SPNHL, Season 31: Week Three Review
By: Dirty-Dietrich

So, I would have had this one done sooner but it was the Royal Rumble weekend. Yeah, I like watching half-naked guys and gals kicking and doing flips over each other. Deal with it.

Let’s get back to the business at hand. We just surpassed the halfway point of the season, so the playoff picture is starting to take shape. It’s like when the film from a polaroid starts to develop, and you see Colorado at the top of the West again. Some things never change but some changes start to happen, like Toronto falling out of their playoff spot after starting their season at the top of the conference.

With these changes happening, adaptation is necessary. Toronto moved a large portion of their core and got some great talent in return as they anticipate a playoff push with two weeks left. San Jose has made some big moves recently and are looking like a much stronger team than they did at the beginning of the season. These teams realized what their weaknesses were, and made moves to correct it.

So, enough chit chat about teams changing (or else I’ll go into a tangent about how shit the Devils played last week (we blame the tuner)). Let’s look at numbers and see how the teams are doing as we enter the final two weeks of the season.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Colorado Avalanche
Points: 47.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Go_Marc

The Avalanche are on a 14 game win streak. We thought they didn’t have as strong of a team as last season, but they are proving otherwise. With their defense-first and good puck moving system, Colorado has the least goals against and the highest goals for and goals against differential, being +50. Marc is doing very well, maintaining a 3.0 PPG and scoring more than a third of his team’s overall goals (34). It’s going to be incredibly difficult to beat these guys in a single game, let alone a series!

2. Anaheim Ducks
Points: 32.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Snipeshotty.

The Ducks are proving to be a great underdog story this season, as they sit in the second playoff spot after being projected to finish near the bottom of the league. They play a very scrappy style and know how to eek out victories in those very close games. Snipeshotty continues to make his case for not only the Calder trophy, but also the Vezina. He brought his GAA below 3, and kept his save percentage around .860% to help the scrappy Quack Pack ascend in their conference.

3. Vegas Golden Knights
Points: 29.
Trend: Sideways.
MVP: Stonerboy.

The Knights made some interesting moves over the past week, sending top players in Execution, Wally, and Tarasenko in return for Uber, GodsPlan, and NJ. They’re still one of the better teams in the West, but the moves yielded average results. Stonerboy continues to lead the offensive charge for the Knights with his 50 points in 24 games (2.1 PPG), and his 55.95 faceoff percentage is among the league’s best for starting centres. Hopefully Sliyum’s investment pays off this week.

3. Winnipeg Jets
Points: 29.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Kidmoney.

The Jets had a great week as they moved into a tie for the third seed in the West. The offensive power that a core like Triix, Slick, Kid, and Reap is starting to show, and you can expect them to make a play for that second playoff seed soon. Kidmoney has stepped up his game this week and is contributing around a goal (0.9 GPG) and around an assist and a half (1.4), good for a tie with the best PPG on the team with Slick Steiner. Will the longtime duo of Kid and Reap return to the promised land?

5. Edmonton Oilers
Points: 25.
Trend: Downward.
MVP: LeCupidon.

While offense is still no issue in Edmonton (pacing the conference with 99 goals), there is a need for defense and the departure of u12bme may be costly to a strong Oilers squad. Being 4 points out of a playoff spot, the Oilers need a big week to stay competitive. LeCupidon is leading the league in points and has been dishing the rock with incredible results, as his 3.0 PPG includes just under two assists per game. If Edmonton’s defense and goaltending can step their game up, this might be a playoff team due for a deep run.

6. San Jose Sharks
Points: 17.
Trend: Sideways
MVP: Single_G6

San Jose retained their momentum from last week, gaining 8 out of a possible 18 points and did not make any progress in the standings. However, they have the potential to bite their way into the playoff picture with a very potent offense. Single started as a goalie in this league, but proved to be a very capable defensive forward (as he has been in other leagues). He’s accumulated a 2.5 PPG (18 goals and 20 assists through 15 games) great takeaway:giveaway ratio (3.3:1) and a stellar faceoff percentage (52.73). The Sharks have almost all the pieces they need to find their way out of the basement and into a playoff spot.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Philadelphia Flyers
Points: 34.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Fine… Chad.

