1st Round Matchups: Only One Cup Winner & A Lot of New Teams

The 2015 Ultimate NHL Playoff field is set!!! The First Round will begin next week!!! The First Round features 32 teams and therefore 16 series’. Of those 32 teams, there are only 17 that are returning after making an appearance in the inaugural UNP, including the inaugural runners up, the ’88-’89 Calgary Flames, who have jumped from the 19th seed last year to the 17th seed this year. Just to clarify, teams’ seeds can change year-to-year due to completing another season in the NHL, making an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and, of course, winning the Cup. To clarify even further, the only time a franchise will jump a spot just because of completing an NHL season is if there is an extinct franchise ahead of them in the seeding and they either tie them with the number of seasons completed or overtake them in number of seasons completed. The 2015 UNP First Round also features a Semifinalist from the inaugural UNP, the ’79-’80 Buffalo Sabres, who remain the 23rd seed in the upcoming tournament. Here is the full list of of matchups in the 2015 UNP First Round, listed in the order of which they will be completed:

(#20) ’05-’06 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim vs. (#45) ’76-’77 Cleveland Barons

(#26) ’05-’06 Ottawa Senators (Modern)* vs. (#39) ’78-’79 Atlanta Flames*

(#28) ’09-’10 San Jose Sharks* vs. (#37) ’08-’09 Atlanta Thrashers

(#19) ’10-’11 Carolina Hurricanes vs. (#46) ’19-’20 Quebec Bulldogs*

(#18) ’10-’11 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (#47) ’34-’35 St. Louis Eagles*

(#22) ’10-’11 Vancouver Canucks* vs. (#43) ’14-’15 Winnipeg Jets (Modern)

(#29) ’11-’12 Phoenix Coyotes* vs. (#36) ’13-’14 Columbus Blue Jackets

(#32) ’37-’38 New York Americans* vs. (#33) ’06-’07 Nashville Predators

(#21) ’69-’70 St. Louis Blues vs. (#44) ’74-’75 Kansas City Scouts*

(#23) ’79-’80 Buffalo Sabres* vs. (#42) ’25-’26 Pittsburgh Pirates*

(#27) ’82-’83 Minnesota North Stars vs. (#38) ’71-’72 California Golden Seals

(#25) ’83-’84 Washington Capitals vs. (#40) ’79-’80 Colorado Rockies

(#31) ’84-’85 Winnipeg Jets (Original)* vs. (#34) ’84-’85 Quebec Nordiques

(#30) ’85-’86 Hartford Whalers* vs. (#35) ’08-’09 Minnesota Wild*

(#17) ’88-’89 Calgary Flames* vs. (#48) ’30-’31 Philadelphia Quakers*

(#24) ’99-’00 Florida Panthers vs. (#41) ’20-’21 Hamilton Tigers

  • The asterisk’s (*) mark teams that appeared in the inaugural UNP.

There are actually seven matchups (FLA-HAM, SJS-ATL, OTT-ATF, STL-KCS, BUF-PTP, MNS-CGS, VAN-WPG) in the 2015 UNP that pit the same two teams against each other as they were in the inaugural UNP and three of those (SJS-ATL, OTT-ATF, BUF-PTP) are the exact same two teams facing off, again. One thing that stands out with the new seeds is that if the 17th-seeded ’88-’89 Calgary Flames, the reigning runners up, advance past their first two matchups, they would meet the top-seeded ’78-’79 Montreal Canadiens in the Third Round, who are replacing the inaugural UNP Champions.

So, the Tournament will officially begin next week! There is a delay because I unfortunately have a family emergency and will be going out of town tomorrow (Thursday) and won’t be returning until Sunday. Until then, enjoy the first week of the National Hockey League season!!!!

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