To help satiate the lack of sporting world, we figured we would do something to at least give some help to the warm unkind world without hockey. We created a 16-team Stanley Cup Champions tournament. In our attempt to be realistic, we tried to use the oldest franchises, such as the original-six, the next six, and the next oldest clubs. We used their greatest championship teams as their representation.
The seeding was random along with the assignment of home and away games. In addition, seeding was reset after each round. Once it was all said and done and the tournament field was set, it was time to do our simulation.
* Game simulations were done using whatifsports.com
All-time Stanley Cup Champions Tournament Simulation
Here are the teams that were represented:
|2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks||1981-82 Edmonton Oilers||2001-02 Detroit
Los Angeles Kings
And as they say, on with the show!
In the first round, it was a one-game, winner-take-all round.
Results of the First Round
Chicago moved on in overtime due to a goal from Patrick Kane. Overtime would be a theme in this tournament, as several games went to the shootout. The Capitals took down Mark Messier in a shootout to go on.
The Flyers could not break through to force overtime as Dominik Hasek shut the door in the third period to gain the victory for the Red Wings. Toronto flexed their might and beat Patrick Roy five times to move onto the second round. The Bruins and the Islanders won nail biters with late goals.
St. Louis rode a big game from Vladimir Tarasenko to avenge the first two match-ups in the Stanley Cup Finals of the Expansion Era with a 5-3 victory over Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, and the Habs. Pittsburgh beat down Martin Brodeur and the Devils. The Isles defeated Brett Hull and the Stars by a lone goal to round out the participants in the second round.
Results of the Second Round:
Second Round Commentary
There were two sweeps in the second round. The 2018-19 Blues once again beat down the Bruins, this time in two games in the best-of-three series. Meanwhile, the Islanders knocked out the 2017-18 Capitals in a pair, after huge games from Hall of Famers Clark Gillies, Mike Bossy, and Bryan Trottier.
The Blackhawks fell behind one game to none after a hat trick by Brendan Shanahan. Chicago got back-to-back shutouts from Corey Crawford, the goaltender of the tournament, as he shut the door after being chased in Game 1. He turned away 54 consecutive shots by the dangerous Red Wings offence to move on.
Terry Sawchuk pitched a shutout in the deciding game between perennial playoff opponents Boston and Toronto. After Games 1 and 2 went to overtime, Sawchuk’s performance was stellar as he turned away 44 Bruin shots en route to the victory.
That set up a final four with the Blues, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, and Islanders.
This is what happened:
Down to the Final Four
|Maple Leafs||0||0||1||1||24||Maple Leafs||0||0||1||0||1||24|
Two sweeps in the best-of-five series happened here. The Blues took the first two in overtime. Tyler Bozak and Brayden Schenn each beat Islanders’ goaltender Billy Smith in the shootout, Bozak’s coming in round seven. In the deciding Game 3, Smith forfeited six goals, including a pair by Ryan O’Reilly to synch the game and the series for the Blues.
Joining the Blues in the finals would be their longest and most fierce rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. Crawford saw his club, led by Patrick Kane, drop five goals in the net to take Game 1 in Toronto. Game 2 had Chicago fire 50 shots towards Terry Sawchuk, and the Hall of Famer turned away 49. Jonathan Toews beat Toronto in the third round to win Game 2.
Niklas Hjalmarsson scored the game-winning goal to give Chicago a 2-0 victory, a three-games-to-none sweep, and a spot in the finals. Crawford recorded another shutout, his third and final of the tournament.
Finals Featuring the St. Louis Blues vs the Chicago Blackhawks
The Finals featured the Blues form 2018-19 against the Blackhawks from 2009-10. Neither of these teams made the playoffs in the year the opposite won the Stanley Cup. In 2010, The Blues finished in ninth place, five points behind Colorado. Their record was 40-32-10, good enough for 90 points. Chicago finished second overall in the West with 112 points. Their record of 52-22-8 was one point behind the San Jose Sharks. Washington ran away with the President’s Trophy with 121 points.
Chicago needed six games to defeat the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks before sweeping San Jose. In another six-game series, the Blackhawks defeated a Cinderella seventh-seeded Philadelphia Flyers.
