Elitserien Playoffs: Defending Champs on the Ropes

HV-71 has lived a charmed life in the Elitserien the past twelve months, winning the league's gold medal for winning the playoffs in 2009-10 and finishing first in the 2010-11 regular season standing.  But the fiesty AIK Stockholm team is on the verge of pulling off a massive upset in the first round of the Elitserien playoffs, having built a 3-0 series lead on the strength of strong play early in tie games to get the lead, and strong goaltending to hold it the rest of the way.  It's not the prettiest way to win games, but it's not an unheard of strategy when looking to pull off a 1 vs. 8 upset.  As Behind the Net would say, it's all about the score effects.  Have a look:

AIK : HV71

Situation

P1

P2

P3

Total

Shots - G1

11 : 7

10 : 11

3 : 17

24 : 35

Goals - G1

0 : 0

4 : 1

0 : 1

4 : 2

Shots - G2

6 : 7

8 : 12

10 : 15

24 : 34

Goals - G2

1 : 0

1 : 0

1 : 0

3 : 0

Shots - G3

6 : 12

17 : 12

3 : 17

26 : 41

Goals - G3

1 : 1

1 : 0

1 : 0 (EN)

3 : 1

Shots - Series

23 : 26

35 : 35

16 : 49

74 : 110

Goals - Series

2 : 1

6 : 1

2 : 1

10 : 3

As a note, on the Elitserien game sheets, they do count "shots wide", but the numbers are so low I don't think they're accurate enough to count as a Fenwick stat (shots on goal + shots missed). 

At the start of every third period, AIK has had the lead in this series, and the third period shows AIK sitting back and relying on their goalie to win games.  Of note, Game 1 and 3 were played in Jonkoping (HV71), and Game 2 was played in Stockholm.  

AIK goes for their improbable sweep tomorrow at home.  Remember, this was the team that was in the Allsvenskan a year ago, Sweden's second league, while HV71 were the country's golden boys.

(2) Farjestad leads (7) Brynas 3 games to 1

After a solid 7-3 win to open the series, Brynas got their act together quickly and made this a series.  Games 2 and 3 went to overtime, with the teams splitting the games thanks to winners by Robin Sterner (Farjestad, Game 2) and Jonathan Granstrom (Brynas, Game 3).  However, a 2-1 road win by Farjestad on Monday gave the favoured team a commanding lead in the series heading home.  Rickard Wallin scored the go ahead goal with 1:25 left to play.  Game 5 is on Wednesday.

(3) Skelleftea and (6) Linkoping tied at 2 games each

The series started off with a bang:  Mikko Lehtonen, the Hakan Loob Trophy winner for the Elitserien's leading goal scorer, scored the OT winner to give Skelleftea the early series lead.  A dominant home effort by Linkoping in Game 2 followed, as they connected for 3 power play goals in a 5-1 win to even the series.  Jan Hlavac of Linkoping provided the heroics in Game 3, scoring in the first minute of overtime in a 4-3 win.  Skelleftea responded on Monday with a road win of their own, a 1-0 win on the strength of a third period goal by Fredrik Warg and 32 saves from Andreas Hadelov.  Game 5 goes on Wednesday.  One key for Linkoping to date has been their ability to shut down the top 3 scorers in the Elitserien this year:  Lehtonen, Joakim Lindstrom, and defenseman David Rundblad.  In Games 2-4, the three players have only combined for two assists total.

Another key stat for draft junkies:  Adam Larsson has averaged 23:45 in ice time, leading all players on Skelleftea so far.  

(4) Lulea leads (5) Djurgarden 3 games to 1

Lulea built up a 3-0 series lead with the goaltending of Anders Nilsson providing the backbone:  a 2-1 OT win in Game 1, a 2-1 road win in Game 2 in which they were outshot badly, and a 3-1 win at home in Game 3 with the third goal being an empty netter.  Djurgarden finally broke through in Game 4 at home to avoid the sweep with a 4-2 win on Monday.  Kristoffer Ottoson scored twice as the Stockholm team dominated, outshooting Lulea 32-17.  This series has been closer than appears, but that's little consolation to Djurgarden, who are seeing their team having to come back from a 3-0 deficit while their cross town rivals AIK are on the verge of knocking out the league champions.  

Kvalserien (Qualification for 2011-12 Elitserien Season)

The qualification tournament for the 2011-12 Elitserien tournament has begun.  The bottom two teams from this year's Elitserien face off against the top four teams from this year's Allsvenskan for the final two spots in next year's Elitserien group.  Legendary club MODO finished in the bottom two this year, along with Sodertalje.  From the Allsvenskan, the group is Vaxjo, Rogle, Orebro and Mora.  Mora had to qualify for the group in yet another round robin tournament between the #4-7 finishers in the Allsvenskan.  Confused yet?

Monday's scores:  Sodertalje 3, MODO 2 (SO); Vaxjo 5, Mora 1; Orebro 6, Rogle 7 (OT).

Round 2 goes on Thursday with Vaxjo @ Rogle, Sodertlaje @ Mora, and Orebro @ MODO.  The tournament lasts until April 8, with each team playing each other twice (home and away).  

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