Saw this on twitter and it got us thinking (even though it should be “Chicago” instead of “Columbus”)..
The Penguins blowing their playoff chances against Columbus might really end up being the biggest butterfly effect in the NHL this century https://t.co/pCJ4KJhXEI— Nathan Strauss (@NathanPStrauss) May 19, 2023
As described in Wikipedia:
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministicnonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
Big words for a Saturday, our apologies. In a sense, this is life in a nutshell. What happens if you brushed your teeth for 30 seconds longer and missed a red light to avoid a car accident? Or if by doing that it also prevented you from stopping someone else from noticing they were about to wreck. It’s an endless what if that everything could be different if one little item changed. That proverbial little butterfly flapping its wings miles away creates a small disturbance that eventually grows into the tornado somewhere else down the line.
But it’s also fun in the instance to see all the differences in the NHL world due to the one little result on April 11th when the Penguins lost 5-2 to Chicago and essentially ruined their playoff chances. It was a game where the Blackhawks had lost 11 of their previous 12 and looked for the world to be floundering down the stretch, while it was a crucially important game for Pittsburgh to win to keep their hopes alive. And yet, the underdog Chicago team showed a lot of heart, scored first and then almost never looked back en route to a win.
The butterfly effect to give Chicago those two extra points in the standings — when to the world it looked like they coulda/shoulda lost that game — ended up being a blessing when the NHL’s draft lottery bounced to the position that Chicago now occupied in large part due to their unexpected and unlikely win in Pittsburgh. Thus, Connor Bedard might go onto be the NHL’s next great player in their city.
Further, a Pittsburgh win would have put them with two more points on the season and ending up one point ahead of Florida. The Panthers have gone onto shock the world with playoff victories over Boston and Toronto. You think the Pens are doing that? While the playoffs have proved that almost literally anything CAN happen, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything WILL happen. The Pens probably get beaten like a drum by Boston and get to avoid the ignominy of losing in the first round after a record-setting year.
If Florida isn’t there to trip up the Maple Leafs, does Toronto fare any better in the playoffs, causing Kyle Dubas not to waver in a press conference enough to have Toronto sour on his prospects to lead them further? (Ok, on this one, it seemed like Brenadan Shanahan was looking for any excuse he could find to clear Dubas out, so maybe history doesn’t differ from the end result).
Not to mention everyone would still consider Sergei Bobrovsky an over-paid bum, now he’s potentially in the Conn Smythe running with the Panthers just seven wins away from the Stanley Cup. Paul Maurice might be seen as the joke who helped turn the 2022 President Trophy winners into a non-playoff entity, instead now he got the opportunity and made good on a chance to look like a wise coach pressing all the right buttons.
What a turn of events in the world we live in. You could point to a million ways that fates could be changed forever via altering some results, but the Pens getting tripped up by Chicago has seemed to been a clear starting point for a lengthy list of expanding consequences throughout the hockey world.
It’s not a stretch that if different things happened in the past then the world would be different now, but considering just unlikely (yet also sort of predictable) it was that the Pens found a way to flounder, it’s caused a lot of chaos throughout the hockey world.