Am I Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? – NHL Conference Finals Edition

by | May 12, 2017 | Soapbox | 2 comments

Over in the previous two rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, I’ve faced off with my 11-year-old nephew Jace in predicting the outcome of each series. 

In the opening round, I correctly predicted the winners of six out of eight series while Jace got five out of eight.  I got three out of four right in the second round, incorrectly picking the Washington Capitals to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jace, unfortunately, didn’t do as well this time around. He went one for four, correctly taking the Nashville Predators to eliminate the St. Louis Blues. 

Jace gets a chance at redemption in the Conference Finals. In the West, he’s taking the Predators over the Anaheim Ducks. In the East, he’s selecting his beloved Penguins to defeat the Ottawa Senators in the East. 

Good picks by Jace. The Predators are getting strong goaltending from Pekka Rinne as well as offensive contributions throughout their roster. The Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions, carrying considerably more star power and experience than the underdog Senators. 

However, I’m going with the Ducks to beat the Predators and the Senators to upset the Penguins. 

Led by captain Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks are the second-highest scoring club in this year’s postseason, averaging 3.18 goals per game compared to the Predators 2.80 goals per game. They’re a very physical team loaded with veteran leadership and considerable blueline depth. 

While my head tells me to select the Penguins, my heart is with the Senators. it’s been 24 years since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup and this country is overdue for a champion.

The Sens are also a likable team with interesting storylines. Despite two hairline fractures in his left heel, captain Erik Karlsson remains the best defenseman in the playoffs. Goalie Craig Anderson’s wife overcame cancer earlier this year. Winger Clarke MacArthur overcame career-threatening concussion symptoms. Gotta love the underdogs here.

Be sure to check back when the Conference Finals end to see how we did. As always, remember that this is just a fun project between my nephew and I. Enjoy responsibly! 



  1. A Nashville-Ottawa final would be great if for no other reason than, either way, there would be a first-time winner (with a qualification).

    While this would be Ottawa’s first win in this incarnation, going back to the beginning of the Stanley Cup Challenge, an Ottawa team has brought home the bacon to the capital 18 times. Some will sniff and say “but that’s ancient history.” And so it is. But let’s not forget that the last time the Cup rested in Toronto was half a century ago and that, in the 50 years before that, an Ottawa team won the cup 4 times. So everything is relative.

    Hey, if the Cubs can fly World Series pennants over 100 years apart, if Yankee fans can still brag about their late 1920s powerhouses, and MSG can hang Cup banners earned 54 years apart, then we’re gonna brag about 18 cups here.

  2. Among the so-called “experts” picking the Penguins to win the series is Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun who not only picks the Pens, but has them winning 4 straight.

    This sort of thing has less to do with subjective or even objective sports journalism but more in the realm of desperately hoping to be be proved wrong. Should the Sens win – or even take it to 6 or 7 – he’ll just slough it off as “happy to be wrong” – HOWEVER if, by some chance, the Pens ever did win it in 4 he’d be crowing at his “expert” prognostication saying “I told you so.”
    That, in a nutshell, is chicken s*^t journalism as its worse.