The final installment of the media’s preview of the 2019 PBR Cup playoffs.
5) What The Puck
Richie Hero: Ooooooh I forgot about WTP when I deemed Isaac captain of the year. Great season from them, I do expect them to beat the Gremmies. Not sure if I’d pick them to win another round. I still think they are far away from the olden days of championship contenders from WTP, but on any given Sunday, they can beat anyone.
JW: They were the only team who swept us in the season series this year, and they moved up a division. Their high finish this year is not only because of the level of competition in the 3rd and 4th divisions, as they have the talent to beat any 1st division team. IF they beat us, I could see them winning in the next round, also. But, again…”no prediction from me as I’ll be reffing this game”. (Hi, Hicks.)
Meatbox: When Hogg isn’t telling me to shut up for trying to plan semi elaborate goal celebrations on the bench, he’s sending me useful Pavel Barber instagram videos. If that’s not captain of the year material (he was already snubbed Rookie of the Year, so I’m sure he’ll be snubbed this too), then I don’t know what is.
As a team, they really bolstered their depth with the additions of Henry, Mike McC, Annie, and Ed in net this year. They also have a jacked guy on their team who multiple people have insisted can out bench me. That is 100% fake news. No one out benches the box.
WTP showed us they were for real when they put together the longest win streak of the year and I think they’ll make it to the Elite 8 where if the bracket goes chalk, the Rehabs will be waiting. Less than ideal, but I feel like that will be a much closer game than people expect. In years past, teams may have slept on these guys, but I’m pretty sure nobody is going to after what they’ve put together this year.
Arya: What The Puck has been on the upswing for a couple years now but they really hit their stride this year. McCauley, Henry and Ed have been big acquisitions on the manliness front but don’t underestimate the impact of adding two field hockey legends the past two seasons in Sam and Annie to give their lady contingent some scoring punch. This is a tough, gritty team who I could see losing in the 1st round to a talented Gremlins squad, but who I could also see pulling an upset and reaching the final four which would be an amazing achievement considering they haven’t won a playoff game since I’ve been in the league. It’s been a breakthrough season and while I think they’ll probably get knocked out in the quarterfinals, don’t be surprised if they’re knocking on the door of D1 in a couple years.
JW: Will Ramirez be in net? His attendance makes all the difference in whether they hoist the Cup or not. I haven’t seen him much this season. (I feel like this is all I ever say about the Rehabs.) Welp, why change now.
Arya: The Rehabs are always the preseason favorite, then start the season with a few surprising losses before righting the ship and being a force in the playoffs. They’ve had some injury issues this season but are finally getting healthy, minus Carlin who should play on 10/13, albeit perhaps at less than 100%. Everyone knows the deal with this team – their women are absurd and Ramirez is tough to beat when he’s on his game. The last two seasons they (along with the LBS) have been knocked out by the eventual champions. This year they’ve tightened up the roster and seem to be firing on all cylinders going into the playoffs. Expect a deep playoff run with very strong championship potential.
Meatbox: For the love of God just let me win one championship. I need the content. If you thought Ovi’s title bender was good..
Richie Hero: I did. Does Cecil and Harambe mean nothing to you? But don’t worry Mr. HIcks, this is definitely the team to beat this year. (Cover!!!) Alex May, you, some dudes I don’t even know plus all your great girls would make you the favorites, and that’s not including the best goalie in BTSH, Ramirez. Congrats to your 2019 BTSH Champions, Rehabs.
3) Corlears Hookers
Richie Hero: After many years of being the favorite to win the PBR Cup, and then a few years of having a 0% chance, the Hookers are once again a team that can win, though it’s highly unlikely. They have either the best or 2nd best girls in the league, a very good goalie and a solid bunch of dudes. Unfortunately for them, they don’t seem to have gamebreakers or a top 10 player. I do think they will beat Fresh Kills, but I’d be surprised to see them in the semis.
Arya: The Hookers are almost like Rehabs-lite, which is maybe an odd thing to say considering they beat the Habs 3-1 in their only regular season meeting. But they’re built around women and goaltending, with their guys being good but lacking the gamebreakers that the Rehabs have. Danilo is closest but word on the street is he’s out for the playoffs (definitely for the presumed Fresh Kills matchup in round 1). This is not a team to take lightly; their three regulation losses were all to D1 teams and they’d probably have an extra point in the standings if they had actually played the Math game and not just taken a point each from it. I still don’t think they’re going to win the championship this season but they should be good for a playoff win or two along the way.
Meatbox: In the preseason, one sexy taco bell loving writer said this team was the favorite to win the second division if this was the year they finally gelled. Lo and behold, that’s almost what happened as we finally had a Hookers team that was as good on the court as it was on paper (if not for the Anklebiters they would have won their division as well).
As a reward for a great season, they’ll most likely get Fresh Kills in the Sweet 16. While they should be on upset alert for this one (FK did beat them during the season), I do think they are the more talented team and expect them to win that game on their way to a Final 4 appearance. Once you make it to that final Sunday, any of the four teams can win (duh, that’s literally how tournaments work), so I could totally see the Hookers raising the PBR cup although right now I would have the Rehabs and Lbs ahead of them in terms of favorite to do so.
