Thursday, March 13, 2008

Plymouth's playoff opponent anyone's guess

The Plymouth Whalers will make the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. They just don’t know where they’ll finish in the Western Conference standings or who they’ll play in the first round of the OHL’s post-season, which starts at the end of next week.

Fifth seed through eighth in the OHL’s Western Conference race looks like this:

#5 Guelph - 66 games - 33-24-5-4, 75 points
#6 Plymouth - 65 games - 34-26-2-3, 73 points
#7 Sarnia - 65 games - 35-28-2-0, 72 points
#8 Saginaw - 65 games - 32-25-6-2, 72 points

The Storm, Whalers, Sting and Spirit will all be in action this weekend as the OHL completes the regular season.

Plymouth may not know who they are playing in the first round until Sunday evening.

After playing in Sault Ste. Marie (42-18-2-4) on Friday against the first-place Greyhounds, Plymouth returns home on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Compuware Arena to host Sarnia. The Sting features 18-year-old center Steven Stamkos, who may be the first player chosen in the National Hockey League Entry Draft this summer. Stamkos rates an excellent chance to play in the NHL next season.

Stamkos – sixth overall in OHL scoring 55 goals and 43 assists for 98 points in 58 games – has been a Whaler killer for two years. The season, Stamkos has scored eight goals (two shorthanded) and an assist for nine points in five games. In 10 games over two seasons against Plymouth, Stamkos has scored 12 goals with four assists for 16 points.

With 55 goals coming into the weekend, Stamkos has a chance to set a Sarnia team record for goals scored in a season. Ivan Novoseltsev currently holds the record with 57 goals scored in 1998-99.

“I know it’s on his mind and his teammates have been talking about it,” Sarnia head coach Dave MacQueen told the Sarnia Observer. “But I’m sure he will tell you he would give up a few goals for a few more wins. And the fact if he does break the record, there’s a good chance we will be winning some more games.”

Saturday’s game is also the Whalers’ annual Green Out, where fans can bid on the popular Plymouth green game-worn jerseys. A silent auction will be held during the game for some of the jerseys, with a public auction held after the game in Ginopolis on Ice restaurant for the rest.

Plymouth finishes up the regular season on Sunday at 4 p.m. in Saginaw.

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