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

As I spend another Monday morning and afternoon commuting to and from school, I find it’s time to write another article (I haven’t been asked about it yet, it’s like a brave new world). I think I put more time into this than my actual assignments, but fuck it. Worth it.

As we approach the final 9 games of the season, there is tension in the air of the SPNHL. All the rosters are now firmed up, so if you’re a GM who is pissed about your team’s play or a player who wants out, you’re shit outta luck. You gotta put your foot on the pedal and give it everything you got in order to get closer to championship glory. Making the playoffs is the first step, and one that requires the desire and commitment of everybody on board.

You may think the playoffs seeds are set in stone, but the only mathematically guaranteed playoff team is, you guessed it, the Colorado Avalanche. Another dominant season has claimed their first seed in the west, but the rest of the conference is still battling for a spot. The Knights, Jets, and Oilers are only separated by 7 points, and the third seed Knights could fall out of the playoffs completely if the rest of the pack surges. Never count yourselves out in the wild world of the SPNHL.

The regular season portion of season 31 is coming to a close, and this article introduction is following suit. Let’s see who’s got the momentum heading into this final week, who has to turn things around, and who might be one step closer to winning that Stanley Cup.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Colorado Avalanche
Points: 61.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Go_Marc.

Colorado maintained their stranglehold on the league with 7 wins this past week, and they are pretty much a lock for their second consecutive President’s Trophy. The Avalanche are allowing a league lowest 63 goals (less than 2 per game) and having a staggering goal differential of +69. A big part of their offense this season has been Go_Marc, who should be in the conversation for the Hart trophy. On what people perceived to be a weaker Colorado team, Marc has proven to be one of the most dominant players (42 goals and 44 assists in 29 games while being +53) on a championship caliber team. Will the Avalanche be the new Islanders and get a 4th cup?

2. Anaheim Ducks
Points: 45.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Snipeshotty.

As they are now known, the Underducks (I think the trio of Shadow, Koz, and Ush came up with that rough nickname) are the underdogs no more, getting 13 points in a critical week 4. Their goal differential is still in the negatives (-1), but it doesn’t matter when you’re winning the majority of your games. Kozmo, Shadow, and Bean all claimed this, and the numbers don’t lie: Snipe has been the best player for the Ducks. He has faced more shots than any other goalie in the league (590) and has one of the best save percentages in the league (.861%). Will Snipe and the Underducks make a deep run in the playoffs?

3. Vegas Golden Knights
Points: 40.
Trend: Sideways.
MVP: Stoner.

Vegas accumulated 11 points in a week that wasn’t the strongest for this team, but enough to solidify their place as third seed in a very competitive playoff race. Their offense has cooled down a bit, but their goaltending duo in Sliyum and Doug are playing exceptionally well and winning the Knights some big games. The arrivals of Cuban and Uber will boost their blueline and pair well with GodsPlan. Stoner has amassed 37 goals for the Knights (4th in the league in that category) and has been dominant in the faceoff circle, winning more draws than anybody while retaining a 54.61 faceoff percentage. With a seemingly defensive style, the Knights might be the team to match up to the Avs come playoff time.

4. Winnipeg Jets
Points: 36.
Trend: Downward.
MVP: Kidmoney.

Winnipeg had a bit of a rough week, only getting 7 of a possible 18 points in a very crucial week. This inspired Reap to make a couple moves, sending toslick to the Sharks in return for another dynamic winger in Puckzone. Trading for a similar style of player is an interesting move, but will this be enough to spark the Jets’ engines and score some goals (they’ve got a -16 goal differential) as we enter an ever important week 5? Reaper’s assist total is crazy (44 assists, good for third in the league), but it’s been Kidmoney’s contributions in both the goal (28) and assist (32) column that make him the best player on the Jets. Both he and Reap need to step their game up this week if they want to hold that final playoff spot.

5. Edmonton Oilers
Points: 33.
Trend: Sideways.
MVP: LeCupidon.

Edmonton only got 8 points in week four, but was fortunate to close the gap between their team and the Jets by a point. They’ve got the second most goals against in the conference with 121, but their impressive offense is keeping their goal differential even and are giving this team a good chance to make it into the playoffs. His teammate Arrowhunter is second, but LeCupidon leads the league in assists with 55 and has been the best player for the Oilers for the majority of the season, and is an early candidate for the Hart trophy as he is tied for second in the league with 86 points in 31 games. He’ll need a lot of points in 9 games if he wants to play in the playoffs with the rest of his Oilers.

6. San Jose Sharks
Points: 24.
Trend: Sideways.
MVP: Single_G6.

The Sharks have been stuck in the mud for the past few weeks, never accumulating more than 8 points on a week and only gaining 7 this week. However, they ended the week on a winning streak and made a big move in acquiring toslick, who could form a dangerous line alongside Joe and G6. G6 remains this team’s (statistically, slick. Calm down) best player, and should be in consideration for the Selke trophy. He is able to produce offensively with 20 goals and 26 assists in 21 games and defensively with a giveaway to takeaway ratio under 3:1 and a 54.55 faceoff percentage. Scalz may want to thing about keeping him around for next season.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Philadelphia Flyers
Points: 48.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: Pete! La Pistola! The Greek Geek!

