SPNHL, Season 34: Playoff Preview
By: Yesc_ and Dirty-Dietrich.

Why didn’t I do an article over the past few weeks? Good question. I went and saw Tool, which was awesome and melted my mind. Before that, the GF came over and we were banging out our frustration with school and group work in particular. Then, I spent the past weekend working llike 10 hours a day, because we had the great idea to do inventory two weeks before Black Friday. Brilliant!

If you couldn’t tell, I am ON EDGE.

The regular season portion of season 34 has come to a close for the SPNHL, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Detroit and Dallas were fighting for the President’s Trophy until the final game of the season (which was technically a reschedule but whatever, who’s gonna audit us), while Calgary dwelled in the basement. The east was a tight race until half of Pittsburgh’s team quit (in traditional bottom team fashion) and solidified our 4 playoff teams for that conference.

Those 45 regular season games aren’t meaningless, but their impact is miniscule in comparison to the next 4-21 games the eight playoff teams could be playing. Their offensive prowess will be challenged, their defensive acumen will be tested, their mental endurance will be questioned, and they will have to play some of the hardest games they have played all season. We’ve got a good mix of offensive powerhouses, defensive stalwarts, and scrappy underdogs amongst our eight playoff teams, so let’s take a gander at some of our matchups.

Because my schedule is busier than a President’s during impeachment hearings (TIMELY content!), my dear friend YesC/Jessums/Yesse has kindly helped out with this article and analyzed the Eastern conference, while I have analyzed the West. We looked at each team’s regular season record, constructed their starting lineup, identified their X-factor, and evaluated their strength, weakness, and recipe for success. Is it a recycled format? You bet your ass it is. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

EASTERN CONFERENCE (Yesse)

Playoffs in the Gerontogeous.

Here we go, we have The Wings vs the Leafs and The Sen’s vs The Flyers. Two great matchups with each series having contrasting styles that could damage some puny egos that we in have SP. The Leafs style is aggravating and could get under The Wings skin. There’s no sign of this yet considering Detroit has literally owned Toronto this season. Philly’s style and the way some of their players carry themselves could send the usually calm (not Peen though) Sens off their rocker. Detroit comes into the playoffs with huge confidence after securing their back-to-back president’s trophy. Ottawa comes in with sad news learning that its fearless leader (DD edit: I’m afraid of most things, actually. My anxiety has been through the fucking ROOF lately) is stepping away from SP and this is his last hoorah. Philadelphia comes in with a brand new offense until someone gets suspended again. The Leafs come in asking if the season is over yet. Now that the joking half serious half not stuff is done lets break it down.

Detroit Red Wings (1) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (4)

Team: Detroit Red Wings
GM: Reapz
Regular Season Record: 39-6-0 (Presidents Trophy; back to back)
Leading Scorer: LeCupidon
X-Factor: Reapz2313
Starting lineup:
LW: LeCupidon
C: Kidmon3y
RW: Reapz2313
LD: Dirty_Triix_13
RD: xXDjfreezeXx
G: John Cena (you can’t see him)

Strengths: Offense and the starting lineup. These guys can flat out fly. All 5 of their starters can and do produce. Playing every game imaginable with your forwards is huge and these guys know where to be at all times with their explosive chemistry. Their defense chips in a good bit here too as Triix is a well-known forward that gives that D-Pairing a nice offensive spark.

Weakness: The Utility guys/Rewards. The utility guys don’t play much so who knows how they will respond come playoff time. The other is the EA rewarding that the wings have going for them. I said it earlier these guys are explosive and you can’t take that away, but for some reason they score some crazy goals. How do they respond when they don’t get that favorable bounce?

Recipe for success: Win the games that they are favored in and take advantage of the mistakes that Toronto are likely to make.

Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
GM: Lomax
Regular Season Record: 20-19-6
Leading Scorer: Fluri37
X-Factor: Fluri37
Starting lineup:
LW: SA_Pliskin
C: Fluri37
RW: Arrowhunter14
LD: Malf922
RD: GoHawks496
G: SgtVandoos

Strengths: Grinding and unpredictability. Opposite of Detroit, these guys don’t fly. They can score but this is a team built on taking a lead or staying in a close game. They hit. They work. These is no quit in this team. They are led by Fluri offensively but if they can get some availability from Fishure that dynamic changes quick.

Weakness: Availability and scoring. They have some bad luck with getting their best player to show. If Fishy shows this teams colors change and could hang punch for punch with the best. Without a forward like fish this team needs to score early and stay out of the box. Grinding is a huge thing for this team but grinding to hard can get you into a little penalty trouble.

Recipe for success: Double LeCupidon. Make Detroit work for their goals and do not panic if you fall down in the series. Get FISHY to SHOW.

