It's time to get down to business.
As they should, the Guelph Storm made quick work of the Kitchener Rangers in the opening round, outscoring them 22-6 in a series where the Rangers were simply overmatched.
Kitchener couldn't match Guelph's skill on the rush and they couldn't match their size on the cycle. It was a four vs. five series on paper only. There was a much deeper divide on the ice.
Finally healthy other than Cam Hillis, the Storm is now able to put that chemistry together that can only be done when you play together for a while. Where one another is on the ice is becoming instinctual. Players can anticipate one another because now they know the tendencies. Turnovers are fewer. It's more reaction and less thinking.
As for Hillis, I'd lay money down that he would have been in the lineup had this series gone six or seven games.
The question mark in goal proved to be no question at all. Anthony Popovich wasn't overly busy but when he was called on, he was excellent. Stop the ones you're supposed to and stop some of the ones you probably aren't supposed to.
Now comes a much tougher opponent.
Barring a huge comeback by the Owen Sound Attack (they would need three straight wins over Sault Ste. Marie) the Storm's next opponent will be the London Knights.
The Storm won the season series with the Knights 4-2, including a pair of wins at Budweiser Gardens. London would have home-ice advantage.
While the Knights finished three spots higher in the conference, the two teams' record after the trade deadline were nearly identical. This, as will a likely Sault Ste. Marie vs. Saginaw match-up, will be a very close series.
Again, the two teams stack up pretty even in net. Jordan Kooy has emerged as the number one goaltender, at least for now, nudging out overager Joseph Raaymakers. Kooy and Popovich are even.
The London defence will be a lot tougher to handle than the one the Storm just played. They're big, expreienced, talented and mobile. Adam Boqvist and Evan Bouchard combined for 17 points in the four-game sweep of the Windsor Spitfires. On defence the Knights and Storm are also a saw off.
Where the Storm has the edge, like it would against most teams, is up front, where the team's depth creates all kinds of issues. Get Cam Hillis back in the lineup and it's an even bigger advantage.
London has home-ice advantage, but Guelph has proven it can win there and it's going to have to if it wants to move on.
And move on they should. Guelph in seven.