Philadelphia continues to be a top team in the Eastern Conference, as they hold on to that first seed for the second consecutive week. They’re second in goals scored (120) and fewest goals against (84) in the conference, and are getting significant contributions at all ends of the ice. Chad the Bitch has been exceptional in net (the guy is really good at CoD too), but Pete’s resurgence has been one of the best stories of the season, as he is fifth in the league in points (80), third in the league in goals (41), and fourth in the league for takeaways (86). Philly Pete and the Flyers seem ready for a deep playoff run.

2. New Jersey Devils.
Points: 46.
Trend: Upward (ALL THE WAY UP).
MVP: Rich2K8.

My goodness did we have a bounce back week! New Jersey won 8 of 9 games this week and are riding a 6 game winning streak, while the focus has shifted from offense to a stronger team defense. Their goals against average continues to drop and they now win closer, low scoring games. However, Rich continues to be an offensive powerhouse in this defensive system, as his goal total has climbed to 59 and his point total has climbed to 90, both good for the league lead. Will the winning streak continue this week? NOT WHEN PLISK SCHEDULES US AGAINST COLORADO TWICE.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning.
Points: 43.
Trend: Upward.
MVP: aali.

The Bolts remain competitive in the race for first seed, gaining 12 out of 18 points in the past week. Their goal differential is starting to look a little more natural (+12) for a usual offensive powerhouse in Tampa Bay. They have the talent in True and aali to surge past the Flyers and Devils to claim top seed in the conference. Speaking of those two, it became between them for the team’s MVP as Vince’s numbers have fallen off a bit (still top 5 goalie in the league), so I’m gonna go with aali. Aali is second to True on the team with 26 goals and 22 assists, but he makes a difference whenever he is on the ice, going +15 and winning 54.12% of faceoffs. Will this duo recapture the glory that True and Redflag had many moons ago?

4. Pittsburgh Penguins
Points: 38.
Trend: Sideways.
MVP: Bstie.
Pittsburgh is in a comfortable spot in the fourth seed of the conference, being 10 points ahead of their closest rival and if they continue to play like they have been recently, they won’t be giving up that spot. They lost the majority of their games last week, but some overtime losses helped them keep pace with the rest of the conference. Bstie was a big addition to the core of the Penguins at the beginning of the season, and has proved to be their best player. His 32 goals and 49 points lead his team (fix the stats on the site, Turd) and his defensive stats (75 takeaways, 54.17 faceoff percentage) are some of the best in the league. Let’s hope the Penguins maintain this momentum as they head into the playoffs.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs
Points: 28.
Trend: Downward
MVP: Is there one? I guess Execution.

Oh boy. The Leafs are really shitting the bed this season, and are now winless in their past 10 games. They made it to overtime twice this week and lost both times, and now Jayscott must focus on rebuilding a team that can compete next season. The fall of the Leafs is almost comparable to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006: Cup finalists one season, basement dwellers the next. Execution is still having a Norris trophy worthy season, leading all defenders with 3 goals and 28 assists for 31 points, while shutting players down with 84 takeaways. Jayscott should follow suit with Scalz and keep his best player around (sorry Stam and Fish, that isn’t you).

6. Columbus Blue Jackets
Points: 27.
Trend: Downward.
MVP: DJFreeze.

The Jackets are almost out of the basement, and if they keep playing the way they have while Toronto has fallen apart, they can avoid laying claim to the bottom team in the East! They had some good pieces that were moved to greener pastures, so it’s interesting to see how next week will turn out for Pemm and Columbus. DJFreeze has been this team’s best player and now shares the points lead for the team with Duckweed. His 20 goals in 20 games to go along with his 21 assists is good for the best point per game toal on a team that has struggled to find their groove. Back to the drawing board for the Jackets (tip, draft an elite goalie! (sorry Pemm))

One more week. One more chance to make a run for the playoffs, one more chance to solidify your position as a top team in the league, and one more chance to develop chemistry before you start facing the best of the best on a regular basis. These next 9 games will be make or break for every team in the league, so players have no reason not to give it all. Unless you want to tank. That’s cool too.

Off the Ice returned this past Saturday, and Koz, Reap, Plisk and I are looking to bring the show to you on a more regular basis. Check us out every Saturday at 10 pm on https://www.twitch.tv/thespnhl_media as we bring new the latest news and voice our somewhat relevant opinions as Koz and I bicker about bullshit while Plisk laughs at us and Reap’s phone cutting in and out. We love it!

Best of luck to everybody over the course of this next week! I can’t wait to see some of you folks in the playoffs, and I hope everybody who doesn’t make the playoffs has been working on their putting game!

-DD.

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