SPNHL, Season 37: Playoffs, Round One – “Two Thirds”
We’re past the regular season, so now it’s time to break out the big guns. So, I’m gonna start doing these reviews about some of the albums that I love. I discussed doing reviews of new-wave albums at the beginning of the season, and while I’ve strayed from that concept a little bit, it’s time to go back to that genre. Let’s start off our playoff coverage by talking about one of the greatest albums to come from that genre: Tears for Fears’ 1985 triumph “Songs from the Big Chair”.
“Songs from the Big Chair” starts off with one of the band’s most well known hits in “Shout”, an incredibly creative tune with a catchy, sing-along chorus. While the middle section of the album contains international hits like “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “Mothers Talk”, the album really hits its stride in the closing three tracks. “Broken” is a prototypical new-wave song, while “Head Over Heels” showcases the band’s pop sensibilities, and “Listen” is a dreamy, experimental experience that boasts some of the most creative segments of this record. Is it an album that’s all over the place? Maybe. Is it an album that encapsulated how much you could do within the confines of this new and exciting style of music? Absolutely.
Two thirds of a team’s potential nine week season (6 weeks of the regular season, plus three weeks of playoffs) have concluded. That number is primarily written as 0.666 (THE NUMBERRRR OFFFF THE BEAST!), and the last week of the season has unfortunately eliminated 6 teams from contention. With that being said, I’d like to say thank you to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Vegas Golden Knights, the Ottawa Senators, the San Jose Sharks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Vancouver Canucks for making it to the end of the season. For a lot of these teams, they were at the bottom of the conference and/or league all season long, and it takes dedication to ride it out for the season.
With those six teams out of the way, eight teams remain as they look to win the Stanley Cup in the thirty-seventh season of the SPNHL. From the Eastern conference, we have the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Detroit Red Wings, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the New Jersey Devils. In the Western conference, we got the Winnipeg Jets, the Edmonton Oilers, the Minnesota Wild, and the Anaheim Ducks. The East has some of the best offensive lines in the league, while the West has some of the best defensive cores in the league. However, for a team to make it to the playoffs, they must be far from one dimensional.
I’m gonna change it up this season: we’re gonna look at each playoff series and I’ll give you my prediction. We’ll recap the two teams’ regular season performance, talk about their MVPs and X-factors, and discuss who has the advantage in offense, defense, and goaltending. From there, we’ll make an educated guess about the results of the series and ruffle some feathers. Sound good? Cool. Let’s get to it.
Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs. New Jersey Devils (4)
1. Tampa Bay Lightning.
Regular Season Record: 41-10-3.
Notable Stats: 282 goals for (2nd), 43.2% powerplay conversion (1st).
MVP: hypey- (108 goals for, second in the league).
X-Factor: PistolPete7788_ (led defenders in goals (30) and assists (68)).
4. New Jersey Devils.
Regular Season Record: 35-15-4.
Notable Stats: 241 goals for (4th), 34.9% powerplay conversion (5th).
MVP: TrueLegend07 (142 points, fifth in the league).
X-Factor: Pfarrcyde23 (2.5 points per game, sparked a massive turnaround in NJ).
Season Series: New Jersey won 3-2.
Offense: with the addition of Pfarrcyde23 to their line, TrueLegend07 and bstieboydp found their anchor and gave AAli-21 a new weapon to pass to. New Jersey also has better depth options (eye2797 and Imcensored55) than the Lightning, but when you only need to play backups one game a series, Tampa Bay will be running their incredible top line of hypey-, i9i-stamkos-i1ic, bluedevil631, PistolPete7788_ , and DodgesBlueShells for 6 games a series. The Bolts simply have the better top line. Advantage: Tampa Bay.
Defense and Goaltending: we’re gonna lump these two together to make my job easier. New Jersey has the aforementioned AAli-21 spearheading their breakout, and is usually paired with either DJ_DeaThSlapz85 or malf922 in front of Fivestarcoock. A respectable back-end, but one that isn’t as strong as the best defensive duo in the league in PistolPete7788_ and DodgesBlueShells. A duo with years of chemistry, they’ve thrived in front of Bufford80 and Shootersteele19, and they’ll give Tampa the defensive edge Advantage: Tampa Bay.
