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02-18-2008, 11:22 PM
  #110
Hollywood3
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WEEKEND PLAYOFF PREVIEW


UBC Thunderbirds @ Manitoba Bisons

Best-of-three Canada West Quarter-Final Series
February 22nd, 23rd, and 24th at 7:00 at Max Bell Arena


The background:The outlook:
  • The Bisons bounced back after missing last year's playoffs to get back to their usual place, hosting the quarter-final round of playoffs at the Max Bell Arena. They managed a .500 season (13-13-2) and, as such, had their moments where they looked good enough to beat anybody while being vulnerable to every team in the league. In Canada West there really are no weak teams, so IMO the Bisons cannot be written off in this year's playoffs.

    One factor which works against upsets is the league format. Due to travel and costs, the higher seed hosts the whole series. Upsets are rare. However, last year Regina lost on home ice against Calgary, Lethbridge lost at home to UBC, and Alberta went down in Edmotnown against Saskatchewan.

    The Bisons won 4 straight games over the Tweety-Birds by one goal. When they faced off in November, UBC was riding high after an opening sweep of Alberta and burst into the national top 10. Their off-season recruiting of name WHL grads had many people waiting for them to break through last year and this. However, when they were swept on home ice by the Bisons they went into a bit of a funk and have yet to pull it all together. Frankly, it is hard to imagine them pulling off a sweep against anybody right now. However, if they can split the first two games I guess the Sunday game would be a toss-up.

    The change in the Canada West playoff format does away with regional pairings this year. Manitoba and UBC have not met in the playoffs since 1971 when UBC beat Manitoba in the final. Usually at this stage of the playoffs the Bisons are hosting Regina while UBC goes to Calgary.

    In this series, I will be looking to see:
    * The Bisons balanced attack. Rick Wood and Chris Falloon tied for the team scoring lead (both wound up 13-14=27) and play on separate lines. At least one of those two lines has to be on fire.
    * Goaltending. You never win a playoff series without it. Krister Toews had a shut-out last Friday then rested Saturday.
    * The physical play and penalties. When UBC was here in January their only sustained pressure came on the PP. The Bisons have to play physical but cannot take penalties unless they are under pressure.
Elsewhere:

  • #6 Regina Cougars at #3 Calgary Dinos
    byes: #1 Alberta Golden Bears and #2 Saskatchewan Huskies

    If Calgary wins, then in the semi-finals they play at Saskatchewan and Alberta will host the Manitoba/UBC winner. If Regina wins then they play at Alberta while Saskatchewan would host the Manitoba/UBC winner.


    Ontario quarter-finals:
    Laurier at Lakehead
    Western Ontario at Brock
    Ottawa at UQTR
    McGill at Queen's


    Atlantic quarter-finals:
    Acadia @ Moncton
    St Francis Xavier @ St Thomas
    byes: New Brunswick and St Mary's
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