Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Game 7/Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Capitals at Bruins, April 25th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Game 7. Ho-hum. The Washington Capitals – participants in four Game 7’s in the last six post-season series they played – will face the Boston Bruins in Game 7 at TD Garden to decide who moves on to the Eastern Conference semi-finals and who takes their balls to the first tee on Thursday.

The Caps have a rather grim history in Game 7’s in their history. They are 2-7 all-time in Game 7’s, including their only road game in the mutual elimination game. But on the road is where they have to do it, where they have to subdue the cosmic forces that have aligned themselves with opponents of the Capitals in years past. Maybe Boston holds the answer. There is someone there who has a rather unique take on cosmic forces. Perhaps we can prevail upon him for some insight…

-- knock knock –

“Who the hell are YOU?!”

Sir, my name is The Peerless, and it’s a great pleasure to finally—


-- knock knock –

“We got a learning disability here?”

Mr. Mann, I’ve come close to 450 miles to see you at the risk of… wait, didn’t there use to be a pull-chain door-bell here?... If I could just have a minute…please.

“Look, I still can’t tell you the secret of life, and I still don’t have any answers for you. I don’t give interviews, and ever since I walked into that damn corn field in Iowa, I’m no longer a public figure. I just want to be left alone. So #@$% off."

Just one minute, I’m begging you.

“…one minute.”

OK, I understand your desire for privacy, even though that whole disappearing in a corn field thing was pretty cool, and I wouldn’t dream of intruding if this weren’t extremely important.

“Oh, God. I don’t do causes anymore.”

This isn’t a cause. I don’t need money or an endorsement.


You once wrote…”there comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place, and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds, to show you what is possible.”

“Oh my God.”


“You’re from an old movie…Out! Out!”

Just wait a second…

“Back to the theater! Back! There’s no place for you here in sports blogging! Get back while you still can!!”

Now look, I’m not going to hurt you… I just need you to go with me for a little while, then… What are you doing?

“I’m going to beat you with a hockey stick ‘til you go away.”

Whoa! Wait! You can’t do that!

“What, there are rules? There’s no rules.”

You’re a pacifist!


I read an interview you gave a long time ago about how you always dreamed of playing at Ebbets Field, and how sad you were when they tore it down.

“I never said that.”

You didn’t?

“Nah…that’s just movie bullshit. I was a hockey fan.”

I knew it!

“I’m not going to get rid of you, am I?”

Only if the Caps win, pal.

Perhaps the cosmic tumblers will click into place for the Caps so that the hockey universe will open itself up for a few moments to show them what is possible. Or maybe the Caps will just say, “#@$% it!” And just go out and beat the Bruins themselves. It’s not like it would be an unusual occurrence. The Caps are 4-1-0 at TD Garden this season, regular season and playoffs. They have been remarkably stingy on defense, allowing only ten goals in the five games (nine in regulation time). On the other hand, the Caps have only 12 goals of their own in the ten games (11 in regulation time), but that could be indicative of a team playing smart, simple road hockey as anything else.

Some other things to know about the Caps at TD Garden…

Power Play: 2-for-11 (18.2 percent)
Penalty Kill: 11-for-12 (91.7 percent)

When scoring first: 4-0-0
When allowing first goal: 0-1-0

When leading after one period: 1-0-0
When trailing after one period: 0-0-0 (that’s right, in four games there was no scoring in first period)

When leading after two periods: 2-0-0
When trailing after two periods: 0-0-0

When outshooting Boston: 0-0-0
When outshot by Boston: 4-1-0

When Alex Ovechkin scores a goal: 0-0-0
When Alex Ovechkin doesn’t score a goal: 4-1-0

When Nicklas Backstrom registers a point: 1-0-0
When Nicklas Backstrom is held without a point: 1-1-0 (did not face Boston in regular season)

Goals Scored by Period: 1st: 2; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 4; OT:1
Goals Allowed by Period: 1st: 1; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 5; OT: 1

So what’s the profile here?

1. Score. The Caps won every game in TD Garden this season in which they scored at least one goal.
2. Get a lead. The Caps won every game in which they scored first.
3. Hold on for dear life. Those five Boston goals in the third period and one in overtime are troublesome. Two of the third period goals and the overtime goal have come in the three games at TD Garden in this series.

So who will this come down to?

Boston: Patrice Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron has done just about everything but score a goal. He has won 59 percent of his draws, recorded two assists, has only one giveaway, is fourth on the team in hits, and despite the defensive assignments he draws has been on ice for only three of the Caps’ 12 goals to date. But he does not have a goal in 16 shots on goal. If the Caps can shut him out one more time, this could end well.

Washington: Alex Ovechkin

We noted elsewhere that Ovechkin has stepped up in elimination games. However, that record includes a 2-2-4, minus-1, in Game 7’s. Even though he got the tying goal in Game 6, Ovechkin looked curiously disengaged from the action. He leads the team in points but has only two goals on 26 shots. He also does not have a game-winning goal against any team that made the playoffs this season (his three for the season to date is a career low). The last game winning goal he had in the playoffs was in the series-clinching Game 5 of last season’s opening round win over the New York Rangers. If he gets a goal in Game 7, we’re thinking it’s a game-winner.

