The Stanley Cup Playoffs are just a formality now, as EA's NHL 19 has already simulated the entire event, which will apparently culminate in the crowning of the dominant Tampa Bay Lightning as the 2018-2019 season champions. EA's sports titles have frequently been used to predict the outcomes of sporting events, and although they're typically more accurate when it comes to series-by-series predictions as they occur, bold predictions like attempting to call the entirety of the playoff season are what keep people so interested in these scenarios.
The NHL has actually been one of the leagues that has been slowest to adopt a fondness for video games in general. Whereas other sports have jumped at the opportunity to be heavily featured in popular titles—think Fortnite's NFL partnership, or the FIFA series' portrayals of Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., and other massively popular stars—the NHL has actively railed against video game culture. The Vancouver Canucks famously banned Fortnite from team road trips, and team culture is still pretty slow to come around on the potential of games as stress relief and marketing tools.
Obviously, EA's partnership with the NHL is different, though, and the company annually uses events like NHL 19 predictions as a way to get fans talking. According to this year's Stanley Cup predictions, the Tampa Bay Lightning will hoist the most important trophy in hockey at the end of the playoffs. It's not exactly a bold prediction, though. The Tampa Bay Lightning finished the season tying the league record for most wins in a single year, and feature the kind of high-flying offense that most teams can literally only dream of in the salary cap era of professional hockey.
Some other notable predictions from the NHL 19 Stanley Cup simulation include a first-round upset of the Calgary Flames by the upstart Colorado Avalanche, a continuation of the playoff magic for the Vegas Golden Knights, and a strong performance from defending champions the Washington Capitals before bowing out to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. The playoff simulation also suggests that Nikita Kucherov—who finished with a staggering 128 points in the regular season—will continue to set the hockey world on fire with a scorching playoff performance that earns him the Conn Smythe trophy for Most Valuable Player in the post-season.
Keep in mind, of course, that these predictions are just that. The NHL 19 prediction at the start of the season suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to win the Stanley Cup, and now it's adjusted to say that they'll bow out in the first round. Now that NHL 19 has predicted Toronto once again choking against a Boston Bruins team in the playoffs, though, fans might want to pay a bit more attention to a simulation that can apparently factor in a team's propensity to wilt under the spotlight.
Source: NHL 19 Blog