The opening round of the playoffs went exactly as I predicted with London winning in 7 games. Despite the Knights falling behind 3-1 in the series the Spitfires simply ran out of gas. In game 5 Windsor had multiple chances to end the series but just couldn’t seal the deal. Windsor will now back into the Memorial Cup with their tail between their legs no doubt.
Game 7 saw the Knights give the Spitfires a taste of their own medicine as they came out and hit everything that moved. That along stellar goaltending from Tyler Parsons saw the Knights take the series with a hard fought 3-2 win. Game 7 came down to coaching more than anything as Dale Hunter and his staff were far superior than their Windsor counterparts and made the difference when it counted. You could say the Knights played a kind of rope-a-dope style letting the bigger and stronger Spitfires tire themselves out running around after the speedier Knights. Games 5 and 6 the Spitfires should have finished the Knights but again as predicted the Spitfires were guilty of chasing the Knights and had nothing in the tank. In game 7 both teams played their hearts out, but the Spitfires just couldn’t adapt the change in style by the Knights.
What awaited the Knights the day after the series win was a date with the top team in the OHL the Erie Otters. The Otters are the most explosive team in the OHL and match up well with the Knights. As I have said all season long it is Tyler Parsons who will carry the Knights as far as they can go this playoff season. Game 1 was a prime example of this as the Knights could only muster 11 shots on the Erie goal but came away with a 2-0 victory. It was the first time this season that Erie was shutout. Parsons stood on his head for the shutout stopping all 46 shots he faced. To be fair to Erie, the layoff hurt them as despite the huge shot advantage they were flat. Game 2 saw the fortunes reversed as the Otters were firing on all 8 cylinders and handed the Knights a humbling 5-1 defeat and chasing game one hero Parsons in the third period.
This series again will come down to coaching as the Knights straight up talent wise against Erie are overmatched and if London decides to get in a track meet with the Otters they will be in big trouble. Special teams are the biggest part of the game now days as there are few even strength goals scored. With that being said the Knights will have to stay away from the foolish and lazy penalties “Max Jones”. London has a chance in the series if they can do that and capitalize on their own power play chances. As well Parsons will have to steal another game for London to advance.
My prediction and I hope I am wrong this time is the Otters in 6 games. But we will see how London adapts to this adversity.