Thursday, March 6, 2014

Playoff Time!

swedish hockey playoffs Kvalserien
The fans weren't too happy when there were rumors about Kvalserien being taken away!
I think pretty much everyone reading my blog knows how playoffs work in the NHL. Here in Sweden, things work a little bit differently, and I'd like to delve into my understanding of playoffs (or Kvalserien!) here for my readers outside of Sweden!

Firstly, KHK (Nick's team) is in the second league, Hockey Allsvenskan, in Sweden. The top league is the Swedish Elite League (SHL). The hockey leagues in Sweden work their playoffs through a promotion and relegation system, in which the 'playoffs' are called Kvalserien and teams can move up a league or down a league.

Four teams earn promotion to the Kvalserien from Hockey Allsvenskan. The top 3 teams from Hockey Allsvenskan are guaranteed a spot into Kvalserien (the teams guaranteed a spot this year are Västerås, Malmö, Djurgården). The 4-7th place teams play a mini round robin (play each team twice, at home and away) to determine the 4th team for Kvalserien. KHK finished the year in 5th place overall. The 4th place team from the regular season starts the playoff with 4 points to give them an advantage, the 5th place team with 3 points, and so on. Currently, the standings for the playoff to get to Kvalserien look like this:

BIK Karlskoga         4 pts.
Karlskrona HK        3 pts.
Mora IK                   2 pts.
Rogle BK                  1 pt.
At the end of this playoff, only the team with the most points will go on to Kvalserien. The four teams from Hockey Allsvenskan will play a round robin with the two last placed teams from the SHL (this year, it is AIK and Örebro). The two teams with the most points at the end of Kvalserien will be in the SHL for next year! 

To put this into perspective for someone from the US, this means that there is a promotion and relegation system. For example, lets say the Minnesota Wild (from the NHL) have an absolutely terrible year. They will go into the relegation round (Kvalserien) against the best four teams from the AHL. At the end of Kvalserien, if one of those AHL teams has more points than the Wild, the AHL team will now be promoted to the NHL for the next year, while the Wild will be relegated to the AHL.

Are you confused by any of this? It took me almost all season to figure it out, and I know there are other hockey wives who have been in Sweden who still don't understand! Talk about confusing. Nonetheless, I think the idea of promotion and relegation leads to a stronger league and better play overall, so I am in support of it!

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