OHL Playoffs – Round 1 preview: Ottawa 67’s (1) vs. Oshawa Generals (8)

After topping the Ontario Hockey League standings for the third time in four seasons, the Ottawa 67’s (51-12-3-2) are set to begin their chase of the J. Ross Robertson Cup on Thursday night. The Oshawa Generals (26-36-1-5) snuck into the postseason during the regular season’s final weekend, edging out the Kingston Frontenacs by a single point.

The Barber Poles have been temporarily relocated across the Ottawa River to Gatineau for their home games, making the Centre Slush Puppie their home for up to their first three postseason home games. Game 1 goes on Thursday night.

Game 1: Thursday, March 30th – Oshawa at Ottawa – 7 p.m. ET in Gatineau

Game 2: Sunday, April 2nd – Oshawa at Ottawa – 2 p.m. ET in Geatineau

Game 3: Tuesday, April 4th – Ottawa at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m. ET

Game 4: Thursday, April 6th – Ottawa at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m. ET

Game 5: Saturday, April 8th – Oshawa at Ottawa – 2 p.m. ET in Gatineau (if necessary)

Game 6: Sunday, April 9th – Ottawa at Oshawa – 6:05 p.m. ET (if necessary)

Game 7: Tuesday, April 11th – Oshawa at Ottawa – 7 p.m. ET at TD Place (if necessary)


The matchup

When the 67’s and Generals have met this season, it has often been a thrilling matchup. The head-to-head record in the regular season was dominated by the Barber Poles, who won seven of the nine meetings, but it was much closer than it appears on paper.

Three times, these two teams needed overtime to decide a winner, with two of those games needing a shootout. Oshawa’s only win of the season series came on home ice in an overtime win in February, but when the Generals hosted the Barber Poles, they have given Ottawa a tough test.

Three of the Generals’ home games in the series have been decided by a single goal, with two going beyond regulation. Home ice has been equally as potent for the 67’s, however, who have won 29 of the 34 regular season games at home, including a game at Canadian Tire Centre.

Keys to the series

Special teams – The Oshawa Generals come into the postseason with the league’s third-ranked power play, clicking at 25.6 percent. Stuart Rolofs and Ryan Gangier lead the charge, with 13 and 11 power-play goals on the season respectively. Keeping the red-hot Gens PP under wraps is crucial for the 67’s, who boast the league’s second-ranked penalty kill.

Among the critical areas of focus for the 67’s is staying out of the box, but also sticking to what works when they do find themselves a man down.

“That’s the first thing, stay out of the penalty box,” said Head Coach Dave Cameron. “But the other thing is execution.”

On the flip side, the 67’s hold the seventh-ranked powerplay, firing at 23.7 percent. That unit goes toe-to-toe with the Gennies’ ninth-ranked penalty kill, setting the table for a battle on special teams that could go a long way to deciding the series.

Goaltending – Coming off a season where the 67’s allowed the fewest goals of anyone in the league, they have choices in goal. Max Donoso, who hasn’t played since suffering an injury during the final weekend of the regular season, has 30 wins already under his belt, and Collin MacKenzie has impressive numbers, backstopping the Barber Poles with a save percentage of .928 in his 30 games.

The choice is a complicated one, but Cameron is pleased, saying there isn’t a wrong answer.

“It’s a great choice [to have to make],” he said. “I’m a very lucky coach. Not too many teams at any level or league have two easy choices like I have.”

Setting the tone – The 67’s have dictated the game far more often than their opponents thus far in the season, but none of that matters now. With the records reset to zero, coming out and setting the tone early in the series is imperative to success. Cameron says that the focus is now on themselves, and they know what needs to be done.

“There’s going to be absolutely no secrets,” Cameron said. “They know what we are going to try to do, and we know what they want to do. It’s going to be a grind, and we’re going to need everybody. You have no chance in the playoffs if you don’t have complete team buy-in.”

The series is long, but at the same time, it’s very short. Falling behind and chasing the game can be very dangerous.

Key player stats – regular season

Ottawa 67’s Player Total Oshawa Generals Player Total
Games Played Pavel Mintyukov 69 Games Played Luca D’Amato 71
Goals Logan Morrison 40 Goals Stuart Rolofs 32
Assists Pavel Mintyukov 64 Assists Ryan Gagnier 38
Points Logan Morrison 94 Points Ryan Gagnier 69
Shots on Goal Brady Stonehouse 244 Shots on Goal Luca D’Amato 166
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