NHL

Matchup 19 – No Disguise

February 19, 2018

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We’re solidly in the final stretch of the regular season, and the playoff race continues to change and fluctuate every single week. We’re talking a lot about the playoffs later in this post, but it’s becoming increasingly possible that we’ll end up with the final spots determined by tie-breakers. Let’s recap the list of tie-breakers:

1 – Overall record
2 – Head-to-head record
3 – Overall fantasy points
4 – Division record
5 – Overall points-against
6 – Coin Flip

It’s unlikely we’d get passed the third tie-breaker since we go to decimal places, but heck, stranger things have happened.

Matchup Recap

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Best Forward: Nikita Kucherov 26.8 (Cal)
Best Defenseman: Dougie Hamilton 19.2 (Steve)
Best Goalie: Antti Raanta 24.3 (Free Agent)
Best Individual Performance: Nikita Kucherov 12.2 (Cal)
Best Team Performance: Jean Claude Van Damphousse 215.9

It was another disappointing loss for the second best team in the league this week, as Brock’s terrific 192.4 point performance wasn’t particularly close to enough to beat Sohayl.

Convincing victories were put up by Steve, Frank and Brett D or Cal, Jace and Brett R respectively, but we had a couple of nailbiters. First, Davin just about put away Rhys before faltering on Sunday, and we just about had the biggest upset of the season as Brennan just about pulled off the upset over Chris.

Projected Playoff Bracket

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If the Playoffs Were Today

This weeks matchups have clarified the playoff picture a bit, and are giving us a clear indication of what scenarios could happen in the final three weeks.

#1 Sabretooth Chickens (16-3) – bye
#2 Jean Claude Van Damphousse (13-6) – bye

#3 Frank the Tank (12-7) vs #6 Connor’s Cup (10-9)
#4 Phantom of the Pacific (11-8) vs #5 Fists of Fuhry (11-8)

In the Hunt

#7 Bo Knows Hockey (10-9)
#8 Going for the Calder! (10-9)

Even though he’s sitting just 9-10, we’re going to remove Blades of Glory from the playoff conversation. It’s clear based on his firesale at the deadline that Cal has turned his sights on next year’s draft, so that helps to narrow our focus in this section. So now with just three matchups to go, what do we know about each team?

Sabretooth Chickens (16-3)

Chris is in the playoffs and has a lock on the first round bye. Easy peasy.

Jean Claude Van Damphousse (13-6), Frank the Tank (12-7)

Sohayl looked like he was cruising to the first round bye, but Frank is now just a single game back. Sohayl is facing Cal (9-10 but tanking), Chris (16-3), and Brett R (4-15) in his final matchups, so we can reasonably predict he’ll win two of those three. If he wins all three, he’ll lock up the first round bye. If he wins two, he’s still sitting okay as he’s beaten Frank in both their head-to-head matchups this year, so he takes the tie-breaker. But if Sohayl loses two of his last matchups, he leaves the door open…

So here’s Frank’s path to the bye: he has to win all three remaining matchups, hope Sohayl loses twice, and he’s looking at Brock (10-9), Cal, and Chris (16-3). That’s some tough sledding. Frank is pretty close to locking up a spot (a win this week against Brock will probably do it), but it could come down to the final week against Chris.

Phantom of the Pacific (11-8), Fists of Fuhry (11-8)

Jace and Rhys have a one game buffer over the remaining contenders, with Jace holding the higher seed due to winning both head-to-head matchups this season. Jace also appears to have the easier schedule; both have matchups against Brett D (10-9) and Brennan (4-15) remaining, while Jace plays Davin (4-15) this week while Rhys finishes up the season against Steve (10-9).

Ultimately for these teams, any two wins (but especially against Brett D) should be enough to lock up a playoff spot.

Connor’s Cup (10-9), Going for the Calder! (10-9), Bo Knows Hockey (10-9)

And this is where it gets fascinating. If all of the teams ahead of them take spots as currently stands, Brett D, Steve and Brock will be competing for the final playoff spot. And it’s interesting to look at their remaining schedule, because there are very different paths to victory.

For Brett D, he’s looking at a brutal schedule facing Rhys, Jace and Brock who are all trying to lock up playoff spots. But in adversity, there is blessing – because he’s playing teams that he’s trying to chase down in the standings, a win for him means a loss for his rivals. It’ll also be important for tie-breakers, as he’s 0-1 against both Rhys and Jace, and 1-0 against Brock. And if it comes down to fantasy points as a tie-breaker, it’s going to be tight – all of Rhys, Brett D, Jace and Brock sit within a 56.8 point window, which can easily be made up over the final three weeks.

Brock faces Frank (12-7), Davin and Brett D to finish the year, and he has an interesting position in his division. Brock is just one win behind both Rhys and Jace, but he owns the head-to-head tie-breaker against Rhys while Jace owns it against him. For Brock, he’ll be cheering hard against Jace in hopes of making up ground and sitting with the best tie-breaking options. Ultimately Brock needs at least two wins if he hopes to crack the playoffs, with that season-ending matchup against Brett D looking like it’s going to be vitally important for seeding. Lots at stake with that one.

Steve has arguably the toughest route to the final spot. He has matchups against Chris, Brett R and Rhys remaining, and he’ll need to pull off at least two wins in order to have a shot – it’s looking like a win against Rhys would be necessary to having a hope of making it in. If it comes down to tie-breakers, Steve lags behind in fantasy points and has split the head to head matchups with most of the teams he’s chasing…except Rhys. Going up 2-0 against Rhys could be the difference between going on and going home.

Matchup Precap

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As promised, we’ve got some dynamite matchups this week to determine playoff seeding. Brock (10-9)  takes on Frank (12-7), Rhys (11-8) takes on Brett D (10-9) and Chris (16-3) takes on Steve (10-9) in the most compelling competitions. We also have Sohayl (13-6) looking to solidify his bye against Cal (9-10), Jace (11-8) against Davin (4-15), and Brett R (4-15) against Brennan (4-15) in the battle of the basement.

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