Playoffs Ready to Begin
By 10 p.m. this coming Monday (January 3rd), two xhl teams will be eliminated, one will be a loss away from elimination, another team will be a win away from advancing to the championship and the Slap Happy will know their next opponent.
Its not often a team wants to play twice on the same night, but thats the best case scenario for either the Walkers or Mobb this coming Monday night. The two teams only played against each other once during the regular season with the Mobb pulling away in the 2nd period. The Walkers started out the season with a 5-2 upset win over the Mayhem and gave teams like the Slap Happy, Colonials and Narwals some competitive games in the first half of the season, but have recently been going in the wrong direction. In recent weeks, the Walkers twice found themselves down by 6 goals in the first period against the Mayhem and were mercy ruled before the 3rd period begun in their regular season finale. A week away may be what they needed to try to regroup for a potential playoff upset.
The Mobb were plagued by a tough schedule all season long, but like the Walkers, they appear to be going in the wrong direction. Their only two wins came against the Mayhem (without Zach Smith or AJ) and against the Walkers, but maybe all those games against the Colonials, Narwals and Slap Happy will better prepare them for the playoffs. Zach Foradori, Nate Galentine and Steve Hetrick will have some momentum going into Monday night after playing on the Christmas tournament championship team this past Monday night. The loser will be eliminated while the Mayhem will await the winner. As Zach Smith voiced in his interview, he is more worried about who will show up for the Mayhem on Monday night. They have had some attendance issues all season long. While they mercy ruled the Walkers in the finale, they only found themselves with 1 bench player. AJ Cebulskie said there is no guarantee he will be able to make it for the play in game, but if he does, the Mayhem figure to have an advantage over either the Mobb or Walkers considering they will be more rested. The play in winner will advance to play the Slap Happy in a best of 3 series.
The Colonials came back from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Slap Happy in the regular season finale, but in a way, it felt like a loss. A regulation win would have given them a week off and they could have bypassed the Narwals for a potential shot at making the championship, but they were unable to capitalize on a 4 minute power play at the end of regulation. Not from lack of opportunities, but from the stellar play of Adam McKinley in those 4 minutes. The Narwals got blown out twice to start the season, but are a much different team now than they were then. The Colonials have only had a full line up once this season. The Narwals may have had a full line up once or twice. Neither team had a full lineup when they played against one another this season. From the sounds of it, Brandon Vollmer may or may not be able to play Monday night due to an injury. Fred Terwilliger has been out of the lineup the last couple weeks due to some injuries as well. How will each team respond if they actually get a full lineup? The winner of this series may feel like they won the championship by the time the series is over, but it will only be one step. Will either have anything left for the championship by the time the series ends? Whoever wins this series will be deserving of a championship opportunity.