KEYS 2 THE SERIES: Hamilton vs Kingston

The Kingston Frontenacs have found success in each of their first two playoff series, but it took a game or two to find it. They dropped the opening game against North Bay before winning four straight and then lost the first two games against Barrie before going on another four-game winning streak. Now that they have reached the Eastern Conference Finals, it is becoming more important to avoid digging an early hole. As the playoffs progress, each opponent is getting more and more difficult to overcome. The Hamilton Bulldogs lost four straight games just once this season, so losing the first game or two could be disastrous.

Getting traffic in front of the Hamilton net will help disrupt what has been a solid playoff performance by Kaden Fulcher so far. With a good-sized group up front, Kingston can win position battles in front of the Hamilton net that will make life more difficult for Fulcher. With bodies in front, it becomes difficult for goalies to find the puck through traffic. It also allows for plenty of opportunities to tip point shots or find loose rebounds that can lead to goals. At this point in the playoffs there aren’t many pretty goals being scored. It’s all about winning battles and scoring ugly goals in front of the net.

In the last series against Barrie, Kingston used their size and physicality to wear down the Colts. With Max Jones returning to the lineup, it gave Kingston an added boost of size and another forward who is more than willing to throw his weight around on opposing players. Ted Nichol, Tyler Burnie and Ryan Cranford can all be thrown into that category. On the back-end Jacob Paquette and Eemeli Rasanen can punish forwards who are willing to chase pucks into the corner. Over a long series finishing hits can wear a team down and slow them up by a half step. It can also force players to look over their shoulders in a race for the puck. That can lead to a turnover or winning a puck battle that may not have come in the early parts of the series and could be the difference in games, especially as the series moves along.

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