LEWISTON MAINEiacs vs. SAINT JOHN SEA DOGS - THIRD ROUND PLAYOFF PREVIEW
-by DJ Abisalih
The Lewiston MAINEiacs and Saint John Sea Dogs are less than 72 hours away from opening their best-of-seven series on Friday night at Harbour Station. So, without further delay, it's time to see how the two clubs stack up on paper.
Goals For: 265
Goals Against: 223
Power Play: 50-for-287 (17.4%), 13th
Penalty Kill: 283-for-352 (80.4%), 6th
Playoff Record: 8-3
Goals For: 44
Goals Against: 29
Power Play: 16-for-59 (27.1%), 5th
Penalty Kill: 48-for-55 (87.3%), 3rd
SAINT JOHN SEA DOGS
Goals For: 324
Goals Against: 165
Power Play: 74-for-295 (25.1%), 6th
Penalty Kill: 236-for-282 (83.7%), 1st
Playoff Record: 8-1
Goals For: 46
Goals Against: 15
Power Play: 14-for-42 (33.3%), 3rd
Penalty Kill: 45-for-48 (93.8%), 1st
LEWISTON: Champion, Makarov
SAINT JOHN: Corbeil-Theriault, DeSerres
The MAINEiacs and Sea Dogs have both received strong goaltending performances thus far, leading them through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Nicholas Champion has gotten the call in all eleven games for Lewiston, posting an 8-3 record, a 2.42 goals against average, and a .922 save percentage. The 20-year old netminder has allowed three-or-fewer goals in nine of his eleven appearances, and has made at least 30 saves on six different occasions. Jacob DeSerres has played in eight out of nine games for Saint John, going 7-1, with a 1.87 goals against average, and a .923 save percentage. DeSerres has allowed three-or-fewer goals in seven of his eight appearances, including a shutout in the first round opener against Cape Breton. Thanks to a stiff defense in front of him, the former Brandon Wheat King has only faced 30 shots once during the postseason.
LEWISTON: Carrier, Dame-Malka, Evans-Renaud, Finn, D. Fournier, Parisien, Saab, Shannon
SAINT JOHN: Beaulieu, Bourret, Despres, Durepos, Gagne, Gelinas, Seed
On defense, Lewiston's Olivier Dame-Malka is coming off of a series for the ages, as he scored seven goals (five on the power play), four assists, and eleven points in six games against Montreal. Dame-Malka is joined on the offensive side of the blueline by Sam Carrier, who has ten points in eleven postseason games this spring. Nathan Beaulieu currently leads Saint John with eleven points from the back end, while former MAINEiac Eric Gelinas has lit the lamp three times during the playoffs. When it comes to goal prevention, these two clubs have some of the best in the league. The Sea Dogs' Pierre Durepos led all defensemen during the regular season with a plus-48 rating, and was followed closely by Nathan Beaulieu, who posted a plus-44 rating. The MAINEiacs also had a pair of players who were at least plus-40, as Sam Finn finished at plus-41, while Sam Carrier was plus-40.
LEWISTON: Beauvillier, Bissonnette, Brodeur, Chaput, Critchlow, S. Fournier, Hawes, Henley, Houde-Caron, Kabanov, Lalonde, Milson, Morin, Tanguy, Zafiris
SAINT JOHN: Anthony, Beauregard, Cameron, Galiev, Gauthier, Huberdeau, Jurco, Kelly, Kirkpatrick, MacAulay, Oke, Phillips, Tesink, Thomas
Lewiston and Saint John featured two of the most explosive offenses in the league during the 2010-11 regular season, as the Sea Dogs led the league with 324 goals, while the MAINEiacs finished in third place with 265 goals. Lewiston's Etienne Brodeur led the league with 53 regular season markers, while adding 30 assists for a team-high 83 points. Saint John's Jonathan Huberdeau was one of three players in the QMJHL with at least 100 points, as he finished the season with 43 goals, 62 assists, and 105 points. Michael Chaput and Stefan Fournier both eclipsed the 20-goal plateau for the MAINEiacs, while eight other forwards were in double digits in goals. One of those players is Kirill Kabanov, who takes an eight-game point streak into round three. Along with Huberdeau, Zack Phillips, Stanislav Galiev, Michael Kirkpatrick, and Tomas Jurco all reached 30 goals during the regular season for the Sea Dogs, while five other forwards reached double digits in goals. Huberdeau has at least one point in all nine playoff games for Saint John.
Special teams have been two of the stronger points for both teams during the first two rounds of the playoffs, as the two sides have both of their special teams units in the top five positions in the league. The Sea Dogs enter round three with the league's third best power play, as they have converted on 14 of their 42 opportunities for a 33.3% success rate. Thanks to an 11-goal performance in round two, the MAINEiacs' power play has moved up to fifth place in the league, clicking on 16 of 59 opportunities for a 27.1% success rate. Lewiston's Olivier Dame-Malka and Saint John's Zack Phillips both have five power play goals in the postseason. Through the first two rounds, the Sea Dogs possess the best penalty kill in the QMJHL, as they held Cape Breton and Victoriaville to three goals on 48 chances for a 93.8% success rate. Saint John has also scored three shorthanded goals. The MAINEiacs' penalty kill currently ranks third in the QMJHL, as they have killed off 48 of 55 opposition power plays for an 87.3% success rate.
The Lewiston MAINEiacs and Saint John Sea Dogs used to have one of the more emotional rivalries in the league, when the two teams were together in the Atlantic Division. Now that the two teams have been separated, that hatred has subsided, as both contests between the two sides this season went by without a fight. During the regular season, Lewiston dropped the gloves 56 times, while Saint John was engaged in fisticuffs 37 times. Ian Saab was the leader for the MAINEiacs, as he showed off his pugilistic skills ten times. The Sea Dogs' Alexandre Beauregard had 15 fighting majors during the regular season, with seven of those bouts coming after his trade to Saint John. Saab and Beauregard went toe-to-toe once this season on September 29th, when Beauregard was a member of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Jean-Francois Houle and Gerard Gallant are both in their second seasons behind the bench for their respective clubs. After picking up 12 wins in 33 regular season games last season, Houle led the MAINEiacs to 40 wins during the 2010-11 regular season, while also becoming the second head coach in franchise history (Clement Jodoin) to lead Lewiston into the third round of the playoffs. Despite only being in Saint John for two seasons, Gallant already has 109 regular season wins on his resume, and has led the Sea Dogs to the third round of the playoffs for the second year in a row, after his club fell in the championship round to Moncton last spring. Both teams are loaded with professional playing experience behind the bench, as Houle, Gallant, Darren Rumble, Steve Finn, Yvon Vautour, and Marc Hussey all played in either the NHL, AHL, or IHL.
The Sea Dogs' roster consists of 15 players who played during last year's postseason, including ten players who played in all 21 games, en route to the team's runner-up finish. Three other players on the Saint John roster have playoff experience with other teams in the league, while four players are playing in their first postseason. On Lewiston's side, Antoine Houde-Caron is the only player who has gone this deep in the playoffs before, as his Shawinigan Cataractes played in the championship round in 2009, bowing out in seven games to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. In terms of age, the two teams are relatively close, with the main differences being that the Sea Dogs have one additional 19-year old, while the MAINEiacs have a pair of 16-year olds on their roster.