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UFHL Playoff Preview: Division Champs All Advance to Division Finals, Continue Quest for Klein Cup

Updated: May 31, 2022

That first round will be tough to top — both in the NHL and the UFHL, which also went to overtime in Game 7, producing the closest result in Klein Cup playoff history!

Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime winner — the final goal of the first round — propelled West Coast Express past the Gators by 1.47 fantasy points, the slimmest margin of victory to date in the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League that crowned the Monarchs inaugural champions in 2020 before Red Army claimed the Klein Cup in 2021.

Just how close was that nail-biter? The Gators had Jacob Markstrom, who got 2.50 fantasy points for the win, while Gaudreau racked up 4.70 fantasy points for his heroics (2.50 for the goal, 1.00 for the GWG, 1.00 for the plus rating, and 0.20 for the shot)! If any other Flame not rostered by West Coast Express had been the hero, the Gators would have been advancing to face the Founders’ Trophy-winning regular season champion Royals in the Howe Division Final. But Gaudreau sent both Calgary and West Coast Express to the second round — and now he is reunited with Markstrom thanks to the UFHL’s innovative playoff leasing system, where the advancing franchises can fill their empty roster spots with advancing players from the opponent they eliminated. So Markstrom joins Darcy Kuemper with West Coast Express — replacing Scott Wedgewood, who was eliminated with Dallas — to form the most formidable tandem going forward!

That is the marquee matchup on paper among the division finals — another fascinating battle between the Royals’ firepower up front and West Coast Express’ manpower advantage on defence and in goal, with starters on opposite nights. If defence — and goaltending — wins championships, West Coast Express might be the team to beat now, but the Royals could still outgun the remaining eight franchises. All of whom finished in the Top 10 during the regular season.

There were no real upsets in the first round — in either league, the NHL or the UFHL — with the higher seeds advancing in seven of the eight matchups for the Klein Cup Playoffs, with the Connor McDavid-led Yetis as the lone exception. They prevailed over the Ice Vikings as a third seed but were hardly underdogs — separated by only 34.95 fantasy points in the regular season standings, having battled for seventh overall down the stretch. And some might see the Yetis as the favourites to come out of the Allan Conference now, especially if McDavid can lead them over the Stingrays in a Battle of Alberta-themed Lemieux Division Final. If that happens and Edmonton wins, a conference final against the Leon Draisaitl-led Grizzlies would be incredibly intriguing. That is, if the Grizzlies can knock off the defending Klein Cup champion, Red Army, in a rematch of last year’s Gretzky Division Final!

Last but not least, the Titans are undermanned against Rock Republic in the Orr Division Final — after losing seven Leafs and two Bruins in those Game 7s, including David Pastrnak and Auston Matthews, the second overall pick in this year’s UFHL Playoff Draft — but the Titans are welcoming Nikita Kucherov to the fold for the second round, as the second overall pick from last year’s UFHL Playoff Draft when he powered Red Army to a Klein Cup championship. Rock Republic counters with Aleksander Barkov as their leased star, adding another layer of spotlight to that Battle of Florida — as evidenced by tonight’s $SCO Picks contest! That winner will be hard-pressed to come out of the Legends Conference, up against the powerhouse Howe Division in the next round!

For the record and for what it’s worth, the higher seeds advanced in six of the eight NHL matchups — the exceptions being a couple of recent Stanley Cup winners in St. Louis and Tampa Bay, the two-time defending champs. Both were third seeds that eliminated Toronto and Minnesota, respectively, with fairly even betting lines heading into those series.

The odds have yet to be determined for the division finals in the Klein Cup Playoffs — we’ll let the 16 contestants in the UFHL/NHL Playoff Pool set those lines ahead of today’s deadline (7 p.m. ET) — but this second round is sure to be intensely entertaining again. The UFHL has a unique and special way of keeping fantasy hockey fans on the edge of their seat, highlighted by our Klein Cup Playoffs Watch Parties on Twitch!

Here is a recap of the first-round results and a preview of the second-round matchups with the updated bracket for the Klein Cup Playoffs:

First Round Results

Allan Conference

L1) Stingrays defeated WC2) Battlehawks 319.46-283.47

L3) Yetis defeated L2) Ice Vikings 408.37-320.25

G1) Grizzlies defeated WC1) Stallions 343.27-262.17

G2) Red Army defeated G3) CanWest Generals 278.37-244.79

Legends Conference

H1) Royals defeated WC2) Outlaws 379.46-331.70

H2) West Coast Express defeated H3) Gators 343.46-341.99

O1) Titans defeated WC1) Bentley Jacks 426.85-273.15

O2) Rock Republic defeated O3) Kamikaze 320.72-313.64

Second Round Matchups

Allan Conference

Lemieux Division Final

L1) Stingrays vs. L3) Yetis

Gretzky Division Final

G1) Grizzlies vs. G2) Red Army

Legends Conference

Howe Division Final

H1) Royals vs. H2) West Coast Express

Orr Division Final

O1) Titans vs. O2) Rock Republic

Here is a closer look at how the franchises stack up heading into the second round, with a roster comparison followed by a bit of analysis.

NOTE: These eight remaining playoff franchises are leasing players from the 16 non-playoff franchises and the eight franchises that were eliminated in the first round (listed in parenthesis).

Lemieux Division Final


Forwards (10)

Elias Lindholm – Calgary vs. Edmonton

Calle Jarnkrok – Calgary vs. Edmonton

Dillon Dube – Calgary vs. Edmonton (Eliminators)

Brett Ritchie – Calgary vs. Edmonton (Blizzard)

Brayden Schenn – St. Louis vs. Colorado

Alexei Toropchenko – St. Louis vs. Colorado (Scout, Marcus Borkowsky)

Patrick Maroon – Tampa Bay vs. Florida

Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay vs. Florida (Dynasty)

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Tampa Bay vs. Florida (Duckman’s Domination)

Ryan Reaves – New York Rangers vs. Carolina (Snipers)

Defenders (6)

Rasmus Andersson – Calgary vs. Edmonton (Dynasty)

Oliver Kylington – Calgary vs. Edmonton (Crypto Knights)

Erik Cernak – Tampa Bay vs. Florida

Zach Bogosian – Tampa Bay vs. Florida

Gustav Forsling – Florida vs. Tampa Bay

Adam Fox – New York Rangers vs. Carolina

Goaltenders (1)

Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida vs. Tampa Bay (Battlehawks)


Forwards (13)

Connor McDavid – Edmonton vs. Calgary

Jesse Puljujarvi – Edmonton vs. Calgary