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Playoff Preview
(2) Plymouth vs. (3) Kitchener

Series Synopsis:

April 4th, 2007

The Rangers run into the Plymouth Whalers for the 4th time in franchise history and the third time in the last 5 seasons.  The Rangers have lost two of those series, taking place in 1996, 2003 and 2004.  The only Rangers' series win over the Whalers took place in 2003 in the third round en route to the Memorial Cup Championship.  The series features Team Canada teammates: Steve Downie and on the Whalers' side: James Neal.  Former Petes superstars: Daniel Ryder against Steve Downie and coach Peter DeBoer visiting his former home where he established his reputation in the OHL.  The series isn't short on storylines.

The series is so hyped that all TV analysts around the league, are calling it the can't miss series of the 2007 after both teams emerged early in the first round after sweeping the Sarnia Sting and Guelph Storm respectively.

The season-series was not conclusive for either team.  The Rangers squeezed by with an overtime victory, their former captain Jean-Michel Rizk being the overtime hero preventing the first overtime, while Nick Spaling's shootout winner took the other decision in Kitchener for the Rangers.  Spaling's goal, the only one scored in the fourth round of the shootout, but it came after much controversey when the Rangers' late game-tying goal was reviewed extensively before reversing the on-ice decision.

The games in Plymouth simply brought about more confusion as to who might hold the advantage in head-to-head play.  The Rangers swept a game in Plymouth early in the season with John Murray between the pipes.  The season-finale, that took place in Plymouth had the Rangers displaying much of their youth, and resting their veterans.

Injuries to overage forwards: Victor Oreskovich and Peter Tsimikalis promise to play a factor in a lengthy series.  Will they return?  And if they do, how effective will they be?  Both teams are simply loaded in forward depth.  If there had to be an edge granted it would have to go to the Rangers who when healthy have 3 veteran-filled lines to work with.  In goal, the Whalers have two capable netminders that alternated games through the first round.  On the blueline, the Rangers have an edge in mobility, and offense, with the potent powerplay duo of Kindl and Weber.  However, the Whalers counter with a bigger and far more experienced blueline.

Expect a big impact from Kitchener-native Evan Brophey, and Tom Sestito, who's been a constant thorn in the side of the Rangers.  Much is expected from Steve Downie, who led all first round scorers averaging 3 points per game against the Sting and a total of 12 points in the postseason.

Click Here to see all of the Rangers player stats head-to-head for the 2006-2007 season
Click Here to see all of the Sting's player stats head-to-head for the 2006-2007 season

Finish: 3rd
Regular Season record: 47-19-1-1
Head-to-head record: 3-1-0-0

Finish: 2nd
Regular Season record: 49-14-2-3
Head-to-head record: 1-3-0-0
Top 5 Regular Season Scorers:
Player GP G A P
Steve Downie 45 35 57 92
Matt Halischuk 67 33 33 66
Victor Oreskovich 62 28 32 60
Nick Spaling 61 23 36 59
Peter Tsimikalis 37 19 37 56

Netminding (Top 2 Active goalies)
Player GP W-L-OTL Avg Sv%
John Murray 55 40-9-3 2.58 .909
Charles Lavigne 12 6-3-0 2.62 .917

Top 5 Regular Season Scorers:
Player GP G A P
Evan Brophey 68 36 71 107
Daniel Ryder 57 40 52 92
Dan Collins 66 26 42 68
James Neal 45 27 38 65
Tom Sestito 60 42 44 64

Netminding (Top 2 Active goalies)

Player GP W-L-OTL Avg Sv%
Michal Neuvirth 41 26-8-4 2.32 .932
Jeremy Smith 34 23-6-1 2.59 .923
Head-to-Head top scorers
Player GP G A P
Jakub Kindl 3 0 5 5
Matt Halischuk 4 1 3 4
Kevin Henderson 4 2 1 3
Yves Bastien* 2 2 0 2
Peter Tsmimikalis 1 1 1 2

Netminding (head-to-head)

Player GP W-L Avg
John Murray 3 3-0 1.67
Charles Lavigne 1 0-1 3.00
Head-to-Head top scorers
Player GP G A P
Tom Sestito 4 4 0 4
Chris Terry 4 1 2 3
Evan Brophey 4 2 0 2
Andrew Fournier 4 1 1 2
Dan Collins 4 0 2 2

Netminding (head-to-head)

Player GP W-L Avg
Michal Neuvirth 3 0-3 3.00
Jeremy Smith  1 1-0 2.00
* indicates no longer with team