Liiga progressing as expectedAs usual, Accuscore is killing it in Finnish Liiga playoffs! Even if the consensus in certain media and experts indicated otherwise, we stuck to our simulation's results and prevailed with 4/4 semi-finalist picks correct.
The biggest surprise in the first round came from Helsinki, when wild-card seeded HIFK overcame regular season runner-ups TPS Turku in six games. As we indicated before the series, HIFK had been underachieving for quite some time with their biggest player budget of Liiga, while TPS was suffering from injury crisis with a roster already lacking depth. Favorite to repeat last season's victorious title-run, Tappara ran into trouble early on the series against their local rivals, wild-card seeded Ilves. Ilves showed some great grit and perseverance, but in the end Tappara's quality and experience was enough to win it in seven games. A lesson learnt for Tappara, who seemed a little over-confident at times. Repeat of last season's final, HIFK has a bone to pick with Tappara and they are definitely trending up. But is it enough to knock down the reigning champions?
This season's definite Cinderella story, KalPa from Kuopio continued their relentless march towards the championship with a confident and encouraging ousting of Lahden Pelicans in five games. Big bad Pelicans were supposed to cause a lot of problems for speedy but rather lightweight KalPa, but it was quite the contrary - KalPa ran circles around their rivals and wore them down easily. They now got a much appreciated maintenance break, while their next opponents Jyp Jyväskylä had to go all the way to game seven against energetic HPK. The series was as close as it gets, practically each game decided by a single goal. Jyp had some injury worries, but their depth is remarkable down the line, so injuries should not play a role this time around. KalPa has a slight advantage from being healthy and rested, but Jyp is a team created for playoff-hockey and are extremely hard to beat - let alone four times.
Here's how Accuscore's simulation engine predicts the Finnish Liiga Playoffs 2016/17 - Semi Finals: