Ice hockey is one of the two biggest sports in Sweden when it comes to audience and media attention (the other one is football (soccer)). Elitserien, the Swedish ice hockey league cannot compete with NHL and KHL about the best players but is nevertheless counted as one of the strongest ice hockey leagues in Europe.
There are twelve teams in Elitserien and now, after 55 rounds, the first eight are qualified for quarter finals. These are played in best out of seven matches. In case of a tie after full time there is sudden death until either team scores. The first team that wins four matches is through to the next round.
Luleå Vs AIK
As winner of the league, Luleå could choose which one of the teams 5-8 they wanted to meet. They picked the Stockholm team AIK. AIK was newcomer last year and despite being an obvious relegation candidate in almost everyone’s eyes, they reached the Semi Finals. This was much tanks to their goal keeper Victor Fasth. This year they are a more solid team and they definitely have the potential to disturb Luleå.
Luleå has however a good record against AIK and their way of playing, with a tight defense, suits AIK badly. Luleå didn’t win the series by luck; they were really the best team. So my prediction is that they will beat AIK fairly easy. Each game will probably be even but in the end they will proceed to the Semi Final with, let’s say 4-1 in matches.
Skellefteå Vs MoDo
Skellefteå came back to the elite a few years ago after being in lower divisions for many years. They have already established themselves as a top team and last year they reached the final for the first time since they won the title in 1978.
MoDo has exported many great players to the NHL through the years. (Peter Forsberg, Marcus Näslund and the Sedin brothers are just a few). But the talent factory has not been as productive lately and this is their first play off in four years. Last year they were even close to be relegated. With another former NHL-star, Ulf Samuelsson, as coach they have now started to build up a new team. They just secured their place in the play off in the last round and should not have the strength to disturb Skellefteå. My prediction is 4-1 in matches to Skellefteå.
HV 71 Vs Färjestad
These two teams have dominated Swedish ice hockey during the last years. Together they have won six of the last seven championship titles. Last year HV 71 won Elitserien but Färjestad became Swedish champions after victory against Skellefteå in the final. This year they have both been a bit behind the top teams for most of the season. Färjestad actually started the season in a catastrophic way and was placed last for a while.
This is the most unpredictable Quarter Final since both teams have the quality to go all the way but they have failed to show it during long periods this season. My prediction is, with some hesitation, that HV 71 wins with 4-3 in matches due to the home advantage in the last match. They have also a very good trend with wins in the last three matches, one of them against Färjestad.
Brynäs – Frölunda
These teams ended up fourth and fifth in the table, only two points in between. Brynäs has the advantage of playing at home in a possible seventh and last match since they ended up before Frölunda in the table. Nevertheless I believe the Gothenburgians will win. Brynäs has a better team than they have had for many years, but Frölunda has also gained in quality and I believe they are more ready for the kind of ice hockey that is played in the play off. Brynäs did however show moral strength after coming back from 0-4 to win 5-4 against Timrå away in the last round, but it probably say more about Timrå than about Brynäs. My prediction is 4-2 in matches for Frölunda.