The Angry Budgie Live

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hi ho hi's off to Coventry we go!

The season is done, playoff quarter finals are done, now fans of all 10 teams pack their bags and head for Coventry! The final four, for the first time in ages, are the top four. Two cracking semi-finals, the atmosphere is going to be electric. Let's have a look at the two semi-finals and nail some colours to the mast.

Flames v Jets The first semi-final of the day sees double champions the Guildford Flames take on the Slough Jets. The Flames won the league with strength in depth like no other team in the EPL. Everyone knows about the number of imports they have carried this year, but hey, if our teams could, would we mind? The Flames can afford it, so why shouldn't they? The EPL Cup win was a bonus and now the Flames are going for the treble. In their way are the Slough Jets, previous winners of the EPL playoffs and a team who have a few talents themselves. Going off the three games ive seen between the Phoenix and Jets, Calder and Pliskauskas are two of the best forwards in the league. Given them an inch and they will score. The Flames have offensive punch themselves, we all know about Hupper/Rempel/Towe and Longstaff. As to who to pick from this pair, its tough. I'd give the Jet's the edge in goaltending.....just! Both Rockman and Lee are fine goalies but I think Lee can loose his head quicker than Rockman. Tip for the Jet's forwards, aim high on Lee, he always leaves the top of the goal free! Defence, well going by the league table the Flames have conceded fewer goals than the Jets and in Savage/Lundin have d men who can score. Slough have a good defence but I haven't got the impression over the season that they have contributed as much, point wise, as the Flames D. Edge to the Flames on that one! Going off the stats the Flames have the edge going forward too but in one off games stats can be meaningless (despite what I said above regarding D men point production haha!). I think Slough have a good forward unit, but the Flames is stronger overall, edge to Flames there. Colours to the mast? The Jets are a fine playoff team and on their day can beat anyone (much like the EPL as a whole) but the Flames strength in depth has to give them the edge in a one off game. But, by that very nature, I could very well be wrong! Flames to go through!

Phoenix v Steeldogs The evenings entertainment is another installment of the 'War of the Roses' and it really has become a war this season. I have made it known my feelings on the Steeldogs and the way they play the game. I despise them and Mr Payette, however I am big enough to admire their performance this past season. They have become such a tough team to beat and an example of how sheer hard work and determination can be a great leveller when faced with a big budget. The series set between the two clubs during the 2011/12 season was even, which makes a one off playoff game hard to predict. The Phoenix have the greater strength on the ice, but the Steeldogs work hard every shift and make it hard for a team to play hockey. One thing is for certain, both clubs will be up for the game, if they aren't, they don't deserve to be out on the ice. It will be hard to pick a winner, and I will try and leave those tinted specks on the table. Goaltending, Bowns v Fone. Early on in the season I would easily give the edge to Sheffield in this. Bowns is a phenomenal goalie and he gives the Steeldogs a chance to win every game. I firmly believe without him, Sheffield would be a good 3 or 4 places lower in the league. However Fone has been in awesome form coming down the stretch, which makes it difficult. To give an edge, based on goaltending alone I would give that to Sheffield, only just though! Bowns should be in the EIHL next season, not the EPL! He is good enough! Defence, going off the stats this should be a no brainer, the Steeldogs have conceded the fewest goals in the league! The Phoenix have always been a 'we will score more goals than you' kind of team. But on a good day, in Harabin/Spelda/Boothroyd the Phoenix have some of the best defencemen in the league. As mentioned above, in a one off game stats mean nothing, so im calling a tie on this one! Forwards, Phoenix, hands down! Sheffield's top line including Wood/Ozolins is fantastic, Ozolins is one of the stars of the EPL and Sheffield have done very well to keep him. But I truly think the Phoenix have better strength across three lines. You shut Faith/Cingel down? Ok, we have Archer/Duggan and Wallace who will score! Edge to Phoenix. Colours to the mast? Sheffield will be up for the game, they have shown they can make it to final games by meeting the Flames in this years EPL cup. I wouldn't write off the Phoenix either, we have had too many semi-final disappointments, we are coming into form at the right time and, more crucially, we have a full roster available. This one is so hard to pick! So im going to wuss out a little. If it's a niggly, chippy affair the Steeldogs could do it, but if its a hockey game the Phoenix will be meeting the Flames in sundays final. Too close to call! In the end it will be another great weekend, im looking forward to watching some hockey and enjoying the banter with the Flames fans again. Who knows, the un-holy alliance may appear again! If you see a Phoenix fan with a beard wearing a Coyotes hat that's probably me so come say hi, i'll be in block 7 part of the 500+ Phoenix contingent. If not head on over to The Windmill pub and join in the Phoenix podcast live shows, even come on and talk some rubbish if you like!

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