Let's play the 'what if' game for a moment as it relates to the first round of the NHL playoffs.
What if someone had provided you with the following inside information at the start of the first round: one of every seed, first through eighth, would advance to Round 2 and consequently, one of every seed, one through eight, would fall as well.
This, of course, is what happened. The favorites mostly advanced in the West (San Jose 1, Chicago 2, Vancouver 3 and Detroit 5), while the underdogs mostly came through in the East (Pittsburgh 4, Boston 6, Philadelphia 7 and Montreal 8).
How might you have picked the series differently (and most importantly of all, salvaged your hockey pool) if you'd known that little salient piece of information?
I ran it through my own picks and found it didn't make much of a difference. I went 6-2 in the first round; I was 6-0 and had the home team in the last two series that went the distance and lost them both.
Accordingly, I would have stuck with my seven over two pick (Philadelphia to defeat New Jersey) and my six over three pick (Boston over Buffalo).
If I'd had to pick one eighth seed to eliminate a No. 1, I don't think I would have hesitated either. I would have chosen Colorado over San Jose ahead of Washington over Montreal. Bear in mind that the Canadiens didn't exactly look like world beaters down the stretch and as many Western Conference general managers have harumphed after the fact, wouldn't have even made the playoffs in the West with 88 points (St. Louis, Calgary and Anaheim all finished with more points; in the rarely seen 1-to-30 standings, Montreal finished tied for 19th with the Dallas Stars). Given how well Washington was playing and how fragile San Jose looked, if you knew one of the top seeds was going down, it would have been hard not to pick the Sharks to fall.
So that just leaves the 4-5 bracket, where Pittsburgh played Ottawa and Phoenix played Detroit. I took Phoenix on a hunch, but if the choices were to play either an Ottawa/Phoenix parley or Pittsburgh/Detroit, I would have opted for the two teams that played in last year's final.
That still would have made me 6-2, no better or no worse, than trying to forecast the thing two weeks ago, when all of us so-called experts paid lip service to the fact that anything can happen in the NHL playoffs, but few truly believed that it actually would