overall). Meanwhile Saint John has faced weaker opponents - PEI (8th overall), Gatineau (12th overall) and Victoriaville (4th overall). Both the Moncton and Saint John have playoff records of 12 wins and 3 losses.

In terms of key players to watch in this Series, below is a list of three players on each team who should play a major role in determining their team's outcome:

Saint John Sea Dogs:
1. Mike Hoffman (drafted by Ottawa in 2009): Hoffman won the Q championship with Drummondville last year so he knows what it takes to win. As an overager with the Sea Dogs, Hoffman will need to continue to produce above the point per game level. Although a centerman, Hoffman plays the point on the powerplay and he'll need to make sure it's clicking if Saint John want to beat Moncton who are a strong 5 on 5 team.

2. Marco Cousineau (drafted by Anaheim in 2008): I'm probably the biggest non-believer in this guy. Although Cousineau has already accomplished so much during his young career (he has been drafted and signed by Anaheim / he won the Q Championship with Drummondville in 2009 / he played in the Memorial Cup in 2009), I'm still not sold on this goalie. I've seen him play about 10 times during the past two years and I get the feeling that he's nothing more than a big, average goalie that plays on strong teams. Maybe he'll prove me wrong again...either way, he'll be a key piece to the puzzle should the Sea Dogs win or loose.

3. Simon Despres (drafted by Pittsburgh in 2009): Despres has enjoyed a very strong post season. Not only has he been consistent defensively but he has also elevated his offensive game and is averaging nearly a point per game from the back end. At 6'4", Despres is an exciting two-way defensman but he'll probably need to concentrate more on his defensive play in order to shut down the Wildcats' high powered offence.

Moncton Wildcats:
1. Nicolas Deschamps (drafted by Anaheim in 2008): Deschamps had a phenomenal season and won the QMJHL scoring title with 96 points in 64 GP, earning him a points per game average of 1.50. During the playoffs Deschamps' points per game average has drooped to about 1.00. Should the Wildcats want to win the championship, they'll need this number to increase.

2. Gabriel Bourque (drafted by Nashville in 2009): Bourque is one of those guys who is built for playoff hockey. His intensity and hockey smarts are both above average and he can bring either a skilled game or a physical game to the table, whichever is needed. So far Bourque has brought both. Bourque finishes every check and is averaging over around a goal per game (leads the Q in playoff goals scored). He'll need to keep this up against a very strong Sea Dogs Defense Corps.

3. David Savard (drafted by Columbus in 2009): Savard was voted the top defenseman in the Q this season and is still showing us why. Savard has about a dozen points through three rounds and more importantly has a very positive plus/minus rating (more than his GP - impressive). He is supported by Brandon Gormely (projected to be a top 5 pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft) and Mark Barberio (drafted by Tampa Bay in 2008). Savard will need to focus on his strong defensive play in order to shut down the Sea Dogs' offense.

Final Prediction: Moncton Wins in 6 games

Enjoy the Final Round!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010


The QMJHL's semi-finals have arrived! HockeyPoints are 11 for 12 in predicting series winners to date however I must admit that things have proceeded as expected, for the most part.

Entering this round, we're left to watch the top four teams from the regular season standings (top four in terms of season points earned) battle for a spot in the finals. Below is what we expect to transpire during the next two weeks.

Saint John Sea Dogs (1st overall) vs. Victoriavill Tigres (4th overall):
The Tigres have played well thus far but not yet have they faced a true challenger. Well Saint John is more than a challenger, they're one of the top ranked team in the country, and the favorite heading into this series. Victoriaville has the firepower to give the Sea Dogs a scare, but I don't like their defence as much as the Saint John D-corps. The only way I can see the Sea Dogs loose this series is if their goalie, Marco Cousineau, melts down and chokes. This is possible, but not very likely.
Prediction: Saint John wins in 6 games.

