Knights earn long break

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Things are falling into place for the London Knights.

They're looking at likely nine days off before the OHL's Western Conference final starts.

The Windsor Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers are pounding each other in a series that will last at least six games and go, at the earliest, until Saturday night.

The Knights reached the third round in just nine games. That's their most efficient playoff work since needing the minimum eight in 2005 -- and that run ended with a Memorial Cup victory.

But not every Londoner is a believer yet.

"They're a good team, very skilled," said Saginaw's 19-year-old forward Jordan Skellett, whose Spirit were swept aside by the Knights on Tuesday night. "But I don't know. It just felt like if a bounce or two went our way, it would've been different.

"It could've been a six-game series. The potential was there. It just didn't work out for us.

"We didn't do enough."

Skellett has seen enough of West Division rival Windsor to think the Spitfires will turn their ship around against Plymouth.

He believes the Spits, if they make it past the Whalers, will come at these Knights in waves.

"London has some good defencemen, but Windsor has three lines of forwards where the guys on the third line could be on the first somewhere else," Skellett said. "Every time we played Windsor, they just came at us hard. They're physical. They can score. They're like that (2004-05) Knights team.

"Now don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to that series. I'll be at the JLC watching it."

As usual, most of the eyes will be zeroed in on London sniper John Tavares. He will embark on his second straight conference final a few days after learning which NHL team won the right to select first overall this June in Montreal.

Tavares is expected to be involved in TSN's coverage of the draft lottery Tuesday night.

"Everyone's going to be telling me about it anyway so I won't have much of a choice (but pay attention)," he said. "Nothing's written in stone yet but I think the plan was to do something with me and Victor (Hedman, the big Swedish defenceman also in the mix for the top pick)."

In the first round against Erie, Tavares scored all eight of his points in three home games.

But against Saginaw, both of his goals and five of his six points came in Michigan.

"I expect John to score every game," Skellett said, "so for us to hold him to two goals and (six) points, we did a pretty good job on him, at least."

But the Spirit couldn't contain Nazem Kadri, Phil Varone, Daniel Erlich and Jared Knight. In their past 18 games, the Knights have just one loss. They have come together as a team.

Kitchener bounty from the Steve Mason trade. A goalie from Peterborough. Oshawa's two best players. A torpedo in Zac Rinaldo from Mississauga and additional grit from Guelph in Leigh Salters.

But they found a way to fit. And now, like so many of their recent Knights predecessors, they're third-round bound.


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