EIHL Number Crunch: Two Minutes (Or Weeks) To Midnight

The sands of time for me are running low…”

Iron Maiden: “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

Four games (or five for a few teams). Two weekends. That’s all that’s left in the EIHL regular season now. This weekend and next. We are now very much in the part of the season where the words “do or die” begin to become more and more frequent.

One team is dead…out of playoff contention and nothing more than a walking corpse waiting to be put out of its misery next Sunday. Another one, maybe two, are hanging on desperately by its fingertips over the abyss at the bottom of the EIHL table. By the end of this weekend, we could know all eight EIHL PO teams. We could, if results all go the right way, see a league champion crowned. Or, we could go to next weekend with the EIHL title potentially still on its way to England, Scotland or Wales.

In short, as a great philosopher once said, it’s the beginnings of “squeaky bum time” in the EIHL.

Here’s the table right now…along with the a brief summary of the situation…

TEAM GAMES PLAYED POINTS GAMES REMAINING TOTAL POSSIBLE HIGHEST POSITION P/O’s?
SHEFFIELD 48 68 4 76 1st Y
BRAEHEAD 48 67 4 75 1st Y
CARDIFF 47 64 5 74 1st Y
NOTTINGHAM 48 60 4 68 2nd Y
BELFAST 48 55 4 63 4th Y
COVENTRY 47 46 5 56 5th 2pts
HULL 47 45 5 55 6th 3pts
FIFE 48 44 4 52 6th 4pts
EDINBURGH 47 40 5 50 6th 8pts
DUNDEE 48 30 4 38 10th eliminated

So…what does that mean for the playoff race? Let’s try and look at all the possible outcomes this weekend:

As we can see from the above table, Dundee are done. Finito. Out of it.

COVENTRY – One more win for Coventry this weekend (or indeed next) will assure them of a PO spot-especially if that win comes against Hull, who they play in three of their last five games (Sheffield and Belfast are the other two)

EDINBURGH:  Four point weekends for Hull and Fife and a loss for Edinburgh this weekend will put the Caps out of PO contention for definite. The Caps will also go out of contention if they don’t at least equal either Hull or Fife’s result on at LEAST one night this weekend…and even then, they will be looking for favours from either Coventry or a win against Cardiff midweek to survive. They’re staring into the void. However, if they equal or better Fife and/or Hull’s result on at least one night this weekend, then suddenly, things get interesting. Very interesting.

HULL – If Hull win and Edinburgh lose this weekend at least once, the Stingrays will only need one point (or an Edinburgh loss) to qualify.

FIFE: Equal Edinburgh’s result on both nights, and Fife will only need a Caps loss in the remaining three games to qualify.

That’s the bottom of the table sorted…now…about that little matter at the top…

SHEFFIELD 48 68 4 76 1st
BRAEHEAD 48 67 4 75 1st
CARDIFF 47 64 5 74 1st

There are still three teams in the title race. And only one of them can secure the title this weekend – if not, it goes to the final day. Let’s look at the scenarios:

SHEFFIELD: Win twice and have Braehead lose both their games, and the Steelers are EIHL champions. Win twice and have Braehead lose once, and a win v Nottingham on Friday night COULD see them take the title.

BRAEHEAD – The Clan cannot win the title this weekend. However, if they win twice and Sheffield lose twice, then a Cardiff loss to Edinburgh next week will leave them needing a point from the final two games to be confirmed champions.

CARDIFF: The Devils’ can really throw the cat amongst the pigeons here. A Devils four-point weekend will put them level on points with Sheffield and at most three behind Braehead.

It’s impossible to overstate how big Sunday night’s game in Cardiff between Devils and Steelers potentially is. Win that, and all of a sudden, they will be watching Friday night between Sheffield and Nottingham very closely indeed…because the Panthers could put a dagger in the Steelers’ title challenge at the last and see Sheffield v Cardiff next Saturday become a genuine winner-takes-all to decide at least a CHL place and possibly a title-decider. Sheffield do not play on the final Sunday… they could be overtaken by both the Clan and the Devils on the last day of the season.

If Cardiff fail to equal or better either Braehead or Sheffield’s results this weekend, however, they will need to win all three remaining games to even have a chance at the title.

This race is only just beginning, and there are many, MANY twists and turns ahead in this last week.

This is gonna be GOOD, EIHL.

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