Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 6 -- Caps vs. Rangers

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

It’s Game Six in this first round series between the New York Rangers and the Capitals, and with all the twists and turns it has taken, it seems as if this series began in November.

But today, we are thinking…”paper.”

That’s right, paper. In our never ending search for the horse that escaped the barn before the door was closed, we came across this site, and their award-winning design for a paper water bottle.

That’s right, a paper water bottle. If the Rangers had stumbled upon this idea, John Tortorella would have had a better chance of being behind the Ranger bench this afternoon. As it is, he will be sitting this one out, the victim, if you will, of a suspension from the league for heaving a water bottle into the stands at a fan who was suggesting that perhaps the Rangers needed to actually score a goal to win a hockey game. Tortorella, like just about everyone else on the Ranger bench, missed his target and conked a female season ticket holder in the noggin.

And here we thought “Propel” was a brand of water, not a how-to-use direction for the consumer.

“A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough."


"Hey cuz…"

Is that something you made up?

"Nope…Bruce Lee...'Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth.'”

Ben Franklin?

"Nope...Chuck Norris...'The one who cannot restrain their anger will wish undone, what their temper and irritation prompted them to do.'”

And who said that?



“Yeah, he didn’t give me his last name.”

OK, we’ll forgive our cousin for not knowing of the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (even the Romans knew the value of teamwork – all their names seem to end in “us”). But there is a game to play here, and for all the side show pyrotechnics – Avery, Tortorella, yada yada, yada – it all comes down to one thing, and at this point one thing only.

Henrik Lundqvist.

If Lundqvist is not on this afternoon, the Rangers will not win. And now we’re getting into some pretty interesting territory for Lundqvist. And that territory is out in the deep blue, as it were, water of playoff series that go beyond four games. Including Friday’s meltdown against the Caps, Lundqvist has played in five such games in his career, and in them, he has been less “King Henrik,” and more “Hank”…

1-4, 3.51, .886.

And here is the ominous part for the Rangers. In a combined eight man games going past the Game Four mark, the Alexes – Ovechkin and Semin – have combined for six goals. In none of the games were both held without a goal. A small universe of games, to be sure, and Martin Biron -- against whom much of that record was compiled -- isn’t Henrik Lundqvist (although Lundqvist’s efforts in Games Five and Six look somewhat Bironesque), but the matchups will be in clear focus in this game.

For the Rangers at the other end of the ice, you have to hope – if you’re a Caps fan – that Scott Gomez does not revert to form for Game Six. In each of his four playoff years preceding this, Gomez was at least a point-per-game performer. He was on track for that after Game One, in which he went 1-2-3, but he hasn’t had a point since.

Chris Drury is a different problem. He came into this series with the reputation of being a clutch performer. But that is a reputation earned more for what he did before becoming a Ranger. In 114 playoff games before signing with New York, Drury scored 43 goals, 15 of them game-winners. In 14 games with the Rangers, he has four goals, two of them of the game-winning variety (including one in this series). If the Alexes are on at all, then Gomez and Drury have to answer if the Rangers are to stay in it.

Perhaps the wild card in all of this isn’t even a player. Jim Schoenfeld, who will assume the coaching duties for the Rangers on Sunday afternoon, has coached in nine playoff series in his own coaching career with three different teams, including the Capitals. Another ominous note for the Rangers – Schoenfeld has lost his last five series in the playoffs behind an NHL bench.

What comes to mind at this point is wrestling – a sport of strength and endurance, but also one of leverage. And the Caps have put themselves in position to exert and to take advantage of a certain amount of psychic leverage here. A franchise that has been victim, in the eyes of its fans, of misfortune over three decades, has seen the stars align to perhaps give them the advantage heading into Game Six. A player succumbs to the stupidity of selfish play… his coach chides him, sits him, then the coach goes off on his own adventure in temper… the impenetrable goaltender is found – and made – to be human after all…

If the Caps can get a lead in New York, it could be the last bit of leverage they need to wrestle control of the series away from the Rangers. It says here that they will…

Caps 4 – Rangers 2

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