SPNHL Season 28: Playoff Preview
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
As the NHL has 8 remaining teams fighting for the Stanley Cup, the SPNHL is in a similar position. Our seasons are a bit shorter than the NHL (45 games in 5 weeks), but just as grueling and just as competitive. This season was nothing short of spectacular, with 18 teams vying for the title of the best team in the league. Now, we have 8 teams left. Let’s take a look at the teams and the first-round matchups of the 28th installment of the SPNHL playoffs.
SEED 1: COLORADO AVALANCHE.
Colorado ran away with the Western conference this season, posting an insane 30+ game win streak and one of the best records in the past few seasons, collecting 80 of a possible 90 points. They controlled the ice and had the largest goal differential in the league at a whopping 87. Eggman built a fantastic team with himself and Sedinpower at D, a forward core lead by toslick, Stamkos, and Desy, and solid backstopping by Rancher. The Avalanche have been merely unstoppable all season, but will that continue in the playoffs?
SEED 2: DALLAS STARS.
“WILDCARD, BITCHES!”. Dallas had the second-best record in the Western Conference with 68 points, they just had the mighty Avalanche in the same division. The Stars won their wildcard series against Vegas three games to one and are a very dangerous team. Having the 3 top scorers in the league in Mjvoel, Diirty-triix, and sfic is already a scary lineup, but when you throw in standout defenseman Entry into the mix, the lineup becomes lethal. With goaltending being handled by Bipolorbear and Duges, and the Stars could be in for a deep playoff run.
SEED 3: MINNESOTA WILD.
Finishing third in the conference with 63 points, Minnesota posted a respectable record amongst high expectations. Having 3 drafts picks in the first round, the Wild drafted well and balanced their attack at both ends of the ice. With a top forward line of Sudzy, Hartysauce, and Arrowhunter, GM Tommyboi handling most of the defensive duties, and Goalieman minding the net, Minnesota have all the tools they need to make this postseason… wait for it…
Wild. (I’ll see myself out)
SEED 4: CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS.
Rookie GM Hyper had a tumultuous start to the season but guided the Blackhawks to a stellar turnaround resulting in a 59-point season and a division victory against a usually dominant Anaheim team, keeping the former Stanley Cup finalist duo Reaper & Kidmoney out of the playoffs. Offensively, Hyper is joined by Tread and MG, forming a dangerous top line (when Hyper passes). With a defensive pairing of Bergysdeke and NowYoDead and an elite goaltender in kudlacik, Chicago has what it takes to get it done at both ends of the ice. Can they complete the turnaround and compete for the cup?
MATCHUP 1: COLORADO AVALANCHE (1) vs. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (4).
This will be a great challenge for Colorado, facing off against an offensively strong Chicago team. Chicago has the highest scorer outside of Dallas this season in Hyper, but has the tools necessary to shut him and his line down. It’s also a battle of two of the best goalies in this past season, as Rancher has been a monster for the Avalanche and Kudlacik has been the Blackhawks unsung hero.
If the Avalanche want to win, they need to stay aware of positioning. They have excelled in that department all season, but need to be extra tight against a very dynamic Chicago offense. Stick to the assignment and make them take risks, and the series goes to the Avs.
If the Blackhawks want to win, they will have to dig deep and. This is an incredibly solid defensive unit they are up against, but not one that is perfect. They need to utilize their skill and the variety of offensive weapons in their arsenal, and doing so will get them a victory in this series.
MATCHUP 2: DALLAS STARS (2) vs. MINNESOTA WILD (3).
The Dallas 4 (how about we call them the Four Horsemen?) of Mjvoel, Diirty-Triix, sfic, and Entry are going to be in for a tough series against against a solid Minnesota squad. The Stars have the offensive advantage against the Wild, but they will have to play just as well in their own zone to counter the skill of Harty and Sudzy. Minnesota has more consistent goaltending, which could play a big factor in this series and give them the edge.
If the Stars want to win, they will have to keep up that torrid scoring pace they had all season. It may be easier said than done against a solid Minnesota squad. Find the lanes into the zone and find the holes in Goalieman, and they’ll be moving on.
