By Arya Stark & The Meatbox
As we enter the final week of the most wide-open season in recent history, I’m reminded of a Bill Simmons column from 2010, so long ago that he was still a quality sportswriter and not a terrible TV personality, Meatbox and I were still in college, and Rich and Ariel still had hair (presumably). It’s so long ago that the original article has been deleted and only the cached version still exists on the internet:
Let’s say two friends just finished dinner at a steakhouse. The check comes. Unless they agree to split the bill, the next three seconds will go one of four ways.
1. One friend grabs the check as the other friend says “no, no, no!” and puts up a token fight.
2. One friend grabs the check as the other friend doesn’t put up a fight.
3. Both reach for the check at the same time, fight over who’s paying it and do the dueling, “no no no no, lemme get it, no no no no no” routine.
4. Both pretend not to see it because neither wants to pay.
Each scenario comes down to one simple question: Who wanted the check more? In the first two scenarios, one friend wanted it more than the other. In the third scenario, luck usually determined the winner — where the waiter placed the check determined who grabbed it first. In the fourth scenario, someone eventually has to care or else they’ll be sitting there forever. So really, it’s about caring. Who cared more on that day?
There are lots of factors determining who will win Sunday’s games, but this is the one to keep in mind as we handicap the final day of the season which will determine playoff seeding and matchups (and who out there is a cheap bastard). Onto the picks:
Fresh Kills @ Rehabs
What’s at stake for Fresh Kills: The Fresh Kills have had their worst season in recent memory and will look to build some momentum going into the playoffs (or ploffs, if you will). Whether they finish 14th or 15th, they are sure to face high seeds in every round after they wallop their play-in opponent.
What’s at stake for Rehabs: After an up-and-down season the Habs still have a shot at 3rd place, although that means they might have to face these very same Fresh Kills in the round of 16. Alternatively, losing could drop them as low as 6 or 7 where they could end up with Cobra Kai or Fuzz in round 1. Feels like this is a game you want to win and hope that the teams above you win as well.
Series trend: The Fresh Kills beat the Rehabs in the 2017 Championship. They split the season series in 2018 and the Rehabs won their one meeting this season 4-0.
Meatbox Game Line: Rehabs (-135), Fresh Kills (-105). I fully expect every player from FK who has yet to make 5 games to show up for this and then magically have their schedule completely clear up for the next four weeks (it’s honestly incredible how many people are sooooooo busy 11 months of the year, but not October! *eye roll emoji*). With the rare non-playoff occurence of having the full squad in tow for Fresh Kills, expect this to be a closer game.
Arya’s Game Line: Rehabs (-160), Fresh Kills (+120). The Rehabs are in a strange Catch-22 esque situation with seeding. If they beat the Fresh Kills, they’ll move up in the standings and have a good shot at facing them. If they lose to them, they’ll probably finish 5th but will open the door for Fresh Kills to move all the way up to 12th, which means they’d meet anyways. I think the Rehabs will want this game a lot more, and thus I would have to install them as a relatively heavy favorite for a matchup of this caliber. Plus, as we all know, the Fresh Kills aren’t fans of paying their own checks.
Gremlins @ Instant Karma (11 min remaining, Karma leads 1-0)
What’s at stake for Gremlins: Not a ton – winning this and their second game could jump them as high as 11th place, but losing this and their second game can only drop them one spot. They’re pretty locked into that 13-14 seed.
What’s at stake for Karma: Besides having to listen to JW ramble about his +/- in the event they don’t score when he’s on the court? With two wins Sunday, there is an outside chance they could climb as high as the 8 seed. It seems more likely they end up getting the 9 seed and a first round date with Poutine though.
Series trend: Gremlins took game 1 between them this season and have taken 5 of the last 5 regular season meetings. Karma’s last win in this series was in 2017.
Meatbox Game Line: Karma (-250), Gremlins (+200). This has more to do with the fact that there is only 11 minutes left and Karma is up than anything else. Pretty evenly matched teams, but Karma has been very good this year.
Arya’s Game Line: Gremlins (+115), Karma (-155). Karma has been the better team this year as the Gremlins seem to just be going through the motions of finishing off this season. Karma notched an impressive victory over Poutine just two weeks ago while the Gremlins’ only victory since June was against Gut Rot. Plus Commish Meatbox informs me there’s only 11 minutes left and Karma is up a goal. Not good.
Filthier @ Fresh Kills (2nd game for FK):
What’s at stake for Filthier: Filthier can climb all the way to 3rd with a victory and losses by the teams in front of them as they would hold the wins tiebreaker. Of course, that could also mean meeting these same Fresh Kills in round 1.
