NEW YORK / TORONTO – When the mad scramble for playoff positioning ends and before the incomparable drama of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins, NHL fans will get the chance to show off their powers of prognostication. The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge powered by Samsung at NHL.com/Bracket enables the most passionate fans in sports to predict each and every series through the Stanley Cup Final in a competition for exciting prizes and bragging rights. New this year, Match-up Analysis with Insights from SAP will help fans determine who has the edge in each series.
Starting now, fans can register for the Bracket Challenge at NHL.com/Bracket in English or French and create leagues to challenge their friends. Once the match-ups are set, fans can make their predictions in the interactive bracket online up until April 15, the first day of the Playoffs.
"The Stanley Cup Playoffs not only raise the bar in terms of the on-ice competition but also the friendly competition among fans," said NHL Vice President Product Development and Social Media, John Pacino. "SAP is providing fans with extensive analytical resources and new stats at NHL.com to help fans fill out their brackets while Samsung is offering innovative, new to market products for the winning entries. Without question, the Bracket Challenge has proven to be an effective way to increase engagement among avid fans and to connect with a wider audience of hockey fans."
Registration is open at NHL.com/Bracket for fans around the world interested in the opportunity to compare their picks against friends, family, colleagues, hockey experts and fellow hockey fans in public or privately created leagues. The "Famous Hockey Fans" league will feature brackets submitted by notable fans across television, movies, music and sports, including actors Michael J. Fox, Jon Hamm and Taylor Kitsch and actress Alyssa Milano. Last year, Milano was the sole winner of the "Famous Fans League," correctly predicting the Los Angeles Kings® would defeat the New York Rangers® in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final -- a feat accomplished by fewer than 1% of all entries worldwide.
A new feature in this year's Bracket Challenge is the Match-up Analysis with Insights from SAP. As fans complete their brackets, the Match-up Analysis will utilize advanced predictive analytics to examine each series based on a predictive model that incorporates 37 variables – such as road record, goals against per game, penalty kill percentage, points percentage, shot attempts percentage behind, and many more. The Match-up Analysis is just one of several new statistical features powered by the SAP HANA® Enterprise Cloud service available at NHL.com/Stats and all Playoffs Series pages that will give fans extensive resources to complete their brackets.
NHL.com/Bracket will accept fan predictions until shortly before the puck drops in the first game on Wednesday, April 15. Fans will be able keep track of their brackets online and via mobile devices at NHL.com/Bracket and share their picks via email or post their selections on Facebook and Twitter by using the official hashtag #NHLBracketChallenge. Fans also can play the Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge powered by Samsung through the NHL app.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs pit Division rivals against one another in the first two rounds. The top three finishers in each Division automatically qualify and are designated No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds. Among the remaining teams in each Conference, the two teams with the best records qualify as Wild Cards and are designated No. 4 seeds. The first two rounds are Divisional brackets. No. 1 plays No. 4, and No 2 plays No. 3, with winners advancing to play each other. Within each Conference, the Wild Card team with the better record will be assigned to the bracket of the Divisional leader with the lesser record. Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the higher seeded team, regardless of regular-season records. For the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final, home-ice advantage goes to the team with the better regular-season record.
The Grand Prize winner of this year's Bracket Challenge will receive an all-expense paid trip to the 2015 NHL Awards™ in Las Vegas and a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, the next revolution in smartphone technology that combines stunning design with incredible performance to give consumers an unmatched mobile experience. Other prizes include Samsung's SUHD 55-inch Curved TV. For more details, visit NHL.com/Bracket.