So the second round is happening right now of the VHLM playoffs, and the top four teams in the regular season all won their first round series to advance. That leaves us with Ottawa Lynx vs Halifax 21st and Saskatoon Wild vs Philadelphia Reapers. Since it's a theme week, I have to actually write about things that are relevant and take it somewhat seriously, rather than just rant about what Kefka the character would do in a theoretical hockey game and/or hockey lifestyle. So of course, since Kefka is on defense, I'm going to just analyze the defenses of the four remaining teams. This should please @Renomitsu and @GustavMattias at least, since they talk about defense often (and I'm actually a fan of defense as well, I just rarely write a serious article so it doesn't show as much).
First series, since it's the one that involves me: Philly vs Saskatoon. Philly has two capped guys, Boone Jenton and Edward Vigneault, plus a lot of strong nearly-capped guys (Kevin Low, Brandon Leblanc, Condor Adrienne, and Duncan Jeffers). Assuming the pairs are strictly TPE (which they probably aren't) that gives Philly a pair at 400, a pair at 356, and a pair at 267. It's a testament to how the league has changed that a pair at 267 is the third pair - there have been contending teams, even cup winning teams, in the past where that would be the top pair. Philly is admittedly a bit of an outlier, in that they're the strongest team in the league and specifically built for this, but it's still a bit more than one might expect. Saskatoon has a top pair that can just about match Philly's - Anthony Amberback isn't quite capped, but at 196, he's close enough (and the cap plays into this as well, because Jenton and Vigneault are actually well over 200, but can't apply it, so they're playing at 200 level and essentially matched by Amberback). So the Saskatoon top pair is 396, which is comparable enough to 400. It's the second pair and third pair where the comparison looks increasingly unfavorable to Saskatoon - and to be honest, part of that is on me, as a member of the second pair. I'm with Fylo Gibbles, who has 136, and I have 113. That's a 249 TPE second pair, lower than Philly's third pair, although not by a lot. Still, that skips completely over Philly's second pair; it's not a great look for Saskatoon that our third pair is similar to Philly's second. Then Saskatoon's third pair in DWin Championship and Titus Laclass are a combined 159, which looks more like a single player's total than an entire pair. We're a fun team with good chemistry and a solid locker room and all, but based on the defense, this is I believe where our run ends. Philly in 6.
The other series is between Ottawa Lynx and Halifax 21st (still the worst name in the league). Looking at Ottawa's defense, they actually seem to have less than either Saskatoon or Philly, implying they were probably brought to this stage mostly by their forwards and goalie, but that's not what the article is about. Their top pair would be Ambrose Stark and Brendan James Lawn, which combine for 334, lower than both Philly and Saskatoon's top pairs and also lower than Philly's second pair. This is definitely not the fault of Ambrose Stark though, as he is capped. Brendan James Lawn at 134 is a perfectly viable second pair guy, but for a semifinal team he's not really what you'd look for in a top pair (like I said though, Ottawa makes up for it on their offense - they have 7 capped forwards and another two at 197 and 194, so don't take this as a knock on either Ottawa or Lawn). The second pair starts off with Cody Parkey at 133, which would fit right in with Saskatoon's second pair or Philly's third, and David Lindberg at 99 is still a decent contributor even if not quite on the level of Lawn and Parkey (meaning the second pair combines for 232). Ottawa can just about finish a third pair off, with the more minor contributors of Derek Bohne and Vilnis Balcers each at 56, combining for 112. I'm Saskatoon's fourth best defenseman and even I have more TPE just by myself than these two have combined. Balcers I know is still active to an extent, so that could help them out, but Bohne is long gone. Halifax is in an interesting position in that 3 defensemen show up on their page in the portal who aren't playing, and I've had to write their section multiple times because of it (and you know I'm going to use some words to vent about that to balance out the effort). Their top pair (of guys actually on the roster) is Guy Legrande at 172 and Lance Flowers at 147, combined for 319. That's the worst top pair of the four teams remaining, but still not a bad pair overall. It would be better if Flowers, much like Lawn of Ottawa, could be on a lower pair and Legrande could be paired with a capped guy. Halifax's second pair, Hugh Chan at 137 and Papa Gage at 121, is a 258 total pair and is better than Halifax's second. With a 26 TPE advantage on their second pair and a 15 TPE disadvantage on their top pair, Halifax compares pretty equally to Ottawa through the top two pairs. The third pair, however, definitely goes to Halifax. Boheem Bismarck at 101 nearly balances out Ottawa's entire third pair on his own, and then when Brooks Polak at 56 is added to the pair, while 56 is not a lot it's enough to give Halifax a clear edge on the third pair. 157 is a good bit over 112. Based solely on defense, I'd give this to Halifax in 7, since the edge they have is down at the third pair. However, the series will not be determined on defense and Ottawa is already up 3 games to 0 (based on the index and the portal - sorry for the spoilers for those who only follow the games when they're posted as individual threads). It'll probably be a sweep but since this is a defense article and Halifax does have the better defense, I'm going to throw them a pity pair of wins and say Ottawa in 6.
2 weeks plus theme bonus