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2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

2018-05-13

Following up on my predictions made just after the start of the 2017-18 EHE season, I am endeavoring to predict how the 2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoffs will unfold.

You can check out the early season Predictions (and laugh at the ones that were way off) right here:

http://www.elitehockeysim.com/news.php?article=549


PACIFIC DIVISION MATCHUPS

On paper, these two teams actually match up with each other a lot closer than one might think. There isn’t a lot of difference between offensive output and defensive prowess between the Oilers and Ducks, which means the series may be decided where the stats don’t necessarily tell the story. Edmonton was below .500 on the road in the regular season, and Anaheim only lost 8 times in regulation on home ice. As attractive as the Oilers are here for an upset, the Ducks squeak by. Ducks in 7.


The Kings played a lot of Jekyll and Hyde this season, and no better illustration can come than in the form of their last ten regular season games. They lost five in a row by an 18-10 margin, then won their last five by a 19-13 tally. Meanwhile, Vegas has been on auto-pilot since a hot start to the 2017-18 campaign, and while the Golden Knights went 4-5-1 to end the season, there’s no doubt their depth and quality goaltending give them a decisive advantage in this series. Golden Knights in 5.


CENTRAL DIVISION MATCHUPS

No one doubts that the Minnesota Wild are a quality team in the EHE. The Wild had a fine 2017-18 campaign, posting a 44-28-10 record and pulled away in the playoff race with a 7-2-1 mark the close out the season. But the Colorado Avalanche have shown to be a dominant force with an almost video game-like roster full of All-Stars. The one area Minnesota has a chance to exploit is if they keep the action in the Colorado end. If Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, and Rickard Rakell can continue their stellar play, the Wild can make it interesting. But in the end, that’s a lot of if’s, and the Avalanche are just too strong to suffer a first round defeat. Avalanche in 6.


This could end up being a figurative bloodbath that neither team comes out of unscathed. Despite the Stars exacting a win in each of their four regular season contests, the Blackhawks boast one of the deepest teams in the EHE with a league record 298 goals on the 2017-18 season. Chicago’s defense has struggled with consistency, and goaltender Brian Elliott has suffered drops in both GAA and save percentage over the last quarter of the season. Dallas’ Carey Price has been doggedly consistent and led the EHE in shutouts with seven, while Sean Monahan, Brayden Schenn (who also plays on the left wing), Derek Stepan, and Brandon Dubinsky have given the Stars some serious clout down the middle. It’s all going to come down to the breaks, and with Chicago’s depth from top to bottom, one figures this could end up being the deciding advantage in this series. Blackhawks in 7.


ATLANTIC DIVISION MATCHUPS

The Atlantic Division only sends three teams to the playoffs, and the Panthers draw the #1 wild card Blue Jackets since the Carolina Hurricanes owned the best record in the Lemieux Conference (and drew the #2 wild card Capitals). Columbus struggled and backed into the playoffs over the last ten games, and is one of only two playoff teams to have given up more goals than they’ve scored. Florida meanwhile has been the clear favorite in the Atlantic for some time, and while seven Panthers have scored 15 or more goals, their defense and goaltending leave areas for exploitation. The Jackets will need Jordan Eberle, Jason Zucker, and David Backes to pick up the pace to have any chance of pulling off the upset in this series. Panthers in 5.


The Senators got over their 2017 Stanley Cup Championship hangover midway through the 2017-18 campaign to earn home-ice advantage in their first round matchup with the Bruins. Boston got off to a hot start but tempered their play over the last quarter of the season. One Bruin who didn’t cool off was Patrick Kane, who notched 48 goals and was one off the mark from a Rocket Richard trophy. In the end, the Senators boast a deeper club and more consistent goaltending, two huge factors in any playoff series. Senators in 6.


METROPOLITAN DIVISION MATCHUPS

The Hurricanes claimed their first Metro Division title amid their most successful season in their EHE existence. Backed by stout goaltending from John Gibson and Ryan Miller, Carolina’s defense-first mentality served them well in an ultra-competitive race in the Lemieux Conference. The Capitals squeaked into the playoffs after holding off charges from the Rangers, Devils, and Red Wings, and are hoping that Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreadful regular season (3.11 GAA, .897 SP) can be forgotten quickly. In the end, the Canes are just too good, and the Caps are left heading back to the drawing board. Hurricanes in 4.


