#QPlayoffs Series Preview: Blainville-Boisbriand vs. Moncton
The 14th seed Moncton Wildcats enter the quarterfinals on a high after their stunning Game 7 victory and thrilling upset over the third place Rimouski Oceanic.
As for the first place Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, they rolled over their opening round opponent, the Val-d’or Foreurs, winning the series in four straight games.
These two proud franchises last met in the 2014 playoffs, when Blainville-Boisbriand skated away with the victory in a gruelling seven-game series.
But in four short seasons, a lot has changed with these two organizations. Moncton is coming off their worse season in franchise history, while the Armada look to return to the President Cup Final for a second straight year.
The rebuilding Wildcats struggled defensively throughout the regular season, giving up the fourth most goals (282) in the QMJHL, while the Armada had the third stingiest defence (184) in the league, while also finishing second in goals for with 276.
Blainville-Boisbriand swept the regular season series with two victories over Moncton with the last coming on February 8th, when the Armada scored five unanswered third period goals, on route to a 5-2 victory.
But anything can happen in the playoffs, and the Moncton Wildcats hope to continue their postseason magic in the quarter finals.
The Wildcats have improved their overall team game during their first-round series, but still gave up 20 goals in their seven games versus the Oceanic. Moncton scored 23 goals, with eight coming on the man advantage though. The Wildcats speciality teams were the difference in round one; the Cats power play clicked at 23.5% while their penalty kill was a respectable 83.3%, which were well above their regular season totals of 19.5% and 79.9% respectively.
The highly skilled and offensively gifted Armada outscored the Foreurs 16 to 6 in their opening series, doing most of their damage at regular strength and only scoring three goals with the man advantage. They surrendered only two power play goals and look to continue that trend versus the Wildcats.
The Armada’s well-balanced skillful offensive attack will be led by 2018 QMJHL M.V.P., Alex Barré-Boulet (2G-2A-4P), and forwards Alexandre Alain (5G-2A-7P), Alexander Katerinakis (1G-4A-5P), Drake Batherson (2G-3A-5P) and defenseman Tobie Paquette-Bisson (0G-4A-4P).
As for the Wildcats, they have relied heavily on secondary scoring and scoring-by-committee this postseason. Nicholas Welsh (2G-5A-7P) and Daniil Miromanov (1G-5A-6P) are leading the way offensively on the backend, while up front star rookie Jakob Pelletier (2G-3A-5P), Jeremy McKenna (0G-6A-6P), James Phelan (4G-1A-5P) and free agents Dylan Seitz (2G-2A-4P) and Brady Pataki (4G-1A-5P) have led the charge.
This quarter final series will also feature two 19-year-old veteran goaltenders in Emile Samson for the Armada, and Mark Grametbauer for the Wildcats.
Samson had impressive numbers throughout the regular season and has been tremendous thus far in the playoffs, boasting a perfect 4-0 record to go along with a 1.47 GAA and a .930% save percentage.
Grametbauer’s regular season numbers are a bit misleading given his minutes played and the quality of shots he faced backstopping the rebuilding Wildcats. But he has a 4-2 record with a 2.62 GAA and .910% save percentage this postseason, and was the main catalyst behind the Wildcats victory in round one.