Prediction: Detroit in 5. Detroit goes into playoffs red hot as Toronto limps in with a 4 game losing streak. I don’t expect Fish to show, leaving The Leafs with the daunting task of matching that scoring success that The Wings possess.

Ottawa Senators (2) vs Philadelphia Flyers (3)

Team: Ottawa Senators
GM: Dirty-Dietrich
Regular Season Record: 28-15-2
Leading Scorer: TrueLegend07
X-Factor: TrueLegend07
Starting lineup:
LW: TrueLegend07
C: Jmm420
RW: xHughes43 (DD edit: I still can’t believe I got this clown in the 7th round)
LD: Sukmychinesepeen
RD: Chieftrout
G: Ciulla19

Strengths: Balance and Depth. This is a fun group to dissect. This is to me the most complete team next my Stars. The offense runs through Truelegend but it doesn’t have to. Jmm or Hughes can carry the load if need be. DD will provide offense when he plays as well. They have starters playing as backups everywhere, from DD, to M1Keal, and even two of the better goalies in the league in Ciulla/Grizz. (DD edit: Grizz just got his fucking account banned. Ciulla is gonna have to carry our asses. RIP)

Weakness: Big time scorer/Go to guy. Having all the balance and depth is good but if not careful your biggest strength can be a weakness. Who steps in a big moment or game? Who calms the frustrations when the game doesn’t go the Senators way?

Recipe for success: Riding those two amazing goalies. They can steal games for this team. Staying calm and collected will take this team far. (DD edit: RIP.)

Team: Philadelphia Flyers
GM: XyuhMarvDuhManX
Regular Season Record: 24-16-4
Leading Scorer: Rollabackwoods
X-Factor: Ska-_-Noodle
Starting lineup:
LW: xGP33
C: Ska-_-Noodle
RW: Rollabackwoods
LD: PistolPete7788
RD: Nowyodead
G: XyuhMarvDuhManX

Strengths: Offense and Nastiness. This forward line hasn’t even got to play together yet in SP but we all know what those 3 could do. It could be the best forward line in the league. Could easily take them to the finals over anyone. This Philly team is resilient, they play hard and just play nasty.

Weakness: Availability and Penalties. If Gods and noodle have VG and LG you can expect a different team here. Still good with guys like Rolla and Pete but noticeably different without GODSNOODLE. This team plays with an edge so they take a lot of penalties. They are the 2nd worst PK unit in the east with a 72.4 PK%.

Recipe for success: Get GP and Noodle eliminated from VG and stay out of the box. (DD edit: pretty sure they advanced. We have a chance)

Prediction: Philly in 7. Who loses their cool first? Who quits first? Gp or Chinesepeen? This is the series to watch this playoffs. The most even we have in the 1st round. It could go either way but I have a feeling Yuh’s Flyers will get under the skin of The Senators and get them off their game.
WESTERN CONFERENCE

Dallas Stars (1) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (4)

Team: Dallas Stars
GM: Yesc.
Regular Season Record: 36-6-3.
Leading Scorer: Iam_mrbean.
X-Factor: Iam_mrbean.
Starting lineup:
LW: Iam_mrbean.
C: YesC.
RW: Grammyhands.
LD: Royalkc85.
RD: Ultimategamer.
G: Chadkillz.

Strengths: offensive ability. There is not a “good” forward on this team, as they could all easily be classified as great. Their puck movement is mind boggling at times, confusing goaltenders and defenses all season (scoring 221 goals, good for just under 5 goals a game). Bean’s ability to find the back of the net pairs incredibly well with Royal’s breakout passes, Grammy and YesC’s creativity in the offensive zone, and really any other forward who gives him the puck. Their backup forwards are Mister H,Sidd and Stoner. Those two are BACKUPS. Enough said.

Weakness: defensive depth. While Royal and Gamer have been shut down defenders all season, the lack of additional (natural) options may pose a problem for Dallas when it is time to schedule their backups. Stonerboy (as we previously mentioned) is registered as a right defender, but we all know he is a forward. Icecoldcaptain, Yesc’s real life best friend, hasn’t seen a lot of time this season, and likely will not in these playoffs, so gamer and Royal need to be at the top of their game.

Recipe for Success: control the puck. The Stars hold onto that puck like it’s their last dollar. They’re intelligent, creative, and effective when they have possession, and they will force Vegas to make mistakes that will end up being quite costly.

Team: Vegas Golden Knights
GM: FIVEpointOHHH.
Regular Season Record: 17-27-1.
Leading Scorer: Servnspike.
X-Factor: Mg2452.
Starting lineup:
LW: Ethhan.
C: Servnspike.
RW: Mg2452.
LD: Shepard.
RD: Tripz.
G: Iceyasylum.

