The SHL is down to its final two teams and the post-season tournament has had it all; sweeps, seven-game series, blowouts, overtime games and upsets. Let’s see how things have shaken down to this point.
Round of 16
The round of 16 saw number seven Farjestad BK going up against 10th seeded Djurgardens IF in one match-up and number eight Malmo against number nine Lulea in match-up number two. Both favourites, Malmo and Farjestad, emerged victorious in the best-of-three series’ winning in two and three games, respectively. For ousted Djurgardens former first-round pick Niclas Bergfors and Markus Ljungh led the way with four points apiece. Florida Panther hopeful Linus Hultstrom had a solitary assist in the three games. Lulea was outscored 11-5 in the their two-game sweep with Petter Emanuelsson leading the way with a pair of goals.
The quarter-finals saw Malmo face-off against the regular season champs Vaxjo Lakers and Farjestad went head-to-head with number two ranked HV71 in two of the match-ups. In the other half of the quarters, number three Frolunda and number six Skelleftea battled it out and fourth ranked Linkopings going against number five Brynas.
In a massive upset Malmo bounced Vaxjo in tight six game series with five one goal games and three going to overtime. Emil Pettersson, a sixth-round pick of Nashville in 2013, had a hand in seven of Vaxjo’s 16 goals in the series, most on the team. A few other familiar names on the Lakers roster include former Avalanche Dennis Everberg (three points), Jeff Tambellini (three points) and, shutter Buffalo fans, Ville Leino (two points).
HV71 made quick work Farjestad sweeping them in four games. Farjedstad was led by Alexander Johansson and Minnesota’s Joel Eriksson Ek with six points apiece in seven games. Buffalo’s Rasmus Asplund posted a donut in the goal column but did have a triumvirate of assists. Defensemen Magnus Nygren and Mikael Wikstrand had five points each to lead the back end. Both players have significant offensive skills but likely don’t have an NHL future, although I wouldn’t write off Wikstrand just yet.
Frolunda and Skelleftea engaged in a hard fought seven game series with Frolunda ultimately emerging with an OT victory in the seventh and deciding game. After an abysmal regular season, Axel Holmstrom got back to his point producing ways with seven in seven. Holmstrom is developing a reputation as a playoff performer having amassed 31 points in 32 career SHL games. Regular season scoring champ Joakim Lindstrom was held in check for the most part with four points.
Linkopings and Brynas was a weird series featuring four one goal games, including two OT games, bookended by a pair of 6-0 Brynas victories. Linkopings failed to generate much offence in the series finding the back of the net just six times. Marcel Müller led the way with a pair of goals. After a regular season that saw Broc Little finished second in league scoring me managed just a single points in the playoffs, a goal. Ottawa prospect Marcus Hogberg put up solid, if unspectacular numbers with a 2.47 GAA and a .915 SV% in six playoff tilts.
In the penultimate round, Malmo was tasked with playing the role of giants killers once against going up against HV71. Unfortunately it was too tall of a task for the Redhawks falling four games to one. Malmo was led by Dane Nichlas Hardt, who exploded offensively with 11 points in 13 games after registering 15 in 45 regular season games, along with Illari Filpulla similarly had 11 points. Another one of the leading contributor was Rhett Rakhshani with eight points. Rakhshani was an NCAA and AHL scoring star in the Islanders organization but was never able to make a lasting impression in his seven NHL games.
The other semi-final matchup saw Frolunda go up against Byrnas. This one went the distance and in the end Brynas prevailed in the seventh and deciding game. The top scoring player for Frolunda in the playoffs was one-time highly sought after college free agent Casey Wellman with 16 points in 14 games, a mark that lead