NPHL Playoff Preview/Prediction: MAN vs GRIM

Chris Clegg Writer

NPHL East Division Semi-Final
Manning Comets [3] vs Grimshaw Huskies [2]

The Manning Comets face the Grimshaw Huskies in the Mackenzie Highway series. Read all you need to know about the series.

Series Schedule
[Still tentative at time of posting]

Tue., Feb. 5 – Manning at Grimshaw
Thu., Feb. 7 – Grimshaw at Manning
Fri., Feb. 8 – Manning at Grimshaw
Tue., Feb. 12 – Grimshaw at Manning
*Thu., Feb. 14 – Manning at Grimshaw
*Sat., Feb. 16 – Grimshaw at Manning
*Tue., Feb. 19 – Manning at Grimshaw
(*) if necessary

The Season Series – 2018-19

1. Fri., Nov. 2 – Manning 1 at Grimshaw 5
2. Fri., Dec. 7 – Grimshaw 3 at Manning 5
3. Fri., Dec. 21 – Grimshaw 5 at Manning 6
4. Thu., Jan. 10 – Grimshaw 10 at Manning 3
5. Thu., Jan. 24 – Manning 3 at Grimshaw 10
6. Fri., Feb. 1 – Manning 3 at Grimshaw 6

GRIM won the season series 4-2 and outscored MAN 39-21. GRIM swept all three games at home 5-1, 10-3 and 6-3. GRIM also won the last three games 10-3, 10-3 and 6-3 after MAN won two of the first three.

Analysis: The Mackenzie Highway series is a battle between two clubs where GRIM may be a slight favourite due to home ice advantage, and the fact GRIM swept MAN three straight at home this season.
GRIM does not excel on special teams but they murder you on special teams. GRIM ranks second in PP and PK percentage, while MAN is sixth in PP and last in PK. GRIM is 11% better on the PP than MAN and almost 11% better on the PK. Huge advantage to GRIM.
MAN has the league’s worst offence and it shows in shots on goal. MAN ranks last in shots on goal for and last in shots on goal against. GRIM isn’t much better, ranking fourth in shots on goal for and fifth in shots against. The big difference is when you combine the two. GRIM is +46 shots for the season while MAN is -342 shots. In this case, rankings lie and do not tell the entire story.
MAN also ranks last in PIMs. They take the most PIMs per game in the NPHL and have the most committed against them. GRIM takes about 10 less PIMs per game. Overall, the difference again is the totals: GRIM is +103 PIMs for the season to rank second while MAN is sixth at -78 PIMs per game. MAN must clean this up to have a chance vs GRIM. MAN takes 4.40 stick foul PIMs per game to GRIM’s 3.50.
GRIM scores first in 50% of its games while MAN scores in 41.67% so GRIM has a slight edge.
Records when scoring first and allowing the first goal are eerily similar. MAN is 6-4 when scoring first; GRIM is 7-5. When allowing the first goal, MAN is 4-10 and GRIM 3-9. Note the fact both teams are +2 when scoring first and -6 when allowing the first goal.
GRIM is 7-2 when leading after one period and MAN 4-2 – MAN only led after one period six times in 24 games this season.
MAN won five games when trailing after one period – a great stat for a sixth-ranked team overall – to GRIM’s two.
Similarity strikes again. Both teams were 8-0 when leading after two periods. When trailing after two periods, MAN was 2-13 and GRIM 1-13.
Except for the first period in goals scored, each team ranked fifth to seventh. GRIM ranked second in the first period in goals cored.
Both teams were outscored in every period this season and ranked fifth to last. MAN’s stats were -23 goals in the first period, -10 in the second and -24 in the third: GRIM was -2 in the first and -7 in the third but -12 in the second.
MAN came from being to win in 25% of its games and blew leads in the same 25%. GRIM did not have as many come from behind wins at 20.83% and they blew leads in 29.17% of its games so protecting the lead can be a problem.

Prediction: On the surface, GRIM should win this series. Their stats are considerably better. But there are several factors to consider. MAN can ice a much better team when out-of-town players arrive and, of course, they have Braden Gamble in goal. He can steal any game for you. MAN must stay out of the sin bin or GRIM will kill you on the PP. MAN should strive to be near even in PP chances in this series. These teams meet for the fist time in 16 years so there is no recent playoff history. It is hard to believe this but MAN has not won a playoff game at GRIM in 29 years since 1990. MAN has also not defeated GRIM in a playoff series in 32 years [1987]. GRIM to win in seven, but I would not be at all surprised to see MAN end the drought.

Manning Comets – Grimshaw Huskies Playoff History

The late Chip Fitzgerald, writer of the Grimshaw Mile Zero News, prayed for the Mackenzie Highway series each year. Despite their close proximity and long history, the teams rarely met. Such is the case this year because it’s the first playoff meeting in 16 years [2002-03]. The Huskies lead the all-time playoff history between the clubs winning five of eight series. Overall, GRIM holds a one-game lead winning 18 of 35 games. GRIM has a 10-9 win-loss record at home while the teams have split the 16 games at MAN. The home team with home ice advantage has won the last six series: only the first was won by the visiting team when MAN defeated GRIM is six games 4-2.


Grimshaw 8 5 3 35 18 17 169 145
Manning 8 3 5 35 17 18 145 169
TOTALS 8 8 8 35 35 35 314 314
NOTE: Scores in the last two games in 1970-71 not available.

SP – series played; SW – series won;
SL – series lost; GP – games played;
GW – games won; GL – games lost;
GF – goals for; GA – goals against.

Regular Season Stats Package
[Ranking in Parenthesis]

Category Manning Grimshaw

Record 10-14-0-0 [3-East] 10-11-3-0 [2-East]
Power Play 21-115, 18.26% [6] 38-127, 29.92% [2]
Penalty Kill 35-113, 69.03% [7] 20-99, 79.80% [2]
Shots For 31.29 per game [7] 40.50 per game [4]
Shots Vs 45.54 per game [7] 38.58 per game [5]
Shots For/Against -342 [7] +46 [4]
PIM For 34.08 per game [7] 24.25 per game [4]
PIM Vs 30.83 per game [7] 28.54 per game [6]
PIM For/Against -78 [6] +103 [2]
Scoring 1st 41.67% [T6] 50.00% [T3]
Record Scoring 1st Goal 6-4 [5] 7-5 [6]
Record Allow 1st Goal 4-10 [5] 3-9 [6]
Lead After 1 Period 4-2 [6] 7-2 [4]
Trail After 1 Period 5-9 [2] 2-10 [5]
Lead After 2 Periods 8-0 [T3] 8-0 [T3]
Trail After 2 Periods 2-13 [2] 1-13 [3]
Goals Scored in 1st 1.04 per game [7] 1.96 per game [2]
Goals Scored in 2nd 1.25 per game [6] 1.63 per game [5]
Goals Scored in 3rd 1.25 per game [7] 1.83 per game [5]
Goals Allowed in 1st 2.00 per game [5] 2.04 per game [6]
Goals Allowed in 2nd 1.67 per game [5] 2.13 per game [6]
Goals Allowed in 3rd 2.25 per game [6] 2.13 per game [5]
Goal Diff in 1 -23 [7] -2 [5]
Goal Diff in 2 -10 [5] -12 [6]
Goal Diff in 3 -24 [5] -7 [5]
Come From Behind Wins 25.00% [T3] 20.83% [6]
Blown Leads 25.00% [T4] 29.17% [6]
Team Stick Fouls 4.04 PIM/Game [5] 3.50 PIM/Game [4]