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Elitserien Finals Preview: Skellefteå vs. Färjestad

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200px-skellefte_c3_a5_aik_logo vs. 200px-f_c3_a4rjestads_bk_logo


Skellefteå Färjestad
Record (Reg.) 25-9-3-18 (96 pts) 27-6-3-19 (96 pts)
QF Record 3-1-1-2 vs. Linköping 3-1-1-0 vs. Brynäs
SF Record 2-2-2-0 vs. Luleå 4-0-0-0 vs. AIK
GF/GA (comb.) 206 : 177 (+29) 185 : 143 (+42)
Shots/Game (comb.) 32.53 29.08
PP (reg) 23.83% (1st) 19.72% (5th)
PK (reg) 79.64% (8th) 87.20% (1st)
Leading scorer (reg) Joakim Lindström (28+32=60) Pelle Prestberg (10+26=36)
Leading scorer (po) Joakim Lindström (3+7=10) Rickard Wallin (3+7=10)
Top d-man (reg pts) David Rundblad (11+39=50) Jonas Junland (5+17=22)
Goalie SV% (reg/po) Andreas Hadelöv (90.94%; 92.65%) Alexander Salak (92.64%; 91.35%)

This is a classic offense vs. defense match-up:  Skellefteå boasts the league's most dangerous powerplay, led by the trio of Joakim Lindström, Mikko Lehtonen, and defenseman David Rundblad (an Ottawa Senators prospect).  The three players were the top scorers in the regular season, with Lindström claiming the Håkan Loob Trophy for the scoring title, and the team as a whole fired more pucks on their opponent's net than anyone else.  Färjestad's offensive output is much more meager, but in the playoffs veteran Rickard Wallin has stepped up and delivered with ten points in just nine games.  The team plays a stingy defensive game that sees them as the top penalty kill team in the league, and goaltender Alexander Salak (a Chicago Blackhawks prospect) finished second in the league in SV% and first in shutouts, despite only starting 32 of 55 games. 

In the playoffs, Skellefteå has come to rely as much on Rundblad for minutes on defense as top 2011 draft prospect Adam Larsson.  Larsson's ice time has increased significantly down the stretch and through the playoffs, as he frequently played 16-18 minutes early in the year, but now logs in the 23-26 minute range.  Goaltender Andreas Hadelöv's numbers have improved as well during this stretch, while Skellefteå continues to outshoot their opponents. 

This will be harder in this championship final:  Färjestad could end up nullifying the league's most lethal power play, and with home ice advantage, should be able to control the game a lot more.  The rest factor favours Färjestad as well, playing only 9 games to Skellefteå's 13 to advance.  The teams are very evenly matched, with the teams splitting the season series with each team winning two games in regulation, and Färjestad winning the rubber match in a shootout. 

It's tough to pick a winner out of these two:  the teams finished in a three way tie for first overall with HV71 (who held the tiebreakers to finish first), so I'll just have to go on my gut on this one:  Färjestad in 6.

Series Schedule:

  • April 5 (7:00 PM CET) @ Färjestad
  • April 7 (7:00 PM CET) @ Skellefteå
  • April 9 (3:00 PM CET) @ Färjestad
  • April 12 (7:00 PM CET) @ Skellefteå
  • April 14 (7:00 PM CET) @ Färjestad (if necessary)
  • April 16 (4:00 PM CET) @ Skellefteå (if necessary)
  • April 19 (7:00 PM CET) @ Färjestad (if necessary)