WLA Playoff Preview: (1) Langley Thunder Vs. (4) Burnaby Lakers

The WLA playoffs kick off on Wednesday night as the fourth place Burnaby Lakers take on the first place Langley Thunder in the first round of the WLA playoffs. Langley won the season series between these two teams 2-1. Langley beat Burnaby 13-7 and 8-7 while Burnaby won the first game between the teams 6-4 in overtime. This will be a closely fought series and will be no easy win for either team.

For Burnaby their greatest weapon is goalie Dan Lewis who missed the first part of the season due to injury but still finished with a 5-3 record on the season along with a 7.56 GAA and save percentage of .795. Burnaby will need Lewis to be on top of his game as he will be consistently challenged by Langley’s offense and will be counted on to shut them down. Burnaby’s other great strength is their defense lead by Matt Beers which only gave up 161 goals against on the season. Burnaby’s defense will need to prevent Langley’s offense from spreading the ball around and opening up the floor. They will need to challenge and play physically against Langley. On offense Burnaby will rely on the trio of Dane Stevens, Scott Jones, and Casey Jackson. If these three players do not get going early Burnaby will be in for a long series.  Dane Stevens lead Burnaby with 55 points on the season while Scott Jones finished with 54 points on the season. Burnaby will need to focus on defense first in order to shutdown Langley as Langley’s greatest strength is their offense. Burnaby will be in tough but will have a good chance of winning this series.

For Langley their greatest strength is their offensive depth. Langley had 6 players with over 30 points in the season but they will rely on the trio of Athan Iannucci, Lewis Ratcliff and Alex Turner. Lewis Ratcliff will be somebody to watch as he only played 12 games this season but still finished second in team scoring with 57 points another player to watch will be Garrett Billings who despite only playing 6 games this season racked up 30 points.  Langley will be at full offensive strength in the playoffs and will need to take advantage of their depth by spreading the floor and playing a fast pace game which will open up Burnaby’s defense allowing Langley to capitalize. Langley will look to Steven Fryer or Brodie MacDonald in net to hold the fort and frustrate Burnaby’s offense. Langley’s defense has been good this year and has been equal to Burnaby’s this season. Langley’s other advantage will be on the power play as they had the third highest power play conversion rate in the WLA this season converting 36.84% of their power play opportunities. If Langley is able to impose a quick paced game and get their offense going early they will win the series and advance to the next round of the playoffs.

These two teams  played 3 very close games this season and it will be a tough series for both teams. My prediction though is that Langley’s offense will overwhelm Burnaby and allow Langley to win in 6 games.