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Playoff Preview
(1) Kitchener vs. (6) Guelph

Series Synopsis:

The Guelph Storm have enjoyed knocking the Kitchener Rangers out of the postseason in two consecutive seasons, and all indications are that the powerhouse Rangers will finally be poised to return the favour this spring.  At the beginning of the season the Guelph Storm were envisioned to be very similar to the actual product that the Ottawa 67's produced, a high-scoring, high-flying team but at times providing a somewhat suspect defense.  The Rangers were thought of moreso as a one-line team with a tremendous defense.  Neither really lived up to predictions as the Rangers proved to have the most balanced offensive attack in the OHL including 7 - 20 goal scorers and a second line center: Michael Richards who took over the team's point lead from Derek Roy who had been the incumbent points champion on the Rangers.

After a balanced scoring attack proved not to be the style of the Guelph Storm and with the team in danger of missing the postseason, head coach: Jeff Jackson lost his job.  Assistant coach Shawn Camp took over the reigns and the Guelph Storm haven't been the same team since.  Dominant on home ice and outshooting just about every single opponent that they draw.  The Storm went 3-0 on home ice in the opening round of the OHL playoffs against the Sarnia Sting, including a devastating 9-1 victory in game 6 to clinch the series against one of the top netminding duos in the OHL: Gherson/Munce.  Unlike the Sting the Storm will be up against a much more balanced attack from the Kitchener Rangers, against the Sting, Guelph had the luxury of facing a team without it's top goal scorer: Joey Tenute, who enjoyed a trip to the OHL finals last season.  The Rangers continue to roll four lines and that is as much as anything, a hurdle for any of their opponents keeping up the tempo with many fresh Rangers' faces on the ice, including the Rangers' newly formed third unit of Keefe-Grennier-Boucher.  While the line has not put points on the scoreboard - yet, during a few periods during the series they appear to be the most dominant line in the game.

Both Scott Dickie (0.75), and Andrew Penner (2.17) are 1st and 2nd in the postseason respectively in GAA (Goals against average).  Scott Dickie in his 4th year in the league finally got the monkey off of his back, and won his first playoff game against the Soo Greyhounds in shutout fashion, he actually held the Greyhounds scoreless through 7 periods before finally yielding a goal in the second period of the third game of the series.  Andrew Penner on the other hand has also provided some very strong netminding in the Storm net as he did against the Rangers in the first round of last year's playoffs.

The difference between this year's series and last season's first round matchup might lie in the Storm's backend where Fedor Tjutin and Kevin Dallman have departed, leaving a big gap on the Storm's powerplay which was simply amazing in the 4 game sweep of the Kitchener Rangers.  While the Rangers' powerplay continues to go about its business in a very slow but consistent manner, it is a refreshing thought that the Rangers needn't rely as much on the man-advantage to put pucks behind the opposition as they did last season.  As much as things change they also stay the same, in this postseason the Rangers have relied heavily on Derek Roy for scoring he has 8 points (1-7) in the 4 games that the Rangers have played and in those games the Rangers have only netted 13 goals.  The obvious men to look out for on the Storm are: Daniel Paille, and Dustin Brown who played on the Canadian and US teams respectively in the World Junior Championships this December.

Gregory Campbell has scored in each of the Rangers four playoff games, and Steve Eminger has only seen powerplay time for the Rangers.  Should he be healthy it would be a tremendous boost to both the Rangers' offensive and transition game.  Marcus Smith, formerly thought to be a primarily offensive defenseman after he entered the league is now a tremendous two-way threat for the Rangers.  The forgotten man in a top-four defensive core that rivals any in the OHL, Marcus Smith is having a great postseason both defensively and the two goals that he has scored already, equals his season totals.  Pehaps the heaviest point shot on the team keeps wingers honest while manning the point in the offensive zone.  The Rangers outscored the Storm 30-19 in the season series where the Storm were only able to eek out a overtime victory after blowing a 3-1 lead on home ice late in the season.  The Rangers gained revenge quickly for that loss defeating the Storm 4-2 on home ice three nights later while playing on national television.

RangersRush Prediction: Rangers win series 4-1

Finish: 1st
Regular Season record: 46-14--5-3
Head-to-head record: 5-1-2

Finish: 6th
Regular Season record: 29-28-9-2
Head-to-head record: 1-5-2
Top 5 Regular Season Scorers:
Player GP G A P
Michael Richards 67 37 48 85
Derek Roy 49 28 50 78
Peter Kanko 60 33 34 67
Andre Benoit 65 22 45 67
Gregory Campbell 55 23 33 56

Netminding (Top 2 Active goalies)
Player GP W-L-T Avg Sv%
Scott Dickie 44 30-7-3 2.59 .914
Carlo DiRienzo 27 12-8-2 2.83 .905

Top 5 Regular Season Scorers:
Player GP G A P
Dustin Brown 58 34 42 76
Robert McBride 54 28 30 58
Daniel Paille 54 30 27 57
Martin St. Pierre 55 11 45 56
Niko Tuomi 70 9 29 38

Netminding (Top 2 Active goalies)

Player GP W-L-T Avg Sv%
Andrew Penner 51 21-21-7 2.76 .905
Adam Dennis 18 6-7-1 3.19 .895
Head-to-Head top scorers
Player GP G A P
Michael Richards 8 2 8 10
Nathan O'Nabigon 7 3 4 7
Gregory Campbell 6 4 2 6
Derek Roy 6 3 3 6
Rafal Martynowski 8 4 2 6
George Halkidis 8 2 4 6

Netminding (head-to-head)

Player GP W-L-T Avg
Scott Dickie 7 4-1-2 2.29
Carlo DiRienzo 1 1-0-0 2.00
Head-to-Head top scorers
Player GP G A P
Dustin Brown 6 1 6 7
Daniel Paille 6 4 2 6
Matt Ryan 8 2 4 6
Martin St. Pierre 8 1 4 5
Ryan Callahan 8 2 1 3
Andrew Archer 8 0 3 3

Netminding (head-to-head)

Player GP W-L-T Avg
Andrew Penner 6 1-4-1 3.00
Adam Dennis 2 0-1-1 3.00