Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just a Little Bit o' Hockey...

From The Hockey News… tongue-in-cheek “keys” to winning the Stanley Cup. First, how to beat the Wings:
1. The Red Wings have perhaps the most loyal following in all of hockey (at least in the top 30). Their fans share common traits in that they all (a) love the team (b) are immune to octopus bites (c) work for General Motors. (ed: Items (a) and (c) were certainly true of me when I became a fan. Never been attacked by an octopus, though.)
The support network runs from the fans directly to the team. Cut one off from the other and they flounder like a flounder. How do you go about breaking this lifeline? Sneak into the media room, commandeer the microphone and announce General Motors is toying with the idea of scrapping the vaunted paid washroom breaks. Stampede ensues. Pens up 2-0.
2. One look at the Detroit lineup and you’ll realize the United Nations seems sectarian by comparison. Aside from a Japanese player and a Samoan, the Red Wings have every nation on earth represented on their roster. That translates into a crowded bench filled with on-call translators (you thought they had a backup, backup goalie coach?). If something were to happen, say, to compromise the miles and miles of intricate wiring that allows the team to communicate, the whole operation would ground to a halt – like General Motors.
3. We all love the guy and admire him for playing at the ripe old age of 74, but Chris Chelios has seen better days. Still, he acts like it’s his rookie year (1869) demanding more ice time and a steady stream of bran. Coach Babcock has reduced the Chelios Implosion Factor by giving Chris sporadic duty as the 12th defenseman and has implicitly stated it’s his job to shadow Rob Scuderi every time he’s on the ice. Thus, Mr. Scuderi needs to see a lot more ice time.
And how to beat the Pens:
1. Anyone’s who watched Sidney Crosby play knows how dominant a player he is. The man’s a machine. I mean, literally, the man’s a machine. Buried in the fine print of his astronomical endorsement deal with RBK is the little matter of that microchip being implanted at the base of his brain stem. It controls things such as the choice between deking and shooting and when to sign autographs. Keep in mind this microprocessor is strictly first generation, meaning the little sucker is really prone to malfunctioning caused by too much moisture (the reason behind his subsequent - and secretive - Gatorade deal). If he were to get seriously wet (hint hint), his eyes will start to roll back in his head and he’ll begin speaking in pure gibberish. On the plus side, Malkin will be able to understand him; on the minus, he’ll start playing like Jody Shelley.
2. The Penguins have an average age of 14. They have raging hormones, but are also brutally self-conscious. Intimidation is simply a matter of pointing out their pathetic attempts at playoff beards (“I’ve seen more hair on a parrot”). That one was easy.
3. The Penguins are never far away from their checkered and humble past. The fact they still play in a building constructed with a thatched roof and heated by coal speaks volumes. Even though they’re having a decent run, bankruptcy breathes down their necks like creepy bachelor uncles. You want to send a shiver down the collective spines of Crosby, Malkin and the rest of the seven-figure kids? I hear your check bounced. 2-0 Red Wings.
Regarding Item Two on the Pens list: That’s a pic of Crosby just above (click for larger, of course)… accepting the Prince of Wales Trophy last week. “Pathetic” is a good word for his beard. OK, I’ll cut him some slack: he’s only 20… not 14, as noted above. The mind boggles, does it not? A 20-year-old, supremely talented, multi-million dollar captain of an A-League sports team? Who gives a damn if he can’t grow a beard?
(h/t: Paul at Kukla’s Korner)
Get ready for a victory parade, Hockeytown!
According to WhatIf Sports, the Red Wings will dispatch the Penguins in five games to claim their first Stanley Cup title since 2002 and fourth in the last 11 seasons.
That is what was determined in 10,000 Stanley Cup Final computer simulations conducted by WhatIf Sports, a fantasy sports Web site designed to simulate games between past and present sports teams using real historical statistics.
After 10,000 simulations were run, the veteran Wings defeated the up-and-coming Penguins 68 percent of the time, with the most common occurrence a five-game series in which Pittsburgh will earn its only victory in Game 3 on home ice.
The simulations were run using the actual 2007-08 regular season stats compiled by Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Well, I’m ready to believe, as you might expect. But I also know a lil bit about computers, too. So: taken with a grain of salt…a very large grain, at that. I think the series will go at least six games... if not seven... and the Wings will prevail, of course. It’s that ol’ “old age and treachery beats youth and exuberance, every time” thing, ya know. That and the Wings defense, which is the key reason Chris Osgood has faced far fewer shots in these playoffs than Marc-Andre Fleury, in spite of playing two more games than the Pens' goalie. Ozzie and Fleury are numbers one and two in the all-important “goals against average” stat through the first three rounds… and defense wins cups. T’was ever so.

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