QMJHL Playoffs At A Glance

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By Kathy, Associate Editor, All Habs Hockey Magazine

MONTREAL, QC–With the Canadiens’ (shortened) season in full stride, for two of their prospects and numerous future stars, it’s already playoff season. Sixteen teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are gearing up for action. Here is a brief look at those matchups:

Halifax (1) – Saint John (16)

Martin Frk and Nathan MacKinnon of the Mooseheads.
Martin Frk and Nathan MacKinnon of the Mooseheads.

Halifax has taken over the reins of league dominance from the Huberdeau-less Sea Dogs, who can only hope to escape this one intact. All eyes will be on the Mooseheads, heavily favoured to take it all, as Drouin, MacKinnon, Frk and company will pack on to their playoff experience acquired last year where they notably took down the Quebec Remparts after being down 3-0 in the series.

Coming into the playoffs
Halifax:  58-6-3-1, unbeaten in regulation in last seventeen games
Saint John:  23-44-1-0, lost four straight

Fun fact: Despite having left for Florida two months ago, Jonathan Huberdeau still leads the Sea Dogs in scoring.

Baie-Comeau (2) – Sherbrooke (15)

Daniel Audette with father Donald (Photo by Bernard Brault | LaPresse)
Daniel Audette with father Donald (Photo by Bernard Brault | LaPresse)

The Sherbrooke Phoenix, in their inaugural season, were not expected to go very far. The hard-working club, led by Sherbrooke native Alexandre Comtois and featuring Daniel Audette, son of former Canadien Donald Audette, are backstopped by Jacob Gervais-Chouinard who could prove to be their key in this series. For their part, Baie-Comeau seemingly rose up out of nowhere, as their hybrid of talented youth (Valentin Zykov, Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau) and acquired veterans (Petr Straka) led by last year’s Memorial Cup champion head coach (Éric Veilleux) brought them to second place in the league after an upset-sweep against Victoriaville gave them playoff fame last year.  A matchup with the Phoenix should make for some hard-fought games, but Baie-Comeau is expected to take this one fairly quickly.

Coming into the playoffs
Baie-Comeau:  44-19-2-3, won three straight
Sherbrooke:  21-38-3-6, split their last ten

Fun fact: A whopping 27 points separates Baie-Comeau from first-seed Halifax.

Blainville-Boisbriand (3) – Acadie-Bathurst (14)

The Armada were expected to contend with the Mooseheads for top honours in the league, but experienced a bit of an up-and-down middle portion of the season that coincided with the injury of goaltender Étienne Marcoux and the departure of Stefan Matteau, both of whom are now back with the club.  The Titan, despite their position on the league chart, tend to make their opponents reconsider taking them too lightly, and after making no less than fifteen moves before the trade deadline, have re-designed the whole look of their team.  This series is one that is a little less certain in terms of outcome and length, as several wild cards are in play on both sides.  Of course, being the third seed, the focus will be on the Armada as they look to solidify their prowess in their second season.

Coming into the playoffs
Blainville-Boisbriand:  41-19-2-6, won seven of their last ten
Acadie-Bathurst:  26-35-5-2, split their last ten

Fun fact: Titan leading scorer Zach O’Brien recently took his first and only penalty in 187 career QMJHL games. The 20-year old has amassed 258 points in three seasons.

Rimouski Océanic (4) – Gatineau (13)

Rimouski is one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, as they presented a lineup full of rookies and draft-eligible prospects that paid off for them in a big way.  Despite making it to the league final last year, they were not widely considered as favourites in the beginning but have stepped up since, with the help of goaltender Philippe Desrosiers and the acquisition of Robin Gusse, who filled in nicely when needed.  Meanwhile, Gatineau were ultimately weighed down by their lack of a starting goaltender, having lost theirs to injury before the season even began.  They have had no less than five tenders between the pipes ever since. But the presence of a few veterans and some surprise players of their own might slow down the young and talented Rimouski squad, who had their fair share of injuries themselves as they rolled to the end of the season without half of their top-6 defensemen.

