The Pregame: So you gotta give credit where it’s due. Whatever your political leanings (ours is usually doubled over, holding our stomachs, in the loo) that ol’ Newton Leroy Gingrich gets points for some sassy thinking. Seems then-Speaker Stay-Puft, some six years into an affair with a young House staffer (and Tiffany connoisseur) named Calista, basically told his wife Marianne that she would need to “share” him with his mistress. (There we are in the loo again.) At least, this according to ex-wife Marianne – no, not the one he divorced while she was in the hospital, that was a totes different wife! – who basically told Newt to get stuffed. He dumps her, marries the mistress who promptly begins a powerful benziodiazepine regimen (we’re making that part up) and now all is lollipops, the end.
We bring this up, in part because it’s still a larf-riot, but also because we’re doing some sassy thinkin’ of our own. Let’s just say, completely hypothetical here, that you’re the GM of a professional sports team with loads of potential but some underperforming talent. What to do? You want to keep him; sure, who doesn’t? But maybe you could also find a comely, pliable team somewhere else that may just want to share a little of his upkeep and tending while making you look genius. Everyone wins, right?
And thus American civic life dies a muffled death.
Oh, hockey! It’s been kinda fun of late, watching the Caps down the Canes. To review: we’ve seen Cody get his first NHL goal, Sasha get the Caps’ first goal of this season, Mike Green light the lamp in an electric OT win (oh, so long ago), some general necklace kerfuffling, and, most recently, Alex Ovechkin’s unstoppable hammering (dismantling? humiliating?) of general annoyance and silly-named gnat Tuomo Ruutu. (Good luck with that whole ‘Finnish’ thing.)
This Friday night finds us once more in the land of bedbugs and kudzu; namely Raleigh, North Carolina, and the RBC Center. We’ve spoken already of the entire mythical nature of this “state”, and so shall trouble you no further with such twaddle. To wit:
1: Top or Bottom? Er…so, we’ve been a little surprised this season with the see-sawing and niff-nawing and general topsy-turveying in the Southeast division. Like riding the Vomin-ator at the Montgomery County Fair (which we strongly recommend, btw.) In just a few months the Caps have risen, and fallen, as the Canes have fallen, and risen, with both ending up where they began– Caps nearing the top and the Canes tripping to the bottom.
2: SkinnERRR! Jeff Skinner (12G/13A, minus-6) is, once again, back on the ice, to the delighted squeals of 45-year-old Canes’ fans and 13-year-old girls. Not that we’re making any equivalence here. His stats don’t tell the full story, as he is still stupid young and stupid talented. In the “nothing new here” category, we’re left with Ice Prince hatchling Eric Staal (11G/23A, minus-22) and the rest of the dumb team we choose not to identify because we’re hungry, frankly. Go look it up: the point is that it’s the same players doing the same star turns, but unable to capitalize on the Caps. But we love Skinner, only for his name-sake. It’s an Albany thing.
3: Everything Old is Neuvy Again. I can’t believe we’ve never used that line. Anyway, Coach Hunter’s decisions of late to stick with one netminder, then another, seems to be working out; rather than Coach Juggles’ constant swip-swapping between games. Vokoun has been good and getting seriously better of late; now it’s Neuvy’s turn. Our outing with the Habs saw our Baby Czech with 31 saves – some of them really outstanding — and 17 alone in the 3rd. If Neuvirth was rusty, he wasn’t showing any of it on teh ice.
1: Man Down. It may surprise you to know that we do not take any joy or pleasure in the injuries of any active player – be they NHL, AHL or younger; pro or amateur; friend or foe; hot or not. (We were contractually obliged to throw that last one in.) While we might be tempted to make an exception for the Pens, injuries just suck. On the Canes’ side, Joni Pitkanen and big rig Brian Boucher are out. For the Caps, we know the score: Tom Poti, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green. Nicky is “making progress”, and Greenie is out for surgery (we wish him speedy recovery.) You play with the team you got; sadly, some of the best will be on the sideline this game.
2: Record That. Real quick: the Caps are 25/18/2 and at the top (wha?) of the Southeast. The Canes are 16/24/8, at the round end. 12 points separate us; almost as many as separate us from the Rangers (10 in this case.) They’ve outshot us 92-100 over the last three, but then again, who hasn’t? And the result was 3 fat W’s for us. They’re even in home play (11/11) which is lame, and while we’re 8-12 on the road, that includes a disastrous trip to Canada or two, which leads us to thinking about boycotting Timmy Hos. Either way, the record points to what will be a Caps victory.
3: The Hobgoblin of Small Minds. Ever notice how we always have three of everything? Three Hots, three Nots, as if the universe cycled in tiny, repetitive loops? It doesn’t. Nor does hockey, and nor should play on any given night. Call me tiny and repetitive, but I’ve noticed a pattern in some of the Caps criticism of late. Sure, they cycle up and down, win and loss. The kind of stuff that encourages the boo-birds to come roost.
Statistics are the raw numbers that detailed what was; coaching is the nebulous act of predicting what you want, and finding the way there. Caps not on offense enough? Power play down, or up? Average odds of win or defeat XX when so-and-so scores, or fails to, in the first? We give enormous props to those who know this stuff cold. But, like horse racing, if it could predict the future, we’d all be rich. We’re not. They play the game precisely because there’s no telling what will happen. Odds be damned; play the game and enjoy watching.
Our last bet was the Caps up 4-3 over the Habs; we were only off by 1 on the Caps side. (Stop looking at the other side, wise guy.) We still like our game calling odds. We have every reason to win this, which should give every bookie the hots for the soft-side bet. Still, we predict: Caps 3, Canes 1. Which means don’t you dare place a bet on this.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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