What’s at stake for Fresh Kills: As previously mentioned, it’s been a season to forget and they’re probably excited to just get it over with and lay an old-school beating in the play-in round.
Series trend: Simply put, Filthier has owned their souls in recent years. In 2017 when FK was undefeated their only loss was to Filthy in a shootout where James pulled the incredible feat of scoring the winner while concussing the opponent’s goalie on the same play, a historic feat that few have attempted or pulled off in hockey history. Filthy then swept the season series in 2018 before knocking Fresh Kills out of the playoffs, and won their only meeting this season as well.
Meatbox Game Line: Filthier (-120), Fresh Kills (-120). See comments on Fresh Kills roster in Rehabs/Fresh Kills preview. Filthier always seems to be Fresh Kills’ kryptonite. We’ll see if that continues.
Arya’s Game Line: Filthier (-180), Fresh Kills (+140). Filthy is a proud team who will want to get the best standings position possible going into the playoffs. Fresh Kills is just waiting for the playoffs to start so they can show Meg they’re actually a great team.
Poutine Machine @ Gremlins (2nd game for Gremlins):
What’s at stake for Poutine: A win could send them as high as the six seed 6 if both Filthier and the Demons lose. A loss could have them drop to 9 if Karma goes 2-0 on the day.
What’s at stake for Gremlins: See previous Gremlins preview.
Series trend: They’ve split their last four meetings.
Arya’s Game Line: Poutine (-200), Gremlins (+160). The Gremlins have been tumbling in the standings and should finish around 13th while Poutine can still move up to 6th place. I’m not sure if Poutine really cares about that but if Dickie shows up he will allow 0-1 goals, and that should be enough to lock in the W.
Meatbox Game Line: Same as Arya on this one. A lot will depend on who shows up for the Gremlins this week.
What the Puck @ Instant Karma (2nd game for Karma)
What’s at stake for WTP: Their highest finish in a long time. A win plus a hookers loss vaults them to 3rd place. A loss could drop them as low as 7. The 3-8 seeds essentially have a minefield of first round opponents to maneuver, so there’s really no benefit to intentionally losing this one.
What’s at stake for Karma: See previous Karma preview minus the bits on JW since he most likely won’t be playing for WTP.
Series trend: Karma won their matchup this season in OT. 2018’s matchup went to Karma, with WTP getting the W in 2017.
Arya’s Game Line: WTP (-145), Karma (+105). Karma has had a surprising season but few teams have overachieved like WTP who will not only upset Poutine to win D3 but haven’t lost since June and could finish #3 in the standings. Derek will have to put the team on his back and Steve will have to be spectacular in net for Karma to pull the upset.
Meatbox Game Line: WTP (-125), Karma (-110). Agree that WTP is the favorite here, but Karma has been solid all season. I expect this to be a pretty close game, possibly another OT one.
Gouging Anklebiters @ LBS, Inc (winner gets 1st, loser gets 2nd)
What’s at stake for Biters: 1st Place
What’s at stake for LBS: 1st Place
Series trend: I don’t think we’ve had a 1 vs 2 game quite like this since Rehabs-Fuzz in 2016. The Biters have won the last 2 games in the series.
Arya’s Game Line: Biters (-120), LBS (-120). A true toss-up depending on who shows up and which team’s the most hungover.
Meatbox Game Line: LBS (-125), Biters (-115). Still give the nod the the LBS here, especially coming off last week’s last minute loss to the Rehabs. Look for them to come out strong, with a full roster of players getting their fifth game and possibly a sub or two.
Mathematics @ Cobra Kai
What’s at stake for Math: They can drop to 17th with a loss or 15th with a win. However a win could also keep them from facing relegation next season – do they throw the game on purpose or do they want to stay in D2?
What’s at stake for Cobra Kai: Cobra Kai can jump up to 9th with a win or fall as low as 12th with a loss.
Series trend: Cobra Kai has won the last two meetings (the two didn’t play in the season in 2017, but Math did pull the 5/12 upset over Cobra Kai in the playoffs that year).
Arya’s Game Line: Math (+145), Cobra Kai (-185). Both teams have had disappointing seasons and would love to finish on a high note, but if Campbell’s back in town and/or CK has their full lineup, they’re the obvious pick.
Meatbox Game Line: CK (-200) Math (+160). Love Math, but for the love of God, please show up. A squared plus b squared only equals c squared if a squared and b squared make it to their damn game.
Tompkins Square Riots @ Dark Rainbows
What’s at stake for Riots: A loss coupled with a Gut Rot win (albeit an unlikely one), would lead to the Riots finishing 20th in the league. A win keeps them in 19th.
