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Playoff Preview
(1) Kitchener vs. (8) Plymouth

Series Synopsis:

March 21st,, 2007

After losing their prized top netminder and WJC team USA netminder to injury and being forced to use rookie: Matt Hackett down the stretch run the Plymouth Whalers faltered down the stretch and even on the eve of their last two games of the regular season still had a legitimate shot at the covetted #5 seed in the Western Conference.  Those hopes were dashed and a combination of wins by the Storm, Sting and an shootout victory by the Spirit in Plymouth resulted in the Whalers' fall from 5th seed to 8th in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

The Whalers' record is at best extremely deceiving, there was only one division that finished above .500 this season and the Whalers were in that extremely competitive division that finished an incredible 38 games over .500 combined, leaving all other divisions sub-.500, including the Midwest with the OHL's leading Kitchener Rangers.

The Rangers in their history have only taken one series against the Whalers franchise in the post-season out of the four that have been played in total, being the 7-game epic in 2003 that would eventually lead to the Rangers hoisting the Memorial Cup.  This season regardless of the result of the series the Rangers' will be hosting the Memorial Cup, but it remains to be seen how the Rangers will end up there.

The Whalers were one of the very few teams in the OHL not to give into the Rangers defensively only allowing a total of 10 goals over 4 games and a maximum of 3 a game on Plymouth netminding (in one game a 4th was scored on an empty net).  Both teams' strong suit was their depth on defense, but both teams have been affected by injuries to their blueliners.  Dan Kelly is out of the lineup for the Rangers and Wes Cunningham will miss the entire series for the Whalers.

Much of how the series goes will relate to the health of Plymouth netminder: Jeremy Smith who will be playing for the first time in approximately three weeks.  If things do not go well for Smith, things will certainly not go well for the Whalers.  On the Rangers' side of the ledger, things are a little different between the pipes.  Josh Unice has played every single minute in goal for the Rangers against the Whalers.  The Whalers have yet to see Steve Mason play in a Rangers' jerseys, he has only been dressed during one game against the Whalers since his arrival in Kitchener.

Perhaps most depressing for the Whalers, has been their anemic offense against the Rangers' this season, Josh Unice in four-plus games against the Whalers has kept the team to an average of a single goal per game.

The Whalers attack nearly starts and ends with Chris Terry, whom is responsible for 2 of those 4 goals through the regular season series, and could be considered as valuable to the Whalers as the Rangers top unit of Azevedo-Halischuk-Spaling is to Kitchener.

The matchup will be the fourth in six season between the two foes.

Click Here to see all of the Rangers player stats head-to-head for the 2007-2008 season
Click Here to see all of the Whalers player stats head-to-head for the 2007-2008 season

Finish: 1st
Regular Season record: 53-11-1-3
Head-to-head record: 4-0-0-0

Finish: 8th
Regular Season record: 34-28-2-4
Head-to-head record: 0-3-1-0
Top 5 Regular Season Scorers:
Player GP G A P
Justin Azevedo 67 43 81 124
Mikkel Boedker 62 29 44 73
Nick Spaling 56 38 34 72
Nazem Kadri 68 25 40 65
Matt Halischuk 40 13 46 59

Netminding (Top 2 Active goalies)
Player GP W-L-OTL Avg Sv%
Steve Mason* 16 13-3-0-0 2.06 .915
Josh Unice 42 30-6-1-2 2.45 .908

Top 5 Regular Season Scorers:
Player GP G A P
Chris Terry 68 44 57 101
Andrew Fournier 64 35 40 75
A.J. Jenks 68 26 29 55
Wes Cunningham 55 6 43 49
Kaine Geldart 68 13 25 38

Netminding (Top 2 Active goalies)

Player GP W-L-OTL Avg Sv%
Jeremy Smith 40 23-13-1-3 2.86 .921
Matt Hackett* 18 6-9-0-1 3.44 .900
Head-to-Head top scorers
Player GP G A P
Mikkel Boedker 3 4 0 4
Justin Azevedo 4 0 4 4
Mike Duco 3 1 2 3
Nazem Kadri 4 1 2 3
Matt Halischuk 2 0 2 2
Nick Spaling 3 2 0 2

Netminding (head-to-head)

Player GP W-L Avg
Josh Unice 4 4-0 1.00
Steve Mason* 0 0-0 0.00
* indicates only stats from Rangers only
Head-to-Head top scorers
Player GP G A P
Chris Terry 4 2 0 2
Vern Cooper 3 0 1 1
Wes Cunningham 3 0 1 1
Patrick Lee 3 0 1 1
Andrew Fournier 4 1 0 1
R.J. Mahalak 4 1 0 1

Netminding (head-to-head)

Player GP W-L Avg
Jeremy Smith 2 0-2 2.50
Kyle Jendra 1 0-1 3.00
* indicates only stats from Whalers only