Analysing my NHL Bracket Challenge

Hey, two posts in two days, I’m doing good at this (for now).

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So if you’re a fan of the NHL, you’ll hopefully know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs started last night, 15 teams (and the Philadelphia Flyers who looked as though they thought they were playing a pre-season game last night) are fighting it out to get their name scratched onto the cup, something which to the Pittsburgh Penguins is probably getting old already.

Every year I mean to do a bracket going into the playoffs, but I never do because I’d never be dumb enough to share the results and suffer the consequences of people constantly telling me how wrong I am. I already know it’s wrong, I don’t need reminding.

Last night, before the games began I must add, I decided to actually get one done, so I thought what better way than to prove why you should never trust my predictions or bet on a horse I tell you to bet on than to write about it here, publish it late at night in the UK so that when all five of you read this I’m already asleep when you tell me I’m wrong.

So there you go, have a look and judge me. To be honest with you I’m already regretting my decisions, Caps in 5? Yikes.

Western Conference

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Lets start in the west shall we, not quite sure why but I’ve started now so I may as well finish.

We’ll go from top to bottom because that makes sense.

Nashville V Colorado

You can probably see that I’ve predicted Nashville here, and I’ve predicted them in five games.

Pekka Rinne is just defying his age and proving he’s still got it even at 35-years-old. In fact, in the regular season he had his third best year in terms of goals against average for the Preds with 2.31, only his performance in 2010/11 (2.12) and 2014/15 (2.18) are better. In terms of save percentage, only the 2010/11 season was better than the .927% he posted this year.

Here’s where I’d love to do a glowing prediction that Pekka Rinne will win the cup for Nashville on his own, but let’s be honest Nashville are absolutely stacked, Rinne is just going to be another monster for other teams to face against a team that has PK Subban, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen just to name a few.

Colorado are an up and coming team, but I don’t think they have the firepower to really mount a serious challenge against Rinne and the Preds outstanding defence. Only the LA Kings allowed fewer goals than Nashville in the regular season.

I predicted Preds in five, but even I think that’s a bit harsh (but not the wrong eventual winner)

Winnipeg V Minnesota

A few years ago I was hyped up about Minnesota thinking they had this awesome mix of youth, prospects and veterans that make them a scary team for the future. That didn’t really pan out the way I expected so I decided I’d start thinking that about a different team.

Unfortunately for the Wild, the team who I replaced them with was Winnipeg, and I don’t think you can really blame me.

All I need to say is player names here and you should just agree with me on this one, Jets in six. Laine, Scheifele, Wheeler?

Yeah Minnesota could steal a few wins here and really make a series out of this, but come on, it’s Winnipeg, they’re just generally better in all aspects so they’ll have to wait to start planning their golfing trips because they’re off to round two.

Vegas V Los Angeles.

Yeah, this one was actually tricky. On one hand you want Vegas to do great this post season, you just want that Cinderella story to continue so that when Disney eventually make a film about it in a few years you can judge their casting choice for who players Marc-Andre Fleury and the rest.

But on the realistic side, both sides have such a good chance in my mind at advancing.

Jonathan Quick is back to form after a injury plagued 2016/17 campaign, so I have to say that the Kings win this in terms of a goalie match-up. Fleury has been solid now he’s a regular starter again, but Quick is a scary beast to face, especially if he can emulate his first cup run performance where he was named MVP.

This year he won the Jennings Trophy, allowing the fewest goals against, but he’ll have to face a whole bunch of shots from the Golden Knights who had the fifth most goals for this year, averaging 3.27 goals a game.

This is such an even series I think, but I’m almost sure the potential for a Disney film in a few years about this team tipped it in my favour for the Golden Knights to do this in six.

Anaheim V San Jose

It’s always good to start writing about something with an idea of what/why you did something, but between the Ducks and Sharks I honestly cannot remember what made me pick San Jose here.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I think the Sharks have the better offense, and that I think Evander Kane may take his first appearance in the post-season and run with it (he’s got 14 points in 17 games since his escape from the Sabres), but overall I think what tipped this was the offence.

I’m a big fan of the Anaheim Ducks defensive unit, they only allowed 2.55 goals against per game this year, and I think John Gibson is really becoming the stud goaltender he was meant to be, being backed up by Ryan Miller has probably helped but I will actually say Anaheim defensively impress me more.

But overall, I like the Sharks, they’ve shown they can go on a deep run recently, so I’ll stick by my decision, BUT I wish I’d said they’d do it in seven.

