Accuscore Liiga 2017/2018 Season Preview & Predictions

Something old, something new...

The Finnish elite ice hockey league Liiga starts its eight-month campaign this weekend. It has been the era of Tappara from Tampere, who have reached their way to the finals in each of past five seasons and winning the title the last two seasons. They’re the biggest favorites as well, but standing for the challenge are such teams as Jyp Jyväskylä and HIFK from Helsinki, while rejuvenated Oulun Kärpät and TPS Turku look to return to their past glory.

Regular season forecast

Accuscore is up to speed with Liiga as well and with the season simulation we can predict the most likely outcome of each and every game. The forecast for the oncoming Liiga 2017/2018 regular season looks like this.

1.

Tappara

121

2.

Jyp

117

3.

HIFK

113

4.

Kärpät

104

5.

Lukko

103

6.

Ilves

96

7.

Ässät

94

8.

HPK

89

9.

TPS

86

10.

Pelicans

80

11.

KalPa

80

12.

SaiPa

79

13.

Jukurit

71

14.

Sport

67

15.

KooKoo

50

Big boys on top

The usual susptects remain on top, with Tappara leading the pack once again. Their defense is remarkably strong and offense has, despite losing some of its edge, excellent depth. They are one step ahead in every category, except maybe for the centermen. But that’s only because Jyp Jyväskylä has such quality in the middle of the ice it’s staggering. Jarkko Immonen makes a long anticipated return, while hard-working depth player Miika Lahti comes back from Chinese Kunlun. Already boasting top names such as J-P Hytönen, Antti Suomela and Joonas Nättinen the offense is loaded at the center. The offense has quality and depth, but the defense is not at the same level as Tappara’s – but no one’s is.

HIFK Helsinki have once again started over with a new head coach and new players manning the top lines. Massive amount of talent left during the summer, but they’ve been able to gather players who’ve shown their quality in Liiga already. The defense is solid, but underachieved badly last year – as did the whole team, until the playoffs at least. It might take some time for HIFK to get their bearings, but with a quality roster like this, they should be right up there after the regular season.

Oulun Kärpät and Rauman Lukko are both looking for upwards trend under new management. Kärpät crashed badly last year after losing the core of its glory years but they have an excellent roster this time around and a suitable, albeit inexperienced head coach to go with it. Last season was marred with underachieving and/or injured key players and there’s only one way up for the “team of half of Finland”. Rauman Lukko has been looking for success with big money for ages, but it has niftily avoided the banks of the canal. This time around they’ve recruited the key pieces of KalPa’s last year’s success: head coach Pekka Virta and scoring machine Janne Keränen. The core of Lukko team is aged but capable and it remains to be seen how long it takes for Virta’s thesis to grab hold. It was not an easy process at KalPa, but Lukko has a remarkably better roster – on paper at least.

Young guns and desperate veterans

Fighting for the final place heading straight to playoffs are Ilves, Ässät and HPK. Each of the team’s possess some raw talent, which is especially the case for Ilves and HPK. Ässät lost a couple of big names during the summer and it’s up to newcomers from North-America to provide some scoring. The core is decent but not remarkable. Ilves and HPK are very much alike: loads of young talent accompanied by a couple of surefire key players, with excellent modern coaching and up-and-coming goaltenders. If the youngsters break through, HPK and Ilves are in the battle for straight playoffs spot – but with young guns there’s always a risk.

TPS had a fantastic season last year, despite the early exit in the playoffs. They returned to their rightful place at the top half of the table and things are looking up. But the hiring of inexperienced head coach to a very experienced team might be a setback. Lot of expectations are placed on the shoulders of aging core of quality players, who at 40-or-so start to lose their pace. There are young players pushing through, but they might not be ready just yet to carry the team.

Back to the bottom

Last season’s biggest hit KalPa lost practically each and every key piece of their puzzle, starting from the head coach and running through the roster like wildfire. Hardly any replacements have been made and despite the roster player’s quality, the team lacks both depth and talent up front. The defense is decent as well as goaltending duo of Denis Godla and Niko Hovinen. Pelicans from Lahti lost their biggest assets as well, with the trio of best forwards leaving town. The team has depth but lacks scoring potential and it’s likely they’ll change their ways to a bit more defensive mode.

The bottom of the table looks rather familiar. Vaasan Sport have showed some class, but they did the same last year early on. Then they collapsed and missed playoffs and it doesn’t look any better this year. The team is younger and more energetic, but behind their quality first line there’s not much else but grinding. The defense has potential but is full of question marks. SaiPa fell from grace last season, after upsetting many in previous season’s success. The team is young and inexperienced and lacks a lot in pure quality. Inexperienced head coach Tero Lehterä is known to work well with youngsters and SaiPa is looking to the future – this season it’s too much too soon.

KooKoo and Jukurit are doing the best they can with limited resources, but the quality is not enough to put up a proper fight for the playoffs. They are able to snatch a win here and there, so they’re not to be underestimated – there are not easy games in Liiga.

All the Liiga picks and predictions all season long and much much more can be found from Accuscore.eu!