The Blades are Playoff Bound

By pbadmin

The Saskatoon are playoff bound for the first time in 2 years. They
will face the division champion Brandon Wheatkings in the first round of the
Eastern conference Playoffs begining Saturday night in Saskatoon. The
Blades will host the first pair of games at home due the Royal Manitoba
Winter Fair. Games three and four will be in Winnipeg, game five in
Saskatoon followed by games six and seven in Manitoba with game six in
Winnipeg and game seven in Brandon.

The series is likely to be a very low scoring series if regular season
head to head games are any indication. In nine meetings during the season
the Wheatkings outscored the Blades 28-19 or just over 5 goals being scored
per contest. The Blades were 3-6 vs Brandon this season including a 2-2-0-0
home road while only going 1-4 in the Keystone Centre. With the first pair
of games slated to take place at Sask Place, the Blades may have a better
opportunity to jump on the Wheatkings and perhaps win a couple if not
atleast split heading to Winnipeg. With the games likely to be very tight
checking and low scoring specialty teams could become a huge factor.

The
Blades were 9 for 53 vs the Wheatkings on the power play this season while
the Wheatkings were 8-45 vs the Blades on the power play. Although through
the course of the season the Wheatkings had a very successfull power play
finishing 4th in the league this season at 21.4 while the Blades opporated
at 18.3 which ranked them only 14th. Brandon also owns the leagues best
penalty kill unit at 85.0% while the Blades rank 13th at 80.1. So in a
series which specialty teams is likely to decide the outcome, the Wheatkings
definately hold the edge here.

PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Brandon at Saskatoon     Saturday  23rd     Saskatoon     7:30
Brandon at Saskatoon     Sunday    24th     Saskatoon     7:00
Saskatoon at Brandon     Tuesday   26th     Winnipeg      7:30
Saskatoon at Brandon     Wednesday 27th     Winnipeg      7:30
Brandon at Saskatoon     Sunday    31st     Saskatoon     7:00*
Saskatoon at Brandon     Tuesday    2nd     Winnipeg      7:30*
Saskatoon at Brandon     Wednesday  3rd     Brandon       7:00*

TOP GUNS(head to head meetings)
Brandon Wheatkings
Jordan Tootoo  3+5=8
Ryan Craig     3+4=7
Colin McRae    4+2=6
Lance Monych   2+3=5
Jiri Jakes     3+1=4

Saskatoon Blades
Justin Kelly   7+3=10
Warren Peters  4+3=7
Trent Adamus   2+2=4
Mike Green     1+2=3
Ryan Keller    0+3=3

The series may include a pair of players who changed teams at the
leagues trade deadline and will be key components as well. Richard Mueller
for the Blades and Adrian Foster for the Wheatkings. However, the status of
Foster is uncertain, Mueller is healthy and ready to go. Jordin Tootoo is
perhaps the key player for the Wheatkings as he seems to dictate the outcome
of many games. The pugilist had 272 penalty minutes in the regular season
which was second behind five year enforcer Randy Ponte who had 281. The
Blades will look to veteran Justin Kelly. Kelly was the CHL’s player of the
month in January and has since cooled down. The Blades will need Kelly to
play the same hockey as he did in January to have a chance to upset the
division champs.

The Wheatkings will look to their trio of 20 goals scorers in Tootoo,
Craig and McRae. All three may have had 40 goals if it wasn’t for injuries
this season so the Blades will have to be very carefull of these three. The
Blades have their own trio of 20 goal scorers as well in Kelly, Peters and
Mueller. The Blades need these three to be hot or offence will be hard to
come by.

KEYS TO SUCCESS

The Key to success for the Wheatkings is not to let the Blades gain any
confidence which they may gain by starting off on home ice. They also must
contain the Blades big guns and put lots of shots on goaltender Mike
Garnett. For the Blades they must have great goaltending, and try to win
the specialty teams war with Wheatkings. It should be a good series and
very entertaining. Look for many low scoring games in this series!