Knights get Storm again in playoffs

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

There's a Storm on the horizon.

The London Knights and Guelph Storm are headed for another playoff matchup.

That's how the Knights are preparing, even with two weeks left in the OHL's regular season.

"We've been planning on it and this week we'll start to break them down," Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said yesterday after the Storm clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference on Sunday.

The Storm are nine points behind the Windsor Spitfires. Guelph has seven games left and Windsor five.

"They're not going to catch Windsor," Beaulieu said. "We're going to go see them play a couple times and it's important we do that because they're playing so safe right now.

"They're playing kitty-bar- the-door and we have to make sure we're safe, too -- just getting the pucks out and the pucks in. They're not going to take any chances because they know we can counter very well."

The Knights, who clinched first overall on Feb. 24, played the Storm in the conference final last season with Guelph winning in seven games.

But this is a different Guelph team. The Storm are 20-30-10-1, 63 points behind the Knights (56-5-2-0) after chasing London down to the wire last season and finishing just seven points behind.

Despite being 10 games under .500, the Storm have been responsible for one London loss and one tie.

"You're the best team in the Canadian Hockey League and they can beat you and tie you, so it's always in the back of your mind," Beaulieu said. "But it's going to come down to goaltending and good defence."

The Knights know they'll see ex-teammate Ryan MacDonald in goal for Guelph. London traded him on the Jan. 10 deadline.

"Ryan's going to be geared up for this series," Beaulieu said. "We knew we traded a hell of a goalie. It's up to Adam (Dennis) and Gerald (Coleman) to take charge and shut them down."

Coleman (1.65) and Dennis (2.07) lead the league in goals-against average. The Knights haven't decided which will take them into the playoffs.

Dennis will start Friday's game against Windsor at the John Labatt Centre after back-to-back shutouts last weekend.

"I think you'll see a trend here in the next two weekends," Beaulieu said as the Knights play Erie at the JLC on Sunday, then conclude the schedule with Owen Sound here on March 18, followed by games in Plymouth, Mich., and Sault Ste. Marie the next two nights.

Beaulieu said the playoff starter won't make the trip to the Sault after the Plymouth game, but will come back to London with any others they decide to rest.

"That'll be the announcement on who's starting the playoffs," he said. "We'll take a limited crew to the Sault."

The plan is to rest Corey Perry after he achieves the team career points record. Perry, the league scoring leader with 126 points, has 376 in his four years with London, two behind career leader Chris Taylor, a Knight from 1988-92.

Perry has 24 points in his past six games and will become only the third Knight to win the scoring crown. Dave Simpson won in 1981-82 and Jason Allison in 1993-94.

"Corey has been unbelievable," Beaulieu said. "We want to rest him at some point, but we want him to break the record. I think if he does it this weekend, you'll see limited play the next weekend."


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