Drummondville Voltigeurs (2nd overall) vs. Moncton Wildcats (3rd overall):
This may be the most intriguing match up we'll see in the Q playoffs this year. Drummondville's Sean Courturier and Moncton's Nicolas Deschamps tied for the season scoring league this year. Both teams have excellent goaltending with Jake Allen playing for Drummondville and Nicola Riopel between the pipes for Moncton. They're probably the top two tenders in the league. Furthermore, each team features a huge NHL prospect. Moncton boast 2010 prospect defenseman Brandon Gormely, while the Volts have the potential 1st overall pick for the 2011 NHL entry draft in Sean Courturier (yes, the same guy mentioned above....he led the league in scoring as a 17 year old!). While I'll be cheering for Drummondville (and Jake Allen), my gut tells me that Moncton is still the favorite to win it all this year.
Prediction: Moncton Wildcats win in 7 games.

Enjoy Round 3!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Central Scouting has released their final rankings for the 2010 NHL entry draft and Montreal has two forwards that have earned a spot on the North American Player List. Centerman Louis-Marc Aubry (seen in photo) is ranked 87th, while right winger Trevor Parkes earned a final rank of 197.

Aubry, an 18 year old junior aged player this past season, provided Montreal with size up front along with his steady two-way play. With 15 goals and 33 points in 66 games played, Aubry is by no means a huge offensive threat. But what he does does well is bring a competitive element to each game. He wants to win. At 6'3" and 186 lbs Aubry is considered a big body in the Q. His skating is strong and he's rarely caught out of position. Aubry likes to keep his shifts short which is a good habit not often seen in Junior players. In terms of potential, I'm sure NHL scouts are projecting him as a 3rd or 4th line NHL centerman.

Parkes, also an 18 year old junior aged player during the 2009-2010 season, made the Juniors on a try out basis after being overlooked in the OHL ranks. The right winger scored 27 goals and 47 points in 66 games played. Parkes' strengths are his hands (if you've seen him in a shootout, you know how this guy can dangle), a fast release on his shot and his strong two way play (Parkes led the Juniors with a plus/minus rating of +19). While he's not the prettiest skater, he is strong on his feet and doesn't mind a physical game. In terms of size Parkes is listed at 6'1" and 170 lbs but appears to be a bit bigger. I would imagine that NHL scouts are treating Parkes as a bit of a project type prospect. While he carries many attractive qualities his skating remains a skill that requires improvement.

On another note, once highly toughted Montreal right winger Guillaume Asselin was bounced from Central Scouting's list all together and enters the spring as an unranked player. While it is highly unlikely he'll get drafted this spring, there remains a chance that with a strong performance during the 2010-2011 Asselin could change the minds of the scouts and earn a rank for the 2011 NHL entry draft.

For more information on Central Scouting's NHL draft rankings, check out the below links:

Louis-Marc Aubry's Central Scouting NHL Draft Profile:

Trevor Parkes' Central Scouting NHL Draft Profile:

Full Central Scouting NHL Draft Rankings:

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Aside from "the goal", there are many positives for the Juniors to take away from this series. A few of the most notable highlights are:

1 - Experienced gained by Xavier Ouellet (seen in photo). Throughout the entire series Montreal's Coach & GM, Pascal Vincent, provided Ouellet with "number 1 defenseman" type ice-time. The 16 year old junior aged defenseman probably led the entire team in power play time on ice and I would estimate he played between 22 and 24 minutes per game. Ouellet looked comfortable with the added responsibility which is good news for the young defender's personal development and the future of the Juniors' defense corps. Ouellet scored 0 goals and 3 assists in 7 games played. More importantly, Ouellet finished the series with a plus/minus rating of +4. Expect big things from this intelligent player next season.

2 - The emergence of Trevor Parkes. The 18 year old right winger has caught the attention of NHL scouts. Before the playoffs Parkes was viewed as a boarder line player to be drafted this June. Now, after scoring 6 goals and adding 1 assist in 7 playoff games, Parkes is seen as a player who could be drafted between rounds 4 and 6 of the 2010 NHL entry draft. This two way forward plays with grit as well. Parkes didn't miss a shift after getting cross checked to the mouth and loosing two teeth.

