Tassadar Cup Playoff Preview

Following last night’s games (the results of which have yet to be entered into the site), all 6 playoff spots are accounted for as we head into each team’s last game of the regular season. So what do we have to look forward to when the Playoffs start on Sunday? Well, first, we’ve got to take a look at what’s coming this week. Because while the 6 teams that’ll be competing for the Cup starting Sunday have been decided, the match-ups haven’t. We know New Gettysburg and Korhal will be the top two seeds (though who’s #1 will be determined in tomorrow night’s game between the two titans), and as such neither will be playing in the first week of the Playoffs, skipping ahead to the Semi-Finals.

But only two points separate 3rd place Mar Sara from 5th place Tarsonis City, and with Zenn tied with the Tigers at 22 points, their match on Thursday could be a preview match of the first round for those two squads and the deciding factor for home ice advantage in that series, or, depending on how Mar Sara fares against the Yetis, who will not be making a playoff appearance, it could instead determine who hosts Shakuras in the first round. So the only game of our last week of the season that holds no playoff implications is that of Shakuras vs Zerus; the Inquisition are locked in at 6th place no matter what, and will face whoever ends up in 3rd on the road when the postseason begins on Sunday.

If the Playoffs started today, New Gettysburg would claim the Executor’s Trophy for the best regular season record. Mar Sara would host Shakuras, and Zenn would host Tarsonis City in the first round, and the two surviving teams from those Best of Five series would advance to take on New Gettysburg and Korhal.

However, the Playoffs don’t start today. Some things could potentially change before Sunday. Here are my predictions for the week to come, and the Round One Playoff match-ups that would follow.

Tuesday – New Gettysburg beats Korhal tomorrow night to claim the Executor’s Trophy. This is the only part of my prediction I’m not at least 90% confident with. Both teams have been rock solid all season long, and the Pigs are only 1 point behind the Flyers due to a loss New Gettysburg managed to take all the way to the Shootout earlier in the season.  Both teams have 10 wins, meaning they’ve only lost 3 games all season.  But a big factor for Korhal has been PeterDLai, a strong candidate for the Fenix Memorial Trophy and the current frontrunner in the race for the Minos the Malevolent Trophy, having scored a staggering 42 goals in 10 games, 4 of which were game winners.  Peter, as most who might be reading this probably already know, does not play in games that take place on East coast servers, and New Gettysburg, as the home team gets to choose where they’re playing tomorrow’s game.  Without Peter, Korhal’s still a very strong team, but when pitted against a New Gettysburg squad that’s won their last 5 straight, I give the edge to the Flyers.

Thursday – Tarsonis City beats Zenn to move into third place (momentarily).  This prediction is a bit dependent on a Tigers starting lineup that hasn’t been the most consistent in their appearances, including their owner, IrishLad, who’s missed 4 games this season.  They’re probably the deepest team in the league, though, so even with 1 or 2 starters missing, they’ve got a good shot at taking on a Zenn team that’s had its ups and downs this season on home ice.

Friday – Mar Sara beats Kaldir to reclaim third place from the Tigers.  Kaldir has been the Cinderella team of the league ever since trading Vapour away in exchange for RusH, Eric, and Durko.  They’re the underdog everybody loves to root for no matter who you play for; maybe sometimes even when you’re a member of the team they’re up against.  It’s a little disappointing that their Cinderella story has come to an end before the season has, but they still aren’t exactly an easy team to beat, so this prediction is far from a sure thing.  Mar Sara has the comfort of knowing they’ll have home ice in the first round no matter what, so they could very well decide to play some deeper parts of their roster, depending on how scary they think the loser of Thursday’s Tigers/Freeze match would be in Round One.  That said, I’m still putting my money on the Threat Agents going for the jugular and keeping their #3 spot with a win this Friday.

Round One, #3 vs #6 – Mar Sara beats Shakuras in 4 games.  The Inquisition could easily become the sleeper team of the playoffs, with their 6th seed and a roster bolstered by very capable free agents.  That said, they’ve struggled with attendance issues from some of their “starters” since Day 1, and there’s a good chance that could continue in the postseason.  They’re also 5 wins short of the number of losses they have this season, and they’ll have their hands full no matter who ends up in the #3 spot.  I don’t think they’ll go down without winning at least 1 of the first three games of the series (and if it’s against Mar Sara, home ice isn’t likely to matter, with stars Watermelon and PrOsTeR both placing heavy preference on West coast servers), but it’s a long shot to predict they can win 3 before the opposition does.  Mar Sara will win this one, and advance to take on Korhal in week two.

Round One, #4 vs #5 – Tarsonis City beats Zenn in 5 games.  Again, picking the Tigers to win a match-up is heavily dependent upon attendance, even with their deep roster.  Zenn won’t go quietly, either, and I won’t be surprised at all if I’m wrong on this prediction.  That said, in the Playoffs, the Tigers likely won’t continue to have the minor attendance issues they’ve had with their starters from time to time this season.  Even if one of them can’t make it to a game or two, they’ve still got the best team on paper in the entire league.  They won’t come out unscathed, but I predict they’ll best the Freeze and move on to face the Flyers in the Semi-Finals.

It’d be silly to speculate on Semi-Final match-ups at this point, as the bracket isn’t locked even once the seeds are.  After Round One, the lowest remaining seed plays #1, so there are literally 3 potential opponents for each of the top two teams to face in their first week of postseason games.

These are my not-so-bold predictions for the next two weeks in ZHL.  Could there be some surprises?  Absolutely.  But I don’t anticipate us seeing any.  It’s, of course, up to the players of the teams I’m predicting will lose to prove me wrong now.  Playoffs start on Sunday at 7:00 EDT.  Best of luck to the six teams that are still standing!