As has become tradition with EA Sports games, the folks at EA Canada have used NHL 17 to predict the winner of the 2017 Stanley Cup here on the precipice of the playoffs, which get underway tonight. Doubling down on their prediction from back in October, EA Sports says the Nashville Predators will still knock off the Montreal Canadiens, but will do it in seven games now instead of the originally predicted six.
With 82 games having passed since that prediction, however, I’m genuinely shocked EA Sports is sticking with it. Although Montreal and Nashville both came on late, Montreal won a weak division, and Nashville barely squeaked into the playoffs in the overall weak Western Conference. With the field of 16 comprising this year’s playoffs, Montreal and Nashville look like two of the weakest in my book, and I don’t see Nashville getting past Chicago in the first round.
I do agree with all the Eastern Conference predictions of the game in the first round, however, with the Caps knocking off the Leafs, the Canadiens knocking off the Rangers, the Bruins beating the Senators, and the Blue Jackets upsetting the Penguins. I think John Tortorella’s Blue Jackets are actually the most dangerous team in the east, though. Everyone has bought into that system, you have a strong veterans presence with some playoff experience, and a coach who has won it all before and knows what it takes. If they do indeed knock off Pittsburgh in the first round, look out.
Meanwhile, in the west, there’s a lot of inexperience, so I already write off the Flames and Oilers. NHL 17 also wrote off the Flames, but thinks the Oilers are primed for a deep run, which I disagree with due to their inexperience. Chicago, San Jose, and Anaheim are all too good and easily advance, and then Minnesota knocks off St. Louis. Here is where I think upsets will start to take place and you’ll see Minnesota finally dethrone Chicago before the western conference final and San Jose will look to continue to defend their western crown, before Minnesota knocks them off.
That leads us to a Minnesota versus Columbus final, or a bracket I’ve lovingly dubbed “Bettman’s Nightmare”, where I think Minnesota will handle Columbus in six games and ride an overall better talent pool to their first Stanley Cup championship.
The rest of the EGM crew did their usual picks based on mascots and hometown love. Josh Harmon is predicting Ducks vs. Penguins, with Anaheim taking it all. Matthew Bennett agreed simply saying “Always the Ducks, man. Always the Ducks.” Emma Schaefer wants the Rangers (which I personally appreciate), but cites her reason as D&D Rangers being “the coolest”. These Rangers aren’t like those Rangers, but okay. And Marc Camron picks the Blackhawks because they’re almost always one of the odds on favorites, and are again this year.
The NHL Playoffs start tonight at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT on NBC Sports Network with the Rangers at the Canadiens, and NHL 17 is now a part of the EA Access Vault, that lets you play it for free on Xbox One if you have that service.