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Monday, March 14, 2016

Biggest Pens Villain - Bettman Bracket Quarterfinals

The Bettman Bracket

The opening bracket of the Opening Round saw some big names fail to move on as Mark Madden, Rick Tocchet, Stan Fischler, Garry Valk, Ray Shero, and Steve Downie failed to muster enough ire in the fanbase to win their votes. It was especially close for Valk, who tied Stephane Quintal in their opening round match-up before falling in the tiebreaker vote 56%-44%. It'll be the first time Gary Bettman and Marc Staal face competition in the contest, though both should be well on their way for a deep run.

Gary Bettman vs Trevor Gillies

Gary Bettman - Bye

Trevor Gillies (63%) over Mark Madden (37%)

Trevor Gillies moves onto the second round of voting by ousting Pittsburgh media personality Mark Madden. The former Islander enforcer is best known by Pens fans for taking out Eric Tangradi with an elbow to the face in 2011, throwing punches at the clearly injured player as he laid on the ices, then yelled threateningly from the tunnel to the locker room as Tangradi tried to get up. He's a strong contender, but he faces a commissioner who is virtually universally reviled by the fans of his sport. Gary Bettman has inspired hatred from all 30 fanbases for the series of lockout he's orchestrated on the behalf of the NHL owners, and he's a man who can even be booed while handing out the Stanley Cup.

Scott Hartnell vs Tim Peel

Scott Hartnell (91%) over Rick Tocchet (9%)

Tim Peel (62%) over Stan Fischler (38%)

Referees typically stay in the background, but Tim Peel has found himself constantly brought into the spotlight in a career of ineptitude, but it's when he fell across the ice and gave David Warsofsky a concussion when the defenseman tripped over him that Peel found himself on the radar of Pens fans. He'll face a big challenge in the next round as Pens fans showed just how much being a member, current or former, of the Philadelphia Flyers elevates the amount of hate they have for a player. Hartnell has been a pest his entire career, and moving from the Flyers to the Blue Jackets, a team that desperately wants to be the new thorn in Pittsburgh's side, has done little, if anything, to diminish the feelings Penguins fans have for him.

Stephane Quintal vs Tuukka Rask

Stephane Quintal (50%) over Garry Valk (50%)

Tuukka Rask (67%) over Ray Shero (33%)

It was the closest matchup across all four brackets in the Opening Round as Stephane Quintal and Garry Valk tied during the initial voting before Quintal came out on top 56%-44% in the tiebreaker vote. Quintal has been with the Department of Player Safety since the 2011-12 season, and he's headed up the department the past two seasons. He continues to oversee a discipline process in the league that does little, if anything, to protect its players. Tuukka Rask has given the Penguins fits for years, but it was his work in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals that stymied the Pens the most. He allowed 2 goals in Boston's sweep of the favored Penguins, posting a 0.985 SV% and 0.44 GAA in the series.

John Vanbiesbrouck vs Marc Staal

John Vanbiesbrouck (52%) over Steve Downie (48%)

Marc Staal - Bye

John Vanbiesbrouck barely snuck past Steve Downie in the Opening Round, and perhaps Downie earned enough love during his time as a Penguin last year to miss out on moving on. But denying a team a trip to the Stanley Cup Final has a tendency to stick with the opponents fanbase for awhile, and Vanbiesbrouck's 39 saves on 40 shots in Game 7 of the 1996 Eastern Conference Final shot down the last great chance Mario Lemieux would have to win another Stanley Cup. But it'll be a tough match-up for him in the next round as Marc Staal, along with Brandon Dubinsky, has become synonymous with uncalled cheapshots against Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. And given the much more recent outrage, it's hard to see the Rangers defenseman not moving on to the bracket semifinals.

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