What if?: Testing Florida’s 2018-19 Season Through the Lens of NHL 19

After a disappointing season, Florida Panthers fans are full of, “what-ifs.” What if Trocheck wasn’t injured? What if Luongo had stood on his head a little more? What if Boughner was fired earlier? These questions are natural to Panthers fans when grieving year after year about this team and even more so now with expectations at an all-time high. That is when it hit me: I can test this out using a simple method I use almost daily!

I waited all day to get out of work and raced home. Once I got there, I flipped my PS4’s switch on and proceeded to open up NHL19. I opened up Season Mode (which was probably the first time since NHL06) and proceeded to plug in the parameters it asked for. I kept injuries on, turned off CPU trades, cranked the period time to full 20 minute simulation, and saved the season right on Game 1 of 82.

I proceeded to ask myself, “What kind of sample size do I need to make this legit? And what am I actually testing?” I set the number at 100 simulations, which proved later to be a larger task than I initially thought. In my head I assumed, “Oh yeah, 100’s a nice round number! And it’ll give nice clean percentages!” I then began to look throughout the screens that NHL19 provides to see what kind of easy and relevant data I can collect to smash together and present to everyone here.

Win/Loss record was a given, but I also wanted to include the scoring leaders. Luckily, NHL19 provides the team’s top point leader right on the home screen in Season Mode. I also wanted to record any post-season success because, ultimately, we Panthers fans want to see the Cup hoisted one day on the longest parade route ever stretching from West Palm down to Homestead (Tri-Rail then US1?). I recorded the place we achieved in the Eastern Conference for that simulation and how deep we pushed into the playoffs if we qualified.

These were very simple and collectible numbers in my opinion. What I did not account for was the simulations. I underestimated the magnitude of those season-long simulations and the speed at which NHL19 can process this information. Those 100 simulations were daunting and made me realize at around run-through #27 what a huge mistake I have made. It was almost as bad as Palmetto traffic at 5PM.

Nevertheless, I persevered. 20+ hours and 4 bottles of sparkling wine over the course of 8 days and I made it through all 100. Here is the data I collected:

Best overall season: 52-23-7-111 points (Sim #21)

Worst overall season: 30-46-6-66 points (Sim #89)

Stanley Cups Won: 2 (Sim #4 & Sim #72)

Stanley Cup Appearances/Price of Wales Trophies: 8 (Sims 4, 13, 14, 22, 72, 73, 77, & 91)

President’s Trophies Won: 2 (Sim #21 & Sim #72)

Eastern Conference Championship Appearances: 18 (Sims 4, 13, 14, 21, 22, 23, 26, 30, 37, 46, 47, 54, 61 72, 73, 77, 90, & 91)

Playoff Appearances: 66

Did Not Qualify: 34

Eastern Conference Finishes:

1st – 55th – 139th – 613th – 6
2nd – 86th – 710th – 314th – 2
3rd – 67th – 911th – 415th – 5
4th – 88th – 812th – 616th – 4

Top Point Scorer Per Sim & Highest Points Scored Overall Per Player:

Barkov – 52 timesBarkov – 80 points
Trocheck – 19 timesHuberdeau – 80 points
Huberdeau – 15 timesTrocheck – 74 points
Dadanov – 7 timesHoffman – 72 points
Hoffman – 6 timesDadanov – 69 points
Yandle – 1 timeYandle – 54 points

Adjusted Average Overall Season Record: 43-31-8-94 points

Take these measurements as an unofficial data collection due to EA Sports’ strange algorithms. I noticed some days the Panthers would make the playoffs 8-9 sims in a row while some days seemed to skew towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. I hope this is a fun read and gives everyone reading a little insight of what could have been this season and some hope for next.