OHL Power Rankings: Feb 22-27
With a month until the OHL Playoffs kick off in earnest, it's time to look at who's rising and falling down the home stretch. Whose deadline acquisitions are paying off and whose have spoiled the chemistry?
1. Kitchener Rangers (2nd Midwest, 3rd West)
Since Gabriel Landeskog and Jerry D'Amigo boosted the Rangers three weeks ago, they've lost only one game in regulation for a strong 8-1-0-2 showing. They're presently only three points behind Owen Sound for first in the Conference and Division and they have a game in hand. Think of this as a one point race, ladies and gents.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Saginaw Spirit (02/25/2011)
2. Owen Sound Attack (1st Midwest, 1st West)
Give the Bayshore boys credit. The Rangers surge has been met, punch-for-punch with a strong performance at the other end of Highway 6. Jordan Binnington has ably stepped in for Scott Stajcer while getting a little help from Michael Zador. Now we get to see how they respond to the loss of Joey Hishon to a six game suspension.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Oshawa Generals (02/27/2011)
3. Mississauga Majors (1st Central, 1st East)
The Majors have looked some awful mortal lately. They needed a last minute comeback to overcome Kitchener in a shootout on Friday night before being handled by those same Rangers in their Family Day rematch. Mississauga is still the hands down favourite to win the East and shouldn't be treated as anything less.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Brampton Battalion (02/25/2011)
4. Saginaw Spirit (1st West Division, 2nd Western Conference)
The Spirit have won five straight after meandering horribly immediately after the trade deadline. Brandon Saad's return is still up in the air. Firmly ensconced atop the West Division, the Spirit's main focus is making sure they're ready for the playoffs part of that includes making sure their top sniper is healthy.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Kitchener Rangers (02/25/2011)
5. Ottawa 67s (1st East Division, 2nd Eastern Conference)
The 67s are having another strong season, much to no one's surprise. With one of the top lines in all junior hockey featuring Tyler Toffoli, Shane Prince and Ryan Martindale, as well as a quality puckstopper in Petr Mrazek, it's no wonder they present probably the stiffest challenge to Mississauga's dominance of the East.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Saginaw Spirit (02/27/2011)
6. Oshawa Generals (2nd East Division, 4th Eastern Conference)
The Gennies seem to be slowly developing some consistency. Their mission at the moment is to try and overcome the Niagara Ice Dogs for third in the Conference. Not bad for a team that finished out of the playoffs last year. Peter Di Salvo has done wonders to stabilize the goaltending situation.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Owen Sound Attack (02/27/2011)
7. Niagara Ice Dogs (2nd Central, 3rd East)
The Dogs dropped all three of their games last weekend and have now lost Ryan Strome to a concussion. If ever they were going to fall, this was going to be the time. With two games against playoff bound opponents this weekend, they could need a little help to hold on to third in the East.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Erie Otters (02/24/2011)
8. Erie Otters (3rd Midwest, 6th West)
Erie is one point out of fourth and only five points out of eighth. With three games this weekend, they might not have a more opportune time to climb the standings. Otters Captain Greg McKegg is the reigning OHL Player of the Week and he'll have to lead his team against two tough playoff bound opponents in Niagara and Kitchener.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Kitchener Rangers (02/26/2011)
9. Plymouth Whalers (2nd West Division, 4th Western Conference)
The Whalers have been one of the steadiest teams in the second half of the season bringing a pretty consistent physical, grinding teams and trying to wear down their opponents. They're tenuously holding on to fourth in the Conference with both Windsor and Erie nipping at their heels in a serious way.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. London Knights (02/26/2011)
10. Windsor Spitfires (3rd West Division, 5th Western Conference)
The Spits came out like gangbusters after the trade deadline but have kind of quietly settled into the same place they've been all season. A slightly above average team with mercurial goaltending that lacks the pure offensive dominance they possessed in the last two seasons.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Ottawa 67s (02/24/2011)
11. Sudbury Wolves (4th Central, 6th East)
The Wolves have come on like a house on fire since Eric O'Dell's return from the AHL and the subsequent trade for Jake Riley. The Wolves, barring either an unexpected unbeaten streak or the plummetting of either Kingston or Brampton, will likely defy expectations and finish as the Conference's seventh seed. Not bad for a team most expected to be cannon fodder this season.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Windsor Spitfires (02/27/2011)
12. Guelph Storm (5th Midwest, 8th West)
The Storm are in the last year of their competition window with most of their key pieces moving on to the pros this offseason. They're starting to play respectable hockey again but they're going to need a bit of help to vault into seventh or eighth in the West. They do have it in them to be spoilers though.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Owen Sound (02/26/2011)
13. London Knights (4th Midwest, 7th West)
Flip a coin on a given night and you'll be able to predict what Knights team is going to show up. They're either scrappy world beaters or a team without a cohesive identity trying to play three styles at one time.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Plymouth Whalers (02/26/2011)
14. Brampton Battalion (3rd Central, 6th East)
The Troops celebrated Stan Butler's 1000th OHL win last week. Which is a nice milestone for the only coach that the organization has ever known. An almost comfortably .500 team in the East, one can expect the Troops to trap and try to stay in every game just long enough to catch a bounce, but for a young team in the middle of a rebuild, that's not so bad.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Niagara Ice Dogs (02/27/2011)
15. Kingston Frontenacs (3rd East Division, 5th, Eastern Conference)
There is no more frustrating team in the League. With Ryan Spooner and Ethan Werek both finally healthy and Erik Gudbranson back from suspension, one would think the Fronts would start to perform. No such luck. They need to start picking it up. On Friday, they face what will very likely be their first round opponent in Oshawa. If they can't get up for that, they're hopeless.
Key Match-up this Week: vs. Oshawa Generals (02/25/2011)
16. Peterborough Petes (4th East Division, 8th Eastern Conference)
The Petes are a scrappy team trying to hold on to a playoff spot with their teeth. If they manage to do it, it'll be by sheer force of offence because with one of the weakest goaltending tandems in the league and a disappearing blue-line corps, they should be low hanging fruit for Belleville and Barrie.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Belleville Bulls (02/24/2011)
17. Sarnia Sting (4th West Division, 9th Western Conference)
There's some good news about the Sting finishing out of the playoffs. They'll be able to add another good young player this summer to that core of Yakupov, Galchenyuk, Francisco and Ritchie.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Soo Greyhounds (02/27/2011)
18. Barrie Colts (5th Central, 10th East)
The Colts are the only non-playoff team to have won at least four of their last ten games and to have allow less than 230 goals on the season. If they could discover some offence down the stretch, they could over come Belleville and/or Peterborough.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Sarnia Sting (02/24/2011)
19. Soo Greyhounds (5th West Division, 10th Western Conference)
Want good news Hounds fans? Can't have any. News this week that Dan Catenacci could be on his way out of the Soo as soon as this summer.
Key Match-up This Week: vs. Sarnia Sting (02/27/2011)
20. Belleville Bulls (5th East Division, 9th Eastern Conference)
The Bulls had a rough schedule last week with four games between Wednesday and Monday. But with only a shootout win over the Soo to show for it, the Bulls should not be happy with themselves. Two points out of the playoffs, Thursday night's tilt in Peterborough is a must-win. If they can't respond after a lacklustre performance against the Petes on Monday, then their playoff hopes await a toe-tag.
Key Match-up This Week: @ Peterborough Petes (02/24/2011)