JW: Dammit, Hicks is right AGAIN. This is the most frustrating article I’ve ever been a part of.
As for the Hooks, look for the one who calls himself a “glue guy” to step up and be more than that in the postseason.
Meatbox: Not just any “glue guy”, an eLEEt one.
2) Gouging Anklebiters
Arya: When the Biters started hot people kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but a 3-2 record against the top division this year demonstrated that they have officially made the leap into the league’s elite. Next season they will be rewarded with a promotion to D1 (a development I’m sure most of them are dreading). This season they will be rewarded with a great playoff draw, perhaps even better than the #1 seed. Assuming both teams get through the Round of 16 the LBS will be staring down the possibility of facing the 14th seeded Fresh Kills, 11th seeded defending champion Fuzz or 10th seeded Cobra Kai (with Campbell traveling in from Boston) in the quarters while the Biters could be facing Karma or the Demons – not easy games, but far preferable. The fly in ointment is that Probie has way too many friends who want to get married (seriously, what are they thinking?) and is missing a playoff game or two again. Last season I livestreamed their game for him and Probert had to watch on his laptop screen as the Biters lost in excruciating fashion, a 0-0 game giving way to a dumb playoff LOLshootout (seriously, can we get rid of those) in which they were eliminated by eventual finalist Cobra Kai. This year they should be able to cruise to the final four where they’ll be slight underdogs, but have a great chance to win the championship. Obviously I hope it’s the LBS, but I’d be happy for Ben if it was them.
Meatbox: These guys really surprised me this year going from a middle of the pack team to a top three team seemingly overnight. They have the talent to win it all, but it’s going to come down to 2 things- 1) Probert’s attendance: he always seems to be traveling during the playoffs, especially the quarterfinals, will he make the games? 1a) The opponent they draw starting in the Elite 8. No Probert plus a matchup with Fuzz could be a really daunting task. In years past, I would assume that meant an L, but they’ve put together a solid squad this year and I think they’d still hold their own well.
Richie Hero: They didn’t surprise me. As you know Mr. Hicks, I picked the Anklebiters to have a great season this year. You see…the Anklebiters have become a thing they hated the most, a Super Team. No longer will just being a great guy be enough to get you on the team, now you also have to be great at hockey. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. I absolutely think the Anklebiters are one of the heavy favorites to win. I still pick the Rehabs, but they cannot use the no one believes in us mantra, as I do.
JW: I’m rooting for you, Craig. (How do I insert a heart emoji in this format?)
1) LBS Inc
JW: Lbs managed to win, and win, AND WIN despite attendance issues all year. Week in, week out they did the right thing and got free agents, and still managed to notch the W. Their only 2 losses came at the hands of (guys, who did Lbs lose to this year?)…I think the Rehabs, and….the Hookers, someone said? So, is this the year Frey finally gets his coveted championship? As mentioned above, only Fuzz or the Rehabs can stand in the way of this. It probably won’t be Fuzz, but it might be the Rehabs.
Meatbox: If the Rehabs meet Lbs in the playoffs I’m making sure Caitlin steals my (legal) drugs again so we can recreate the last time these two teams met. This team is always a tough out and I fully expect them to make their 4th straight (!!!) trip to the final four. Assuming everyone shows up for them (a fairly large assumption given this season’s attendance woes), this team is one of the hardest in the league to defend and I’d have to install them as the favorites to win the whole thing.
Richie Hero: Haven’t Filthier made the final four every year since 2015? My Autism isn’t functioning with this for some reason. I love this team. This is the definition of a T-E-A-M. They have amassed this record mostly without Luke, Jake, Karstan and Avery. I didn’t think Zisser was all that good and I was 100% wrong. I owe you a beer, sir. Alex also is in the running for Captain of the Year. Roberts gets my vote as MVP. A gritty player, who picked up the slack of his fallen teammates. A truer Hero does not exist, besides Jack Bauer and the GB version of Brett Favre, obviously. They are #2 on my list of teams that can win. Anklebiters 3rd.
Arya: Quick fact check: LBS other loss this season was to the Fresh Kills (quite the 14 seed you’ve got there), Filthier would be right up there in final four appearances had we not knocked them out in the quarters my rookie year of 2016, and legal drugs are not nearly as fun as the illegal ones. Anyways, I’ve played a good deal of hockey in my life and never have I been a part of any team that had to deal with anything close to this amount of personnel issues during the year. Between three surprise retirements just weeks before the start of the season, Scotty’s ACL recovery, Karsten’s hamstring, Luke’s wrist and then his eye, Avery’s hernia, Micayla’s knee, Jason’s broken thumb, Nick’s toenails falling off after a hike, not to mention the various foot injuries I played through early in the season because we literally had no one else…let’s just say there were multiple weeks where I didn’t even send out a lineup because I was still working on it 30 minutes before gametime. But this group was so focused and so mentally tough that once we started playing, none of it mattered. True professionalism and, like Rich said, a true T-E-A-M. I would’ve obviously wanted us to win no matter what, but after the season we’ve had there’s really nothing I’d like to see more than for this group of exemplary ladies and gentlemen to be rewarded with the franchise’s 4th BTSH Championship. With a little puck luck and a lot of White Claw, we just might do it.