To get the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs underway, the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals battled into overtime, with Nic Dowd giving the Caps a 1-0 series lead.
Coming into the Playoffs, Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes, and Tampa Bay Lightning were considered the favourites, but how does NHL 21 see the Stanley Cup as playing out?
Not one clean sweep in NHL 21’s First Round
Using the 6 May Online Roster, the simulation of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs saw one of the new division champions unceremoniously booted out. The Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of the MassMutual East, lost 4-1 to the fourth-placed New York Islanders in this NHL 21 simulation of the Playoffs.
The upstart Florida Panthers were also found to be 4-1 losers in NHL 21, being beaten by the reigning champions in the battle for the Sunshine State. In the closest contest of the simulation, the Washington Capitals clinched their qualification against the Boston Bruins in a thrilling Game 7.
By the end of the First Round, NHL 21 had Alex Ovechkin and Mitch Marner topping the points table with eight each. Marner reached that tally in fewer games, but the mighty Russian sniper scored twice as many goals with six. Veteran Mike Smith led the goaltending charts with two shutouts and a .955 save percentage.
Four seven-game thrillers in NHL 21’s Second Round
Every single one of the four Second Round match-ups in NHL 21’s simulation of the Stanley Cup Playoffs took seven games to find a winner. In both the Honda West and Scotia North ties, the divisional champions were trumped by those they conquered in the regular season.
On the other side of the bracket, it’d be fair to say that the favourites progressed to the next round, with the Washington Capitals overcoming the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes succumbing to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With 14 games played, Ovechkin continued to stay atop on points with ten goals and 15 points in this NHL 21 sim of the 2021 Playoffs. Smith continued to be a superstar for the Edmonton Oilers, building up to eight wins in 12 games with a 1.81 goals against average and a .941 save percentage.
Dominant showings in NHL 21’s Stanley Cup Semi-Finals
While the Second Round was filled with seven-game thrillers, the eventual finalists put in far more dominant displays in the NHL 21 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. Both ties ended in five games, with the 2018 champions defeating the 2020 champions and the 2018 finalists defeating the Connor McDavid-led Canadian club.
Remaining atop the points charts with five more than any other skater was the ‘Great 8,’ with 13 goals and 22 points, which includes three game-winning goals. Ilya Samsonov of the Caps also managed to muscle to the top of the goalie charts, winning 12 games to hold a .922 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average.
As such, the Stanley Cup Finals in this NHL 21 simulation landed on the same set-up as the 2018 Finals, with the Washington Capitals facing off against the Vegas Golden Knights.
NHL 21 simulation crowns 2021 Stanley Cup champions
The Vegas Golden Knights managed to triumph over the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, and Edmonton Oilers. On the other side, the Washington Capitals needed to beat the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Tampa Bay Lightning, playing one more game than their 2021 Finals foes.
In this NHL 21 simulation, the Capitals breezed to a 3-0 lead in the series, but the Golden Knights did manage to land a riposte in Game 4. However, in Game 5, the Caps upped the ante, fired 45 shots on goal, and won 4-2, with Vegas only scoring their second early in the third period.
Just before Ovechkin lifted the Stanley Cup for the home crowd, Nicklas Backstrom was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
There you have it: this NHL 21 simulation of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs predicts that the Washington Capitals will hoist the trophy. Strangely enough, the EA Sports NHL simulation of these Playoffs also saw the Golden Knights make it to the Finals, losing to Boston after the Bruins ousted the Caps in the First Round.
In both cases, the winner of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was essentially decided by the Capitals vs Bruins series, with the Caps going 1-0 up in the real-life series. Do you think that the NHL 21 simulations will be correct? Let us know in the comments below.