Am I Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? – 2017 Stanley Cup Final Edition
And then there were two.
The nearly two-month odyssey to the 2017 Stanley Cup title is approaching its climax, as the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins face the upstart Nashville Predators in the Final.
Throughout this year’s postseason, I’ve gone head-to-head with my 11-year-old nephew Jace with our predictions for each round.
To recap, I narrowly edged Jace in the opening round by selecting six of eight winners while he picked five. He stumbled in the second round, only getting one out of four right while I went three-for-four.
But in our Conference Finals selections, Jace rebounded well by selecting the Penguins and Predators to advance, while I went oh-for-two by choosing the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks.
For the final round. Jace predicts the Penguins (his favorite team) to pull off the rare championship repeat.
His affinity toward the Pens aside, I can see why Jace made this choice. Led by superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh is the top offensive club, averaging 3.05 goals per game through the opening three rounds. They’re also tied with Washington for the second-best power-play percentage (25.0).
With last season’s championship roster largely intact, the Pens have considerable experience at this level. Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury are a strong goalie tandem, while their roster depth helped them cope with injuries along the way this spring.
I’m predicting the Predators will win it all. They can’t match the Penguins’ offensive star power and the loss of top-line center Ryan Johansen to a playoff-ending leg injury is a serious blow. However, I think they’ve got what it takes to win the big mug.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne is having a dominant performance between the pipes. He could be the leading candidate to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Led by Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, the Preds have a superior defense corps. This club also proved capable of adjusting to Johansen’s absence by rolling four lines to eliminate the Ducks in the Conference Final.
Will Jace’s Penguins become the first team in 19 years to repeat as Cup champions? Will “my” Predators become the first Tennessee pro franchise to win a championship? Which one of us will emerge with bragging rights in our prediction head-to-head? Check back in a couple of weeks to find out. Enjoy the Stanley Cup Final, everyone. And remember, “predictions are for gypsies.”
**UPDATE** Penguins win the 2017 Stanley Cup Final four games to two. Jace is the big winner, proving that, when it comes to Cup Final predictions, I’m not as smart as a fifth grader. Tune in next year (if Jace feels up to it) for a rematch in “Am I Smarter Than a Sixth Grader”.