NHL 21 has predicted this year's Stanley Cup winner

NHL 21 has predicted this year's Stanley Cup winner

This story about predicting the future, boiled down, in 1:03 minutes.

What's the fuss?

If video games were always right, the Boston Bruins will be a happy team when they take the Stanley Cup this year. Unfortunately, video game simulations aren't infallible, despite the gigantic amount of data put into their creation.

The situation

Despite being in the pandemic, the NHL season is going strong. With playoffs just kicking off, at-home hockey fans have been painstakingly creating their brackets and making their predictions on who will take home the Stanley Cup this year. Thanks to NHL 21, an annual hockey-simulation video game by Electronic Arts, fans may have "credible" data to back up their predictions.

The video game predicts the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup this year, defeating the Las Vegas Knights in a 7-game nail-biter. Although in reality the Bruins lost their first playoff game, NHL 21's prediction still has the potential to hold true - but history talks.

Boiling it down

Electronic Arts is known for making predictions of the winning team in many sports franchises through their simulation sports titles. Specifically with hockey, their Stanley Cup winner predictions have been less than stellar - their last correct prediction being in 2012. To give them credit, the simulator does a decent job with predicting teams heading into the finals with a historical success rate of 42% pre-2014.

Although programmers will develop the statistical data that goes into each team and player, these simulations are performed largely through the help of artificial intelligence (AI). The simulation will "play out" the games on its own, using the data by the programmers to help influence outcomes of certain situations. For example, if in the simulation Sidney Crosby is on a breakaway against a backup goalie, he is likely to score. However, Sidney will be less likely to score if he has to get through defencemen first. Although the methodology seems sound, what AI handles poorly is unpredictability, which goes hand-in-hand with the NHL playoffs.

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