CHICAGO-NASHVILLE: Let's be honest: no one called a sweep for the Predators and only slightly more had the Predators winning the series. Two people, however, managed to secure four points in this surprising series for top marks among all the competitors. Michael J. picked the Predators to win Games Two and Four, and added the Ryan Ellis game-winner in Game Two for his four-point effort. Peter S. also picked up four points in calling Nashville wins in Games One and Four, and he correctly picked Viktor Arvidsson's game-winner in Game One for four points. There were a lot of one- and two-point series here, but these two men topped them all. Congratulations, Michael and Peter!
MINNESOTA-ST. LOUIS: This was another series that not a lot of people saw ending early, and certainly fewer had St. Louis jumping out to a 3-0 series lead. However, like he did in the series above, Peter S. took first-place in this series by reading his crystal ball correctly. He called St. Louis wins in Games One, Three, and Five for three points, and had St. Louis taking the series in five games for another five points. Put it all together, and Peter picked up eight more points in his contest-leading opening round score! Congratulations, Peter!
ANAHEIM-CALGARY: Sweeps are an all-or-nothing adventure in this pool as those that pick them either pay off big or see their chances of earning points in a long series die quickly. There was exactly one person who called an Anaheim sweep over the Flames, and that person was Jay W. Four points for four games called correctly, and five more points for predicting the Ducks in a sweep sees Jay grab nine points on this series. Well done on calling the sweep here, Jay!
EDMONTON-SAN JOSE: There were lots of good predictions made in this series as a number of entrants had Edmonton winning in six games. One person, however, jumped ahead of all others thanks to picking a game-winning goal-scorer, and that entrant was Dave F. Dave correctly called the final four games of the series while predicting Edmonton winning in six games for a total of nine points. However, he also had the Joe Pavelski game-winner in that 7-0 blowout in Game Four to push him to eleven points in the series which was tops for all competitors! Well done, Dave!
MONTREAL-NY RANGERS: This series was all over the map when it came to predictions. Some had short series, some had this series going seven games, but only a handful picked the Rangers in six games. In one case, the entrant only had two games correctly called, but still came away with five points in calling the Rangers in six games! However, two people did slightly better as Dan F. and Neal L. both had the Rangers in six games for five points each. Where they differed, however, is that Dan called the right team to win in Games 1, 2, 4, and 6 while Neal correctly predicted Games 1, 2, 5, and 6. All that matters, though, is that they scored a series-best nine points each! Congratulations, Dan and Neal!
OTTAWA-BOSTON: Like the series just above, entries seemed split on who would win and how long this series would last. Surprisingly, a lot of people correctly predicted Boston winning Game One with Brad Marchand scoring the game-winner. In any case, only one entrant stood above all others when the dust settled as Justin S. racked up an impressive 13 points! How did he do it? Well, he correctly called all six games for six points, added Ottawa winning in six games to grab another five points, and then tacked on that Marchand game-winner for the another two points! With the 13 points he put up in this series, Justin also has dubious distinction of earning the most points in any series in the opening round! Well done, Justin!
WASHINGTON-TORONTO: It seems the Eastern Conference series generated more diversity in the predictions than the Western Conference. In any case, this diversity also allows more people to capitalize on some big scores, and we had three people tie for the highest score in this series: LJ S., Matt H., and Westin F. LJ correctly predicted the winners in Games 1, 3, 4, and 6, and had Washington winning in six games for the additional five points. Matt picked the winners in Games 1, 3, 5, and 6 with Wahsington winning in six games. And Westin ran with the same prediction as Matt to also earn himself a cool nine points. Well done, gentlemen!
PITTSBURGH-COLUMBUS: Like the Minnesota-St. Louis series, no one picked the Penguins to jump out to a 3-0 series lead. Two entrants, however, did pick Pittsburgh to oust the Blue Jackets in five games, and those two people would be Michael J. and Neal L., both of whom have already appeared on this list once! Michael and Neal both picked up the five points in calling the Penguins' victory in five games. Michael called wins in Games 1, 2, and 5 while Neal called wins in Games 1, 3, and 5. Eight points went to both men as the highest scorers in this series! Well done, Michael and Neal... again!
I do want to point out that we have a member of the fairer sex joining us on this adventure of a contest this season as Katie S. has thrown her caution to the wind... unless Katie is a guy and I'm totally putting my foot in my mouth. My assumption aside, it's funny how I almost never get women entering this pool despite the relative ease in entering and playing, but I'm glad to have Katie aboard. Give these guys hell, Katie. If you end up as one of the top-three when all is said and done, I'll even toss in something special for you for kicking the hell out these guys.
There are the honourees of the opening round of the HBIC Playoff Pool. The new spreadsheet is up on the Leaderboard page, so get your Round Two entries in before puck-drop tomorrow!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!