With four Game 7s in a 30-hour span, the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs went out with a bang, and given the win-or-go-home nature of each of those games, the chances that postseason brackets in office pools across North America would stay intact were tenuous at best. Having an opening round record of 7 correct picks would be pretty impressive. Even getting just 5 series right, as the writer of this very story did, isn't terrible.
Of course, going 8-for-8 isn't bad either.
The wizards at EA SPORTS did just that with their EA SPORTS NHL '11 simulation engine, which accurately tabbed such upsets as Tampa Bay's win over Pittsburgh and Nashville's first-ever postseason series victory. Rather than walk off into the sunset, however, EA SPORTS is back at it for round two of the postseason, and this time those predictions are a little gutsier than usual.
Taking three of four lower seeds to advance to the 2011 conference finals would make another perfect projection a pretty remarkable example of clairvoyance, but that's just what EA SPORTS is banking on, as its latest round of predictions has Vancouver as the lone higher seed advancing. For the Canucks to do so after a draining seven-game win over Chicago could be difficult, but EA SPORTS' simulations expect it -- and in just five games. If all goes according to plan, the Canucks will be facing Detroit, which is predicted to topple San Jose in overtime in a decisive seventh game.
In the East, Tampa Bay is picked to complete what would be the upset of the playoffs thus far, as EA SPORTS has the Bolts eliminating the No. 1-seeded Capitals in seven games, while the Bruins get a measure of revenge for last year's historic ouster at the hands of the Flyers with a six-game win over Philadelphia.
EA SPORTS will continue to run simulations after each round of the playoffs, but in addition fans are invited to make their own predictions in the EA SPORTS NHL 2011 Playoff Bracket Contest at www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Participating fans can accrue points for correct predictions with the ultimate prize at the end of Stanley Cup Final of two tickets to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on the line.
Second Round fan voting opens today at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL, when fans can make predictions for the postseason's opening round. Start dates for subsequent rounds will be announced at the conclusion of each series.
EA SPORTS NHL 11 Round Two Predictions: Conference Semifinals
(1) Vancouver vs. Nashville (5)
Game 1: Nashville 3 @ Vancouver 1
Game 2: Nashville 2 @ Vancouver 5
Game 3: Vancouver 2 @ Nashville 1
Game 4: Vancouver 4 @ Nashville 2
Game 5: Nashville 0 @ Vancouver 2
Vancouver wins series 4-1
(2) San Jose vs. Detroit (3)
Game 1: Detroit 3 @ San Jose 2
Game 2: Detroit 2 @ San Jose 4
Game 3: San Jose 3 @ Detroit 4
Game 4: San Jose 5 @ Detroit 4 [OT]
Game 5: Detroit 2 @ San Jose 3
Game 6: San Jose 2 @ Detroit 5
Game 7: Detroit 4 @ San Jose 3 [OT]
Detroit wins series 4-3
(1) Washington vs. Tampa Bay (5)
Game 1: Tampa Bay 1 @ Washington 3
Game 2: Tampa Bay 4 @ Washington 6
Game 3: Washington 3 @ Tampa Bay 4
Game 4: Washington 2 @ Tampa Bay 3 [OT]
Game 5: Tampa Bay 2 @ Washington 5
Game 6: Washington 0 @ Tampa Bay 2
Game 7: Tampa Bay 3 @ Washington 1
Tampa Bay wins series 4-3
(2) Philadelphia vs. Boston (3)
Game 1: Boston 4 @ Philadelphia 2
Game 2: Boston 2 @ Philadelphia 3
Game 3: Philadelphia 1 @ Boston 2[OT]
Game 4: Philadelphia 1 @ Boston 4
Game 5: Boston 1 @ Philadelphia 4
Game 6: Philadelphia 2 @ Boston 3
Boston wins series 4-2
He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.
— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson