HIFK’s final streak has created tension around the upper playoff line. The lock, on the other hand, has lost its mojo in bad times. Elmeri Elo / AOP

    The goddess of luck and chance has been favorable to the League this time, as the tension builds up in the last week around all things that can be contested.

    The victory in the regular season is practically decided in the Tampere derby between Tappara and Ilves on Friday.

    KalPa, Pelicans, Kärpät and HIFK, who are within two points, compete most closely for direct access to the quarterfinals. The best also have home advantage, while the weakest end up in the first round of the playoffs, known as the pity players.

    There, TPS and Ässät seem like a safe pair, which they are not at all, because KooKoo can basically overtake both of them and grab the home advantage right in front of their noses. On the other hand, Ässie’s favorable program offers a theoretical possibility even instead of fifth.

    In practice, KooKoo is vying for the last playoff spot with HPK and Jukurien, who are still hanging in the race.

    The season of JYP, Sport and SaiPa ends with the last round of the regular season on Saturday.


    After the team’s name and score, its final program:

    Lynx 110

    Kárpät (v), Tappara (v), HPK (k)

    Poleaxe 110

    KalPa (v), Sport (v), Ilves (k)

    Lock 105

    Jukurit (k), KalPa (v)

    Sword 96

    Tappara (w), Pelicans (v), Lock (w)

    Pelicans 95

    Aces (v), KalPa (k), SaiPa (v)

    Flies 95

    Lynx (k), Jukurit (k)


    HIFK 94

    SaiPa (v), TPS (k), JYP (v)

    TPS 88

    HIFK (v), KooKoo (k)

    Aces 87

    Pelicans (w), Sport (v), Sport (w)

    CooCoo 79

    JYP (v), SaiPa (k), TPS (v)


    HPK 79

    JYP (k), Ilves (v)

    Jukurs 77

    Lock (v), Flies (v)

    JYP 69

    KooKoo (k), HPK (v), HIFK (k)

    Sport 60

    Tappara (k), Aces (k), Aces (v)

    Saipa 46

    HIFK (k), KooKoo (v), Pelicans (k)

    HIFK has pulled off the prettiest final kirin.

    Farce, fiasco and flop were the words used to describe the team’s fall season. The pressure to fire the head coach and even the sports director grew day by day, and even at the turn of the year, the ranking was a disastrous 13th for the big club.

    Then something happened. Or let’s rewind to the extent that significant things happened even before that.

    First of all, Ville Peltonen was allowed to continue to lead the process when the patience of Tobias Salmelainen and the HIFK board was enough. The latter can also be praised for the fact that Salmelai was not thrown under the bus either.

    During the season, the credit to HIFK was not very bad due to the few reinforcements, but the game moves made by Salmelainen during the season have proven to be successful.

    The most significant specific acquisition was Kristian Vesalainen, who arrived from Sweden in November with 70 NHL games under his belt. The defense also got more puck skills.

    However, the most important thing was the improvement of the team’s cohesion during the Christmas break in the traditional Spengler Cup. Life partners and offspring of the players were also present in Davos.

    Not only from the point of view of togetherness, the trip was also useful in terms of games. Although HIFK lost all three of its matches, it got a taste of the international tempo and style of play. The going and the mood seemed to cling to the players’ sweaters, and the crowding that marked the autumn receded.

    HIFK has lost only two of their last eight matches, of which goalkeeper Roope Taponen, who is having a wonderful breakthrough season, was injured on the sidelines. During the same sampling, Vesalainen (2+10), Juha Jääskä (5+4) and Iiro Pakarinen (7+4) have formed a 32-point red-hot number one chain.

    One team has yet to be mentioned: Lukko, who have been at the top of the league since autumn and dropped to third last week.

    The team’s flight has fallen so badly that in the seven-match fitness scale, only Sport has sold out. Even the jumbo SaiPa is above.

    Some false jaw could claim that the collapse is due to the acquisition of Shaun Heshka. The experienced defender has played exactly those seven games in the blue and yellow ranks.

    Of course, this is not the case. Instead, the reasons can be found in mental fatigue – tendon rupture – when there wasn’t much to achieve in individual matches. As if the team had already started waiting for the real games to start.

    The winning attacking style of play based on defending the forwards of the lock and aggressive pressing is pleasing to the players, but also a demanding way to play. It doesn’t take much for energy levels – physical or mental – to drop when a team is already starting to look disarmed. Opponents have also learned to puck away from under the hair.

    The understrength game of the Rauma players is the best in the series in the entire season, but the superiority is only in 11th place. In the last seven matches, the team has not been hit with superiority even once.

    The last time Lukko was successful was on February 10, when Sebastian Revo’s two yv goals brought an overtime victory over Pori.

    For the last two matches, Repo has been on the injured list, which compared to Luko’s narrow material, has been unnecessarily long: not even full chains have been assembled.

    The deterioration of the plaster is indicated by the waste of artificial places. In Saturday’s losing Satakunta derby, 64 shots should have been enough for more than one goal, but 31 missed the goal. The balance of the opening set was even worse: 16 shots, 13 of which missed.

    The people of Rauma could not be blamed for the lack of effort, at least in the fierce scramble at the end, but when it doesn’t go, it doesn’t go.

    Last season, HIFK led the series in mid-January, but ended up sixth.

    Now the same fate threatens Lukko. Without a big movement, it is a desired opponent in the quarter-finals, and it is not far-fetched that it will face HIFK.

    Of course, HIFK still has work to do to get to the top six, but thanks to the two Kärpät wins over the weekend, the job is in its own hands.

    – Yes, I prefer to take it this way, that you go to deep holes in the fall and improve your playing towards the spring, HIFK’s Micke-Max Åsten said in February when I interviewed him.

    – It is of great importance, in what form and with what confidence you go to the playoffs. If the curve is downward, it always raises questions.