In the end, kids spend countless afternoons dreaming of playing a “Game 7,” be it in baseball, basketball, or hockey. None of them dream of losing. All of them dream of hitting the home run, sinking the jump shot, or scoring the goal that wins the game and the series. On Wednesday, 40 young men get to live that dream. It is what we think Dale Hunter meant when he said “It’s a Game 7. Both teams are equal coming in. You have to have fun with it. You have to enjoy it.”

When those cosmic tumblers finally click into place, we'll discover this Game 7 will be a lot more fun for the Caps.

Capitals 3 – Bruins 2

Two Guys Sharing a Problem

Somewhere in an executive office suite high above 5th Avenue in Manhattan…

The Commish… Brendan, thank you for stopping by. I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances, but I wanted to enlist your assistance with this matter of World Peace.

The Director… Mr. Commissioner…

TC: Call me “Commish”

TD: uh, OK…Commish. But I’m not sure what I can do about world peace. I’m just the Director of Player Safety for a hockey league.

TC: Not “world peace.” “World Peace”… Metta World Peace.

TD: Is that a special kind of world peace, like in I-rakistan?...


TD: …Commish?

TC: No, not “world peace” as in the world, Brendan. “World Peace” as in a basketball player.

TD: You have a basketball player named “World Peace?”

TC: “Metta World Peace.” And his problem is one I think you have some familiarity in dealing with.

TD: Who names his kid “Metta World Peace?”

TC: No one…he named himself that.  He used to be Ron Artest, but that’s not the point.

TD: I’d give him five games for that alone.

TC: Now see, that’s why I need your special talents. We had an incident the other night when World Peace allegedly elbowed an opponent in a flagrant manner and rendered him concussed. We don’t have much occasion to deal with these kinds of transgressions, although I understand elbows and concussions are something of a regular thing in your league, am I right?

TD: It has been known to happen from time to time.

TC: Well, we have to do something about this, and we are facing a conundrum. As I said, we don’t generally have to deal with this sort of on-court violence. We have to deal more with criticism of referees, criticizing league management, unauthorized presence on the court, verbal abuse of opponents…

TD: You mean…

TC: Yes, Mark Cuban.

TD: And you think that our experience in dealing with on-ice incidents can be of help.

TC: Absolutely. I’ve been a fan of your work in video. Your calm, yet authoritative manner in explaining suspensions is very Sam Waterston-esque.

TD: Sam who?

TC: The guy on “Law and Order.”

TD: Oh, thanks.

TC: But getting down to business, walk me through your process in arriving at a decision to suspend a player.

TD: Process?

TC: Yes, the steps you take to identify, evaluate, and render a decision on an incident?

TD: We don’t have a process. I have three brothers, and they’re always calling me to ask, “Did you see that hit by so-and-so?” That’s when we get on it.

TC: Sort of like a “discipline committee.”

TD: Sure, like a "discipline committee." Then I look at the film. Well, I don’t exactly “look” at the film. It’s running while I surf Twitter to see who is saying what about whether the player should be suspended or how many games he should get.

TC: So, you depend on social media to assist in your thought process.

TD: I suppose. And if no one is saying much about an incident, I can always find some great places to eat from pics people post when they’re at some restaurant.

TC: Tell me about the videos. You are the first league to provide video explanations of your decisions. What goes into that?

TD: It happened by accident. Early in the pre-season I got a call from one of my brothers about this incident in a game between Calgary and Vancouver. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond…

TC: Who?

TD: Pierre Letour… we just call him PL3. Anyway, my brother says, “you gotta see this hit. Runs him from behind right into the boards.” So I get one of our interns to find me the video, and I head right to Twitter to see what’s happening. Except this is pre-season, and who cares about a pre-season game enough to tweet about it? So, I have to actually watch the video, and as I’m doing it, I’m walking through my mind about what is going on down on the ice, and I’m talking out loud. And my intern has his smart phone out taking a video of it.

TC: These kids today and their smart phones.

TD: You’re telling me. So I see him doing this, and I yell at him to shut that thing off. But he shows me his video of me talking and says, “Mr. Shanahan, if we add some PowerPoint to this, we might have something.”

TC: Smart lad.

TD: Yeah, I guess, but I don’t know PowerPoint from a shot from the point, so I said, “ok, kid…see what you can do.” Not five minutes later he’s back with me on video and what I guess was a PowerPoint thing at the end with the points we made about the player boarding the other player, the rule he broke, and how many games he should get. The kid puts the whole thing up on the league’s Web site, and all of a sudden, I’m a hit… so to speak.

TC: Interesting. But about the number of games you settle on. I’ve seen you give some players a game or two, but this incident with Raffi Torres… 25 games. I’m very interested in that. How did you decide on that many games?

TD: I didn’t. Not directly anyway. I was on my way to the office on the day I was going to announce a decision, and I stopped by a 7-11 for some coffee – there aren’t very many Tim Horton’s in these parts – and I bought a Powerball ticket. The first number was “25.” You might say it was my lucky day, although between you and me, Torres is a dickhead.

TC: I see. I must say, your methods are rather unusual, but I guess it suits your game. I’m not sure if we can apply them to our situation with World Peace. But I do appreciate your taking the time to visit with me.

TD: Sure, Commish. I hope it was of some help.

TC: By way of thanks, I’d like to give you a bit of advice, Brendan.

TD: What’s that, Commish?

TC: If a certain player in a certain town in Pennsylvania gets it in his head to change his name to “Ima Chosen One,” beware.