2019 WHL Playoff Preview: The Quarter-Finals

Following a first round that saw a couple of pre-season favourites (Lethbridge and Portland) exit the playoffs much earlier than expected, we’re down to eight teams who have a shot at the Western Hockey League title.

With the quarter-final round starting Friday, here’s the tale of the tape for all four matchups and some more bad predictions by yours truly.

Also, if you are a junior hockey junkie like me, the OHL’s second round is worth keeping an eye on. All eight teams (Guelph, London, Niagara, Oshawa, Ottawa, Saginaw, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury) have a legit chance of making it to the Memorial Cup, so some epic games should be on the cards in the next couple of weeks.

(Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert Raiders vs. Saskatoon Blades

Last Playoff Meeting: 2011 First Round (Saskatoon won 4-2 – Prince Albert last defeated Saskatoon 4-0 in 2005 First Round)

Season Series: Prince Albert 6-2 (Prince Albert outscored Saskatoon 27-15)

Season Series Scoring Leader

Prince Albert – Noah Gregor – 13 points (Cole Fonstad had 12 points)

Saskatoon – Dawson Davidson and Max Gerlach – 7 points (Gary Haden had 5 points)

Season Series Goaltending Leader

Prince Albert – Ian Scott – 4-2 record with a 1.68 GAA and a .938 save percentage

Saskatoon – Nolan Maier – 2-3 record with a 3.45 GAA and a .891 save percentage (Dorrin Luding had an 0-3 record with a 3.31 GAA and a .904 save percentage)

Prediction: Prince Albert in six

You can basically throw the season series out the window here, as there was only one meeting with both squads at what was near their final roster set-up, and that was a 1-0 affair in favour of the Blades in Saskatoon prior to the World Juniors.

The Blades were able to shut down the Moose Jaw Warriors dangerous trio of Justin Almeida, Tristin Langan and Brayden Tracey in the first round, but I have a hard time seeing them doing the same with the Raiders. Prince Albert has a ton of depth, which was on full display against the Red Deer Rebels, and that could make the difference.

(Edmonton Oil Kings)

Edmonton Oil Kings vs. Calgary Hitmen

Last Playoff Meeting: 2013 Semi-Final (Edmonton won 4-3 – Calgary won their other playoff meeting 4-0 in the 2009 First Round)

Season Series: Edmonton 7-1 (Edmonton outscored Calgary 36-17)

Season Series Scoring Leader

Edmonton: Vince Loschiavo – 10 points (Quinn Benjafield had 9 points)

Calgary: Mark Kastelic and Jake Kryski – 7 points (Kaden Elder and Egor Zamula each had 5 points)

Season Series Goaltending Leader

Edmonton: Dylan Myskiw – 6-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and a .935 save percentage (Todd Scott was 1-1 with a 2.45 GAA and a .912 save percentage)

Calgary: Jack McNaughton – 1-5 with a 4.47 GAA and a .864 save percentage

Prediction: Edmonton in five

Although they upset the Lethbridge Hurricanes, it’s going to be tough for the Hitmen to pull off the same trick twice. Edmonton is a good side and they get pushed by the Medicine Hat Tigers in round one, but I think they have a stronger defence than the Hurricanes.

For Calgary, the x-factor is goaltender Jack McNaughton. If he plays well enough in between the pipes, it could be enough to swing the tide, but who knows what happens if this turns into a fire-wagon series.

(Chris Relke)

Vancouver Giants vs. Victoria Royals

Last Playoff Meeting: 2018 First Round (Victoria won 4-3 – Only playoff meeting to date)

Season Series: Vancouver 6-4 (Vancouver outscored Victoria 27-22)

Season Series Scoring Leader

Vancouver – Davis Koch – 14 points (Bowen Byram, Jared Dmytriw and Milos Roman each had 8 points)

Victoria – D-Jay Jerome – 7 points (Brandon Cutler, Kaid Oliver and Scott Walford each had 5 points)

Season Series Goaltending Leader

Vancouver – David Tendeck – 4-2 record with a 1.80 GAA and a .921 save percentage (Trent Miner had a 2-2 record with a 1.97 GAA and a .919 save percentage)

Victoria – Griffen Outhouse – 4-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and a .925 save percentage

Prediction: Vancouver in six

This is probably the least hyped of the four matchups in this round, but it might be the most intriguing. Each side has solid depth and their goaltending is excellent. I feel like the Giants have the upper hand with a few more weapons, but if Griffen Outhouse steals a game or two, things will get really interesting.

(Olivia Vanni/Everett Herald)

Everett Silvertips vs. Spokane Chiefs

Last Playoff Meeting: 2015 First Round (Everett won 4-2 – Spokane last defeated Everett 4-0 in the 2008 First Round)

Season Series: Everett 6-2 (Everett outscored Spokane 27-17)

Season Series Scoring Leader

Everett: Conor Dewar and Bryce Kindopp – 10 Points (Riley Sutter and Wyatt Wylie had 8 points)

Spokane: Riley Woods – 8 points (Ty Smith had 7 points)

Season Series Goaltending Leader

Everett – Dustin Wolf – 6-1 with a 1.75 GAA and a .929 save percentage

Spokane: Bailey Brkin – 2-5 with a 2.70 GAA and a .928 save percentage

Prediction: Everett in five

Like the Raiders and Blades, this season series doesn’t mean a whole lot. Seven of the eight meetings between the two sides took place in November and December, so they only played after the trade deadline and the return of Jaret Anderson-Dolan.

Given that they took care of Portland in five games and have the best power-play in the league, the Chiefs might end up having a better chance here than I first thought. However, I feel like the Silvertips have more depth and better goaltending, which gives them the upper hand.