Monday, May 20, 2013

London Knights Preview

OHL Champion London Knights 68 GP 50-13-0-5 105 Pts, 1st in the OHL
-Regular Season:
London won the top seeding in the OHL, by having 9 points more then the next best team (Belleville). Leading the Knights in scoring was long-time NHL tough guy Ty Domi's kid: 17 year old, top pro prospect Max Domi, with 87 points in 64 games. Another 17 year old and sure to be picked prospect: Bo Horvat chipped in 61 points, whole 19 year old forwards Seth Griffith and Alex Broadhurst had 81 and 63, respectively. On defense for London they were lead by Finnish product: Oli Maata and their captain: Scott Harrington. Also, on the back end is 6'6" Russian: Nikita Zadorov. Most of the time, in the regular season was split between Jake Patterson (32 GP) and Kevin Bailie (27 GP), but Anthony Stolarz also saw 20 games between the pipes.
Max Domi

How They Got Here:
Alex Broadhurst
-Swept the 8th seed Saginaw Spirits, beat the 4th seed Kitchener Ramgers 4 games to 1, beat the 2nd seeded Plymouth Whalers 4 games to 1 and overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the injury ridden Barrie Colts in 7 games. Domi again lead the way for the Knights with 32 playoff points in 21 games. Broadhurst, Griffith and Horvat followed him with 28, 25 and 23 points respectively. 18 year old Ryan Rupert, provided strong secondary scoring with 11 playoff goals, as well. Maata and Harrington were again the defensive stalwarts and were joined by 19 year old Tyler Ferry to lead the team in ice time. Anthony Stolarz was the horse for most of the playoffs until he trialed 3-1 in the OHL Final. He was yanked for Jake Patterson, who performed adequately, supposedly stealing the starting gig. Knights Coach Dale Hunter, he of the 1 year head coaching experience with the Washington Capitals last season, proved he was not so easy to figure out, when he went back to Stolarz for their tournament opening win over Saskatoon Friday. My guess would be that he continues to go with Stolarz, as long as he is winning the big games.
Jake Patterson

NHL Drafted or Owned:
-Forward-(19)Seth Griffith- 2012-Boston-5th Round.
-Forward-(19)Alex Broadhurst- 2011-Chicago-7th Round.
-Forward-(18)Chris Tierney-2012-San Jose-2nd Round.
-Forward-(18)Ryan Rupert-2012-Toronto-6th Round.
-Forward-(18)Josh Anderson-2012-Columbus-4th Round.
-Defenseman-(18)Olli Maata-2012-Pittsburgh-1st Round.
-Defenseman-(19)Scott Harrington-2011-Pittsburgh-2nd Round.
-Defenseman-(19)Justin Sefton-2011-San Jose-3rd Round.
-Defenseman-(20)Tommy Hughes-2013-N.Y. Rangers-Free Agent.
-Goalie-(18)Anthony Stolarz-2012-Philadelphia-2nd Round.

-So, the London Knights have 10 NHL drafted or owned players, spread all over the ice. They seem to be just a solid team, without many weaknesses, besides Goalie issues that have plagued them only during the playoffs. Like the Hawks, they only depend on their Goalie to make a few solid stops a game. 5 of the 10 players were drafted in the first few rounds. Pittsburgh is sure to have some scouts at this game as Maata, Harrington and Portland's Derrick Pouliot were all top picks for them.

History at the Memorial Cup:
-London first got a Junior team back in 1965, in the days when NHL teams sponsored or owned most Junior teams. They were bought and re-named(the Knights) in 1968 by a Toronto businessman. DEspitethis long history and the amount of future NHL stars that came through London: Darryl Sittler, Rob Ramage, Brendan Shanahan, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Patrick Kane, they have only qualified for 2 Memorial Cups, before this one. Their previous trips to the CHL promised land were in 2004-05, when they beat the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic in the Final. They also went last year and lost to the QMJHL's Shawinigan Cataractes in the Final.

Is Their Defense Better Then the Hawks'?
-They are lead by Maata and Harrington who have to compare with Jones and Wotherspoon as 2 of the better D-men not playing in the NHL. After those two, they can throw Tyler Ferry, Nikita Zadorov, Tommy Hughes and Josh Sefton at you, which probably makes them a little deeper then the Hawks, who have been using only the top 4 D-men so far in the Cup. I would still give the Hawks the edge, due to the amount that their forwards contribute offensively, while still not giving the other team anything in their own zone.
Olli Maata

Which Jake Patterson Will Show Up?
-Patterson had a 2.61 GAA and a .913 Save % in the regular season, but was spotty in the playoffs, leaving Hunter to have to yank him in order to win the OHL. Maybe this was just the wake up call that he needed to right his game in the tournament. Though he won the game 3-2 over Saskatoon Friday, he was outplayed by the Blade's Makarov and relied on his defense to limit Saskatoon's chances. It is also likely that London was able to take advantage of a team that had not played in nearly 2 months, as they played much better vs. Halifax on Sunday.

Hungrier After Loss Last Year?
-London had the best record after the first round in last year's Cup, so they automatically advanced to the Championship game, where they lost to Shawinigan 2-1 in OT, in a heart-breaking final. A lot of the key contributors to last year's run are back, except Goalie Michael Houser, who is now playing professionally for the Florida Panther's organization. The remaining players have got to be feeding off this loss, as much as the Hawks are feeding off the suspension of Mike Johnston, leading me to believe that both teams are going to come out energized for this one.

Random Notes:
-Scott Harrington was a teammate of Tyler Wotherspoon's and Ty Rattie's on this last year's Canadian World Junior team.
-Taylor Leier needs to be better for the Hawks. One would think that a guy with his character would come out and play better in front of his home town of Saskatoon.
-Ryan Rupert was suspended 5 games earlier in the season for swinging his stick at the mid-section of another player.
-The game goes at 5pm tonight Pacific Time.

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