SPNHL, Season 32: Stanley Cup Final Preview
* Cue Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile” (TBH that song is overplayed as fuck, their song “Mudshovel” has a killer bassline and takes the cake as their best track)*
You think after finishing school, you’d have a bit more consistency with delivering media content. FOOOOOK no!
After seven grueling weeks of the thirty second season of the SPNHL, we are down to our final seven games. Out of the twelve teams who were vying for the title of SPNHL Champions, there are two remaining: the Vegas Golden Knights and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It’s a tale of two powerhouses: the President’s Trophy winner coming out of the Eastern Conference, and the pre-season favourites emanating out of the Western Conference. It’s a tale of two different team structures: Tampa Bay’s consistent core of offensive threats, while Vegas only has three of their original 8 players, making big trades all season to build their championship caliber team. They also followed a very similar playoff path, with a total of only three losses between the two teams to go with their 16 total wins.
These two teams are very talented offensively, they’re well built defensively, and they have exceptional goaltending. No matter what happens, we’re in for a highly competitive and incredibly entertaining series, but we should take a look at the journey that both of these teams have taken to get to this stage. Okay? Okay. You don’t get to choose anyway, just give your legs a shake so they don’t fall asleep as you read this on the shitter.
Tampa Bay Lightning
After a tremendous regular season that resulted in a President’s Trophy victory, the Lightning took the first seed in the Eastern Conference and were matched up with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a series where the explosive offense of the Bolts was matched up against the gritty, hard-working style of the Pens. After splitting the first two games and keeping the series relatively close, the Lightning won 3 in a row including a decisive 7-1 game 5 victory to seal the series and set the pace for their next round.
In that next round, Tampa Bay found themselves in a series against the defending champions, the New Jersey Devils, who disposed of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 5 games. The Lightning’s offensive talent was pitted against the tenacious defense of the Devils in what looked to be a fierce matchup. However, the Lightning’s ferocity overpowered the Devils and stifled their offense as they followed the exact same sequence as the Pittsburgh series. W-L-W-W-W.
Tampa Bay’s reign of terror through the Eastern Conference brings the franchise to the finals for the first time since season five. Uber and Stoner are returning to the finals for a second consecutive season, hoping to fare a bit better than their six game loss to the Devils. After defeating the ghosts of their past in the previous round, Stoner and Uber’s supporting caste of Ajax, Stamkos, Drew (Full Melt/Panini Boy), Legendary, Daf, and others look to keep the Cup in the Eastern Conference.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights struggled in the first portion of the season, as they possessed a roster that had a significant lower level of talent in comparison to their present roster. After making some big trades to acquire Sudzy, Jason, and Francey, they solidified their top line and made a playoff push. They landed the third seed in the Western Conference and faced off against the incredibly dangerous Vancouver Canucks, in what many expected to be the must-see series of the first round. However, availability (fucking no shows, way to go Fish) was an issue for Vancouver and cost them the series, with the Knights decimating the Canucks in a 4 game series. GET THE BROOMS.
In the second round, the Knights were matched up against the Los Angeles Kings. The Western Conference Finals have a history of being predictable, with the past four finals featuring a heavily favoured Colorado Avalanche, and while the King of Colorado in Sedinpower migrated to Vegas to reach another Western Final, they were up against a dangerous Los Angeles squad that had the potential to reach the finals. After winning the first game, the Kings dropped four straight games to the Vegas squad, as they reached their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final.
Sliyumshady brings a new group to the Cup Finals, but an experienced one at that. Once he traded for the first overall pick and got Sedinpower, many people predicted that Vegas would win the cup. Getting Jason as a defensive partner for him bolstered their blueline, and while trades for Francey and Sudzy loaded their top line, their third round pick of Defenestrate/Cohen was the steal of the draft and gives the Knights an elite centre to cash in on their second consecutive attempt to win the cup.
Enough bullshit. Let’s break this series down.
STANLEY CUP FINAL: Vegas Golden Knights (West, 3rd Seed) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (East, 1st Seed).
This is it, everybody. There is a big fight feel as we get prepared for what should be a fantastic series. It’s a battle of dynamic, game-breaking offenses, strong, frustrating defenses, and incredibly solid goaltending featuring a great comeback story. The level of competition that this series will feature will be unmatched up to this point this season. Let’s take a look at how these teams match up.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been incredibly dominant in the offensive zone this season, being one of the top scoring teams in the regular season. Their offense hasn’t been as potent in this post-season, after averaging more than 4 goals in the regular season and averaging 3.3 this postseason. The Golden Knights are scoring at an otherworldly pace in these playoffs, scoring 47 goals in 9 games for an average of 5.2 goals a game. Tampa Bay has more weapons in their arsenal in Stoner, Stamkos, Legendary, and FullMelt, but they’re up against two elite scorers in Cohen and Sudzy, who have looked to be unstoppable this postseason. Francey is good support for Sudzy and Cohen, but the Lightning have a more complete attack.
Uberpwned has emerged as a top-tier defender, competing for the Norris trophy almost head-to-head with GodsPlan. His pairing with Ajax has proved to be one of the best offensive-defensive pairings in the league. However, the Vegas Golden Knights have Mr. SP himself in Sedinpower. Sedin’s partner was inconsistent until the Knights landed Jason from the Edmonton Oilers, and the two clicked to establish one of the strongest defensive pairings in the league. While Tampa’s pairing may have more chemistry, having played together for the full season, Vegas’s pairing has a Championship pedigree which will pay off in this series. Advantage: Vegas.
Sliyumshady has been one of the premier goaltenders for the past three seasons, winning a Hart trophy over that span as well. He consistently boasts save percentages above 85% and some of the best GAA’s in each season. He nearly won the cup last season in net, so he’s looking to rectify that mistake over this week. On the other end of the ice, you have two goalies competing for the starting spot: Rancher, a former Conn Smythe and Vezina winner, and Dafoumanchew, who is having an excellent bounce back season. Daf has proved he is a top-tier goaltender, while Rancher is cementing his legacy of being one of the best postseason goaltenders with an insane 96.72% save percentage. It’s so hard to pick a winner between the two, so I’m gonna call it even. Fuckem! Advantage: audience.
It’s super tough to make a prediction in this series. Both of these teams are incredibly even, and there are some familiar faces making their second consecutive trips to the finals. There’s a lot of top players throughout the community in one series here, so we’re in for a treat. However, I feel that Tampa Bay has a bit of the offensive edge, and the defensive edge that Vegas holds may not be as strong. With that being said, I’m gonna predict it now: Tampa Bay in Seven. Fuck me, right?
Overall, this will be a fulfilling conclusion to a grueling two months of hockey. I’m genuinely excited to watch it so for the love of god, can somebody stream it? This will be seven games of pure (virtual) competition, and it’s gonna be some of the best we’ve seen all season. Highlight reel goals, big hits, clap dumps, desperation saves, one handed tucks, and much more will be seen over the course of this week.
Nothing confirmed right now, but the plan is for Reap, Koz, Plisk, and I to do some coverage of the final on SPNHL: Off the Ice! We’ll be doing commentary on the games, conducting interviews between games, bickering with each other, and making fun of Kozmo and his quest for the cup. Tune in Monday and Tuesday to twitch.tv/thespnhl_media and see if we are actually doing a show! (we’ll be going live at 8:30 Eastern each night if we are doing it).
Finally, good luck to both the Knights and the Lightning in these finals! It should be a hard fought series, so give everything you got and DON’T BE A C*NT AND NO SHOW!
See you all soon! <3 -DD.