Am I Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? – NHL Playoff Prediction Edition

by | Apr 12, 2017 | Soapbox | 2 comments

Behold! My nephew Jace’s 2017 NHL playoff bracket.

As my regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of making NHL playoff predictions. I do it because it’s expected of me, but I don’t take them seriously. As the legendary Toe Blake once said, predictions are for gypsies. 

In recent years I’ve tried to have some fun with the process. This year, I’ve decided to go head-to-head with my 11-year-old nephew Jace.

To break this down, I’m a middle-aged Montreal Canadiens fan and a freelance hockey writer for over a decade.

Jace is what Don Cherry would describe as a good Canadian boy. He’s in the fifth grade, loves hockey, cheers for the Pittsburgh Penguins and his favorite player is Sidney Crosby.

My nephew Jace with his idol Sidney Crosby.

After talking with his mom, we agreed to pit his playoff picks against mine. Here’s his playoff bracket:

In the Western Conference opening-round series, Jace selected the Chicago Blackhawks over the Nashville Predators, the St. Louis Blues over the Minnesota Wild, the Anaheim Ducks over the Calgary Flames (to the chagrin of his mother, a lifelong Flames fan) and the Edmonton Oilers over the San Jose Sharks.

In the Eastern Conference, he picked Montreal Canadiens over the New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins over the Ottawa Senators, the Washington Capitals over the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I recently made my opening-round selections for The Guardian (PEI). Long story short, we differ only on the Senators-Bruins series, as I chose the Sens to take that one. 

As you can see, great minds thing alike. I was surprised we agreed on the outcome of all but one of the opening-round matchups. 

For his second-round picks, Jace has the Blackhawks defeating the Blues, the Oilers downing the Ducks, the Canadiens beating the Bruins and the Capitals eliminating the Penguins.

I concur with those selections except for the Oilers beating the Ducks. I believe the latter has too much depth in goal and on the blueline.  He surprised me by picking the Capitals over his beloved Pens. No playing favorites here. He has a future as a hockey pundit.

For the Conference Finals, Jace picks the Capitals to down the Canadiens. No argument from me on that one. I’m a Habs fan but I don’t see them beating the Caps. However, he predicts a major upset by selecting Oilers to defeat the Blackhawks. Gutsy call there, but I go with the experienced Hawks on this one.

As for the Stanley Cup champion, we both believe it’ll be the Washington Capitals.

Since Jace and I agreed on most of the series, I guess it shows I’m as smart as a fifth grader. And if he runs the table with his bracket, he’ll be the smarter one. Regardless, it’s a fun little project between uncle and nephew.

If there’s a lot of first-round upsets, I’ll follow up with Jace and see if he has any updated second-round picks.

Enjoy the opening round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, everyone, and good luck with your predictions and brackets.


  1. Another solid read here. I’m starting to sound like a sap licker though. I like your nephew. Good tastes.

  2. Jace the “Ace”. I see no real difference in my picks with his other than Edmonton coming out of the West. I think it will be Chicago. Caps win the Cup! I am in two pools, one allowed me to stock up on Oilers, Hawks, Habs, and Caps. The other allowed me to stock up on Ducks (someone started taking all my Oilers), Hawks, Habs, and Caps! Hopefully I do well in both. Considering Jace’s picks I might do very well.