3 - The improved play of Guillaume Asselin. After a somewhat disappointing season, Asselin turned his game up a few notches in the playoffs. Montreal's 17 year old right winger's points per game average during the season was 0.63. During the playoffs his average improved to 1.00. Along with his production, the intensity in Asselin's game seemed better as well. He was skating harder and played more physical while battling in the corners for loose pucks. I'm crossing my fingers for this kid and hope he gets drafted by an NHL team in June. Chances are just under 50 / 50.

Friday, April 2, 2010


As it turns out, my first round playoff predictions were almost perfect. If it wasn't for Montreal dropping game 7 to Gatineau, I would have had a perfect score of 8 for 8. I guess that's what I deserve for picking my home team to win! Here's a look at who I expect to win each second round match-up:

Saint John Sea Dogs (1st overall) vs. Gatineau Olympiques (12th overall): Gatineau's young played played very well in round one against an equal opponent, the Montreal Juniors. Unfortunately for the Olympiques, they'll have trouble keeping up with a much stronger Saint John hockey club. The Sea Dogs' veterans will simply be too much for the young Gatineau players who will be tired from playing in a gruelling 7 game series.
Prediction: Saint John wins in 4 games.
Drummondville Voltigeurs (2nd overall) vs. Rimouski Oceanic (9th overall):
Rimouski's squad is very similar to that of both Montreal and Gatineau. They are filled with plenty of solid young player led by the Q's rookie of the year, Petr Straka (no relation to the former NHLer). Their enthusiasm won't be enough to take down the Voltigeurs who remain a force. Former Montreal goaltender Jake Allen is on top of his game thus far and the team in front of him remains one of the best Junior teams in the country.
Prediction: Drummondville wins in 5 games.
Moncton Wildcats (3rd overall) vs. Rouyn Noranda Huskies (6th overall):
Before the playoff started I expected Moncton to beat Cape Breton, but I didn't think they would do it so easily. After seeing the result of that series, I'm even more convinced that Moncton is the favorite to win the Presidents Cup. Rouyn Noranda will play tough against Moncton but they just won't be good enough to beat the Cats. I bet the Huskies sure wish Patrice Cormier didn't throw that elbow....
Prediction: Moncton Wildcats wins in 5 games.
Victoriaville Tigres (4th overall) vs. Quebec Remparts (5th overall):
With Patrick Roy behind the bench, the Remparts won't go out quietly, but out they will go. The Tigres are one of the strongest teams I saw play this season and they don't have any noticeable weaknesses.
Prediction: Victoriaville Tigres win in 6 games.

Enjoy Round Two!!!


And so it ended. The Juniors' fate was determined by a fluke goal in the second overtime period of game seven. If you haven't yet seen the devastating goal, check out this link:

It seemed to happen in slow motion. Before heading to the bench for a line change, Gatineau's captain, Hubert Labrie (seen in photo), skated over center ice and dumped the puck into the Juniors' zone. The puck proceeded to hit the end glass and took an unforseen bounce towards the Juniors' net. Montreal goalie, Jean-Francois Berube, who appeared to have his body against the side post, had the puck deflect off the back of his right side before dropping into the net.

It was the luckiest goal I've seen during the past two years of Montreal Juniors hockey.

After such a tightly fought playoff round, one that saw the Gatineau Olympiques climb back into the series after having been down three games to one, it is unfortunate that such a fluke goal ended up being the determining factor to end the series.

Fans attending the game were shocked. Most of Montreal's supporters remained frozen in their seats. Even the 50-100 Gatineau fans seemed surprised as they broke out into loud cheers and chants and celebrated their team's victory.

As bad as Gatineau's winning goal was the Montreal players can't feel too sour about it. After all, they did have three chances to close the series and failed to do so. One can only hope the returning players remember this terrible feeling and use it as motivation for next season.