The VGNHL season has finally come an end. The New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils come out as the 2 and 3 seeds respectively in the Metro division, where both teams were never predicted to be throughout the season.
The Islanders at 49-28-5 finished with 103 points, adding several key players along their journey to end where they are. Ending the season with only 2 players (atreyal and Undeadgamertag5) from the original roster when the season began back in April. Owner xXM1NORTHREATXx and captain swiftdee52 realized that the team they originally constructed was not going to compete and be what they wanted so they wasted no time making moves. They started by adding defense to partner with atreyal in defmincex13. After that, they went and found their offense in Illyfilly, cornect57, Untuchabl and spray_and_pray_. The last pieces of the puzzle were 2 primary goalies in JTx11- and BARRYS_SNIPIN. As soon as this team was complete, they rose in the standings and fast. The month of May was their season's turnaround, having one of the best months a VG team can have. Starting the month on a 15 game winning streak and going 23-2-1 overall in May.
The Devils at 45-26-11 finished with 101 points. The Devils took a different path than the Isles. New Jersey got out of the gate strong, going 11-5-4 in their 1st 20 games. Not being able to close out games and losing OT decisions hurt this team who finished with a record of 6-11 in OT games. After a few moves, the team struggled to find it's identity and started plateauing mid year. Just before the trade deadline, owner knights29 decided to alter the team. They moved out several players while being able to keep the core of forwards T_n_T91 and miguelzetterberg and goalies Schwartz-74 and Dirtyjoe07. They traded out an ego maniac in Microwave_kinq and upgraded their RD big time in Burns-34. They then went out and picked up recently bought out captain AAli-21 and rounded out the roster with utility D man teamrun420 and LW BrandonSniper87. Since the trade deadline, New Jersey went 17-7-1 down the stretch in the month of June. In an odd situation, captain kyle03des has been blacklisted after vanishing from the team for weeks so the team will need to add an AHL roster player before the playoffs.
Top lines for both teams are dynamic. Illyfilly, Cornect57 and spray_and_pray versus T_n_T91, AALI21 and Miguelzetterberg will be solid matchups all series. The secondary players might be a difference maker here pending on how often they are called upon to play in the series. With Kyle03des gone from New Jersey, the Islanders have an advantage overall there. For the Isles, Cornect57 has scored 51 goals in 30 games since joining the team, and Illyfilly has scored all but 5 of his points for this team. Spray_and_pray continued his solid numbers after being moved from the NYR. Untouchabl will add quality for the forward line of New York but, after that, how players will be used will be key for them. Does JTx11- play forward? Goalie? Both? Does owner xXMinorthreatXx and captain switdee52 play a forward spot or defense? Many things to consider on the Islanders end.
On the Devils side, since joining the team, AALI21 has a 3.43 PPG in 14 GP. Miguelzetterberg has led this team offensively all season and the switch to RW with T_n_T91 moving to C has really seem to click for them. Brandonsiper87 will round out the forward grouping and this team will look to continue what they were doing to finish out the season and score in bunches.
EDGE - EVEN
Defense seems as close as it can be on paper. Both teams use their defense. Both teams have 2 defensemen in the top 15 in scoring. The Islanders picked up atreyal in bidding and the $7M contract paid off for them. A good offensive defenseman with 1.04 PPG. Defmincex, since coming over has been a .93 PPG and revitalized their +/- by going +35 in his time on the Island.
On the other hand, New Jersey has an eerily similar top 2. Burns-34 has done nothing but score since joining this team. As a Devil, he's churned out a 1.59 PPG in 22 games. He a +75 on the season so his all around play is solid. Knights29, a +47 on the year and 0.91 PPG compares equal in almost every category to his counterpart. New Jersey also runs a trio on the back end as they added teamrun420 at the deadline. He's racked up 1 PPG in 6 games for New Jersey and adds solid depth to this team.
EDGE - EVEN
In the playoffs, goaltending seems to be the difference in matchups as close as this one. Goalies who come up with that key save at the big moment can turn a series for their team.
The Islanders #1 is undeadgamertag5. His numbers aren't going to wow anyone but, he gets the job done by leading the team with 14 wins on the year. Barry_Snipin was an interesting pickup for this team and he will need to try and steal a game when he's in.
The Devils have 2 solid goalies. Schwartz-74 is the teams #1 and Dirtyjoe07 adds great depth for this team. Schwartz has some of his best numbers this season and he and Dirtyjoe07 have both been here before and both won the cup before. If there was any clear advantage in this series, it's in net for New Jersey.