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Round two:  the chastening

Readers have begun to respond to my predictions for the first round of the NHL playoffs.  Here’s alkali, from yesterday (comment 20):

Speaking of which, how much longer does New England have to wait before someone walks back the line, “Please, get these weak-sauce excuses for Bruins off my radar ... your early-May tee times await”?

And jfxgillis from three days ago (comment 16):

Michael:

Pundit accountability moment:

Bruins, Flyers, Canadiens—your early-May tee times await.

I do not know what “pundit accountability moment” means, but it does seem as if this would be a good time to issue a “clarification.” By “early-May tee times” I meant, of course, “conference semifinals.” It is now early May, and I see that the Bruins, Flyers, and Canadiens are all in the conference semifinals.  I apologize if anyone misunderstood the plain meaning of my words.
__________

No, I don’t think I can brazen my way out of this one.  My first-round picks, based firmly in the belief that the East contained only five teams worthy of playing in the postseason, turned out to be terrible—basically, smug, weak-sauce rehashes of conventional wisdom.  I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Indeed, I have never performed so badly as a prognosticator, and it hurts.  It hurts personally, but more importantly, it hurts hockey: thanks to Halak’s soul-leasing arrangement with the Prince of Darkness, which enabled him to stop 131 of 134 shots in the final three games of the Habs-Caps series, hockey fans will be denied the explosive Caps-Pens conference final they had every right to expect.  Of course, the Penguins fans around here are all ecstatic, because they think they’ve just gotten their tickets punched for the Stanley Cup Finals.  They’re probably right ... but whatever you do, don’t take it from me.  How bad have I gotten?  Here’s how bad.  Last night, after grading graduate seminar papers and doing about an hour of homework with Jamie (he’s now doing reflexive verbs in second-year French, so that he can understand why Québec license plates say “I buy a souvenir for myself”), I sat down to watch my DVR’d version of the Sharks-Wings game.  After the Wings went up 2-0 on a goal with 90 seconds left in the first period, I said, “OK, that’s the game—no way the Sharks are coming back from this.” Guess what?  I was wrong.  The Sharks scored with seconds left in the period, and then erased a 3-1 deficit in the third, tying it on Logan Couture’s shot from somewhere in section 118.  (Yes, it was a weak and flukey goal.  But then, so was Zetterberg’s in the second period, going in off a body after being shot from somewhere in section 124.) What a game!  My recording mysteriously ended with five minutes left to go in regulation, but I feel pretty sure that the Red Wings pulled it out in OT.

For a while there I was feeling pretty full of myself, what with my six-year streak in the Super Bowl and my daring, world-historical “Penguins in 7” pick last year.  Why, it was only last June that Pinko Punko stopped by to say (in comment 32), “Your powers of prediction are impressive.  Disturbing even.” And they were!  But not anymore.  This year I totally suck at predictioning.  In fact, the only series I called correctly in round one was the one I was unsure about.  That’s some serious total-suckitude.

So I will simply say that I am happier than I should be, because in round two I am rooting for the Sharks, the Bruins, the Penguins, and ... and ... that’s funny, I can’t decide.  On the one hand, the Hawks are the same fun, unpredictable, feisty young Hawks they were last year, and I was rooting for ‘em last year.  On the same hand, I believe I have written on this very blog of this year’s Penguins - Blackhawks final.  But on the other hand, I find that I am not utterly opposed to the idea of a Vancouver-San Jose conference final.  So I will watch Nucks-Hawks with interest, that’s all.

Non-hockey blogging will resume after I have finished grading my papers (lost two days to a weird little illness and lots of back spasms) and writing my talk for this conference.

Posted by on 05/05 at 11:06 AM
  1. I can’t talk about the Sharks. They are currently up 3 games to zero on Detroit. It feels like a Warner Bros. cartoon and if the Sharks and their fans look down, we’ll see we’re off the cliff post season meltdown once again.

    In the meantime (and on a totally related note), I hope this link is not behind the NYT subscription wall yet - too funny:

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/05/03/world/asia/20100503_CHINGLISH.html?src=me&ref=general

    Posted by  on  05/05  at  02:35 PM
  2. I believe Marián Hossa is a player of destiny. Pens over Hawks in 6.

    Posted by  on  05/05  at  03:08 PM
  3. ecstatic is about right.

    !Viva los Pinguinos!

    Posted by  on  05/05  at  03:20 PM
  4. Actually I am a bit sad that it is clear to me that it just ain’t ever gonna happen with LeBron in Cleveland. At best they rally in this series, win the next and get to the finals which would be a cakewalk for whoever survives the West.  But I doubt they even get there and that will be it for Sir James in his homeland.

    Posted by  on  05/05  at  03:36 PM
  5. I apologize if anyone misunderstood the plain meaning of my words.

    Thanks for the clarification, Justice Scalia.

    Posted by  on  05/05  at  04:08 PM
  6. My recording mysteriously ended with five minutes left to go in regulation, but I feel pretty sure that the Red Wings pulled it out in OT.

    Oh i see your little joke, hehehe.  So next week or so the Sharks will face the Canucks and the Penguins will beat anybody leading to your prediction of a Penguins-? Stanley Cup final.  If the first round showed anything, it was that all those league leaders weren’t really the best teams in the playoffs. 

