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 leads the league as well. A number of notable NHL prospects also made the mark during their run; Victor Olofsson, a Buffalo Sabres pick, finished second behind Wellman with 12 points; Rasmus Dahlin had five points; and Carl Grundstrom found the goals a little harder to come by in the post-season scoring just once and adding an assist. Jacob Larsson suffered a lower body injury and played in just half of the team’s games, notching a goal and two assists. Lastly 2017 draft eligible Kristian Vesalainen played in just one game, failing to make the scoresheet.
Some Dahlin action
Rasmus Dahlin. pic.twitter.com/2X9TzjRuvT— C More Sport (@cmoresport) April 8, 2017
Victor Olofsson gets to open space for the GWG
HV71 and Brynas are the last two to remain standing and will battle it out for the league crown. HV71 took game one this past Sunday with a 5-2 victory. In the 10 playoff games across the three rounds, Filip Sandberg, Ted Brithen, Oscar Sundh and Pär Arlbrandt all sit atop the team lead with nine points. 2017 draft eligible Lias Andersson stands with three goals, tied for fourth most on the team and Columbus pick Kevin Stenlund has a pair of goals and three helpers. New York Islanders prospect Linus Soderstrom has put together a hell of a playoff run with a 1.86 GAA and 0.928. For Brynas, Kevin Clark and Oskar Lindblom have shouldered the load posting 15 and 14 points respectively, in 14 games. In a recent interview, Brynas head coach mentioned in a recent interview (here it is, for those of you that speak Swedish) that Lindblom will not be returning to the team next season. Instead he will be coming over the North America to compete for a spot with Philadelphia. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a huge impression a là Travis Konecny and could be a great sleeper pick in the later rounds of your draft if he’s available. Between the pipes, Philadelphia prospect Felix Sandstrom has had a bit of a rough go of things posting a four win four loss record, 3.12 GAA and a .900 even save percentage. But he’s given them just enough to get by.
Stenlund picks the far side off the rush
Lindblom with a goal in the SHL finals
Oskar Lindblom scored a power play goal from his office in game one of the SHL finals. pic.twitter.com/MsM1baiTYO— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) April 16, 2017