Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heading Into the Play-offs

After the round robin, the play-offs are set.... mostly.... for the 2011 Scott Tournament of Hearts. Saskatchewan lost to BC but still finished in first place. The Holland rink from Saskatchewan scored 4 in the 3rd end to lead 5-1, but then Scott stole points in the last five straight ends to win 8-5. Holland curled only 58%, which was reminiscent of some of her play early in the provincial playdowns. Saskatchewan meets Team Canada in the 1-2 playoff, and at least has two shots to get back on track after some seriously lacklustre performances near the end of round robin play.

With the win against Saskatchewan, Kelly Scott's BC rink finishes the round robin with a record of 7-4 and, as a result, qualifies to play in Friday afternoon's tie-break against Nova Scotia, who also finished with a 7-4 record. That was a long, hard comeback for BC both in their last round robin game, and hanging in after getting off to a poor start for the tournament.

Meanwhile, in TSN's featured game, Team Canada under Jones got off to a big start (as Alan posted) when Kleibrink, skip of Alberta, missed several shots early on, and Alberta was unable to recover. The loss eliminated Alberta from the playoffs and guaranteed Team Canada second place in the round robin.

And, finally, Ontario's finish against Quebec was rendered irrelevant by the other outcomes. Since Ontario had defeated both BC and Nova Scotia, even if they lost and finished tied with those teams, Ontario would have finished in third place. But Ontario stole one in the 10th end and defeated Quebec to finish in clear third position with an 8-3 record (the same as Team Canada, but Team Canada has second place, having defeated Ontario in the round robin).

At this point, with the fading and spotty performances of Ontario and Saskatchewan, coupled with the strong performance of Team Canada, both Ms. Eclectic and I tend to agree that Team Canada looks to be in the strongest position, going into the playoffs. At the same time, all the teams in the playoffs are good and could end up on hot streaks: Nova Scotia pulled off some late wins under pressure to qualify, and BC came on with both luck and strength also to qualify. And both Ontario and Saskatchewan have shown considerable ability and dominance at times in the round robin. So even if Team Canada wins (again), it will not be easy for them.



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