London Knights leading scorer Seth Griffith is out of the lineup with a broken bone in one of his hands — but you wouldn’t know it. The Knights scored 17 goals over the weekend, winning two of three games by margins of four and seven tallies.
With about a month left in the regular season, they’re sitting pretty with an Ontario Hockey League-best record of 41-12-2-2. Barring a sizable collapse, London should win the regular-season crown for the second year in a row.
And, as the schedule hits the home stretch, there’s a barrel of interesting storylines to follow elsewhere.
Playoff picture beginning to come into focus
Along with London, Owen Sound and Kitchener have locked up a playoff spot in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, three teams — Oshawa, Barrie, and Belleville — are also playoff bound.
Six teams are vying for the final five spots in the West — Plymouth (73 points), Guelph (69), Sarnia (67), Sault Ste. Marie (66), Saginaw (62), and Windsor (51). It’s a six-horse race for the remaining five berths in the East, too — Brampton (63 points), Sudbury (61), Niagara (56), Mississauga (53), Kingston (51), and Peterborough (47).
The West’s Erie (42 points) and East’s Ottawa (34) are both still in contention, but hanging on by a thread.
Saginaw’s Lodge on fire
Jimmy Lodge, eligible for the 2013 NHL draft and believed to be a possible second- or third-round selection, has been putting on a show as of late.
The lanky (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) Saginaw Spirit winger is one of the hottest players in the OHL. Lodge, 17, put up an eight-point Week 21, which included a hat trick versus the Oshawa Generals on Friday.
Since Dec. 15, Lodge has recorded 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points in 22 games. That stretch accounts for all but 21 of his points this season in a total of 53 games.
Greyhounds look dangerous
The OHL’s powerhouses, particularly in the Western Conference, could be in tough if they draw the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the post-season.
Although the 31-21-2-2 team will likely be ranked in middle of the pack, Sault Ste. Marie is looking mighty scary right now. Since former NHLer Sheldon Keefe stepped behind the bench for the time first Dec. 6, the northern boys have gone 18-9.
In two games last week, they blasted Sarnia 8-0, before outlasting Kingston in a 10-7 scorefest.
Their greatest offensive weapon, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Nick Cousins, trumps all OHLers in scoring at the moment. His nine points last week bumped his total to 93 in 56 games.