Wednesday, May 05, 2010
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):
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.