Everything Else: another shortcut perhaps, but I’m writing this and you aren’t, so piss off. Tampa bay has the special teams advantage, leading the league in powerplay conversion (43.2%) and penalty kill (83.9%). New Jersey may not have the best penalty kill, however, Tampa Bay has one thing against them, per my inside sources, and that’s composure. I feel that New Jersey has more experienced players who have played in these big games and know what it takes to get it done. Let’s see if the Devils can use that to their advantage this series.
Advantage: New Jersey.
The Verdict: the Lightning’s lethal top line with some of the best forwards and defenders in the league is going to be too much for the Devils to overcome. Prediction: Lightning in 6.
Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (3)
2. Detroit Red Wings.
Regular Season Record: 38-15-1.
Notable Stats: 328 goals for (1st), 57.1% penalty kill (14th).
MVP: LeCupidon (led the league in goals (110) and assists (135))
X-Factor: mjvoell4 (second on the team in points per game with 4.3).
3. Philadelphia Flyers.
Regular Season Record: 37-14-3.
Notable Stats: 126 goals against (1st), 37.5% powerplay conversion (3rd).
MVP: xSilky93 (led the Flyers in goals with 46).
X-Factor: DudNastyy (led the Flyers in assists (57) and points (94) between forward and defense).
Season Series: Philadelphia won 3-2.
Offense: the Flyers are ripe with offensive weapons throughout their roster, with a lethal top line of xSilky93, Bunzy-62, and Duchesne_x_10 and versatile players who can play forward and defense. However, Detroit comes to this series with the only two players to eclipse the 200 point mark this season in LeCupidon and Reapz2313. mjvoell4 and KIDMON3Y are the other two forwards who make up this team’s forward core, and any combination of those four give the Red Wings a good chance of winning the game. Advantage: Detroit.
Defense and Goaltending: Detroit has a very balanced back end, with a great offensive pairing in curtisx18x and Faaa_Kueue, and a defensive duo in Matrikstl and Dedstarks. Eddie2708_ and CapBan_Clark1999 are a solid goaltending tandem, but Philadelphia has Detroit beat in this category. With last season’s Vezina winner in Spencer_Knight30 and NHLBEAST- as his backup, they have a top tier goaltending duo that’s playing behind a Norris favourite in DudNastyy and his variety of reliable partners that include PXSTRNAK-_-, DUPERMAN13, and Yesc__. Advantage: Philadelphia.
Everything Else: Detroit has the composure and experience edge over Philadelphia, that’s for sure. The Red Wings have the better powerplay (capitalizing on 38.9% of their chances compared to the Flyers’ 37.5%), but their penalty kill is disastrous. Many people have criticized Detroit’s defensive efforts in the past, but the best defense is a good offense. However, when the Flyers have a good offense (197 goals for), a good defense, and something to prove, and they’re going to be too much of a match for the Red Wings. Advantage: Philadelphia.
The Verdict: Philadelphia may have trapped their way to the team they have now, but as long as they win the Cup, they don’t care. They’re on their way. Prediction: Philadelphia in 6.
Winnipeg Jets (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (4)
1. Winnipeg Jets.
Regular Season Record: 38-9-7.
Notable Stats: 141 goals against (3rd), 79.3% penalty kill (3rd).
MVP: Elfpha (46 goals for, 4.3 PPG, leads team in both).
X-Factor: ProdigyToLegend (led team in assists (57)).
4. Anaheim Ducks.
Regular Season Record: 30-22-1 (???).
Notable Stats: 73.7% penalty kill (3rd), 99 penalties (11th).
MVP: toslick (led team in goals (71) and assists (70)).
X-Factor: Fluri37 (62 goals and assists each, 4,3 PPG (led the team)).
Season Series: Winnipeg won 5-1.
Offense: toslick and Fluri37 have a ton of chemistry together, and bring out the best in anybody they play with, whether it be Dptickler, xSalda-, or SMOKESHOWJOE. They’ve got a good offensive core, but the Jets have them beat. They have (arguably) the best forward in the league in Elfpha (the former PBM_TroyJ), their leading scorer in Bartlett–98 (92 points), Boston’s MVP in i_Zinczy_i_TV, and scorers in BRANN-THE-MANN and Gallagher_11x. They can build the better top line between the two. Advantage: Winnipeg.
