|Written by Les Lazaruk|
|Thursday, 19 April 2012 10:07|
It's my Parting Shot for the Fearless Predictor's triumphant return and W-H-L Conference final prognostications.....
Let me, first, say that I was correct in picking all four Conference semi-final winners. If you want to be picky, the Eastern semis were shorter than I thought and the Western semis were much longer than anticipated...but I had the winners right, meaning I'm nine-for-12 so far!
Once again, the factors I use are still in play...head-to-head results, the goals for and against differential for each team, the blended special teams percentage, key injuries, who the goaltender is, the number of key 19-year-old or 1992-born players on each roster and the playoff experience within the teams!
Let's start out in the Western Conference where Tri-Cities nipped Portland by two points for top spot in the U-S Division and the Eastern Conference. The Americans lost to Calgary in the W-H-L final two years ago and the Winterhawks dropped the final to Kootenay last year so both teams are packed with playoff experience and key, older players. Tri-Cities won the first five head-to-head meetings, Portland won the next four after the trade deadline before the Ams took the final regular-season tilt. In the post-season, the Hawks have been the better special teams squad while Tri-Cities Ty Rimmer has better goaltending numbers than Portland's Mac Carruth. There isn't much to choose between them. It'll be a seven-game series and my coin said Portland!
In the East, Edmonton captured the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for best regular-season team, capturing the Conference pennant by nine points over Moose Jaw. This is the Warriors' year as none of their three 20-year-olds started the season with them while four of their eight 19-year-olds are ear-marked to turn pro next season. The Oil Kings had played just four post-season games in the last two years and they are one of the youngest teams in the league with only have four 19s and stand to lose only five players for next season! But, Edmonton has the best goaltender in the playoffs in Laurent Brossoit, won three of four regular-season games from Moose Jaw and were among the best teams in the W-H-L in, both, goals scored and fewest goals allowed. Game 1 tomorrow might be the tell-tale as the Warriors have won eight straight after dropping their first post-season game to Regina while the Oil Kings haven't lost since February 22nd to visiting Kelowna...having rattled off 19 straight victories. Having said that, I still feel Edmonton is the superior team and will win in six games!
That results in an Edmonton-Portland final, which I said would happen four weeks ago before the playoffs started. We'll see!
That's my Parting Shot, I'm Les Lazaruk.