Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Mascot Melee™: Round One of the NHL Bracket

Don't be fooled by his fluffy appearance - sharks are deadly
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin)

Today, we finish up the first round of our March Mascot Melee™ tournament. Yesterday, we covered Major League Baseball and the NBA, and earlier today trusty old Joe Parello tackled the NFL (Get it? Tackled? Because football? Anyone? *Looks around for a high five* No? Nobody? Okay, I'll show myself out).

Here are the top 16 NHL candidates:

Click to enlarge.

Left Out: Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals. 

Right off the bat, we can cross off Canadiens and Canucks. Those are just nicknames of people who live in Canada, and Canadians don't fight much. They just apologize for accidentally bumping into you. The Maple Leafs might be the weakest mascot in any of the four major sports, followed not too far behind by the Blues. Who is scared of a color? The Ducks ruined their chances several years ago when they dropped "Mighty" from their name, and Penguins, Blue Jackets, and Coyotes just aren't tough enough to make the final 16.

The toughest decision was the Capitals. Are we talking about a capital city, with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, some of whom are politicians who can mobilize the armed forces? Or are we just talking about the physical Capital building? One way or the other, the uncertainty was enough to keep them off the bracket.

1. New Jersey Devils vs. 16. Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are ranked No. 16 for a reason. It seems fearsome until you realize it's just a blade with nobody to wield it. Meanwhile, it's going up against Lucifer. The Devil doesn't quite carry the same weight as Titans, Giants, or Wizards (the No. 1 seed in the other brackets), but assuming the Devil can also command the forces of hell, it becomes a truly dominant force.

Winner: Devils

8. Winnipeg Jets vs. 9. Calgary Flames

If the Jets have a capable pilot, they can quickly become a formidable opponent, particularly if it's a military fighter. But one of the few things they aren't quite equipped to defend is fire. If a plane catches on fire, it's possible for the pilot to escape, but without a pilot, the plane is going to crash.

Winner: Flames

4. Colorado Avalanche vs. 13. Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are named after a member of the Sauk nation, who was a proud warrior and leader of Native American armies during the War of 1812. If we assume he is leading a division of fellow troops into battle, they could take out everyone in their path.

Alas, they are the victim of seeding and first-round matchups. No matter how great of a warrior or leader Black Hawk was, he (and his army) is no match for a natural disaster uncontrollable by man.

Winner: Avalanche

5. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 12. Florida Panthers

Unlike in the NBA bracket, where the Thunder were omitted on the grounds of being "only just a really loud noise," the Lightning get a prominent seed thanks to their 500 Megajoule discharge of energy.

For those not familiar with the science jargon, a Joule is a measurement of energy. One Joule is roughly the amount of energy it takes to lightly toss a tennis ball across a room. One megajoule is a million times more powerful than that - imagine the kinetic energy of a car traveling at around 100 miles per hour. Now imagine something 500 times MORE powerful than that. Then imagine ALL of that energy being discharged in less than a quarter of a second. You think a cat can stack up against that?

Winner: Lightning

2. Dallas Stars vs. 15. Minnesota Wild

The nondescript Wild got in solely because it sounds scary, regardless of whether or not it actually is. Technically speaking, there are plenty of "wild" animals that really pose no threat to the world at large, like Chipmunks and rabbits and horses and stuff. So it's not a very strong contender.

Going up against a constellation of stars? They really have no chance. If a star goes supernova, it's wiping out all living organisms on an entire planet (at a minimum).

Winner: Stars

7. Ottawa Senators vs. 10. Boston Bruins

Forget the fact that the Senators have the power to declare war and mobilize the military (at least they do in the U.S. - maybe the Canadian senate is different and all they can do is raise or lower the taxes on maple syrup or something, but we'll pretend it's the American senate for a second). The Senate also has the power to make policy regarding bears. If the Senate decides Bruins are too dangerous, they can have them rounded up and moved away from populated areas. Bears may be dangerous creatures, but they don't wield the power of bureaucracy.

Winner: Senators

3. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 14. Nashville Predators

Do the Predators get bonus points for being an all-inclusive umbrella name? So, they would include everything from apex predators like great white sharks all the way down to a spider? Or does it lose points because it's kind of lame that they couldn't decide on just one thing to represent them.

Either way, it doesn't really matter because Hurricane-force winds alone render most living things useless. Add in torrential downpours and lightning strikes and flooding, and it's no contest.

Winner: Hurricanes

6. Los Angeles Kings vs. 11. San Jose Sharks

You know it's a tough bracket when an apex predator like the shark only gets the No. 11 seed.

This is a rather difficult call. On one hand, a shark would absolutely kill a king should the king wander into a shark's territory. But there are two things working against the shark, here. First, is that if the king WERE to wander into a shark's territory, he would most likely have commissioned a shark-resistant craft in which to travel (like a large boat). Secondly, in the pure spirit of this tournament, a Thunderdome Deathmatch doesn't favor a shark, as there's no guarantee of water being present inside the Thunderdome. It may just do whatever the opposite of drowning is called. Either way, the king moves on.

Winner: Kings

Here's the updated bracket after Round 1:

Click to enlarge.

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