The Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway tonight and EA Sports has again tried to predict their outcome using a simulation within NHL 18. Their call? Winnipeg defeats Boston four games to three for Canada’s first Stanley Cup champion in 25 years.
Specifically, in the seventh game, the Jets take a 3-1 lead on Boston with a power play goal from Conn Smythe winner Patrik Laine. The Bruins draw to 3-2 late in the third on a goal by Brad Marchand, but Dustin Byfuglien dumps in an empty netter to put the final on ice.
For the record, last year’s simulation got one of the participants right (Nashville) but not eventual champion Pittsburgh.
It’ll be the first Stanley Cup championship for the city of Winnipeg; the furthest any Jets team has ever gone are the finals of the old Smythe Conference in 1985 and 1987. Winnipeg finished 52-20-10, second in the Western Conference’s Central division to Nashville, last year’s Stanley Cup runner-up. In the simulation, the Jets edge the Predators 4-3 in the conference semifinal.
The rest of the simulation has the remarkable story of the Vegas Golden Knights coming to an end, four games to two, to Winnipeg in the Western Conference semifinals. That concludes a run for the expansion-year Knights that includes a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and a 4-3 quarterfinal victory over the San Jose Sharks, whom the simulation says prevail 4-2 over Anaheim.
For the Eastern Conference, the simulation predicts the Washington Capitals will finally overcome the Penguins in the second round. Pittsburgh has crushed the Caps in the second round in each of the past two years (and Washington lost in the second round in 2015 to the New York Rangers, who did not make the playoffs this year). Yet after getting that monkey off their back the Capitals fall 4-2 in the Eastern Conference final to Boston, which drops top-seeded Tampa Bay 4-2 in the second round.
In addition to predicting a Smythe Trophy (playoffs MVP) for Laine, the simulation calls for him to score 15 goals and tally 24 points overall. EA Sports has the rest of the details.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway tonight with three games: Philadelphia at Pittsburgh and Minnesota at Winnipeg at 7 p.m. ET, and Los Angeles at Vegas at 10 p.m.