All you need to know about the playoffs ... maybe
People refer to the opening round of the National Hockey League playoffs as the most exciting and it’s easy to understand why.
There are more teams, more games and a better chance at a major upset in Round 1 than the rest of the postseason. It’s also the time of year when fans start mapping the routes their favourite teams would have to take to reach the NHL final. Some people go as far as predicting Stanley Cup winners.
In its season simulations in recent years, sports video game giant EA Sports has been quite accurate. Last year was close, with EA Sports predicting the Canucks would win the President’s Trophy and top the Boston Bruins in seven games in the final series (they did win the President’s Trophy as regular-season winners, but lost in seven games to the Bruins). The previous year, EA Sports correctly predicted the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Cup.
Who do they predict to win this year? None other than the Pittsburgh Penguins, prevailing over Chicago in six games in the final. A browse online revealed that they’re off on their standings and list of playoff teams. But their simulation did have Canucks winning a second consecutive President’s Trophy, which they claimed on Saturday evening.
Here at the Free Press, I’ve taken a more conservative approach. For the regular season, I predicted division-by-division standings with a list of playoff teams. In case you’re wondering, I correctly predicted 12 of 16 playoff teams. I didn’t predict the New Jersey Devils, Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators to qualify. Instead, I went with the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.
In keeping with tradition, the Free Press is once again making round-by-round predictions (Note: Just like past years, we’ll determine the winner first based on the number of correct series winners, then the correct number of games for each series. If still tied, we’ll give the win to the individual who picks the Cup final series outcome correctly).
Last year, I won the overall title, but barely. I finished tied with Rob Collins, as we each correctly picked 10 series winners. The difference maker? I called the Bruins to beat the Canucks in the final, while he believed the Canucks would down the Bruins.
Rob Collins is no longer with us, so it’s down to a head-to-head battle between myself and assistant editor Allan Wishart. In case you’re wondering, Wishart had nine winners picked correctly last year.
Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (8): McInnis - Canucks in seven; Wishart - Canucks in five
St. Louis Blues (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (7): McInnis - Blues in six; Wishart - Blues in five
Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (6): McInnis - Blackhawks in six; Wishart - Blackhawks in six
Nashville Predators (4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (5): McInnis - Predators in seven; Wishart - Wings in seven
New York Rangers (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (8): McInnis - Rangers in five; Wishart - Rangers in five
Boston Bruins (2) vs. Washington Capitals (7): McInnis - Bruins in seven; Wishart - Bruins in seven
Florida Panthers (3) vs. New Jersey Devils (6): McInnis - Devils in six; Wishart - Devils in six
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5): McInnis - Penguins in five; Wishart - Penguins in six