    The NBA East is one beat-up conference.  There are too many teams in the West to really make a solid pick.

    Posted by  on  05/05  at  06:00 PM
  7. I look forward to reading your talk (hearing your writing, whatever) about Rorty.  Remember not to make whatever mistake it is that I always accuse you of making.  Because that would be a mistake.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  05/05  at  10:10 PM
  8. "So next week or so the Sharks will face the Canucks “

    No way man!

    Check out the nice passing in the second game in the series. This is where the Hawks turned it around (Kris Versteeg makes me laugh):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge6JsRGczaw&feature=player_embedded

    Posted by Peter K  on  05/06  at  06:56 AM
  9. I feel your pain, Michael.  If I were a gambling sort of person, I’d have lost the house by now. I should consider seriously a vow of silence. Everyone manages to recall my picks, and they take perverse joy in calling me to remind me that I know nothing about sports or winning (and, yes, this is a common malady among Ranger fans).

    Posted by  on  05/06  at  09:13 AM
  10. NBA’s “Los Sons” to protest stupidity in Arizona:

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2299

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  05/06  at  11:22 AM
  11. My recording mysteriously ended with five minutes left to go in regulation, but I feel pretty sure that the Red Wings pulled it out in OT.

    That stings. 

    I am glad for the Sharks that they’re apparently not burning out early—if only the Red Wings weren’t the team likely to go under to make it possible.

    Posted by Nell  on  05/06  at  11:56 AM
  12. OTOH, JP Stormcrow’s joke about Hossa gives me a chuckle every time I think of it.  Man of destiny, indeed…

    Posted by Nell  on  05/06  at  11:58 AM
  13. JP @ 4:  But I doubt they even get there and that will be it for Sir James in his homeland.

    That is in basketball, I take it?  I don’t follow the sport myself, but I hear there are secret plans afoot to bring professional basketball back to the NYC metropolitan area.  That would be fun!

    spyder @ 6:  So next week or so the Sharks will face the Canucks and the Penguins will beat anybody leading to your prediction of a Penguins-? Stanley Cup final.  If the first round showed anything, it was that all those league leaders weren’t really the best teams in the playoffs. 

    Hold on, spyder—those Hawks aren’t going quietly.  I still think it’s a tossup, but if Vancouver doesn’t solve the Hawks’ first line in game four, I won’t think that anymore.  And I disagree about one of the league leaders—namely, the Caps.  Yes, their record was inflated because they feasted on Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Florida and Carolina all year.  But there’s really no question that they outplayed Montreal in every one of those final three games.  Buffalo and New Jersey, however, had their asses handed to them in short order.

    Dave @ 7:  I look forward to reading your talk (hearing your writing, whatever) about Rorty.  Remember not to make whatever mistake it is that I always accuse you of making.  Because that would be a mistake.

    Don’t you worry—I’m not going anywhere near the brute fact/ social fact thing, and therefore will not lapse into a dualism that is hermeneutically unstable, or whatever it is that you always accuse me of lapsing into.  I will, however, reference this ancient blog post, and maybe even this one too.

    Chris @ 9:  If I were a gambling sort of person, I’d have lost the house by now.

    Oh, man, I would have lost all of John McCain’s houses.  Most recently for saying “there’s no way the Bruins and Sharks are going to go up 3-0 on the road.”

    Posted by Michael  on  05/06  at  12:25 PM
  14. The pundits of BerubeCo ponder pragmatist puck-pushin’.... One doesn’t play merely to “win” but to facilitate a more harmonious and socially-integrated player-audience process...

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/06  at  01:12 PM
  15. Truth be told, I would not have bet much on the Bruins myself:  they are having a spectacular run.  But Massachusetts law requires me to be a jerk about it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, the Red Sox are playing the Yankees tomorrow, and I have to prepare my unwarranted boasts and angry recriminations.

    (Captcha: “market”, pronounced with a soft “r")

    Posted by  on  05/06  at  03:16 PM
  16. 4-0 Red Wings and 10 minutes have barely passed in the first.

    This is it, man. This is the moment when every Shark fan dies a little inside.

    I’m calling it. Wings in 7.

    Posted by  on  05/06  at  08:11 PM
  17. MTL 3 PIT 2

    Posted by  on  05/06  at  09:33 PM
  18. This is the moment when every Shark fan dies a little inside.

    Noooooooooooooooooooo....  and yes, it does appear that the Hawks are actually waking up from some sort of hibernative slumber, damn them.

    Posted by  on  05/06  at  09:55 PM
  19. As a Hawks fan I am very excited but that Hossa Man-of-Destiny factor is lurking. One can’t cheat fate.

    Tonight’s game should be good and more “physical” I bet if the trend continues.

    Posted by Peter K.  on  05/07  at  10:17 AM
  20. Michael:

    I was going to graciously, yet smugly, thank you for the promotion from comments to the front page, but, um, a funny thing happened to the Bruins on the way to the Conference Finals.

    Turns out, you were correct all along, just a little off on timing.

    Just so’s ya knows, local tv is showing the famous too-many-men penalty from 1979 almost more than last night’s penalty.

    Posted by jfxgillis  on  05/15  at  12:48 PM

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