St. Paul Canadiens playoff preview
The St. Paul Canadiens (3-30-1) certainly have a mountain to climb in this David and Goliath series of first versus last. The Habs were outscored 70-9 in six straight losses to the Cold Lake Ice (29-4-1) this season, but the playoffs are a whole new world. While the Ice have yet to confirm a starting net-minder for the series, it is clear that as long as Austin Rediron can shake off his recent ankle injury, he will be the man the blue-and-red will be leaning on to hold off the Ice’s offensive onslaught.
Dallas Ansell will be the biggest offensive threat to the Canadiens in this opening playoff series. To put it bluntly, while the Canadiens as a roster found the back of the net 67 times this season, Ansell did it 57 times on his own. Ansell leads the league in scoring with 110 points, and is matched up with two of the league’s other largest offensive threats, Niko Bourget and Matthew Laboucane.
Players to watch
Tanner Hellquist has been a massive boost to the Habs roster, after the Canadiens added him to their lineup 15 games ago, the forward has put up 12 goals and 16 assists for an impressive 1.20 points per game average. While Hellquist been finishing off the goals, Tyler Bunce and Jalel Abougouche have been playing the set-up man very well, putting up 19 and 13 assists on the season respectively. If these players can get the space they need on the ice to work, Cold Lake will certainly have their hands full.
Keys to success
Shut down the top line. Cold Lake’s fierce offensive trio of Ansell, Bourget and Laboucane has combined for 112 of the Ice’s 218 goals this season, as such Joe Young will have a stiff task in finding the right match-up to grind out with this top line. In order for Rediron to be able to steal a game, the Canadiens will need to put forth relentlessly physical effort every time these three players step onto the ice.
If there is an X factor in this series, it is Rediron. In order for the Canadiens to give the ice a run for their money, Rediron will need to shake off his recent ankle injury and be at the top of his game. Despite an unfortunate 3-18-0 series this season, Rediron boasts the fifth highest save percentage amongst starting goalies in the league.
It is hard to see a way out for the Canadiens in this series, as they only managed only three wins on the season and will need four of seven to knock off Cold Lake – a team that only lost four in regulation all season. However, as young team in the midst of a rebuild, the Canadiens have the chance to give their up-and-coming players some very valuable playoff experience after missing the post season for three straight seasons.
Cold Lake in 5
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