What’s at stake for Rainbows: Maybe 17th place if they win. Losing does nothing for their position.
Series trend: Rainbows won their earlier match this year, but the Riots have won 3 of the last 5.
Arya’s Game Line: Riots (+110), Rainbows (-150). The Rainbows have had a disappointing season thus far but just have too much talent up front for the Riots D to handle.
Meatbox Game Line: Rainbows (-140) Riots (EVEN). I want to favor the Rainbows more, but D4 games tend to be unpredictable. On paper, the Rainbows are definitely the better team, but as Arya Stark once said before *SPOILER ALERT* slicing Walder’s throat, “you killed my family and D4 games make no sense to me.” *SPOILER OVER*
Denim Demons @ Gut Rot (super sub day for demons)
What’s at stake for Demons: A holy day of prayer and the potential to move up to 5th, although they pretty much locked up the division title the day the schedule was announced.
What’s at stake for Gut Rot: Tequila shots if they win, peyote buttons if they lose.
Series trend: The teams met once this season, a 7-0 victory for the Demons. Last year, the Demons beat them 5-2 in the regular season before they met in the play-in round where the Demons obviously won, this time by a score of 4-1.
Arya’s Game Line: Demons (-400), Gut Rot (+300). The only reason the line is this close is because it’s unclear who from the Demons is actually showing up. Presumably they will have had some kind of hockey experience, however, and thus will be heavily favored to win this game. The Demons apparently tried to reschedule this game for Rosh Hashana but were rebuffed by the goys in green. They’ll be icing a lineup of the two gentiles on the team plus a bunch of random free agents who are presumably not pipe-hitting members of the tribe.
Meatbox Game Line: “This close”
As #subgate rages on, I fully expect an angry Demons team to show up and win this won. Given I don’t know who the subs will be, I’d probably say it’s more like Demons (-300), Gut Rot (+200). I do expect the non-sub players on the Demons to come into this with a chip on their shoulder, so this one probably gets put away early.
Mega Touch @ Sky Fighters
What’s at stake for Mega: Mega can move up one spot to 11th or tumble down as far as 14th, although that scenario is extremely unlikely. They probably just want to lock-in the play-in bye which would require an 11th or 12th place finish.
What’s at stake for Sky: The Sky Fighters are locked in the play-in round and whether they play Math or the Rainbows it’ll be a tough game. More realistically, they’d like to show their new players that they can win big games which would go a long way towards not being ravaged in the offseason for the third consecutive year.
Series trend: The teams didn’t meet this season or last. You’d have to go all the way back to July of 2017 when the Sky Fighters beat Mega 4-3. As alluded to earlier, however, that was a very, very different Sky Fighters team.
Meatbox Game Line: Mega (-120), Sky (-120). I don’t even know who I would pick in this one. Mega has wins against Cobra Kai and the Demons this year, but they’ve also lost to Gut Rot and the Rainbows. Which Mega team shows up? The Sky Fighters seem to win games they’re supposed to and lose the ones you’d expect, I just don’t know if I expect them to win or lose this one. Toss up.
Arya’s Game Line: Mega (-110), Sky (-130). Call it a hunch but I think the Sky Fighters are way better than they’ve shown this season, and unless Matt, Tash and especially Shelly are all in Sunday, Mega’s likely to get upset in this one. Good news – they’ll still likely finish 12th and get the play-in bye. Bad news – they’ll still definitely get smoked by the Rehabs, Filthier or whomever finishes as the 5th seed.
Corlears Hookers @ Butchers
What’s at stake for Hookers: A fascinating scenario might play out in this one. Since it’s the final game of the regular season and the Fresh Kills are likely to be the 14 seed (depending on what happens earlier in the day), they could possibly be in a position to throw the game to ensure they get an easier matchup in round 1.
What’s at stake for Butchers: They could move from 15th to 14th which would allow them to avoid a rematch with the Rainbows, the team that upset them last season, and allow them to face the Riots instead.
Series trend: The Hookers have won the last two meetings between these teams 1-0, with both games requiring overtime.
Arya’s Game Line: Hookers (-200), Butchers (+160). Point-shaving scandals are juicy but I don’t know if we’re quite ready for them in BTSH. Besides, who wants to show up for Sunday hockey and then not even attempt to win (well, I guess there are some D4 teams that kinda do this). If the Hookers have a decent lineup and want to win, they will win.
Meatbox Game Line: No one tell the Hookers the early game outcomes! Agree on -200 and +160 here. I think the Hookers have shown that they are one of the most talented teams in the league this year and it seems like all the pieces are finally meshing there. Look for them to keep rolling.