Sunday, May 27, 2018

Cup Finals Pool Preview

I'd feel it would be a shame if there wasn't some kind of pool preview to the Stanley Cup Finals, which get started tomorrow night.  I mean, we've come this far and we've watched a lot of hockey already this year, so why not finish the season off right?

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have defied the odds and the Washington Capitals have exorcised their own playoff demons and now they have both landed in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, both teams looking for their first championship.

Both teams runs have certainly made the hockey pool interesting this year, as there were some teams that were putting a little bit of money down on the new guys and hoping that Alex Ovechkin would inch ever closer to his first Stanley Cup and if you guessed correctly, you're a much better prognosticator than I.

Five teams finished the first three rounds of the playoffs with all six possible players left on their roster, while another five teams had five players and two with four players.  The Capitals are the favourites in the pool, taking the selection count, 48-38, but that hasn't mattered at all to the Golden Knights, as they have mowed through all their underdog match-ups to this point.

The most popular players in this series are T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky of the Capitals, each taken seven times and there are a handful of players taken six times as well, so there are a number of unique picks throughout.  Only Colin Miller of the Golden Knights is the only player among the 24 still in the pool to not have a single selection from our 23 teams.

So, most importantly... is there actually a race to have in the hockey pool?  Well, not really.  Tony has run away with the lead, thanks to some great picks through the first three rounds and he has all six possible players left, giving him quite the cushion to the finish.  Only Neil and Buddy have an outside, long, long, long shot at catching him, but it is very improbable.  Here's what we're looking at:

Box # Tony Neil Buddy
6 Erik Haula Erik Haula
7 Tomas Tatar
10 Deryk Engelland Deryk Engelland
11 Shea Theodore Shea Theodore
12 Marc-Andre Fleury
15 Nicklas Backstrom
16 T.J. Oshie T.J. Oshie
19 Andre Burakovsky
21 Matt Niskanen
22 Dmitry Orlov Dmitry Orlov
23 Brooks Orpik
24 Braden Holtby

Buddy will start the Finals with a 27-point deficit to make up and his team may have the best shot at Tony, if Braden Holtby can continue his current shutout streak, that would be another 16 points right there, assuming Vegas doesn't score a goal in four games.  Then Nicklas Backstrom would have to be the catalyst of the Washington offense and then Buddy will have a shot at it.

With all of that being said, it looks like it's a cake walk to the finish for Tony.

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