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Playoff Preview: Kingston (4) vs. Hamilton (5)

Playoff Preview: Kingston (4) vs. Hamilton (5)

The wrapped up their second OHL season with a record of 33-27-4-4 and will face the Kingston Frontenacs in the first round. Game One begins on Friday, March 24th in Kingston at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.

Although it had been a statistical given that the two teams would be first round opponents for the last three weeks, the Bulldogs and Frontenacs had been battling it out for home ice advantage right up until the final day of the regular season. Both teams enter the playoffs following come from behind victories in their final regular season games.

Head to Head

Hamilton won the tight season series 3-2-1. Despite having strong outings against the Frontenacs early in the season, Hamilton found difficulty coming up with answers against Kingston’s steady defensive system in the past two games. Kingston comes into the playoff series winning the final two games of the season series, including last Friday’s dominant 5-3 victory over the Bulldogs.

Kingston: 33-26-5-4  75 points   Last ten games: Kingston: 6-4-0-0  12 points
Hamilton: 33-27-4-4  74 points    Last ten games: Hamilton: 4-4-0-2  10 points

Hamilton Bulldogs overage goalie was Dawson Carty. (Photo: Brandon Taylor / Hamilton Bulldogs)

Analysis

You’re going hard pressed to find two teams who are more perfectly matched in a first round battle. Hamilton relies on it’s uptempo offensive depth, while Kingston will need their veteran tender to stand strong between the pipes as he backs the young but reliable defensive core.

Hamilton’s top line of Strome, Petti and Luff consistently capitalized on the younger team, and accounted for one third of Hamilton’s offense in this series.

Hamilton will need to contain Kingston’s top forward Jason Robertson and Ted Nichol, who teamed up in the season series for a combined 16 points against the Bulldogs.

Offensively Hamilton should have the edge, having two consistent lines and had the 8th ranked powerplay in the regular season. This being said, Kingston maintained effective killing penalties this year, largely on the back of their veteran goalie Jeremy Helvig.

Hamilton runs the risk of a goalie controversy in this series. Dawson Carty was brought onto the team to provide veteran depth and playoff experience. Kaden Fulcher led the team through the first half of the year, but a lack of internal competition seemed to stunted the progress of his talents. By Christmas it looked as though Fulcher was losing much of his confidence. The fact remains that he is the goalie of the future for this club, and Coach Gruden need to make some hard decisions about who to give the start most nights.

This of course will not be an issue if tonight’s starter plays lights out, and then does so every night. One of the themes of the season has been “win and you’re in”. We should all be anticipating a hard fought battle between the creases each night.

(Feature Image: Aaron Bell / OHL Images)

About The Author

Krist Hayes

Krist is fan of the game of hockey that has been moonlighting as a blogger recently writing about the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs. Reckless since his days as a crease-crasher. Tweet him @kristhayes

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Reckless Restraint

A blog for fans of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League. Updates, reports & musings on the team, players, and prospects.

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