Spring’s Last Dance Begins!

By Nicolas Gaudreau-Dupuis

The QMJHL regular season ended last Tuesday night, with Chicoutimi
and Rimouski getting the last two tickets for the Spring’s Last Dance. Here
is the QMJHL playoffs picture.

The regular season
is over.

The Shawinigan Cataractes dominated the QMJHL
and finished first overall with an eyes-popping 116 points, 15 more than the
runner up, the Val-d’Or Foreurs. This season has been noticeable for
the obvious strength of the Lebel Conference compared to the Dillio Conference.
Four teams of the Lebel Conference (Shawinigan, Val-d’Or, Victoriaville and
Rouyn-Noranda) had more points than the 90 points of the Dilio Conference leader
the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Also, three Dilio Conference teams (Rimouski,
Chicoutimi and Qu├ębec) participating to the playoffs would have been
excluded of the Lebel Conference playoffs.

Let’s get it on!
14 teams are now fighting to claim the QMJHL
ultimate championship, the President Cup, and a subsequent shot at the Memorial
Cup. Now let’s look at the playoffs match-ups for the first round and predictions
of the outcomes.

Lebel ConferenceDilio Conference
#1
in Lebel Conference
Earns a free pass to the second round

Shawinigan
CATARACTES
WLTRTGFGAPTS
541262375192116

#1
in Dilio Conference.
Earns a free pass to the second round

Baie-Comeau
DRAKKAR
WLTRTGFGAPTS
41238028325590

#7#2

Sherbrooke
CASTORS
VSVal-d’Or

FOREURS
WLTRTGFGAPTSWLTRTGFGAPTS
28404324527463461972369235101


Question: How can the Castors get past the Foreurs and their
explosive offense lead by QMJHL leading scorer Simon
Gamache
? Answer: Pull a miracle, pure and simple. This should end quickly.
Prediction: Val-d’Or wins in 4 games.

#7#2

Rimouski
OCEANIC
VSHalifax
MOOSEHEADS
WLTRTGFGAPTSWLTRTGFGAPTS
25452226832854323010623525380

A repetition of the 2000 Memorial Cup? Don’t think so.
The Oceanic isn’t nearly the same team that dominated the CHL last
year, having lost most of its big names and barely making it to the playoffs.
It shouldn’t be too hard for Halifax to make it to the second round.
Prediction: Halifax in 6 games.

#6#3

Drummondville VOLTIGEURSVSVictoriaville

TIGRES
WLTRTGFGAPTSWLTRTGFGAPTS
3136562452746345243334126996

This is one of the most heated rivalry in the QMJHL, in
two cities only a few miles apart. The Tigres have too many offensive
weapons for Drummondville to handle with the likes of Sébastien
and Marc-André
Thinel
, Antoine
Vermette
, Carl
Malette
and Co. The Voltigeurs has the edge between the pipes
with Jean-François
Racine
, but he’ll have to be outstanding if the Voltigeurs wants to
avoid the early elimination.
Prediction: Victoriaville in 7
games

#6#3

Chicoutimi
SAGUENÉENS
VSCape Breton
SC
REAMING EAGLES
WLTRTGFGAPTSWLTRTGFGAPTS
22401012423135530384127029265

This should be a no-brainer. The bigger, older Eagles
should beat the smaller, inexperienced Saguenéens, right?
Well… The Sags have been playing desperation hockey for the past
weeks, trying to qualify for the playoffs. And there they are, lead by
the red-hot rookie sensation Pierre-Marc
Bouchard
and Montreal Canadiens draftee Christian
Larrivée
(QMJHL Offensive PoW
for the
last week of the season); Chicoutimi is entering the playoffs full speed.
Can you say "Cinderella"?
Prediction: Chicoutimi in 7 games

#5#4

Hull
OLYMPIQUES
VSRouyn-Noranda
HUSKIES
WLTRTGFGAPTSWLTRTGFGAPTS
3431733883847843255231825193

Having a feeling of déjà vu? This is
the 4th straight years that these two teams will square off in the playoffs.
The Olympiques won all three previous battles. Can the Huskies
overcome their Waterloo this year? This should be an exciting, high-scoring
series, both teams having scored over 300 goals this season. Ultimately.
Rouyn-Noranda’s defense should make the difference
Prediction: Rouyn-Noranda in 6 games

#5#4

Québec
REMPARTS
VSAcadie-Bathurst
TITAN
WLTRTGFGAPTSWLTRTGFGAPTS
2241952253035829394123928163

The Remparts are the youngest team of the entire
QMJHL, and they still managed to make it to the playoffs without too much
problems. They will face a well-known foe in the Acadie-Bathurst Titan,
who’ve eliminated Québec back in the 1998 playoffs, en route to
the Memorial Cup Tournament. Both teams have changed a lot since, but
the outcome should remain the same.
Prediction: Acadie-Bathurst in 5 games