Strength: defensive focus. This team doesn’t have a lot of offensive firepower, unless Etthan’s kid plays for him (whoops). However, they have a core of defensive forwards (including last season’s Selke trophy winner) and some solid stay at home defenders. Their defensive mindset will be what they need to rely on to shut down an offensive powerhouse like this Dallas squad. Vegas made it to the finals last season, and although it may be difficult, they need to retain their defensive composure to make it there.

Weakness: offensive firepower. While this team has some good forwards, most of them are known for their defensive abilities than their offensive performance (yeah yeah, MG, you were gloating about your defensive stats so SUCCME). Their lack of goal scoring could prove to be the difference against a Dallas team that are known for their high scoring games. The Knights will have to grind it out to get goals against the Stars.

Recipe for Success: HOLD THE LINE (LOVE ISN’T ALWAYS ON TIME). Keep a solid blue-line defense and prevent this offensive juggernaut from entering the zone. Stuff their zone entry attempts, frustrate their offense, and capitalize.

Prediction: Stars in 4. Sorry Knights, but you’re fucked. Dallas is on a mission to make it to the finals, and I don’t believe the Knights are going to take a game in this series.
Nashville Predators (2) vs. Vancouver Canucks (3)

Team: Nashville Predators.
GM: Redconcept.
Regular Season Record: 14-28-3.
Leading Scorer: Ivanthygreat.
X-Factor: Ajota1112.
Starting lineup:
LW: Beaster.
C: Ivanthygreat.
RW: Ajota1112.
LD: Redconcept.
RD: Wheelchairdevon8.
G: Single_G6.

Strength: forecheck. Playing against this team, they are fast and aggressive (almost too aggressive at times, but we’ll get to that later) and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. AJ and Ivan will pressure offences into easy mistakes, while Beaster’s defensive expertise adds to their gritty line. This team will rely on Devon and Red sending pucks to the net and their forwards to get the greasy goals. No fancy stuff from the Predators, they’re efficient and effective.

Weakness: no elite talent. Much like what Ottawa suffers from, the Predators lack a superstar that can be used to drive offense for this club. Ivan is a good playmaker, but not the one who could carry a team. The Predators are a team that relies on contributions from all areas of the ice, and needs everybody to play a strong team game if Nashville wants any chance of winning this series.

Recipe for Success: accountability. If the Predators want to move on, they’ll need to compensate for their aggressiveness and play responsibly against the loaded Canucks squad. Take chances, but don’t get too careless.
Team: Vancouver Canucks
GM: Sedinpower.
Regular Season Record: 18-23-4.
Leading Scorer: bstieboydp.
X-Factor: ttommyboiii.
Starting lineup:
LW: bstieboydp.
C: sedinpower.
RW: ttommyboiii.
LD: uberpwned.
RD: Bergysdeke.
G: Sliyumshady.

Strength: pure talent. These guys should easily have been the second seed with the amount of talent they have. A Norris caliber defender in Uber, a Vezina/Hart caliber goaltender in Sliyum, and a Selke/Hart caliber forward in bstie. Sedin is a Norris winning defender who is also an excellent defensive center, while Tommy’s offensive tendencies at defense are utilized much more effectively at forward. Why did a team like this finish third in the conference, you may ask?

Weakness: availability. That’s why. While this squad is absolutely loaded with talent and should have challenged Dallas for the top spot in this conference, their availability has been dog shit and this has nearly cost them a playoff spot. The most games played by anybody this season was Bstie with 24, averaging less than 5 games a week. He’ll need to be out there for all 7 this series to ensure the Canucks make it past this round.

Recipe for Success: get their top line playing as much as possible. They haven’t gotten much mileage out of their starting lineup, but if they do, this could be a very challenging series for the Predators and a much easier series for the Canucks.

Prediction: Canucks in 6. This team is comprised of so many star players, that even if they don’t get full availability, they’ll still have a lineup capable of winning games. I expect the Predators to get a few wins in, but this is Vancouver’s series to win.
Eight teams are eagerly anticipating next Monday, as they take their first steps towards potentially becoming the Season 34 Stanley Cup Champions of the SPNHL. All these teams have their own identities that are either going to lead them to their destiny or to their demise. Defense needs to be prioritized, but offense can not be ignored. Egos need to get checked at the door, and everybody needs to put the team first if they want any chance at vying for the Cup.

Now, we play the waiting game. We may grace you with an episode of SPNHL Off the Ice, but I’m so fucking busy that I barely have time to take a shit. It sounds unhealthy. However, if we do broadcast one, make sure to head over to twitch.tv/thespnhl_media and join the conversation! Make your voice heard, call us out on our bullshit, and maybe even join the show and enable us and our shenanigans.

I want to thank Good Ol’ Jessums for his help with the article and the kind words he said about me, and wish everybody the best of luck in these playoffs.

We’ll see you on the ice!
Yesc & DD.

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