Defense and Goaltending: ExE-_-53 took over the team halfway through the season, and brought in NowYoDead to be his defensive partner. While angl3dangle_ can play defense, he will likely be the Ducks’ starting goalie in these playoffs. ProdigyToLegend has assembled a great defensive trio comprised of himself, CaptCanada_, and the dynamic and versatile ttommyboiii. Those three have exceeded expectations all season, and have provided support for Glachs and dophares2000, who have gotten better over time. Advantage: Winnipeg.
Everything Else: Anaheim definitely has the chemistry edge, with Fluri37 and NowYoDead winning the cup in Calgary last season, and having extended history with their teammates. They have as much championship experience, as the Jets players who have won the Cup are ProdigyToLegend, CaptCanada_, and Elfpha. However, the Jets are better in every statistical category than the Ducks, and in this amateur sports journalist’s opinions, are the overall better team. Advantage: Winnipeg.
The Verdict: I promise I’m not being salty because toslick torches us every time we play him. This is just numbers, and the numbers don’t lie. Prediction: Winnipeg in 5.
Edmonton Oilers (2) vs. Minnesota Wild (3)
2. Edmonton Oilers.
Regular Season Record: 40-12-2.
Notable Stats: 134 goals against (2nd), 76.5% penalty kill (4th).
MVP: JonFromEarth (led the team with 60 goals and 60 assists).
X-Factor: DeathClxwn (wanted to start playing defense, we haven’t lost a game since).
3. Minnesota Wild.
Regular Season Record: 29-18-7.
Notable Stats: 83.3% penalty kill (2nd), 143 goals against (4th).
MVP: chadkillz134 (led all goalies with 46 GP, had a 2.83 GAA with a .835% save percentage).
X-Factor: GrammyHands (the team’s highest scorer, averaged 2.9 PPG over his 42 GP).
Season Series: Edmonton won 4-2.
Offense: ugh. This is an easy one, I’m sorry Minnesota. Don’t get me wrong, GrammyHands is one of the best players and teammates in the league, and Beantwn_beatdwn and Heroic_veil2 can support him on a respectable top line. However, they’re squaring off against one of the best offensive cores in the West, spearheaded by JonFromEarth. With options on the wing including standout rookie Buckleyx18, versatile forwards in l9lTKJOSl8l and I, as well as II-C-_-O-_-W-II and fmoham6627, the Oilers have the better offense. Advantage: Edmonton.
Defense and Goaltending: Ciulla19 had the most wins out of any goalie this past season, winning 33 of his 41 games. Edmonton also has a deep defensive core to play in front of him, the weight of which has been carried by ChiefTrout and rharmer3, but also now employs DeathClxwn and Porteous1436. However, Minnesota has the most experienced defensive duo in shepard-88- and SNAKE_-_PLISSKIN, and the best goalie in the league in chadkillz134. This is a close one, but I’ll give the nod to the Wild. Advantage: Minnesota.
Everything Else: when it comes to playoff experience, Grammy has won multiple cups while DeathClxwn, ChiefTrout, and I have seen multiple Cup finals (I even won a cup in one of them!). We have a few combustible elements, but the Oilers have begun to cooperate after some inner conflicts. Aside from penalty kill, the Wild are subordinate to the Oilers in most statistical categories, and will unfortunately be the downfall of them in this series. Advantage: Edmonton.
The Verdict: I love Grammy, Sportsgeek, and Chad, but sorry guys, we’re out for blood. We’re looking to make a statement. See you tomorrow. Prediction: Edmonton in 5.
This is the beginning of the three most important weeks in the SPNHL. These next three weeks will test teams physically, mentally, and emotionally. How will teams respond to falling behind in a series early, or availability issues within their squad. Will they be able to adapt to teams’ different styles over the course of their series, or will they try to make their opponents play their kind of game. Will superstars live up to the hype, or will they fall flat when push comes to shove? Will underachievers step up to the plate and be their team’s MVP? So many of these questions will be answered over the course of the next three weeks.
Hopefully, we’ll get the show back up and running and Fluri, Pliskin, and I can bring you all of our hot takes (sometimes terrible takes, but we do what we can). You can catch these on SPNHL: Off the Ice live on https://twitch.tv/thespnhl_media, and it looks like it will traditionally be on Sunday nights going forward. If you miss it, you can always watch this episode and all of our older broadcasts by using the same link. You can also subscribe and turn on notifications so you never miss a show!
You know the drill: give it all, bust your ass, and try to bring the Cup home.
Good luck to all the teams this week, we’ll see you on the ice!