More than a half-million entries were submitted for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge. Heading into the trio of Game 7s on Wednesday, only one participant has a chance to claim they correctly predicted each of the teams that would advance in the first round and in how many games.
A student and hockey player at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Colin Fitts stands alone. And if the New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings all win Wednesday, he'll have successfully filled out a perfect bracket for the opening round of the playoffs.
Fitts, 16, is an aspiring journalist who covers the Nashville Predators for the HockeyWriters.com. But he didn't exactly draw on his experience covering his favorite team when it came time to file his bracket.
"This took about five minutes for me. I did it right before school, it was a last-minute thing on the day the playoffs started," Fitts said. "Look where I am now."
The native of Antioch, Tenn., admits he set aside his bracket when the Kings went down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks in their Western Conference First Round series. But as L.A. mounted a comeback to force Game 7, a friend suddenly noticed that Fitts had made a succession of perfect picks.
"He mentioned 'You have a perfect bracket and you're only in 12th place on the leader board,'" Fitts said. "I went to check and there it was. I had a feeling Tampa Bay would be swept and a feeling with a few other series, but it was all a surprise."
He may still be a high school student, but Fitts' perfect bracket isn't a fluke. When he's not covering the Predators or playing high school hockey, he dedicates what little time he has left to watching NHL games on television. And with a slate of three Game 7s scheduled for Wednesday, he had his evening's plans all mapped out.
"We're about to hit the inline rink and when we get home we'll watch the Game 7s," Fitts said. "My time is pretty much consumed [by hockey]. Sleep is not a priority."