Swedish Superligan

Six teams, four spots: crucial playoff battles in the men’s SSL | SSL 18/19

Photo: Per Wiklund

With only four games left to play in the Swedish Super League, there are six teams competing for the last four playoff spots.

Currently, it’s Växjö, Dalen, Pixbo, Sirius holding the four last spots, as can be seen below in the current ranking. Kalmarsund and Jönköping are just outside of the playoffs now. The battle for the Playoff spots is very tight with only a four-point difference between the 5th and the 10th spot. Växjö, Dalen and Pixbo have 47 points, Sirius and Kalmarsund have 44 points and Jönköping has 43 points. We’ll have a look at all of the six contenders.

The top 8 moves on to the playoffs. The three columns on the right: S – games played, D – goal difference, P – points

Sirius: The black and blue Uppsala based team Sirius is chasing its first playoff spot since the 2014/15 season. The biggest difference that you can see with Sirius, comparing to earlier seasons, is that they have more players that can score goals this year. Last season they needed their first line, led by captain Johan Eriksson and Joakim Olsson, to perform to win games. This season it’s the second line with the deadly duo Jakob Drews and young rising star Filip Eriksson scoring most of the goals for Sirius. Both Drews and Filip Eriksson are in the top 10 of the point scorer table, at 6th and 7th place with 55 points each. Sirius lost their last game in overtime against Helsingborg away. That loss might be very costly for Sirius in their race for a playoff spot. Sirius has a very tough schedule iatthe end of the season. They need to win at least two of their remaining games to have a chance to reach the playoffs.

Remaining games Sirius: Linköping (Home) Mullsjö (Away) Kalmarsund (A) Växjö (H)

Pixbo: Pixbo will face the exact same opponents as Sirius. I think that Pixbo needs to be in a good position before the last game because playing away against Mullsjö in Nyhemshallen is always hard (even though Mullsjö has struggled at home this season). Andreas Stefansson and Gustav Fritzell were the biggest signings for Pixbo before the season and both of them have performed really well so far. Stefansson (moved from demoted AIK) has 46 points so far and Gustav Fritzell (moved from Linköping) has scored 51 points. Another player that always performs for Pixbo is the experienced goalie Jon Hedlund, who’s been on a high level for many years now.

Remaining games Pixbo: Kalmarsund (H) Växjö (A) Linköping (H) Mullsjö (A)

Jönköping: In points, Jönköping is having a great season, considered the bad circumstances: economic problems are leading up to players leaving the team for other clubs. For example the Oskar Malmgren case, where his parents had to pay up in order to free their son from the contract with Jönköping. In the absence of Malmgren, other youngsters like Otto Weidman and Emil Nilsen played big parts in the success of Jönköping. Also the experienced captain Rickard Hessmer has done a good season, currently sitting at 37 points in 26 games. Jönköping has five players in total that have made 30 points and more. One of the players I have to mention is Gustav Johansson producing 35 points in 27 games in his first full season with Jönköping. Last season, Johansson played 17 games in SSL and had only 1 point in those games. I must say I am very impressed by Emil Nilsen, who has the most points for Jönköping even though he is a defender. Nilsen’s success secured him a spot in the Swedish National Team in the latest Finnkampen in February, together with Otto Weidman – who also made his debut for the Swedish National Team in the same game. Yesterday, Jönköping announced that Emil Nilsen signed a 2-year contract with the club. The signing of the rising star is a very important one for Jönköping. In their last game of the season, Jönköping got crushed by Falun with 12-2. I am not sure if they are able to pull themselves together, as they face Storvreta in the next game, but either way: Jönköping has done a great season.

Remaining games Jönköping: Storvreta (H) Dalen (A) Lindås (H) Örebro (A)

Kalmarsund: Kalmarsund, led by Kim Nilsson, has done a good comeback season after playing in the second highest league for ten years in a row. Key games for Kalmarsund will be the ones against their playoff combatants Pixbo and Sirius, just ahead of them in the table. In the last game of the season, Kalmarsund will meet Lindås, that has nothing to play for anymore. With four games left we already know that Lindås will be demoted from the SSL. Kim Nilsson has done 42 points for his team and the closest guy behind him in the scorers list is Tim Nyander with 38 points. Kalmarsund has the worst goal difference of all the teams competing for the playoff spots. Right now they have 132-150 which means -18 for Kalmarsund. All of the other teams – apart from Jönköping – have a positive goal difference. Jönköping has let in the same amount of goals as they scored.

Remaining games Kalmarsund: Pixbo (A) Falun (H) Sirius (H) Lindås (A)

IBK Dalen: Dalen are currently 6th in the SSL. They started the season very well holding the first place until last game before the World Championship break in the end of November. This season, I have to mention the breakthrough season by Alexander Hedlund racking up 39 points in his second season in the highest league for Dalen. However, like many times before, the best point scorer for Dalen is the forever young Norwegian Ketil Kronberg. Kronberg has now scored 319 goals for Dalen since 2006 when he joined the club. During this season he passed Dalen legend Peder Bodén who scored 307 goals for the club. Kronberg has 44 points so far, which means that he has done his best season pointwise in the regulation season since 2013/14 campaign, when Kronberg had 50 points. Another good player this season for Dalen has been Måns Parsjö-Tegnér that got rewarded with a spot in the Swedish National Team playing in the World Championship in Czech Republic in the end of last year.

Remaining games Dalen: Mullsjö (A) Jönköping (H) Helsingborg (H) Höllviken (A)

Växjö IBK: Here we have one of the teams that can perform better. I don’t think that Växjö will lose their playoff spot, but it’s still possible. One of the things that Växjö can be satisfied with is their signing of Swiss top player Manuel Maurer that has performed very well in his first season in Sweden. The Swiss has made 50 points in 28 games so far for his new club. Also Jesper Sankell performed well, making 47 points in 24 games. Växjö are ending the season with potential thriller game against Sirius. Växjö can afford to lose against Falun, but if they want to be certain of a spot in the playoffs a win against Pixbo would be very neccesary for Växjö ahead of the last games.

Remaining games Växjö: Falun (A) Pixbo (H) Örebro (H) Sirius (A)

Tomorrow, the SSL – including the hunt for playoff tickets – continues.

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