Coming into the playoffs
Rimouski:  41-18-3-6, split their last ten
Gatineau:  29-34-1-4, lost eight of their last ten

Fun fact: Gatineau is the league’s most undisciplined team with just under 20 minutes in penalties per game, whereas Rimouski is 16th in that category.

Québec (5) – Chicoutimi (12)

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Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts.

The Remparts were a highly-scouted team this year but were often caught struggling, coming as far down as the midway mark of the standings.  The playoffs (and the return of Mikhail Grigorenko) will bring the inconsistent Remparts back to zero to start over.  While their talent is without question, perhaps the best measure of their passion will be brought out by their current opponent, whom they have faced for many heated postseason battles.  The Saguenéens, with their mix of experience and budding stars including one Charles Hudon, were the only ones to really challenge last year’s Sea Dogs for the league championship and are certainly not to be taken for granted this year, either.  If Quebec puts their best face forward, however, this could go smoothly for them.

Coming into the playoffs

Québec:  42-21-3-2, won six straight
Chicoutimi:  30-31-2-5, split their last ten

Fun fact: The last time Chicoutimi beat Quebec in a playoff series was the 2005 QMJHL quarterfinals, and one David Desharnais was on that winning roster.

Moncton (6) – Victoriaville (11)

Highly-touted acquisition Philip Danault will make his return to Victoriaville with a well-rounded bunch who boast their fair share of exciting talent in players like Dmitrij Jaskin and the Saulnier twins, but who can also take care of the defensive end of things.  Meanwhile, overagers Philippe Halley and Philippe Maillet brought the Tigres towards a more positive second half of the season to make up for the loss of Danault, and since this team is under less pressure to perform, it could shake things up a little bit in the postseason.

Coming into the playoffs
Moncton:
  42-23-2-1, split their last ten
Victoriaville:  32-27-3-6, lost their last three

Fun fact: The last playoff meeting between these two was in 2006, and Moncton took the series 4-1 on the way to the league championship.

P.E.I. (7) – Val-d’Or (10)

Perhaps the series covering the most physical ground in the country, these two teams will face off in a 2-3-2 series that features two of the top three points-leaders (Duffy, Currie) and the only 50-goal scorer of this season (Mantha).  Both teams have had their share of ups and downs, but the Rocket has the most momentum coming into the playoffs, whereas Val-d’Or struggled through the finish line.

Coming into the playoffs
P.E.I.:
  41-23-3-1, won six straight
Val-d’Or:  35-27-0-6, lost their last six

Fun fact: Had Mantha not scored 50 goals this year, it would have marked the first time in league history that no one would have hit that mark.

Rouyn-Noranda (8) – Drummondville (9)

Given their rankings and the fact that these two teams directly clash with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, this should be the only series that goes the distance.  The beginning of the year saw the Huskies overwhelm opponents with their goal-scoring abilities, led by Jean-Sébastien Dea and the undrafted Sven Andrighetto, while Drummondville had a much stronger second half of the year, allowing fewer than a hundred goals after the end of trade period.  The regular season saw its share of epic battles between the two clubs, including stellar comebacks, so whoever comes out on top is sure to do so in dramatic fashion.

Drummondville's Olivier Archambault.
Drummondville’s Olivier Archambault.

Coming into the playoffs
Rouyn-Noranda:  40-24-1-3, won five straight
Drummondville:  38-26-2-2, won seven of their last ten

Fun fact: These two teams have only ever faced off in the playoffs one other time, another hard-fought seven-game series featuring ex-Hab Mathieu Carle (Rouyn) and current ones Frédéric St-Denis and Gabriel Dumont (Drummondville). The Voltigeurs’ current head coach, Mario Duhamel, was an assistant coach for Rouyn at the time and can now count on another Habs’ prospect, Olivier Archambault.

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