What's up NHLGamers,
28 games later, right? That's where we stand now compared to where we started off in mid-October. As always, there's been no shortage of action and interesting events during the regular season in Elite. Unfortunately, we saw a team fold this season, nothing you'd want to see on the very highest level but sometimes our minds don't think alike and conflicts prevail. This time around, we were treated to suspense all the way to the end, as no playoff matchups were solidified prior to the last round. Also, a tight battle was being fought over the last playoff spot, as Northern Stars needed a mede 2 points from their matchup against Rusty blades to overtake Unlucky Boys for the final spot. The outcome sure was unlucky for the Boys, as Northern Stars rose to the occasion and clinched a spot in the playoffs.
With all this being said, the ECL 7 Elite Playoffs start today, Tuesday November 27th of November 2018. Teams are allowed to start scheduling games immediately and the games of the first round have to be finished by Tuesday December 4th, 2018. As you guys know, the series are played with a best-of-7 system, meaning the first team to reach four wins advances to the next round.
As we had one team fold this season, only the team placed 15th will face automatic relegation. This season, Falun Coal Miners is the team that is facing relegation. On top of that, we have two relegation battles that will commence once the Pro playoffs have been played. The ECL 7 Elite teams heading into these battles are SIKA (14th) and Gotham Knights (13th).
These are the matchups for the first round of our ECL 7 Elite Playoffs:
Courtesy of @vSilenttio
The Finnish Champions of FILADELPHIA surely weren't joking when they stated in their 16 in 16 that they'd be the team that is going to take home all of ECL 7 Elite. We know it's only the regular season but so far, so good. Of course they had their own problems during the regular season just like every other team out there but when it comes to FILA, these guys know how to handle those situations and how to move on, being even better going further. Stat-wise FILA's players were on at their best when the games mattered the most. Four out of their five opening roster guys were in the scoring top 20 after 28 games - and the remaining guy who's not there is @Janzuh, who is known as one of the best D-men of the whole next gen era. You could say no wonder things went well for these guys. The main offensive trio of @PleeMaker, @Patzlaf and @Eki was dominant as they scored 55 goals together which sounds pretty crazy when you compare it to other Elite teams who made the playoffs - teams such as Northern Stars (40GF), Northern Ascendancy (53GF) and Sjukstugan (58GF). So their offense is fine, their defensive pairing is perhaps the best in all of Europe and they have two top goaltenders who can bail them out if they end up being in a tough spot.
On the opposing side we have ECL 6 Elite's finalists Northern Ascendancy. They didn't have the easiest road to the playoffs, that's for sure. The team had a really slow start as they managed to win only 3 out of their first ten outings. Granted, their schedule was on the more difficult end. With one win less they would have placed 9th in the final standings and thusly falling short of a playoff spot. After somewhat surprisingly losing a few games against non-playoff teams such as Unlucky Boys and Almost Famous and having a rather shaky vide to their game, the veterans in NOR found a way to make the playoffs. Experience is the key word I believe. At one point they even started rotating their roster for some reason, D-men playing offense and vice versa.
FILADELPHIA simply has to be the team coming out on top in this series. I predict a series score of 4-1.
Courtesy of @jahajaha93
This matchup is going to be something of a Finland-Sweden battle. As far as I know, at least all NOS skaters are Swedish and SYM on the other hand is all Finnish except for netminder and assistant captain @ICappeI, who managed to set an ECL Elite record by amassing 8 shutouts in just 10 games in the regular season.
Symphony has had a great season so far. Despite losing @ADETIKKI after a disappointing third place finish in IS Cup 3 6vs6, the team managed to bounce back and find an even better run of form towards the end of the season. SYM quickly patched up the hole left by ADETIKKI, as @tbnantti joined. Antti is an experienced player, whose importance for his team this season couldn't be stressed enough. He immediately commanded the centerman position and has been a good force to build the teams play around for the remainder of the season. We'll have to hope he can keep up his good form going into the playoffs. I would dare to say that the strength of Symphony lies in their offense. Antti at center is a good balancing factor to the offensively talented winger duo @indi969 and @Buantso, they are also getting some good secondary scoring from down low as @Ilmari_30 chips in on the offensive side quite often.
