The 2017 QMJHL playoff semi-finals begin tonight as the quest for the President’s Cup has been narrowed down to four teams. The 2nd round featured two sweeps as well as two 7-game series. My 2nd round predictions went 2 for 4, incorrectly predicting the winners of both 7-game series. As a note for new readers, 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.
Saint John Sea Dogs vs. Chicoutimi Saguenéens
The surprising Saguenéens will face their toughest test yet versus the dominant Sea Dogs, who have yet to lose a game in the playoffs. The SRS difference between the teams is fairly large and will be compounded by the difference in fatigue levels. Chicoutimi is coming off a grueling 7-game series that ended on Tuesday night, while Saint John has had the maximum amount of rest possible so far in these playoffs. However, Chicoutimi has a quality team that had the 4th best differential in pre-TD and post-TD SRS, which puts them just behind Saint John, who had the 3rd best differential. Overall, I expect the talented and well-balanced Sea Dogs to win the series in 5 or 6 games.
Charlottetown Islander vs. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
The other semi-final will be a battle of the top offensive team in the regular season, the Islanders, versus the top defensive team in the regular season, the Armada. The SRS differential indicates that this should be a close series, but Charlottetown comes in with a slight advantage. Charlottetown has not lost a game in these playoffs and have been able to get a week of rest since their last series. On the other hand, Blainville-Boisbriand just finished a 7-game series against Bathurst, and will be starting the series on the road. A healthy Samuel Montembeault can steal a few games on his own, so look for this series to go 6 or 7 games, with the Islanders ultimately winning it.
A closer Look at the 2nd Round Results
The “David vs Goliath Part 2″ matchup predictably ended in a 4-game sweep by Saint John. Val-d’Or goaltender Étienne Montpetit put up a historic 66 save performance in game 2, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the significant SRS differential between the two teams.
The “Fatigue Factor” matchup also ended up as a 4-game sweep, but was a highly physical series with several suspensions being given out. The fatigue factor combined with the SRS differential was too much to overcome for the young and hardworking Cape Breton team.
The two “Battle of Inches” matchups took 7 games to decide, with Chicoutimi actually winning it in overtime of game 7 after tying the game while shorthanded with only minutes left! Their opponent, Rouyn-Noranda, came into the series as a slight favourite from an SRS perspective, but their fatigue and injuries might have been the difference in such a closely-contested matchup.
The other series, featuring Bathurst and Blainville-Boisbriand, was a tale of two worlds. In games 2 to 4, Bathurst won 3 straight games in a dominant fashion, outscoring their opponents by 9 goals and their powerplay scoring on 55% of their opportunities. In games 5 to 7, Blainville-Boisbriand won 3 straight games, outscoring their opponents by 13 goals and their powerplay scoring on 50% of their opportunities. The SRS scores indicated that these were two teams of a similar talent level, and an entertaining 7-game series was the result.