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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Vote for the Biggest Pens Villain - Bracket Semifinals

The field for the Biggest Pens Villain has shrunk to 16 of the original 56 after voting in the Opening Round and Bracket Quarterfinals trimmed the field over the previous two weeks. Some big names have fallen by the wayside in the early going, but most still remain. Things are about to heat up as the fringe candidates have fallen by the wayside, leaving a tough field where any of the remaining 16 could feasibly win the title. Make sure to check out @PensInitiative's timeline on twitter throughout the week to cast your vote in paring the field down to the final 8 villains.

Bettman Bracket - March 22, 2016

Biggest Blowout: Scott Hartnell (95%) over Tim Peel (5%)

Closest Contest: Gary Bettman (66%) over Trevor Gillies (34%)

The commissioner entered the bracket as the favorite but had the tightest contest in the last round of voting, though he faced a worthy challenger in Trevor Gillies. He'll face Scott Hartnell in the semifinals in what should be a great match-up. In what's been a trend in the voting, players that made their mark against the Pens as members of the Flyers have crushed the voting so far, and Hartnell is no exception - he's won his first two round with 91% and 95% of the vote.

On the other half of the bracket, both Tuukka Rask (77%) and Marc Staal (82%) crushed the competition on their way to the semifinals. Both have made their mark against the Penguins in the playoffs - Rask in limiting the top seeded Pens to 2 goals in a 4 game sweep in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals and Staal for his cheap shots against Sidney Crosby as the Rangers eliminated Pittsburgh in each of the past two postseasons.

Dubinsky Bracket - March 22, 2016

Biggest Blowout: Brandon Dubinsky (92%) over Colin Campbell (8%)

Closest Contest: Adam Graves (68%) over Craig Adams (32%) 

Brandon Dubinsky had the bracket named after him, and Brandon Dubinsky crushed Colin Campbell in his first vote of the tournament, routing the former reviled NHL head disciplinarian in a laugher of a match-up. He'll put the Flyers connection to the test in the bracket semifinals as he faces the current Philadelphia captain, Claude Giroux.

The other matchup will see Adam Graves up against Pierre McGuire. It'll feature someone who did something heinous one time long ago (Graves slash on Lemieux) vs someone who's just been obnoxious for a length of time much more recently (anything McGuire has done for NBC).

Milbury Bracket - March 23, 2016

Biggest Blowout: Mike Milbury (91%) over David Volek (9%)

Closest Contest: Jack Edwards (56%) over Eugene Melnyk (44%)

In another instance of the bracket namesake romping to an easy win, Mike Milbury cruised to certain victory in his first match-up against David Volek, the man with the game winning goal that denied the Penguins a chance for a 3rd straight Stanley Cup in 1993. He'll face John Tortorella next, who had a surprisingly easy time beating noted Senators agitator Chris Neil 82%-18%.

Alexander Ovechkin got the bye in the other half of the bracket, and that proved warranted as he easily dispatched Shane Doan 71%-29%. He'll look to punch his ticket to the bracket finals against Jack Edwards, the notorious Bruins homer and broadcaster who squeaked out a close contest against Eugene Melnyk, the Ottawa owner who conducted a forensic investigation when Matt Cooke injured Erik Karlsson in 2013.

Scuderi Bracket - March 23, 2016

Biggest Blowout: Brad Marchand (88%) over Derek Stepan (12%)

Closest Contest: Henrik Lundqvist (70%) over Rob Scuderi (30%)

This year's March Madness has shown that anyone can lose early in a single contest, and that was certainly the case in the Scuderi Bracket as the voting showed that it was easier to hate current antagonists playing for other teams than it was to continue hating ex-Penguins. Scuderi fell in his first vote to Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who undoubtedly has seen his stock rise since flipping the net against the Pens earlier in the month. He'll face tough competition from Brad Marchand in the bracket semifinals, as despite the career year for the Bruins pest he's still incredibly difficult to stomach.

Things didn't go much better for Mike Johnston in the other half of the bracket, as the former Penguins coach was no match for Zac Rinaldo, the talent-less goon formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers and currently in the Boston organization. He'll face off against a current member of the Penguins organization, David Morehouse, whose strong-armed takeover of the team's hockey operations hasn't sat well with the team's fanbase.

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