The fourth year of the Canes Country Playoff Pick 'Em Challenge was unpredictable and had a winner few would have expected earlier in the season. (Wait, that sounds like something else going on around the same time.)
Congratulations to b.axeman, who missed the cutoff for three second-round series but more than made up for it by correctly picking both the winner and the series length for both conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final to launch into first place with 53 points. Quite a worthy winner, and rather amazing considering Mr. (?) axeman was 16 points off the pace after the second round yet still finished five points clear of the field.
In second place, Terpinthetriangle held off some hard-charging competition and finished with 48 points despite being 15 points down after round one, only missing one series out of the final three rounds. We had a tie for third, and since CC staff is ineligible to win (sorry, Kyle!) Lrccolt4 takes third place with 45 points.
Behind them, it got bunched in a hurry. Ten points separated third from 17th, and ties were de rigueur further down the standings. Speaking of standings, here they are, sorted by final point total:
If you'd like to see the entire spreadsheet, click here. (Lots of text - you've been warned.)
We had a record 106 players make picks in at least one round, and all but one got at least one point. No one came close to a clean sweep across the board; Terpinthetriangle came the closest, going 12 for 15.
Underscoring the unpredictable nature of this year's playoffs, seven of the 15 series were won by underdogs (according to the number of people who picked each team). The biggest upsets were the Panthers over the Islanders (only 11 folks picked the Islanders) and the Predators over the Ducks (19 picked the Preds) in Round 1.
A special shoutout is in order for NbrAska, who finished tied for 9th despite only picking 7 of 15 series correctly. Of those seven series, five of them earned bonus points, resulting in what is likely the most improbable 38 points in the history of the challenge.
In the CC staff mini-pool, Kyle snuck up and stole top honors from Bob by nailing the Stanley Cup Final perfectly. I somewhat redeemed myself in the Final with my first perfect pick of the entire playoffs. The less said about Matt and NotOpie, the better. (I mean...9 points, NotOpie? That takes some skill.)
I'll be in touch with the winners to dish out prizes. Thanks to everyone for playing - hope you enjoyed it! Let's do it again next year, shall we?