Elite Fantasy subscribers can compete in this contest – predicting some of the outcomes of my officially unofficial simulation of the remainder of the 2019-20 NHL season.
The NHL Playoffs were supposed to begin this week. At this point, I’d be surprised if the league winds up getting any of these games in before the start of 2020-21 in the fall.
So, I’ll be using the amazing “Franchise Hockey Manager” software from the folks at Out of the Park Developments (makers of the OOTP Baseball series) to simulate the rest of the NHL season and playoffs. They’ve generously provided a game save file for the 2019-20 season, up until the point where things were “suspended”.
Below, I will give you the highlights from a “rest-of-the-season sim”, taking us up to the opening round of the playoffs – which we’ll get to next week. Injuries are ON. Suspensions are ON. Anything that happens in the sim is out of my control!
For each playoff round, we’ll create a contest questionnaire – the first will be posted tomorrow – where subscribers can guess which team wins each series, with bonus points offered for guessing the correct number of games, leading scorers, and goalies.
Each week, a leaderboard will be posted with current point leaders. After all is said and done, we’ll have some exciting prizes for the top prognosticators. (…prizes will be announced later this week)
Simming the Regular Season
Here is a look at the current playoff races, just as they were when things were suspended back on March 12:
We’ve realistically got just 11 Eastern Conference and 12 Western Conference teams still in playoff contention as we start things off…
Columbus gets a big 1-0 win over the Penguins to tighten things up even more in the Metro. Minnesota and Arizona each get handed tough losses.
Chicago keeps their playoff hopes alive, while Vancouver loses a heartbreaker to the Avs.
Derek Stepan had 3 goals and an assist in Arizona’s 8-5 win over the Rangers. No doubt some DFS money would’ve been made on that game! Pittsburgh gets a huge win against its division rival. Also of note, the Leafs fall out of a playoff spot with their loss to Boston and Florida’s win over the Devils.
Two games with massive playoff implications in the Western Conference, as Vancouver doubles up on Winnipeg, and Minnesota wins in a shootout over Nashville.
The Rangers pick up an important win, while the loss is just as big for Calgary. Arizona is having trouble keeping up and Florida stretches the gap between themselves and Toronto.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Lots of movement here. Minnesota, Toronto, and the Islanders all pick up much-needed wins. Carolina, Chicago, Calgary, and Winnipeg all needed wins but came up short. We’ll sim one more day before taking an updated look at the standings.
The Rangers pick up another huge win as Pittsburgh continues to stumble. Arizona stays in the hunt. Here’s a look at our updated standings:
We can probably count out the Blackhawks at this point, bringing the total to 11 teams per conference that remain in the playoff hunt. Can the Leafs hold on? Do the Pens continue to struggle in big games? Can Arizona and/or the Islanders remain in the hunt? Let’s find out…
Florida holds serve despite the Leafs shootout win over the Isles. Carolina falls again, opening up a 3-point gap between 8th and 9th in the East. Calgary and Minnesota also get handed crushing defeats.
Pittsburgh drops yet another huge divisional game to a Rangers team looking to jump into a wild card spot. Arizona, Winnipeg, and Vancouver each pick up two big points, while Minnesota falls again.
The Leafs get a huge win on a night when the Panthers lose to the defending Cup champs. Both teams sit at 88 points with just seven games remaining.
Pittsburgh loses another divisional game, which allows the Rangers to gain another two points on them. Chicago may not be out of it yet, with another win over the Preds.
Things are getting interesting in the East, on a number of fronts. Toronto takes back 3rd in the Atlantic with a 5-4 victory against the Panthers. Columbus draws within two points of the Penguins with a shootout win over New Jersey.
The Rangers gain another two points on Pittsburgh, while Florida drops a heartbreaker in Ottawa. Nashville draws within one point of Winnipeg for the 8th and final spot in the West.
Patrick Kane has a goal and 4 assists against a Penguins team that can’t stop their slide. The door is now open for the Rangers to catch the Pens. Arizona is hanging onto playoff hopes by the skin of their teeth, while Toronto takes a commanding 4-point lead over the Panthers for third in the Atlantic. Have a look at the updated standings heading into the final full week of the regular season:
Chicago has sprinted back into the race. Nashville is on the outside looking in, but just one point back of Winnipeg, with a game in hand.
Toronto all but cements a first-round matchup with the Lightning. The Leafs win over Carolina, while Florida drops another game. Ovechkin scores a hat trick as Washington finally stops the Rangers hot streak. The Preds do climb into a wild card spot with a win over the Kings. And as a side note: I am incredibly depressed that we’re likely going to miss out on these races in real life. There is nothing like playoff hockey and the final stretch of the regular season.
Not much movement here. Winnipeg, Calgary, and Columbus all come up short in very important games, while Chicago keeps climbing. In injury news, Avs defenseman Cale Makar apparently ruptured his UCL, and will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs. Bummer for Colorado fans!
A full slate of action here. Pittsburgh is turning their fortunes around. They win, while the Rangers drop a second-straight. It’s make or break time for these teams fighting for a spot.
Pittsburgh all but clinches third in the Metro. They will meet the Flyers in the first round. Arizona has pretty much flamed out, while Chicago keeps winning. They’re just two points back of 8th.
The Stars have just about locked up 3rd in the Central, setting up a first round series between Dallas and Colorado. The Islanders pass Columbus for 8th place, also having a game in hand…not looking great for the Blue Jackets.
A full slate with a lot to digest. Vegas is now just 2 points ahead of the Flames and in serious danger of falling out of a playoff spot altogether. Things have gotten increasingly tight in the West, with six teams all within 2 points of each other from 6th to 11th.
The Rangers lose again. I was pulling for them, but it looks like they’re likely to be on the outside looking in. Here’s a final look at the standings heading into the last few games of the regular season:
Two games left. These are going to go right down to the wire!
Minnesota also lost to Washington 5-1 (wouldn’t fit onto my screen). With their losses today, the Rangers and Panthers are officially out. The Islanders, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets will compete for the two wild card spots. Columbus and Carolina meet tomorrow.
In the West, Arizona is out with their loss, and Vegas has secured the No. 3 spot in the Pacific. Nashville clinches 7th place, meaning there is one more spot left in the Western Conference, with Minnesota, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Chicago all still alive heading into the final game.
Carolina wins and is in. If the Islanders win tomorrow, they’re in. If they lose, Columbus takes 8th.
That’s a wrap. The Blackhawks win streak ends in heartbreaking fashion. Nashville and Minnesota take 7th and 8th in the West, while Edmonton clinches first in the Pacific.
In the East, the Isles win, and take 8th place. Columbus is out. Amazingly, 7 of the 8 Eastern Conference playoff teams from last season are back in again.
Here are the first-round matchups, which we’ll start simming next week. Check back tomorrow for a preview of first-round matchups, a list of prizes, and the link to your contest entries!