There is no doubt that when major events happen — though this one is kind of unprecedented — that sports play a major role in helping distract everyone from that particular crisis. Currently, we have really only one of the major sports, the NFL and its offseason moves, giving us something else to think about. However, for those of us who are hardcore NHL fans or even just hockey fans in general, we unfortunately haven’t had any real news to talk about since the league announced it would be “pausing” the season back on March 12. Well, we want hockey baby!
So while the league “paused” the season in hopes of resuming the season at some point in the future, why should we wait? Furthermore, while the NHL remains optimistic about resuming the 2019-2020 season, no one can really say for sure when or if that will happen. So, with no real answers on when or how the real NHL might come back, we here at Operation Sports decided to see what would happen if the NHL resumed play tomorrow and jumped right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs using the current standings. Our apologizes to fans of the current bubble teams who were battling for those final playoff spots. Perhaps, we will at a later time do a what-if simulation and see what would of happened if a team like the New York Rangers crept into the playoffs.
Our simulation has played out over the last few weeks, with it now culminating with our final simulation to determine the Stanley Cup champions. To check out our results from the Conference Finals, view them here. Let’s take a look at how NHL 20 sees the action from the Stanley Cup Finals playing out.
Additionally, you can check out the results from our preseason simulation here.
- Period Length: 7 Minutes
- Difficulty: Superstar
- Gameplay: Full Sim
- Rosters: Current (injuries included)
- Line Combinations: Courtesy of dailyfaceoff.com (as of 3/19/20)
Playoff Stats Pre-Series:
- Home teams are 45-31 overall throughout the first three rounds.
- Teams who win game one in the series have gone on to win 9/14 series.
- The higher seed in the series has won the series 9/14 times.
#1 St. Louis Blues Vs. #2 Tampa Bay Lightning
Heading into the series, the top seeded St. Louis Blues have played 20 games, the most in the playoffs. In the first round, the Blues trailed the Nashville Predators three game to one before eliminating the Predators in seven games. In round two, the Blues found themselves in the same situation, this time trailing the Dallas Stars three games to one before eliminating the Stars in seven. In the conference finals, the Blues eliminated the Las Vegas Golden Knights in six games. Through three rounds, the Blues as a team are averaging 2.90 goals for per game and are allowing an average of 2.33 goals against per game. On special teams, St. Louis is 7/69 on the power play (10.1%) and 51/59 on the penalty kill (86.4%). The Blues are 6-5 at home while sporting a 6-3 record away from the Enterprise Center.
Individually, goalie Jordan Binnington — 12 wins 8 losses 5 shutouts — sports a save percentage of .922 — stopping 557/604 shots faced — and a goals against average of 2.38.
- Goals: Ryan O’Reilly and Oskar Sundqvist 7
- Assists: Alex Pietrangelo 16* (leads playoffs)
- Points: Ryan O’Reilly 20
- +/-: David Perron +12
- PIM: Brayden Schenn 25
- Minutes: Alex Pietrangelo 525* (leads playoffs)
- Hits: Brayden Schenn 45* (leads playoffs)
- Shots: Justin Faulk 66
Heading into the series, the Tampa Bay Lightning have played 18 games on their path to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the first round, the Lightning knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games, never trailing in the series. In round two, the Lightning found themselves in the same situation and quickly knocked off the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games. In the conference finals, the Lightning had to climb back from a three games to one deficit before eventually eliminating the Hurricanes in seven games. Through three rounds, the Lightning as a team are averaging 3.42 goals for per game and are allowing 2.74 goals against per game. On special teams, Tampa Bay is 8/55 on the power play (14.5%) and 37/49 on the penalty kill (75.5%). The Lightning are 7-3 at home while sporting a 5-3 record away from Amalie Arena.
Individually, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy — 12 wins 6 losses 1 shutout — sports a save percentage of .908 — stopping 497/547 shots faced — and a goals against average of 2.68.
- Goals: Nikita Kucherov 11* (leads playoffs)
- Assists: Nikita Kucherov 12
- Points: Nikita Kucherov 23* (leads playoffs)
- +/-: Mikhail Sergachev +17* (leads playoffs)
- PIM: Luke Schenn 17
- Minutes: Erik Cernak 447
- Hits: Alex Killorn 35
- Shots: Nikita Kucherov 67* (leads playoffs)
- St. Louis Blues 4 v/s Tampa Bay Lightning 5 OT
- St. Louis Blues 4 v/s Tampa Bay Lightning 2
- St. Louis Blues 0 @ Tampa Bay Lightning 3
- St. Louis Blues 2 @ Tampa Bay Lightning 3
- St. Louis Blues 5 v/s Tampa Bay Lightning 2
- St. Louis Blues 2 @ Tampa Bay Lightning 4
(Tampa Bay Lightning win the series 4-2)
Game 1 was a back and forth contest where Tampa Bay never trailed. It ended with a Anthony Cirelli overtime game-winning goal. Game 2 saw the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues bounce back and double up the Lightning. In Game 3, the Lightning regained control of the series — getting goals from Luke Schenn, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov — blanking the Blues 3-0. In Game 4, Tampa squeaked by the Blues courtesy a pair of goals by defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The Cup was in the building for Game 5, but Tampa could only net two goals from Brayden Point and Patrick Maroon. Back at home in Game 6, the Lightning received goals from Alex Killorn and Brayden Point, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Blues would later cut the lead to just one, but Tampa would go on to get insurance goals from Barclay Goodrow and Zach Bogosian.
Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, and his playoff-leading 29 points, took home the Conn Smythe Trophy. The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Additionally, below are the individual contributions from each player during Tampa Bay’s (24 game) Stanley Cup journey.
- Nikita Kucherov – Goals: 12 Assists: 17 Points: 29
- Brayden Point – Goals: 7 Assists: 10 Points: 17
- Alex Killorn – Goals: 6 Assists: 11 Points: 17
- Yanni Gourde – Goals: 6 Assists: 9 Points: 15
- Tyler Johnson – Goals: 6 Assists: 9 Points: 15
- Ke. Shattenkirk – Goals: 3 Assists: 11 Points: 14
- Ondrej Palat – Goals: 3 Assists: 10 Points: 13
- Mik. Sergachev – Goals: 1 Assists: 11 Points: 12
- Patrick Maroon – Goals: 6 Assists: 5 Points: 11
- Ry. McDonagh – Goals: 5 Assists: 6 Points: 11
- Anthony Cirelli – Goals: 3 Assists: 8 Points: 11
- Luke Schenn – Goals: 1 Assists: 9 Points: 10
- Barc. Goodrow – Goals: 2 Assists: 7 Points: 9
- Blake Coleman – Goals: 6 Assists: 2 Points: 8
- Cedric Paquette – Goals: 4 Assists: 4 Points: 8
- Mitch. Stephens – Goals: 4 Assists: 4 Points: 8
- Zach Bogosian – Goals: 3 Assists: 5 Points: 8
- Erik Cernak – Goals: 1 Assists: 0 Points: 1
- Andrei Vasilevskiy – Wins: 16 Losses: 8 Shutouts: 2 Save Percentage: .908 (608/669) GAA: 2.69
If the playoffs started today what would your full predictions look like? Let us know in the comments.