PLAYOFFS!

For the second consecutive season the Spiders have advanced to the playoffs. The Spiders finished the regular season 14-5-1-0 for 29 points, good for second in the B3 East. The Spiders are in pool B with the Spitfires White, Wild, and Saints.

Pool B
Team Place Record
Spitfires White West #1 15-3-2-0 (32 pts)
Spiders East #2 14-5-1-0 (29 pts)
Wild East #3 13-6-1-0 (27 pts)
Saints West #4 9-5-5-1 (24 pts)

Game previews:

Spiders vs. Saints – Tuesday, April 3rd, 6:00pm @ SLP E

The Spiders kick off the playoffs against the Saints, who took 4th in the west division. The Saints entered the 2017-18 season as one of the strongest teams in B3 according to Las Vegas bookmakers. They went 13-4-2-1 in 2016-17 and the team returned all their key players. After winning their first two games the Saints went on a skid, losing four in a row and five of seven. They played better starting in mid-January but still never really hit their groove. Cup half full – they only lost two of their final 14 games, with one of those losses coming in OT. Cup half empty – they only won seven of the final 14 to go with five ties.

The Saints have one of the better B3 goalies in G. Langer and two of the top scorers in D. Stewart (17-15-32) and P. Wertzler (16-13-29). They have a negative shot differential with 633 for and 661 against. Along with the Battle Cats they are the only B3 playoff teams with negative shot differentials.

The Spiders shouldn’t have trouble getting shots on goal so the key will be to make them count with traffic in front of the net and looking for rebounds.

Spiders vs. Spitfires White – Thursday, April 5th, 7:15pm @ BIG 2

The Spitfires White moved up from the C1 level this season and haven’t missed a beat. Through their first 14 games they were 12-1-1-0 but they have been comparatively average down the stretch, going 3-2-1-0.

After scoring 26 points in only 10 games at C1 last season, R. Dunbar (26-13-39) is the second leading scorer in B3 and leading goal-scorer. They claim two additional 30-point scorers in A. Jakubowski (17-19-36) and B. Wiessner (21-9-30), although it’s believed Jakubowksi will be skating with the Spitfires Green for the playoffs.

Despite their impressive record, the Spitfires White have given up a surprisingly high number of shots with 656 against. Only the Wild, Lumberjacks, and Saints have given up more. This number may be inflated due to blowout wins leading to lackadaisical defending. In any event, goalie J. Filter hasn’t let the shots turn into goals and has a B3-leading 91.44% save percentage.

A tight, defensive game would favor the Spiders so the key will be containing Dunbar and Wiessner.

Spiders vs. Wild – Saturday, April 5th, 1:30pm @ BIG 3

The Spiders and Wild know each other well with the Spiders owning a 5-3-2-0 advantage since the move to B3. The Wild have been the B3 runners up the past two seasons so they understand playoff hockey.

The Wild have several skilled skaters including the leading scorer in B3 A. Olson (20-21-41) as well as M. Piper (12-23-35), J. Schwarze (13-17-30), and N. Olson (15-12-27). In goal is Rob Jones. Like the rest of the Wild squad, Jones saves his best hockey for the playoffs.

The key for the Spiders is to backcheck hard, not allowing the Wild forwards opportunities to make plays, as they did in a 4-2 win over the Wild in February. The game will be on the Olympic rink, which fits the Wild style of play. The two teams played on the big ice in November and played to a 3-3 tie in a free-flowing game that either team could have won.

Pool A
Team Place Record
Spitfires Green East #1 16-4-0-0 (32 pts)
Landsharks West #2 13-6-1-0 (27 pts)
Lumberjacks West #3 11-7-1-1 (24 pts)
Battle Cats East #4 12-8-0-0 (24 pts)

Pool A includes two high scoring teams in the Spitfires Green and Lumberjacks and two good defensive teams in the Landsharks and Battle Cats. The Spitfires Green are the clear cut favorites. In their first season together the Spitfires Green led all of B3 in shots for and shots against and were second in goals scored. Their achilles heel is their goaltending with a save percentage of 85.78%. If their goalie gets hot at the right time they will be almost impossible to beat.

The Landsharks have the best defensive unit in B3, allowing only 57 goals on the season. The Lumberjacks have made a smooth transition from C1 to B3 and are scoring boatloads of goals but also allowing the most of any B3 playoff team by a significant margin. The Battle Cats have a strong defense and goaltender.

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