In 2018-19, the Blues were the ultimate Cinderella story. On January 3rd, St. Louis was dead last. Six months later, they raised Lord Stanley’s Trophy. St. Louis finished fifth in the West (due to a tiebreaker) with 99 points (45-28-9). Chicago finished 10th in the West with 84 points, six out of the eighth spot, which was held by Colorado.
St. Louis defeated the Winnipeg Jets in six games. Their second-round series was one of the most hotly contested in the entire tournament. It went to double overtime with Pat Maroon ending the series with a goal that broke the hearts of Dallas. The Blues wore down San Jose after falling behind two games to one. They won the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl in six games.
A seven-game Stanley Cup Final series featured the Blues winning their first Finals game, thanks to overtime shot by Carl “Boom Boom” Gunnarson, and their first Cup, which broke the heart of Brad Marchand and the Bruins, made a broken city heal, and avenged the 1970 series loss that had Bobby Orr literally fly through the air to end the series.
That is all in the past as here is what happened in the Finals of this tournament which featured the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues against the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks.
Here is what happened:
Finals Game Box Scores
Six Game Final Breakdown
The Blackhawks jumped out to win Game 1. A shootout victory on a goal in the fourth round from Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks a 6-5 victory. Jake Allen came in to replace Jordan Binnington right before the halfway point of the game. Allen was perfect in the final 32+ minutes, but could not stop Sharp in the shootout.
Game 2 had the Blues score once in each period, including an overtime goal by Alex Steen just 39 seconds into the extra frame gave the Blues their first victory in the seven-game series.
Another overtime game awaited the Blues and Hawks in Game 3. Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, David Perron, and Tarasenko all scored in the shootout, but it was Robert Thomas in round number 5 who sealed the Blues victory and pushed the series in favour of the Blues 2-1.
Game 4 was the fourth consecutive overtime for this series. A goal by Ivan Barbashev opened the scoring but was quickly answered by Dustin Byfuglien. The game went to the shootout, and despite a highlight-reel goal by Tarasenko, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Kane ended the shootout in three rounds.
Each team scored in the opening frame of Game 5, but it was Alex Pietrangelo who got the game-winning goal with 3:39 left in the first. Each goalie stole the show with big saves in the final few minutes. Binnington was able to shut the door on Chicago, who mounted an all-out assault on the Blues netminder with 13 shots in the final period.
Game 6 was the deciding game and a pinnacle Blues contest. The lone goal in the game came from Robert Bortuzzo early in the first. Jordan Binnington earned his only shutout of the tournament as he turned away all 28 shots in the victory. Crawford was equally good, as he turned away 29 of 30 in the loss.
Vladamir Tarasenko led the tournament in scoring with 13 points (8G, 5A). Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy each had double-digit points in just six games (Trottier 1G, 10A, Bossy (7G, 3A). Brayden Schenn had five goals and five assists in 11 games, as he was the fourth and final player to reach 10 or more points in the tournament.
Clark Gillies tied Tarasenko with eight goals to lead the tournament. Gillies, like the rest of the Islanders, played in just six games. He and Mike Bossy were the only players to average more than a goal per game. Trottier led all players with 10 assists.
For the netminders, Binnington led the back stoppers with nine wins. He also led the goalies with goals against (32) and minutes played (703:50), shots faced (368) and saves (336). Terry Sawchuk led all starting goalies with a 1:59 GAA. He also led the tournament in save percentage with a .958 save percentage in six games.
However, over the course of twelve games played, Corey Crawford took home the Goalie of the Tournament Award. His .944 save percentage, 1.74 GAA and two shutouts earned him the honour over Terry Sawchuk, Tim Thomas, and Jordan Binnington.
The three stars of the tournament were dominated by teams wearing Blue. The third star of the game was Clark Gillies. His eight goals tied for the player lead and he and the second star, Mike Bossy (7G, 3A) each averaged over a goal per game.
Vladimir Tarasenko was the tournament’s first star. He led all players in scoring with 11 points, tied for the tournament lead in goals with eight, and added five assists.
We hope you enjoyed the tournament. Maybe it will end some of that hockey withdrawal.
** Special thanks to Ed Brickeen who contributed to this article. Ed is an avid St. Louis Blues fan and an NHL historian.