The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada is the hottest team in the QMJHL since the New Year, racking up 28 points in 18 games (13-3-1-1). And what more can you really say about Nikolaj Ehlers (PHOTO) and his ongoing 27-game point streak which now leaves him just shy of Jonathan Drouin’s record of 29. Meanwhile in Moncton, Conor Garland (95) is knocking on the door of the 100-point mark and in Baie-Comeau Maxime St-Cyr (46) is closing in on 50 goals!
FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
- Blainville-Boisbriand – On Sunday, the Armada became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot as they also reclaimed their spot atop the overall standings. Since January 1, Joël Bouchard’s squad has racked up 28 points to lead the Q. The battle for first overall and the coveted Jean-Rougeau Trophy remains a three-dog race along with Rimouski and Moncton. Check out the up-to-date standings by clicking here. Also worth noting is that 35.3% of the Armada’s goal production this season has come on the power-play (71 of 201 goals).
- Cape Breton – The Screaming Eagles are humming along at .733 clip of late by winning 11-of-15. Their recent surge had led to pundits to start seeing them as team to watch for come playoff time this spring as a possible dark horse. They’ve excelled on special teams as well with 21.8% efficiency on the power-play and an 83.4% penalty-killing unit and are especially dangerous shorthanded with 12 goals this season when down a man.
- Rimouski – When the Oceanic gets called for a penalty, opponents may want to start rejecting the chance to go on the power-play given that Rimouski has scored 19 shorthanded goals so far in 2014-15.
THE COVETED EAST DIVISION CROWN
- Rimouski – After a fruitful trip to the Maritimes with five points in three games, the Oceanic are undefeated in regulation over their last six games (5-0-0-1) and will now host St. John and Rouyn-Noranda this weekend. The Oceanic currently lead the East Division (72 pts | 51 games) but are not out of the woods as Baie-Comeau (70 pts | 55 games) and Quebec (69 pts | 54 games) are hot on their tail. Serge Beausoleil’s troops still have 17 games left, giving them a few games in hand over the Drakkar (13 games) and Remparts (14 games). Also of note is how the Oceanic still has three games left against Quebec and two against Baie-Comeau which will be played on March 13 and 14 on the Drakkar’s home ice at the Centre Henry-Leonard.
- Quebec – One must-see game is slated for February 17 when the Remparts will host the Drakkar at the Pepsi Colisee. The winner that night will help their chances of catching Rimouski for top spot. Trend-wise, Quebec has won 3-of-5 meetings with Baie-Comeau this season. Add to that the fact the Remparts are deadly at home at an .815 clip. They have also won their last 5 games including last night’s win over Victoriaville.
THE RACE TO THE PLAYOFFS
- Drummondville – The Voltigeurs have two other huge home games this weekend following their loss last night against Rouyn-Noranda (5-3). Tonight they host Val-d’Or (12th | 54 pts) and their potent offence and on Sunday the Chicoutimi Sags (14th | 51 pts) will be coming to the Centre Marcel Dionne. The Voltigeurs (16th | 49 pts) still hold a 4-point edge over Gatineau (17th | 45 pts).
85 points FOR THE FANTASTIC FOUR!
- Baie-Comeau – The fact the Drakkar have won 9 of 13 games have be traced directly to the offensive chemistry enjoyed by their veterans. Try on these numbers on for size from the last 31 days…
- 35 goals – The team’s three 20-year-olds: Maxime St-Cyr, Luca Ciampini and Frédéric Gamelin along with Jérémy Grégoire have combined forces to generate 35 of the 55 goals scored by the Drakkar over their last 13 games. St-Cyr is also now only four goals shy of becoming only the eighth player in team history to score 50 in a season.
- 85 combined points – This same quartet all put up at least 20 points. Since January 12 – Here is a look at the league’s top point-getters…
QMJHL – Leading Scorers since January 12th…
- Miguel Sullivan (Cape Breton) – The Screaming Eagles goalie is playing as well as he ever has since joining the QMJHL. He has won his last five starts, posting an amazing 1.00 GAA and .959 save percentage.
- Daniel Sprong (Charlottetown) – Hoping to extend his goal streak to six games when his team hosts Cape Breton on Friday, Sprong has amassed 21 points in his last 14 games. Just over half of his 63 points on the season have come on the road this season (33 | 52.3%). Armed with his trademark speed and accurate shot, Sprong has many NHL scouts drooling as the 2015 Entry Draft approaches.
- Daniel Walcott (Blainville-Boisbriand) – Over his last 20 games, the Armada’s blue line general has 17 points including five goals while posting a +7 differential. He has also had positive rating in 13 of his last 14 games.
- In shootouts – Did you know that 34% of the 56 games to have been decided by way of a shootout have required at least four shots aside to declare a winner? Excitement is never lacking in the QMJHL! Of the 480 games – before wed – to have been played this season, 11.7% have gone to a shootout.
- Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax) – He might be shattering a team record over in four days. If he can manage to extend his 27-game point streak to though Saturday, Ehlers would tie the Mooseheads club record held by Jonathan Drouin (29). Then by Tuesday against Moncton, he could hit 30 and also become only the 31st player in league history to ever have a point streak to hit 30 or more games. Impressive stuff!
- Danick Martel (Blainville-Boisbriand) – Hold on to your hats, Martel has scored 20 goals in his last 18 games! With 189 career points with the Armada, he is only five points shy of the club record held by Christopher Clapperton (194). Martel’s teammate Nikita Jevpalovs (179) is also in the mix for that record.
- Timo Meier (Halifax) – All eyes on Halifax may be on Ehlers these days, but teammate Timo Meier also deserves a share of that spotlight. He has been on fire himself with a now 21-game point streak of his own. His streak is also the second-longest in the Q this season to date. Meier now has 67 points in 45 games this season (1.5 ppg). Many scouts expect him to be a first-round pick at the NHL Draft this summer.
HAVE YOUR SAY!
- This week on the official website of the QMJHL, 3,862 voters weighed in on our poll question: “Which coach do you think has had the biggest impact on his team this season?”
- The Armada’s Joël Bouchard led the way among the league’s 18 head coaches at 19.5% on the strength of 753 total votes.
- Marco Pietroniro (Baie Comeau) – In his first season as a QMJHL bench boss, Pietroniro has continued the excellence of his predecessor Eric Veilleux and received an impressive 16.2% of the votes.
- Darren Rumble (Moncton) – The success enjoyed by the Wildcats this season is thanks in large part to their head coach, who ended up third with 12% of the votes.
HISTORY LESSON: Super Mario’s Epic Streak
- Mario Lemieux – The big centreman with the Laval Voisins rattled off an amazing 61-game point streak in 1983-84. That dominant stretch still stands as 31 years later as one of the QMJHL’s most untouchable records. To put things into perspective, Nikolaj Ehlers’ impressive streak this season has the chance to reach 43 if he is able to continue it through the Mooseheads’ remaining 16 games.
- 282 points and 133 goals – During that same memorable season, Super Mario set those two other marks that are as safe as any in the league record book.
- Over the last 15 years – In the 2000s, only three players managed to piece together 30-plus game point streaks: Radim Vrbata (Shawinigan | 31 | 2000-01), Sidney Crosby (Rimouski | 34 | 2004-05) and Alexander Radulov (Quebec | 50 | 2005-06).