The Flyers have emerged as the top team in the Eastern Conference, breaking last week’s three way tie for the second seed. They have the highest goal differential in the conference (+25) and after picking up Wally, have one of the best back ends in the league. Chadkillz has played in all but one game for this Flyers squad and is certainly a difference maker. He’s got 17 wins to go along with his 2.3 GAA and a .852% save percentage. I don’t think this Philly team is relinquishing that top spot anytime soon.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning
Points: 31.
Trend: Sideways.
MVP: Vince.

The Lightning put up 10 points this week as the rest of the division struggled, enough to claim the outright second seed with two weeks left in the season. Their goaltending has been supreme, with the lowest goals against in the conference at 64. However, Tampa is scoring at an uncharacteristically slow pace, only scoring 2.5 goals a game. Vince is still playing strong for Tampa, saving .851% of shots and possessing a very low GAA of 2.18. If Vince can get some offense in front of him, Tampa may be a lock for the playoffs.

3. New Jersey Devils
Points: 30.
Trend: Downward (what the fuck happened?)
MVP: Rich2K8.

Did we shit the bed or what? The Devils had a disappointing week going 3-5-1 while falling from first to third seed in a tough Eastern Conference. Pacing the conference with 95 goals, but also being second in the conference for goals allowed with 80, the Devils need to tighten up defensively to make the playoffs. Rich is still playing like a madman, 1 point behind the lead league for points but still scoring 2.18 goals a game, good for a 3.2 PPG. If we keep sucking, we’re missing the playoffs again. LET’S STEP IT UP, DEVILS.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins
Points: 29.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Larkin.

The Penguins are kind of like the Ducks of the East: they’re a scrappy team who are winning close games when it counts (they have an identical goal differential of -4). Ending the week with two losses after going 6-1, the Penguins are primed for a push for that second seed, which is only 2 points out of reach. Larkin remains an offensive star for the Pens, as his 2.3 PPG (15 goals and 17 assists in 14 games) has helped the Penguins emerge as a contender from the Eastern conference and proven a lot of doubters wrong. Let’s see if they can kick the doubter’s asses in the playoffs.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs
Points: 26.
Trend: Downward.
MVP: Fish.

Toronto had a dismal week that lead to the dismantling of the majority of their team, with only 5 of their original 11 players remaining on the roster. As somebody who’s done that same flip in the past (thanks for reminding me of it every god damn week, Peace), I think it’s necessary sometimes and Jayscott knows how to build a team and has traded for a very capable one. Fish is still leading the offense in Toronto with his great puck dispersion getting him 35 assists, and with the league leading defender in Execution joining the squad, expect their offensive output to grow.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets
Points: 19.
Trend: Downward.
MVP: Freeze

In a playoff picture where the conference leader and the fifth ranked team in the conference are separated by 9 points, the Jackets are the odd team out. The big issue that needs to be addressed is goaltending (sorry Pemm), as Columbus has given up 130 goals this season, an average of 4.8 goals a game. Rough.n an offensively struggling team, Freeze has emerged as a solid player with an average of a goal and an assist per game (14 goals and 15 assists through 14 games). It’s now or never for the Blue Jackets if they want a shot at the playoffs. STEP IT UP, CUBANO.

We’re heading into week four, so it’s time for teams to get their shit together. Every game of these remaining 18 are crucial, so everybody’s gotta be putting in 110%. No team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, and every team has a roster capable of making it into the final 8. You need commitment from everybody at both ends of the ice to be successful.

Also, you read it here first: SPNHL: Off The Ice is returning this coming weekend! More details will come shortly, but Kozmo and I have stopped hating eachother and have elected to reunite to deliver the show for the greater good of the league.

See you clowns on the ice! And then this weekend for Off the Ice! And if you step to Wally, you’ll become part of the ice! Ice!
-DD.

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