Back in October, I took a look at what odds Vegas was giving Stanley Cup favorites and made my early predictions for the NHL playoffs. I did reasonably well, but there was one glaring mistake.
Prior to the start of the season, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook had the Edmonton Oilers at 9-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, the second best of any team in the NHL. Pittsburgh was the only team with better odds at 6-1. Pittsburgh made the playoffs. Edmonton did not.
Not only did the Oilers miss the playoffs, but they did so in spectacular fashion. Despite having Connor McDavid, arguably the best player in the league, dragging them out on the ice every night, Edmonton missed the playoffs by a whopping 17 points.
That’s right, folks. My Stanley Cup pick will not finish first; they have already finished in 24th. I think I just got swept up in the playoff run they made last season and did not focus on the fact that the Oilers were just Connor McDavid playing by himself. It was wishful thinking to believe they would make it to the Cup Final, but it did not seem out of the question that they could make the playoffs. On the bright side, now they have a shot at another lottery pick.
In the West, I correctly picked four out of eight playoff teams. The Vegas Golden Knights really screwed me here, but since nobody had them doing anything this year I am fine with it. It is probably karma that the Knights did so well considering I did not mention them once in my previous article.
I picked Chicago to make it to the playoffs, but I am very happy to be wrong about that and even more happy that the Blackhawks might just be on the way out of perennial contender status.
Calgary and Dallas were right on the bubble for much of the year, so I am not too worried about those picks, and we have already spoken about Edmonton.
In the East, I did marginally better, picking five of eight playoff teams correctly. This is not really impressive at all, but it is nice to know I tried. That being said, those Ottawa and Montreal picks … yikes.
I had Edmonton over Nashville and Washington over Toronto in the conference finals, and those were not too bad—excluding the Oilers again—but it does look seriously possible that neither of the two teams I picked in the East will get out of the first round.
We expect that from the Capitals, but I was really hoping they could make a run. It is about time we get the chance to see Alex Ovechkin in the third round. Maybe it was not meant to be. I am sure he will win all sorts of KHL trophies when he goes back to Russia to play for the Moscow Putins.
Being that my picks were so off at the beginning of the year, I’m going to amend my picks below.
Western Final — Vegas vs. Nashville
Eastern Final — Pittsburgh vs. Boston
Stanley Cup Final — Boston vs. Nashville
Stanley Cup Champion — Nashville
These picks are not revolutionary; in fact, I think they are basically the norm, but these teams look tough to beat going forward. I think the East is a little more open than the West, and a potential Winnipeg-Nashville second round series could completely blow these predictions up—ditto for a Tampa-Boston second round.
Nevertheless, these are my picks for now.