The 2nd round of the 2017 QMJHL playoffs begins tomorrow and with it will come much more competitive matchups. The 1st round featured 5 sweeps and only one game 7, but the 2nd round should offer some thrilling series. My 1st round predictions went 7 for 8, with 6 series being predicted in the correct “competitiveness tier”. As a reminder, my playoff series assessment is based on my SRS rankings methodology, which is a combination of post-trade deadline goal differential and team strength of schedule.
Tier 1 – The David vs Goliath Part 2 Matchup
This matchup represents a serious talent mismatch with the Sea Dogs expected to beat the Foreurs in 4 or 5. Étienne Montpetit had a remarkable series against Shawinigan where he boasted a 0.937 save percentage, but even he shouldn’t be enough to stop the President’s Cup favourites. This series represents the largest SRS differential so far in the 2017 playoffs.
Tier 2 – The Fatigue Factor Matchup
The Charlottetown Islanders go into this series as comfortable favourites over their tired Maritime division rivals. The Screaming Eagles was pushed to the absolute brink of elimination and only have one day of break before facing off against the 2nd most dominant team in the QMJHL. While Cape Breton should put up a good fight, expect the Islanders to beat them in 5 to 6 games. The SRS differential should be magnified by the difference in fatigue levels between the teams.
Tier 3 – The Battle of Inches Matchups
These two matchups should be closely fought with very little distinguishing the teams. On paper, Rouyn-Noranda should be able to beat Chicoutimi. However, the Huskies just finished a grueling series and have numerous injuries while the Saguenéens have had a long rest and enter this series with plenty of momentum. That being said, I will stick by my SRS system and expect Rouyn-Noranda to win it in 6 or 7 games.
The final matchup of the 2nd round will be a battle of contrasting styles. Blainville-Boisbriand, lead by goaltender Samuel Montembeault, is a top defensive team on the league, where as Acadie-Bathurst is a top offensive team. Both are going into this series undefeated, with the Armada being the higher seed. However, the SRS rankings are in favour of the Titan, due to them playing in a tougher division and having a stronger goal differential. Ultimately, I expect the Titan to beat the Armada in 6 or 7 games.
A closer Look at the 1st Round Results
All 4 of my “David vs Goliath” matchups ended in 4 game sweeps. Saint John, Charlottetown, Blainville-Boisbriand, and Acadie-Bathurst simply overpowered their opponents. The SRS differential within the matchups were all significant, which meant a serious mismatch in terms of team quality.
The 2 “Middle of the Road” matchups ended up being great series. As expected, Rouyn-Noranda was pushed hard by Halifax, but ultimately won in 6 games. The one series that I did not predict correctly was Shawinigan – Val-d’Or, where the Foreurs won in 6. While it was surprising to see Val-d’Or perform at that high of a level, Shawinigan’s downfall could certainly have been predicted by looking at the SRS numbers. They were only ranked 8th in SRS despite finishing 3rd in the standings, mostly due to a weak division. As well, Shawinigan had the 3rd worst differential in pre-TD and post-TD SRS in the league. This team had no momentum going into the playoffs and the results showed it.
The 2 “Home Ice Advantage” matchups were complete opposites. The Cape Breton – Gatineau series went to overtime in game 7, with the Screaming Eagles winning in front of their home crowd. However, Chicoutimi beat Victoriaville in 4 straight games. While they were predicted to win, their dominance while doing so surprised more than a few. Once again, the SRS numbers had given an indication that this result might happen. Chicoutimi had the 4th best differential in pre-TD and post-TD SRS, which means that they came into the playoffs with a lot of momentum and it helped carry them to the 2nd round.