'Real' QMJHL final begins tonight, not in two weeks

There is no word-mincing in the lead-up to tonight's openers of both QMJHL semifinal series, which is great.

Shawinigan Cataractes GM Martin Mondou and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies coach Andre Tourigny each described the Drummondville Voltigeurs-Moncton Wildcats series as "the real league final." That sentiment might be no surprise, considering the Quebec league's convoluted playoff format which it is junking after this season. When the teams play intra-division series in the first round and are then seeded first through eighth for the second, it increases the chances of having the two best teams meet prior to the final.

It is analogous, to, if not literally like how the NHL's insistence on having the top three seeds go to a division winner meant it got the big Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby showdown in the second round, rather than the third. I'm not sure if there's a cause-and-effect, but a few observers have gone 12-for-12 picking the first two rounds.

The Q is adopting a modified 1-through-16 format for next season. In the meantime, Moncton, which has won 42 of 51 games since the dawn of December, is going up against a defending leading champion Drummondville club anchored by world junior team goalie Jake Allen. The Volts have merely won 24-of-25 games.

In the Victoriaville-Saint John semifinal, the Sea Dogs' situation is not unlike Barrie's in the OHL. They had such an easy time winning their first two series that it's left some unanswered questions, like how much depth they have on the blueline beyond Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Simon Despres and Yann Sauve, a Vancouver Canucks prospect. The betting seems to be leaning toward Victoriaville.

For anyone wondering, a Moncton-Saint John final would be the first in league history to not have a Quebec team.

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