SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: (L-R) Duncan Keith #2, Patrick Sharp #10 and Jonathan Toews #16 of Canada pose with the gold medlas won during the Men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Before the season started, we made our predictions about how the NHL standings would shake out after 82 games. Now that we’ve finally reached the end of the regular season, we figured it was a good time to check up with how our "brilliant" prognosticating went.
In the Eastern Conference, five of our eight predicted playoff teams made the postseason. That included the Columbus Blue Jackets, who made the postseason for only the second time in team history, and we also nailed the division champions in both the Atlantic (Boston Bruins) and Metropolitan (Pittsburgh Penguins) divisions.
Unfortunately, a couple of teams took us by surprise. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who we picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic, ended up taking second in the division, finishing just ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, who we had pegged for a fourth place finish. The Philadelphia Flyers, who we picked to finish sixth in the Metropolitan, also made the postseason. Our penchant for picking Cinderella teams apparently ended with the Blue Jackets, as the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders both failed to capitalize on their successes from a year ago.
In the Western Conference, we did significantly better. We correctly picked seven of the eight playoff teams, including the surprising Dallas Stars, with only the Central Division champion Colorado Avalanche evading our picking prowess. In fact, we didn’t get either division winner in the West correct, as San Jose couldn’t edge out Anaheim to capture a Pacific Division title.
While 12 out of 16 teams correct provides a respectable 75% success rate, it didn’t prepare us for this tweet from Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus, who has been tracking the success rate of predictions made by hockey pundits from across the web:
— Rob Vollman (@robvollmanNHL) April 14, 2014
Obviously, finishing second behind The Hockey News is no small feat, and nothing to be ashamed of. The publication shared our love of the Blue Jackets (we both had them slotted fourth in the Metropolitan) and we had a similar distrust of the Avalanche (THN picked them sixth, while we picked them seventh). Ultimately what did us in against THN was that they picked the Flyers to finish in third in the Metropolitan, while we picked them to finish sixth.
As for our “Bold Blackhawks Predictions,” they didn’t go well. Patrick Kane did not help Team USA win gold in Sochi. Jonathan Toews certainly won’t be a nominee for the Hart Trophy (even before he was lost for the rest of the regular season with an upper body injury), and Johnny Oduya wasn’t traded at the deadline. Marian Hossa also came up just short of 1000 points, finishing the season with 995 in his career. The only prediction we got correct was that Patrick Sharp would be named to Team Canada’s Olympic squad for the first time in his career, and he played well en route to winning the gold with his home nation.
The award season won’t be too kind to our predictions either. Sidney Crosby did win the Art Ross (NHL’s leading scorer), and there is a strong possibility that Patrice Bergeron will win the Selke. Barry Trotz, our Jack Adams pick as coach of the year, was fired by the Nashville Predators on Monday, so it’s unlikely he’ll take home that hardware. Alex Ovechkin ended up winning the Rocket Richard after being the only player to score over 50 goals, while our pick, Steven Stamkos, spent a good chunk of the year out with a broken leg.
Seth Jones also isn’t going to win Rookie of the Year, and Antti Niemi would need a miracle to beat out Semyon Varlamov or Tuukka Rask for the Vezina.