Eastern Conference

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Before we move onto round two, I’ll not so quickly look over the East. I promise I’ll start wrapping this up soon so all five of you can judge me and go on with your lives.

Tampa Bay V New Jersey

I don’t really have to go into this too much, Tampa Bay are scary in the East like the Predators are in the West, but don’t discredit the New Jersey Devils.

The work they’ve done recently bringing guys in, getting lucky at the draft lottery and getting Hischier last year, they are a potentially scary team in the making if they can find a goalie (Kinkaid and Schneider can get you to the playoffs, but they can’t win you the playoffs).

Stamkos, Kucherov, Johnson, Point…Tampa Bay just dominate offensively, they’ll be too much for the Devils defense to handle so I think six games may actually be generous.

Boston V Toronto

Who remembers 2013? That was fun for the Leafs right?

I think I predicted this to go for a full seven games just in hopes something as crazy as that series happens again, It won’t be that would be nice if it did.

Boston surprised me this year, I honestly did not expect them to do anywhere near as well as they have so perhaps maybe I have a similar mindset in this series because I have them leaving after the first round here. They have a better defensive unit than the Leafs, but I don’t think they’ll really be able to contain the speed of some of the Leafs forwards. Toronto handled themselves well against the Capitals last year in their first round exit, but I think Auston Matthews and the boys in blue have it in them to go even further this year.

Washington V Columbus

I have to admit before I start, I am a Washington fan, so much so that I fail to give George McPhee credit for what he’s done in Vegas because he also traded Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. Yes, I am still bitter, don’t tell me let it go, you are not Elsa from Frozen.

Now that’s out the way, of course I’ve picked Washington to advance. Why? Because I love it when this team lets me down.

Wow, I said five games as well? I really must be wanting to be let down.

In all seriousness though, Washington should do this, maybe not as quick as five games but they should do this with a better offense, a solid group on defence but…a question mark around goaltending.

Columbus with Bobrovsky have the better goalie in my eyes this year, and it helps that the Caps will start their back up Grubauer in game one, so maybe the uncertainty around the Capitals goalie situation actually causes an issue and opens the door slight for the Blue Jackets.

Washington should win, I hope.

Pittsburgh V Philadelphia.

I’m sure you all watched game one so I don’t need to say anything else.

7 – 0…in the playoffs.

Philadelphia need to show me something else to convince me why they deserve to be in consideration.

To be fair though, it was one game and I have this one going six games which I stand by. And if you look back to 2016, the Flyers won two straight against Washington to avoid being swept in a series that included a 6 – 1 win for Washington. The Capitals went on to win that in six, much like Pittsburgh are about to.

Round 2.

I’ll do this all quick for you.

West

Nashville V Jets will be a low scoring goalies delight, but the Preds will go through in six, while the Sharks will get past Vegas in seven thanks to their experience recently and the fact that all good things must come to an end.

East

Tampa Bay are far too much for Toronto to handle, but they’ll do their best before bowing out in six as the Bolts advance, and then I’m an idiot Caps fan so I have no reason why they’ll beat the Penguins other than it’s just about damn time.

Conference Finals.

Again, I’m not going to go too deep on this, Nashville beat San Jose because of their superior offensive, and it’s the exact same reason why Tampa Bay advance past Washington (or let’s be honest…it won’t be Washington)

Stanley Cup Finals

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This is what you’ve not been waiting for (or if you’re hoping to get to the end of this…it’s what you’ve been waiting for).

Nashville V Tampa Bay, Predators V Bolts.

I’ve said 21 goals get scored in this series, I pulled a number out the air here, I’m not concerned about how many goals, I’m just concerned about wins.

I mentioned before, the Predators have an electric offense but if Pekka Rinne can keep up his play on a deep cup run again, there is no doubt in my mind that he potentially a Conne Smythe winner this year and helps the Preds to the Cup.

I’m not confident in much in this bracket, other than who will be in the final. I honestly believe that the Preds and Bolts will be the last two teams standing and they both deserve it, and they both have an equal right to hoist the cup.

I’ve mentioned about Pekka Rinne but let’s not forget how good Andrei Vasilevsky is for Tampa Bay. Just remember, he’s in his second year as the starter for the Bolts and maybe at 23-years-old his legs will hold up better than his rival who’s 12-years his senior.

This year he posted a .920% save percentage and 2.62 goals against average, but will he be enough to steal the series.

In a year or two yes, but this is the Predators time.

Predators win in six.

Predators win the Stanley Cup.

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