The glorious season has begun.
It's playoff time for the Canadian Hockey League, American Hockey League and the NHL as well. Here I will give some updates, interesting facts and data about the series' of note. Any time an Oiler prospect or potential prospect is playing, the news will be listed here. So too will be the latest info on OKC's playoff drive. If anything interesting happens in the NHL playoffs, this is the place to read about it as well. Several Oilers will be participating in the World Hockey Championship in Slovakia, and I will also be updating the latest on them too. I love this time of year.
Ryan Martindale's (61st overall in 2010) Ottawa 67's finished second in the OHL's Eastern Conference this year, earning home ice advantage in the playoffs. They drew the Sudbury Wolves in round one. Ottawa beat Sudbury 7-3 in the last game of the season, but amazingly Sudbury swept the 67's in round one of the playoffs. Martindale had 3 goals and 2 assists in those four games, and was rated minus-3.
The Prince George Cougars improved by 48 points this year after accumulating just 28 last year. After selecting Oiler's prospect Martin Marincin (46th in 2010) first overall in the CHL import draft, they saw immediate dividends. They finished 7th in the West and made the playoffs after finishing last the year before. They too were swept in round one by the Kelowna Rockets, but Marincin had 1 goal and 4 assists in the series.
Tyler Pitlick (31st in 2010; signed to an entry level contract today) is hurt, but his team mate Tyler Bunz (121st in 2010) on the Medicine Hat Tigers is playing extremely well. He's shut the door on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' powerful Red Deer Rebels, helping the Tigers to a 3-1 series lead that Medicine Hat led 3-0 before tonight. Before tonight, Bunz had a 1.66 GAA and a .944 SV% in the playoffs, and he only allowed one goal tonight in the loss.
As for Nugent-Hopkins, in the four games since sweeping the Oil Kings he's got no points and a minus-4 rating. The CHL playoffs can still sway the final rankings of these players for NHL teams, no matter how good their regular season was. Overall, RNH has 9 points in 8 playoff games and is a minus-2.
Sean Couturier was a minus-4 tonight alone in a 6-1 loss to Gatineau, going 6 for 19 in the faceoff circle; a miserable 32%. He's still got 10 points in 8 playoff games and a plus-6 rating, and he's also won 94 of 194 faceoffs. That's still only 48%, and some of those were against a much weaker Chicoutimi team. Couturier has won 342 of 662 draws taken since coming back from the World Juniors, which is around 52%, but like Nugent-Hopkins, the playoffs seem to be catching up to Couturier a little bit.
Curtis Hamilton (48th in 2010) and his Saskatoon Blades have been upset by the Kootenay Ice. The 8th place Prince Alberta Raiders took the WHL's #1 seeded Blades to six games and now the Blades have been swept by #4 seeded Kootenay. In the ten playoff games, Hamilton had 4-7-11 and a minus-3 rating.
In 15 playoff games Adam Larsson has 5 assists and a minus-4 rating.
Barons' playoff series begins tomorrow.
Jordan Eberle and Devan Dubnyk were named to team Canada and will have a real shot at making an impact for that team. Expect Paajarvi to go for Sweden too. Omark would have gone but he's playing for OKC in the AHL playoffs. The 2011 World Hockey Championships begin April 29th and will run thru May 15th.
Watching all the playoff series closely and updates will be forthcoming as things progress. More soon..!