The underdog in this series is without a doubt Northern Stars. Not by a massive margin, though. The Swedes have been playing a solid game for the whole season, while being able to go toe-to-toe with the best of teams in the Elite division. However, they have suffered some surprising losses against Team Frosty and Falun Coal Miners to name a few. One worrying factor for the Stars in this matchup has to be the fact that they are facing one of the hottest goaltenders in the ECL right now, and they haven't directly had an easy time putting the puck in the net so far. 40 goals scored during the regular season is by far the least out of all playoff teams. Experience is the strength of this team though, and hopefully they will utilize that in order to overcome their opponent in tight matchups.
All in all, I think this might be an interesting matchup to keep your eyes on, although there's a risk of it being over rather early in the series. Unless NOS manages to completely shut down Symphony and score a few goals here and there, I predict a 4-0 sweep for Symphony.
Courtesy of @Serg1vratar
Written In The Stars has one of the best offensive lines in the entire league, a feat easily exhibited by the sheer quantity of goals this team scores - 89 for a goals per game average of 3,18, stats in which they are topping the Elite division. two out of their three main forwards made their way intp the top 3 scorers of the regular season, as @Dominointi amassed 59 points for 1st place and Flyerkungen put up 54 points for 3rd place. Talking about SKY, you can't simply forget the weapons they are packing in terms of offensive defensemen, as @jtorro1233 has been terrorising the Elite division from his point for several seasons now. Torro took a long step and ran away from FILADELPHIA's @vatalisti in the race for most points by a defenseman in the regular season with 31 points in 26 games. No ECL team could win without a sufficient backstop, though. SKY has two elite level goalies in @JanneK. and @Hansulinho.
Butterfly Effect has had a great start in ECL Elite and one of the game changers for them is definitely @Vilupoika who has 49 points in 28 games. Pair him up with a talent like @RutonMosse (42 points in 24 games) and good things will happen. @JimBoo (jm__98__) joined FLY a bit into the current season and while not topping the scoring boards, he has made his way into the top 3 within his team. There's been some talk about FLY being the minor affiliate of Written, and that surely sets a nice rivalry tone for this matchup, as David is making a stance against Goliath. We could also look to the rosters to find a rivalry, as @eissi83 was a SKY netminder last season, but will now try to take on his old teammates and prove what he is capable of.
During the regular season bouts, Written In The Stars won both games (2:1, 6:1). I predict a 4-2 series win for SKY.
Courtesy of @MartindalexC
Making up the fourth and final matchup in Elite we have Dynasty & Sjukstugan, the only series where, in my honest opinion, both teams 'realistically' have a chance of winning. Both have similar GF/GP (2.25 vs. 2.07) and GA/GP (1.32 vs. 1.39) averages with Dynasty edging out Sjukstugan in both, albeit slightly. Both have 18 wins on the season. And both are coming into the playoffs with fairly decent L10 records (6-2-2 vs. 6-3-1).
Therefore, with such similar statistics one should perhaps expect a frugal affair where most, if not all, games in this series are decided by one goal. Especially so with the knowledge that teams tend to play even more conservative once the playoffs come around, so at the very least this series should offer up a level of parity between the two opponents that potentially won’t be seen elsewhere. Regarding who could break this ‘inevitable’ deadlock my votes of confidence are directed towards Dynasty’s dynamic winger in @hpkfani, as well as Sjukstugan’s playmaking head-honcho in @Tacterz, these two alone has exhibited the ability to change any given game more so than any other player on their respective rosters.
On the other hand, a factor that should not be disqualified is the familiarity of this scenario that each team has, or rather, the disparity between them. Dynasty have been through this many a time before, with them reaching the Elite playoffs every single season thus far. Sjukstugan however are entering largely unchartered territory as only three players (one of which being a goalie) are making their return to the Elite playoffs from last season’s first round exit, the rest are new to this situation and one must wonder how impactful those ‘early series jitters’ will be, and more importantly, whether it will cost them the chance of progressing.
In summary then, despite both teams seemingly being a pretty decent match I have to seriously question whether Sjukstugan can carry their play into the playoffs, especially as recently they have faltered against some fairly subpar opponents. Ergo, I feel that Dynasty should best Sjukstugan four games to two. Whilst 112 may cobble together two wins I simply don’t see Dynasty dropping the four games required for a Sjukstugan advancement, nevertheless despite this all games should be very close and this series will certainly be entertaining to watch.
There you have it, gamers. Let the first round begin! Let us know in the comments section if you agree with our predictions and opinions about the teams.
See you on the ice,
ECL Elite Writing Team