Jones and MacKinnon ready to clash

The last time Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon were on opposite sides of a competitive game, Jones’ U.S. team dominated MacKinnon’s Atlantic squad 12-1 in the 2011 under-17 challenge.

Expect things to be more even Jan. 16 in Halifax, when Jones, captain of Team Orr, takes on MacKinnon, captain of Team Cherry, in the annual Top Prospects Game.

While MacKinnon grabs so much attention for his flashy numbers and the fact he leads the best team in the nation, Jones, the much-ballyhooed No. 2 prospect, sits on a deep Portland defense corps. The nature of his position also doesn’t lend itself to sexy numbers and, therefore, overwhelming attention.

But to be sure, Jones has been awesome and was the clear choice to be a captain in this showcase of draft-eligible talent. Though Jones sits fourth on his team in defenseman scoring with 17 points in 24 games, that’s still good enough for 16th league-wide and his snarly physical game makes him a force to reckon with in the corners and in front of the net.

While the WJC will provide a glimpse at some of the top talent available in 2013, it’s mostly regarded as a 19-year-old tournament. The Top Prospects Game is the best opportunity for you to check out this year’s elite players.

On to this week’s rankings:


Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

OVERALL: 21-3-0-1 LW: 1

The Mooseheads’ streak of scoring at least four goals in a game came to an abrupt halt at 20. The Moncton Wildcats were able to not only limit Halifax’s quick offense, but completely shut it down, with undrafted Alex Dubeau earning his second shutout of the season.


Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
OVERALL: 20-6-1-1 LW: 2

The Blazers started the week on a sour note, letting a 2-0 advantage slip away in the third period in a 3-2 loss to Saskatoon. When the high-scoring Blazers dropped five of their first six this month they managed only eight goals. They then won their next two by scoring 11 goals. But now they’ve gone cold again, scoring only five times in their past three games, dropping two of them.

Portland Winterhawks (WHL)  OVERALL: 20-4-1-0 LW: 3

The big news around Portland this week was the debilitating sanctions levied by the WHL for violations related to player benefits. The Winterhawks will surely appeal the decision and, like what happened with the Windsor Spitfires, the harsh penalties will likely be softened some. You can find details on the violations on the Winterhawks’ website.

London Knights OVERALL: 20-5-0-2 LW: NR

Ooo, aaa, London’s on the warpath. The Knights have reeled off 12 consecutive wins after a slow start, the latest two being impressive 3-0 and 3-1 wins over Owen Sound and Kitchener. In 13 games this month, Seth Griffith has logged 23 points. The 2012 Boston fifth-rounder is second in league scoring, but is still eight points back of Ryan Strome.


Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)  OVERALL: 20-5-0-2 LW: 5

As expected, the Armada cruised to two wins over Gatineau and held the Olympiques to a grand total of 27 shots on goal. Defenseman Xavier Ouellet (Detroit 2011 second-rounder) is getting some world junior buzz after Team Canada lost Ryan Murray. Plus, goalie Etienne Marcoux (undrafted) is making himself hard to ignore. He leads the ‘Q’ in GAA by a huge .62 margin and his save percentage is 10 points higher than anyone else.


Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
OVERALL: 18-5-1-2 LW: 4

After shutting out three straight opponents, karma struck back at the Attack in a tough 3-0 loss to London. The team bounced back in a big way the next night in Mississauga though, with a 6-1 win. The Attack are one game into a four-game road trip that takes them to Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Saginaw this weekend.

Barrie Colts (OHL)
OVERALL: 18-7-0-1 LW: 6

Teams in the East always have to prove themselves against Western opponents in the OHL, so Barrie’s road games in Windsor and London will be stiff tests. Mark Scheifele continues to make a case for himself on Team Canada’s top line at the WJC, scoring points in 11 of his past 12 games. He sits tied for third in OHL scoring.


Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
OVERALL: 19-6-0-1 LW: 9

With losses on Sunday and Wednesday to Chicoutimi and PEI, the Remparts dropped two in a row for the first time this season. Draft eligible Anthony Duclair has been terrific since returning from an ankle injury, scoring four goals and 15 points in nine games and being named one of the QMJHL’s three stars for the week.

Calgary Hitmen (WHL) OVERALL: 17-5-1-2 LW: 10

With a 4-1 win against Medicine Hat, the Hitmen have now won nine of their past 10 games. Last year’s third-highest scorer on the team, Victor Rask (2011 Carolina second-rounder), has now played four games with the team since being returned from a 10-game stint with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. The Swede scored a goal and an assist this week and now has four points in four games.


Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

OVERALL: 17-7-1-2
LW: 7

After winning eight in a row and 11 of 12, the Drakkar have dropped two in a row and four of their past five. Columbus 2010 second-rounder Petr Straka is lighting it up, scoring 10 goals and 20 points in 11 games this month and equaling his point total from last season. He looks poised to finally top his rookie of the year 64-point performance from 2009-10.