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BSH wants a do-over

Scrap your brackets, friends

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Four Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Imagine this:

It’s April 10. 5:00. Your bracket has to be submitted in just under an hour and you’ve finally got a moment to sit down and fill it out. You look at the East. This is the easy part. Tampa Bay had 62 wins in the regular season. Surely they’re the favorite to win the Cup. Bank it.

But not so fast! A time traveler bursts through a wall with tidings of the near future. The Lightning get swept by the Blue Jackets—yes really! And so do the Penguins! But let’s just repeat. The Lightning. Get swept in the first round. Seriously.

So you pull back on your prediction. The Bolts are out. Who you got?

Maddie (original pick: Tampa Bay)

New pick: Toronto Maple Leafs

Why they’ll win: I actually filled out two brackets this year, one where I picked the Lightning and another where I picked the Leafs coming out of the East (and then getting beaten by the Flames). But the Flames are worrying me and the Leafs seem to be figuring things out. I like their roster and their style. The West seems pretty up in the air, and the road out of the East just got that much easier. I like their chances.

Drew (original pick: Tampa Bay)

New Pick: Winnipeg Jets

Why they’ll win: Unlike the Lightning and Penguins, the Jets have shown resilience, coming back from two games down to even up their series with the St. Louis Blues. Patrik Laine has been hot this series, scoring four points in four games, and their entire roster looks really clued in right now, especially Dustin Byfuglien. I also really like the way the Jets play. They’re a fun team and I’d like to see them be rewarded for building a great roster. Who knows though...I wanted to pick the Islanders as I’ve been drastically wrong so far, but I would never forgive myself for doing so.

Kyle (original pick: Tampa Bay)

New pick: St. Louis Blues

Why they’ll win: Because Graig Brooby is their head coach and I do not need another reason. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Ok fine I’ll give actual reasons. The Blues were one of the hottest teams coming into the postseason, and although they’re tied with Drew’s pick in the Winnipeg Jets after holding a 2-0 series lead, I’m going to follow my gut here and pick St. Louis. I had them in the Final vs. Tampa in my original prediction, so it only makes sense to pick them to win the Cup instead. Jordan Binnington has been lightning in a bottle for the Blues, and I think that their starpower will heat up and finally get them over the hump. Also, how funny would it be if the Blues finally do that with Craig Berube as head coach? Tremendous content, imo.

Steve (original pick: forgot to submit a bracket but probably Tampa Bay)

New pick: Vegas Golden Knights

Why they’ll win: Because the hockey gods hate long suffering fanbases.

But seriously, how good does Vegas look right now? The acquisition of Mark Stone looks absolutely brilliant right now, as he has 10 points in 4 games. They also have the ever important goalie in Marc Andre Fleury. I really can’t believe I’m saying this after predicting their fall back to Earth numerous times, but it looks like Jon Taffer will be happy for once in his life when his Knights hoist the Cup on a 200 degree day in June.

Kelly (original pick: Toronto)

New pick: Toronto Maple Leafs

Why they’ll win: they are very good and now their biggest roadblock has been cleared. Also, haha, suckers! I don’t even have to pick a new winner! Unless... you know... they blow it. In which case go... uh... I want to say Sharks here but they’re blowing it. Flames, same. Bruins, I’d rather die. CBJ? Ugh. I guess I really need Carolina to pull off their series or I’m going to have no one to really, truly root for. With no Canes, I will descend into madness.

Mike (original pick: Tampa Bay Lightning)

New pick: Winnipeg Jets

Why they’ll win: Since the Lightning are out, let’s go with the other team I picked to make the Stanley Cup Final: the Jets.

Once a favorite heading into the season after a deep run that ended against the Golden Knights in the conference final, It’s been an up-and-down year for the Jets. They’ve looked more like the contender they once were in taking the last two games on the road against the red-hot Blues and have a deep roster with depth up front and on defense to go along with capable goaltending in net.

Taking down the Blues would also give the Jets a ton of confidence and could be just the medicine to wake this uber-talented group up and propel them to another deep run resulting in the ultimate prize.

Kurt (original pick: Tampa Bay)

New pick: Vegas Golden Knights

Why they’ll win: My backup coming into the tournament was San Jose, but Martin Jones has been Martin Jonesing all over the place and Erik Karlsson clearly isn’t 100 percent. So I look instead towards the team that’s been rolling over that San Jose team, because Vegas looks absolutely terrifying right now. If Fleury is even adequate, there’s not an obvious weakness on that team. I guess that’s what happens when a team that reached the Cup Final goes ahead and adds an entire line’s worth of top-6 players in the months that follow. (To keep everything relevant here: if the Flyers have a relatively inactive offseason and tell you about how hard it is to find good players, remember Vegas bringing in Pacioretty, Stastny, and Stone all within a year. Don’t tell me moves can’t be made.) In the East, I lean slightly towards Toronto making the Final, though it’s a wide-open field right now.