If the Wild want to win, they will have to play their best 7 games they have all season. They have the skill to shut a dangerous Dallas team down, and with a strong defensive mindset and a gritty, physical performance, they’ll send Chicago golfing.
SEED 1: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING.
Tampa Bay won the Eastern Conference this season and posted the second-best record in the league with 71 points. They posted an 11 game win streak to finish the season, so they are blasting Metallica heading into these playoffs and riding the Lightning momentum (sorry). Posting two 50-goal scorers on their top line in Truelegend and kinglyme rounded out by redflag, the Bolts have a great offensive presence. Having Louiedeuce taking care of defense and the duo of VinceT and pemm minding the cage, Tampa is prepared for a deep playoff run.
Seed 2: NEW YORK ISLANDERS.
The Eastern Conference was super-competitive this season, with the race for a playoff sport basically dead-even until the last two weeks. The Islanders were able to pull ahead of the Leafs and win their division with 61 points, thanks to some exceptional play late in the season. The always dangerous duo of Seguin and Benn was complimented by a mid-season draft for #1 draft pick Stonerboy, and a shut down defensive tandem of Breezy and jielking round out a solid core of skaters. Soulpane and zaftigstan provide great goaltending for a great Islanders team who look ready to bring a cup home.
SEED 3: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS.
The Penguins had a respectable season finishing with 60 points, thanks in part to their exceptional special teams play. Killing off 84.6% of penalties and capitalizing on 28.4% of powerplay opportunities, Pittsburgh was a force to be reckoned with. GM Jayscott assembled a great defensive forward core being lead by Capone and Dominado, and Ajax towing the defensive line added to their play style. Lights out goaltending by speedyturtle and DevinDags may be the last piece in the puzzle, with the image being a stellar playoff squad with great capabilities.
SEED 4: OTTAWA SENATORS.
KOZMO turned his Ottawa team around by trading for Go_marc halfway through the season. The Senators were a mediocre team before that, but Marc’s 107-point performance helped get the Senators into a playoff spot and beat the Panthers in three straight games in their wildcard series. Marc’s main line was filled out by the high-scoring rookie Grammyhands and anchored at C by (your’s truly) Dirty-Dietrich. With foxpresentation and Notorious250 handling the bulk of defensive
duties in front of brodtshadow and Kozmo, the Senators are looking to capitalize on a great trade and take a solid squad deep into the playoffs.
MATCHUP 1: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (1) vs. OTTAWA SENATORS (4).
This first round matchup is a battle of two high-scoring teams with two 100 + point players. Tampa Bay has the special teams advantage in this series, but Ottawa has a deeper forward core and more weapons at their disposal. The difference is going to be defensive performance, as Louie and fox are both great defenceman who have the ability to drastically change the game.
If the Lightning want to win, they need to turn it up to 11 and pressure the Sens. Force the Senators to make bad passes and capitalize on turnovers, and the Lightning will have the series in the bag.
If the Senators want to win, they need to get creative in both zones. The Bolts are a very dangerous team, so containing them is a must. They must utilize all passing lanes in the offensive zone and cut off Tampa’s breakouts at center ice.
MATCHUP 2: NEW YORK ISLANDERS (2) vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (3).
New York was one of the highest scoring teams in the conference, and Pittsburgh allowed the least goals of any teams in the conference. This series is going to be another clash of styles that requires some really smart hockey on both ends of the ice. A lot of this series will be played in the neutral zone, and whoever controls this zone will win the series.
If the Islanders want to win, they need to strike early and fast. With a dangerous top line, they need to make their presence felt in the first period with some good shots and a few goals and carry that momentum throughout the game.
If the Penguins want to win, they need to play smart and plan ahead. They need to eliminate the options on the play and force the carrier into a turnover. Cut off the breakouts and counter attack strong, and they’ll take the series.
With the regular season in the books, all the eyes in the league turn to these 8 teams. Some defensive stalwarts, some offensive powerhouses, and some very balanced teams. The first round will be exciting, as anything can happen. Upsets may occur and new stars may emerge, but the only thing guaranteed is this: all these teams will have to be strategic, be skillful, and be passionate if they want to come close to winning the cup.
The best of luck to everybody involved!