If there is one image that has haunted Capitals fans, more than their near clockwork second round exit, it is Micah Blake McCurdy’s “Rainbow Death Crab.” Best known for his hockey visualizations, as soon as the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around, McCurdy’s Crab likewise makes its return to spell out the future triumphs or failures of the teams that made it to the final 16.
For anyone unfamiliar with McCurdy’s probability charts, they’re based on his model known as Edgar, which — in his own words — considers “shots generated and allowed, including their locations, shooting and goaltending results, special teams, penalties drawn and taken, rest, and home ice advantage.” Also taken into account are “injuries, suspensions, and likely roster compositions.”
McCurdy then simulates “each game ten thousand times, given injuries and coaches’ past allotments of icetime.” He then computes “probability for the home-ice team using Edgar. Different teams benefit in different amounts from home-ice advantage because of their different strengths and weaknesses.”
However, long before the Crab awakened to bestow its prophetic assessment on the 2018 playoffs, McCurdy made his own prediction. That the Capitals would, ultimately, win the Cup at the close of the 2017-18 season.
I reckon the Caps win the cup.
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 4, 2017
Now, as a tribute to the Capitals historic Cup win, one talented fan has recreated McCurdy’s Rainbow Death Crab in cross stitch, and it is the perfect mixture of the nerdy, creative, and seriously epic.
The tapestry first came to my attention on Twitter, and I immediately reached out to Rami to learn more about what had inspired her to take on the mammoth project.
“I like working with my hands, and that usually comes out in crafty ways, since I don’t really have regular access to power tools,” Rami told me. “Last fall, I knit my kiddo a Wonder Woman sweater, earlier last year I did a big Canada cross stitch, and the year before that I made [Funko] Pops! of Hamilton characters. I was going to have a week of vacation, and knew I wanted to have something to do, and that I wanted it to be something I made.”
“I’m a big fan of Micah’s (YAY MATH), and so had been following him,” she added. “But obviously during the playoffs I was looking at his charts a lot, and at some point my brain said, well, that would be easy to turn into a cross stitch pattern. I sort of filed that away and forgot about it until I was thinking of what to do on my vacation, and I figured why the hell not.”
Why not, indeed. Rami then said that she set about the task of figuring out exactly which chart to convert into a pattern. Which was easier said than done.
“I originally was going to do it from the initial predictions going into Round One, but making enough room for all 16 teams in the final round was daunting,” Rami said. “The imagery going into the final round just wasn’t that interesting (nor the one that showed the Caps winning, alas), so after thinking about it, I thought it would be nice to have a pattern that actually showed all the teams, but also the results of each round. So I merged the images of the predictions for all four rounds together, and got that end result.”
I took Micah’s charts going into each round, and took just the information for that round pic.twitter.com/Ja1Ey0WPmb
— N 🏒🏒🏒 (@darthrami) August 16, 2018
and mushed them together until it looked sort of like this: pic.twitter.com/X2b99jJMGI
— N 🏒🏒🏒 (@darthrami) August 16, 2018
Merging those probability charts took up a chunk of time on its own, as Rami explained.
“It took me a few hours to make the pattern, laid out in Excel, and several more to fuss over thread colors. I’d also decided to try and use colors as close to team colors as I could – and lemme tell you I completely understand now why Micah doesn’t. We definitely need some more variance in color! But I am ridiculously proud that none of the teams uses the same color as any of the others.”
That made my curious about how long, in total, the full tapestry had taken to reach this point.
“I’m not sure I could give you a total amount of time it took, person-hours-wise, but I started it on July 3, and finished it August 15, working on it intermittently,” Rami said. But, apparently, she isn’t done with it yet. “I do still plan on adding more text at the bottom to note the Caps’ win, and possibly an outline of the cup itself.”
As for where the tapestry will hang once it is eventually complete? “I’m not sure yet where it’s going to hang,” Rami told me. “I have another cross stitch from last year that hadn’t been hung yet, as well as my kiddo’s puck collection and a collage I made them out of signs from the Stanley Cup parade. The plan is to figure out a place to put all of the kiddo’s hockey stuff (they play), and decorate the walls in that area.”
McCurdy, meanwhile, was suitably impressed with seeing his visualizations take on a new, artistic format.
This is /amazing/ https://t.co/e0pVXr0JkO
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) August 16, 2018
Headline photo: @DarthRami