Likely to be the most competitive and tightly-contested series in the Lemieux Conference, the Flyers and Penguins are both evenly matched, deep on defensive prowess, and can score when needed. Devan Dubnyk, the leading candidate for the Vezina trophy with sparkling numbers (2.22 GAA, .925 SP, 72 games played), gives Pittsburgh a slight edge overall. But Philadelphia counters with the resurgent Travis Zajac and young weapons Connor Brown and Gabriel Landeskog, who combined for 85 goals 195 points in the regular season. Each club won two games and lost two in their season series, with the total score of their contests 9-8 in favor of the Flyers. So while you may not see a lot of offensive fireworks, this series is going the distance and don’t be surprised if one goal decides it all. Penguins in 7.


GRETZKY CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Vegas systematically attacks and weakens Anaheim’s defenses until the Ducks simply cannot respond. A series with the look of a seven gamer shockingly ends with the Golden Knights making it look easy. Golden Knights in 5.


In what becomes the most contested playoff matchup in EHE history, the Avalanche and Blackhawks go to double overtime three times, with the deciding game seven going into a third overtime. In the end, Colorado escapes the Pepsi Center and Chicago with a series win at a high cost. Avalanche in 7.


LEMIEUX CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

By the end of the series, the veteran-laded and battle tested Senators will have exposed Florida’s goaltending weakness and will be heading to a second straight Lemieux Conference Finals matchup. Senators in 5.


With a lot of time to watch and study the Penguins, Carolina comes out strong and posts consecutive 3-1 victories at PNC Arena to take a 2-0 series lead. Pittsburgh makes it a competitive series, and Dubnyk will steal a victory or two for the Pens. But in the end, the Canes are just too strong. Hurricanes in 6.


GRETZKY CONFERENCE FINAL

The Avalanche, having been taken to the brink by the Blackhawks, meet a fresh Vegas club who has only played 10 games to this point. Vegas storms out to a 3-0 series lead, and while Colorado makes it interesting with two straight wins, the Golden Knights punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final with a thrilling (and dominant) 5-2 victory. Golden Knights in 6.


LEMIEUX CONFERENCE FINAL

Despite an edge in offensive talent and experience, the Ottawa Senators cannot get many pucks beyond Gibson. The Hurricanes, with some scoring issues of their own, rely heavily on their tested defensive core and manage to take a 3-2 series lead to Kanata. In what may go down as one of the longest games in EHE history, the Carolina Hurricanes manage to foil the repeat plans of the Senators with a hearted 2-1 victory the fourth overtime of Game Six. Hurricanes in 6.


ELITE HOCKEY EXPERIENCE STANLEY CUP FINAL

The Caniac Contingent is strong in Las Vegas, as after a split of the first two games in Raleigh, the red-clad Hurricanes fans take up sizable sections in an around the T-Mobile Arena. But it’s all for naught, as the Golden Knights earn 3-2 and 4-1 victories to send things back to Tobacco Road for Game Five up 3-1 in the series. Carolina fights valiantly to send things back to Sin City for Game Six, but Jonathan Quick denies all 37 shots from the Canes en route to a 3-0 shutout win, and, a Stanley Cup Championship for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Golden Knights in 6.


Hope you enjoyed these predictions – AND, the hilarity that is sure to come when they are proven totally incorrect. :P




-vacant-

Time to prove you wrong, I guess... Nice writing.

2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions
Who will earn the richest prize in the sim hockey world?

• 1 teams Like this  5 months
Jared Mitchell

Good read, I like the graphics. There will be an EHE playoff bracket challenge in the forum again this year.

2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions
Who will earn the richest prize in the sim hockey world?

• 1 teams Like this  5 months
Andrew Payeur

Good stuff, if I'm relying on Zibanejad for secondary scoring then I'm screwed, considering he's on the Rangers now lol

2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions
Who will earn the richest prize in the sim hockey world?

• 1 teams Like this  5 months
Kirklan Lycar Hope not Harald :)
5 months  1 teams Like this
Bob McGugan

Very good work as always Thomas! I look forward to the exciting 7 game series ;)

2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions
Who will earn the richest prize in the sim hockey world?

• 1 teams Like this  5 months
Doug Waite

You jinxing son of a.....(shakes fist into the air)

2018 EHE Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions
Who will earn the richest prize in the sim hockey world?

• 1 teams Like this  5 months