With the AHL season officially cancelled as of May 11, The Sin Bin decided to do both a correspondent-driven set of predictions and an NHL 20 simulation for the hypothetical 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs.
As Toronto Marlies correspondent Zack Power gave his final prediction between the Western Conference’s Iowa Wild and Eastern Conference’s Belleville Senators, the NHL 20 bracket took a different route, predicting the Chicago Wolves out of the West and the Binghamton Devils out of the East.
THE WOLVES’ DIGITAL JOURNEY TO THE FINALS
Chicago had a tough first-round draw against the league-leading Milwaukee Admirals. However, with overtime victories in Games One and Three, the Wolves finished off the Ads in Game Four with a resounding 7-1 victory at home to punch their ticket to the second round.
An old IHL rival in the Grand Rapids Griffins awaited Chicago in the Central Division Final. On the road for Games One and Two, the Wolves handed the Griffins a pair of losses (2-1 & 3-1) on their home ice before dropping Game Three (4-1) to Grand Rapids back in Rosemont, IL. In spite of the hiccup, Chicago composed themselves and took Games Four and Five at home (5-2 & 4-1) to dispose of the Griffins in five games.
Heading to the Western Conference Final for the second year in a row, the Wolves also met a familiar foe from last season’s final: the San Diego Gulls. After getting knocked on their heels with Games One and Two losses on the road (4-3 in overtime and 3-1 in regulation), Chicago regrouped at home; Games Three through Five in Illinois all ended in victory for the Wolves (1-0, 4-1, and 3-1).
Back at Pechanga Arena in San Diego, the Gulls seized a Game Six win by a score of 4-1 to even up the series at three games apiece. With both sides gunning for a series-winning Game Seven victory, it was Chicago’s mettle that led the Wolves to a 3-1 victory and their second consecutive appearance in the Calder Cup Finals.
THE DEVILS’ DIGITAL JOURNEY TO THE FINALS
With their first playoff appearance in three seasons, the Binghamton Devils drew the first seed Belleville Senators in the North Division Semifinal. Each team would trade victories back and forth throughout the five-game, first round series. The Devils took Game One (4-3, OT), the Sens won Game Two (3-2), Binghamton earned a 3-0 shutout victory in Game Three, Belleville earned a 4-3 overtime win of their own in Game Four, and the Devils clinched the series in Game Five by a score of 4-2.
In the North Division Final, Binghamton faced off against the second-seed Rochester Americans. The Devils rattled off a 3-2 overtime win in Game One before dropping three straight to the Amerks in Games Two through Four (2-1, 3-1, and 3-2). On the brink of elimination, Binghamton proceeded to come back and string together three straight victories of their own (3-2, 2-0, & 3-1) in Games Five through Seven. Clinching their second round match-up in seven games, the Devils earn their first conference finals appearance in franchise history.
In the Eastern Conference Final, the Charlotte Checkers looked to head to their second straight Calder Cup Finals, but had to defeat a resilient Binghamton squad first to get there. Just like the series prior, the Devils got off on the right foot by earning a 4-2 Game One win on the road. And also like their previous series, Binghamton lost three straight (4-1, 4-1, & 3-1) in Games Two through Four. Ever the comeback kids, the Devils yet again dug out of a 3-1 series deficit, winning Games Five through Seven (3-1, 2-0, & 3-2) to punch their ticket to the Calder Cup Finals.
NHL 20 SIM: CALDER CUP FINALS – CHICAGO VS. BINGHAMTON
Just like their previous three rounds, the Devils get off to a quick start by grabbing a Game One victory (4-3) on the road. Chicago would also oblige Binghamton’s habit of losing the next three games in a row, with the Wolves taking Game Two (5-2), Three (2-0), and Four (2-1, OT) to push the Devils into another win-or-go-home scenario.
Almost like a well-written Hollywood script, Binghamton claws back from the edge, taking Game Five by the skin of their teeth (4-3) and Game Six in a shutout (2-0). These two victories set the table for the Devils’ fourth straight series where they went the distance and played in all available games (using all five games in round one and all seven games in rounds two, three, and four).
With all the drama and intensity of a true postseason battle, Chicago hosts Game Seven of the Calder Cup Finals. Both teams go back and forth with their offense, ending regulation in a 3-3 tie to send the game to sudden-death overtime. Just under 12 minutes into the extra period, Wolves centerman Reid Duke buries a shot past Devils netminder Zane McIntyre to end the game and send the Chicago crowd into a frenzy.
Duke’s game-winning goal gives the Wolves their official title as The Sin Bin’s NHL 20 Simulation 2020 Calder Cup Champion!
Special thanks to Zack Power for presenting the original idea for an NHL 20 simulated Calder Cup Playoffs in lieu of the cancelled 2019-20 regular season!