Five Knights things to watch in playoffs

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

1 Goaltending

Even when he surrendered some bad goals at inopportune times, the Knights continued to endorse veteran Trevor Cann as their main man. They've been repaid recently for all that faith by the former Peterborough Pete. "He's been good for us all season," London assistant coach Pat Curcio said, "and we need Trevor Cann to keep playing the way he can to go far in the playoffs." But if he gets hurt, the Knights have a real issue on their hands. Backup Stephen Heming hasn't played enough recently and Daryl Borden, who has played three times for London, is an affiliated player and is limited to 10 games (seven more) with the Knights until his other team -- the Brantford Golden Eagles -- is eliminated from the Greater Ontario junior B playoffs. Brantford is a win away from the Midwestern Conference final.

2 3-D power play

Partly because head coach Dale Hunter wanted a wicked right-handed shot down low on the power play, the Knights moved leading offensive defenceman John Carlson into a forward role with the man advantage. It has taken the heat off John Tavares on the opposite half-boards and London's crisp puck movement down the stretch helped it leap past Ottawa for the league's best power play. But Hunter likes to keep penalty kills off-guard with subtle tweaks and he'll have to since Erie's been the best at defending power plays all season.

3 All those lefties

Rookie Jared Knight is London's only right-handed shooting forward. There are just four right-hand shots on the team. Is that a disadvantage? It can be in tight to the net or in setting up one-timers. John Tavares has said he doesn't notice the lefty-dominated forward ranks, but the defencemen sure do. "When you're trying to move the puck up, you have to be aware what hand the guy is when you're passing it," blue-liner Michael Del Zotto said. The slew of southpaws can pay off when someone breaks a stick and needs a quick replacement.

4 Grit gang

London GM Mark Hunter made it a priority to increase team toughness after the Knights were pushed around in Windsor three months ago. Enter Zac Rinaldo and Leigh Salters. Welcome back Dominic DeSando, out for most of the season with a shoulder injury. For a couple of games, they even formed an effective crash-and-bang line. "If we are out there again together, everyone's going to know it and we're going to know why we're out there," Rinaldo said. "We're going to hit people. Try to put teams back on their heels." The Knights will start the playoffs without one of their heavyweights. Big Mike Yovanic, whose left knee was taken out by Ryan Ellis in the last visit to Windsor, is a couple of weeks away from a return.

5 Bench men

When Dale Hunter was a youngster just starting out with the Quebec Nordiques, he lived at then-captain Robbie Ftorek's house. Now Ftorek is coaching Erie. But here's a big question: Who will be on the Knights bench alongside Hunter? Assistant Pat Curcio, of course. But Hunter believes three heads are better than one so he can watch the whole game. Sometimes, it's GM Mark Hunter running the forwards, but the scouting season is heating up, so he will be AWOL from time to time. Goalie coach Dave Rook had a shot. Defensive consultant Ric Nattress is busy because his Stoney Creek junior B squad is doing well in the Golden Horseshoe playoffs. The wild card and London's lucky charm? Skills development coach Dave Warren. The veteran firefighter has lost just one of his 12 bench appearances with the Knights this year.


Videos

Photos