NHL predictions: man vs. machine

Steve Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning can expect big things this season. Photo courtesy of EA Sports. (stamkos)

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be the 2012 Stanley Cup champions.

At least, that’s what EA Sports NHL 12 tells us, after Observer staff ran a full season simulation to see what mere stats and chance can turn out.

As for us, we’re picking the San Jose Sharks.

With as many roster updates as possible, the NHL 12 simulation took about 10 minutes to run on a PlayStation 3 and saw some surprises but also an end result that wasn’t totally out of the question. Here are the playoff teams from that simulation.

Eastern Conference

  1. New York Rangers
  2. Carolina Hurricanes
  3. Montreal Canadiens
  4. Philadelphia Flyers
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning
  6. Buffalo Sabres
  7. New York Islanders
  8. Boston Bruins

Western Conference

  1. Vancouver Canucks
  2. San Jose Sharks
  3. Nashville Predators
  4. Calgary Flames
  5. Detroit Red Wings
  6. Dallas Stars
  7. Chicago Blackhawks
  8. Los Angeles Kings

Eastern Conference Champion: Tampa Bay Lightning

Western Conference Champion: Detroit Red Wings

Stanley Cup Champion: Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leaf fans may be wary of the simulation, as the game saw the Buds finish second last in the Eastern Conference and far from contention.

And what happened to the Washington Capitals?

But that’s a game and it can’t account for everything that may happen during the course of a season. Perhaps a list of predictions by Toronto Observer staff members will make more sense to hockey fans — despite what Leafs supporters have to say.

Each staff member ranked teams, one through eight, in each conference, and each team was given points based on their ranking. Those numbers were added up, and thus our rankings were born.

Eastern Conference

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Boston Bruins
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning
  5. Philadelphia Flyers
  6. Buffalo Sabres
  7. Montreal Canadiens
  8. New York Rangers

Western Conference

  1. Vancouver Canucks
  2. San Jose Sharks
  3. Detroit Red Wings
  4. Los Angeles Kings
  5. Chicago Blackhawks
  6. Anaheim Ducks
  7. Nashville Predators
  8. St. Louis Blues

As for our choices for conference champions and Stanley Cup winners, there was some difficulty narrowing the finalists down. With that in mind, I’ll take it upon myself to make an executive decision and predict how the playoffs may turn out.

Eastern Conference Champion: Tampa Bay Lightning

Western Conference Champion: San Jose Sharks

Stanley Cup Champions: San Jose Sharks