67's seek re-Pete

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

For a second consecutive year, the 67's have a chance to spread misery throughout Peterborough.

Scout's honour.

The Sun has enlisted the insight of an NHL bird dog who patrols OHL arenas to determine how the 67's and Petes match up in their opening Eastern Conference playoff series, which begins tonight in Peterborough.

And while the scout believes the 67's have a chance to win the series, he figures it'll be difficult for Ottawa to halt a potent Petes offence.

But the most important factor will be the absence of 67's captain Julian Talbot, who'll miss the first three games due to suspension.

"Missing him is going to be huge," said the scout. "Without Talbot, their chances are reduced big time, because without him, the team is really hurting."

ROOKIE ON MOVE

Coach Brian Kilrea will be forced to move rookie Logan Couture to centre on the 67's top line with wingers Chris Hulit and Brett Liscomb.

"But I think with that line, without Talbot, it really doesn't go," said the scout.

Everybody knows that goalie Danny Battochio holds a major role in the outcome of the series.

It's a tremendous amount of pressure for the 20-year-old Sudbury native, but he handled it with flying colours -- and then some -- during last year's run to the Memorial Cup.

But a more important factor for the 67's, according to the scout, will be to exploit the Peterborough defence and goalie David Shantz.

"The Peterborough defence can be suspect, and everybody knows that Battochio is by far the better goalie," said the scout. "I think Shantz has been inconsistent this year and their back-up (Trevor Cann) isn't quite ready to play.

"But Ottawa needs to score on every chance they get."

The reason is the eighth-seeded 67's simply can't match the Petes on offence.

Jordan Staal is one of the top forwards in the OHL as a 17-year-old, and he'll be a high pick in the next NHL entry draft.

The top-seeded Petes also have the likes of Daniel Ryder, captain Jamie Tardif and Liam Reddox, who have emerged as the team's top scorers.

Without Talbot for three games, the 67's need to rely on players such as Jamie McGinn, Couture and Hulit to produce the bulk of the scoring.

Ottawa's defence will have its hands full trying to stop the Peterborough attack, but there's always Battochio for insurance.

"Brodie Beard and those guys play okay," said the scout. "If Elgin Reid can keep his head in the game, he'll be fine. They've gotten better with that American kid out there."

That "American kid" is Joe Grimaldi, who joined the team at the trade deadline from Windsor when he bolted his NCAA squad in Nebraska.

"He's become a pretty decent player out there," said the scout. "He makes good first-time passes, unlike some of the guys who think they need to be fancy and carry it around to make something happen.

"He moves the puck well, and that's important."

MAJOR AGITATOR

While the 67's have Battochio as their ultimate weapon, the Petes own Steve Downie who can be a major contributor in the outcome of this series.

Acquired from Windsor after an early-season controversy with the Spitfires, Downie is viewed as a major agitator.

"He's good enough to beat Ottawa on his own," said the scout. "But he's the big unknown in this series."

The 67's might capitalize if they can get Downie to take untimely penalties. On the other hand, no player in the OHL can induce opponents to make stupid mistakes like Downie can.

"(Coach) Dick Todd has to make sure he has control of him," the scout said of Downie, who was a key factor in Canada's world junior victory in January. "One thing about Downie is he's real tough. The best thing Ottawa can do is stay away from him and leave him alone, because he's at his best when you get his dander up."

As for coaching, the scout says it's a push. Both Kilrea and Todd know what it takes to win.

But Todd needs to ensure his team realizes that the 67's aren't going to be pushovers.

"Dick Todd won't be taking Ottawa lightly, but I'm not so sure about his players," said the scout. "They need to be ready to play because I think the 67's believe they can win this."

It'll be a battle and it begins tonight.


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