Björklöven started the season with 10 straight regulation wins. Then in the game vs Södertälje they ran our goalie, Kevin Poulin, who has stood 50 games for the Islanders and represented Canada at the 2018 Olympics, resulting in him fracturing a finger in his right hand.
Since then the team has been a bit of a dumpster fire. In the last ten games they havo only won three in regulation, including two losses against the team (Väsby) that is dead last in the standings. Now, they’re still in second place, 7 points ahead of Södertälje in 3rd place, and with games in hand, but Timrå (with Jonathan Dahlén) has passed them in the standings and are now in first place.
The acquisition of Nashville’s third stringer, Connor Ingram, has not been the godsend they hoped for. Connor was ice cold in the first few games, not having played a game for nine months, and let in quite a few goals you’d expect him to save. He is great on penalties and breakaways, but he tends to overcommit to the puck carrier and fails to get back to protect the net when the cross ice pass comes. He has been getting better, but last night he was horrible. Let in five goals on 13 shots before getting yanked. Now, most of them were power play goals and the defence was not helping him. He lets out much juicier rebounds than Poulin did, and Mora players were first on the puck every single time. It was dreadful.
Mind you, in the game last night, Björklöven opened the scoring after just 30 seconds and had a solid 3-0 lead 10 minutes into the game, but then things got weird. Mora scored eight straight goals before Björklöven got one more to make it an 8-4 loss.
What attracted the attention was that the odds for a Björklöven win stood at 1.30 before the game, but rose to 1.60 by the time they had a 3-0 lead. Normally the odds should have fallen, but the rising odds indicates that someone was betting huge amounts of money on Mora winning at that point, which is why the bookies shut down all betting on the game and will not pay anything to gamblers, pending investigation.
I have a hard time believing players would forfeit a game on purpose, there’s a lot of pride in this team, they won last season setting a new all time points record and should have been promoted to the SHL if corona hadn’t shut down the playoffs and the Swedish Hockey Federation declared that no teams would be demoted or promoted between leagues. Fucking bullshit!
The team has been rallying behind the slogan ”unfinished business” and anything but winning the league and being promoted to the SHL will be considered a huge failure. It’s basically a two team league at this point; Björklöven and Timrå are miles above everyone else. Teams like AIK, Modo and Södertälje have good teams on paper but have failed to gel as teams.
Now, that being said, the team has a fair amount of rentals that may not have the same to the team, and game fixers have also been known to force players to throw games by threatening family members, so you never know.
The on ice performance last night was confusing to say the least. In the first period, which ended 3-1 to Björklöven it looked like they would win by a blow out. Then they fell apart like a house of cards. Mainly by taking stupid penalties, eg Hutchings whacking an opponent between the legs, resulting in a game penalty, a too many men call, a cross check in the numbers by Liss and a knee on knee by Palmquist. OK, probably frustration as the game fell apart, but Mora’s power play was excellent and the Björklöven penalty killing was way below par. The worst game I ever have seen them play.
I certainly hope there was no game fixing, but we’ll see.
What is obvious though is that any chance for Björklöven to get promoted depends on Poulin getting back. He is already practicing on ice, and should be ready in a week or so. The two goalies we have available now, Ingram and Mantler, are just not up to snuff.