Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind, don't matter, and those who matter, don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss
Girls just wanna have fun ~ Cyndi Lauper
Make some fun, happy time ~ Alex Ovechkin

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hockey In BlondeSpeak - Countdown to the Playoffs

On March 22, when the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers, they also clinched a spot for the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. This is the 4th time in the last 4 years this has happened for our Caps. As of this writing; (Sunday 3/27/11 at 6 pm EST); the Caps are second seed in the Eastern Conference. Why give you that date and time information? These standings can change at a moment’s notice, depending on another team’s win or loss. You really have to stay on top of all the team’s stats at this time of year to keep up with the playoff standings!

Clinching a playoff spot is great news, but what if you don’t understand what all this means? Well, I’m going to break it down into my “BlondeSpeak” for you.
Each conference, East and West, have 8 teams in the playoffs. Their position in the standings is called a “seed” and is based on their points throughout the entire season of 82 games. When the playoffs begin, the 1st round games are determined by that seed; #1 plays #8, #2 plays #7, #3 plays #6, and #4 plays #5 in each conference. Each of the playoff games are the best of 7. As the playoffs progress, the rounds continue as teams are eliminated, eventually resulting in the final East team versus the final West team for the Stanley Cup.

As Caps fans, we are all happy and proud that our boys have clinched another spot in the playoffs, but being #2 could be a really tough spot to be in, based on the standings at this moment. IF the playoffs were to begin right now, our Caps would face the current #7 seed; the New York Rangers; in the first round. This could be a challenging series of games for the Caps. We have faced the New York Rangers 4 times this season; twice at Madison Square Garden and twice at Verizon Center. Of those 4 games, the Caps won only one game; on 11/9/2010. Twice, the Rangers have shut our team out. Personally, I would rather face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. After all, the Caps have beaten the Habs in 3 out of 4 of their games this season. But for this to happen, we would have to rely on teams like the Penguins or the Bruins to take over the 2nd seed and move us down to #3 or the Rangers to move up to #6. As long as the Habs stay at #7, then we could face them in the first round. See why each team’s playoff seed position is so important?

I’m sure you remember last season when the Caps won the President’s trophy and began the playoffs in the #1 seed. Many fans expected the Caps to glide right through to the final round. After all, we were #1! But now I’d like to give you a little hockey history lesson, some of which was already covered previously in my 2010-2011 Caps Season Second Half post.

In the last 10 NHL seasons, only 4 teams who started the playoffs as #1 seed have gone all the way to the end and raised the Stanley Cup for their fans. The 2nd seed team has won 4 times and the 4th seed team has won twice. And, the only team to go in as #1 and win the Stanley Cup round in less than 7 games was the Detroit Red Wings - twice (2002 & 2008). I’m not a statistician. As a matter of fact; math hurts my brain so I am gonna whip out my simple little chart to illustrate this:

Now considering the “jinx” of the President’s Trophy, as well as the fact that 1st seed teams have the biggest target on their backs, I’m not really upset that the Caps are not #1 this season. (Yeah, I know, #1 faces the lowly #8 team. You need to keep in mind, that #8 team has a lot to prove and are undoubtedly going be pretty scrappy in the 1st round. But looking at that chart, #8 hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in the last 10 seasons, so it isn’t statistically the best position to be in going into the playoffs. Glad we aren’t there!) But, the 2nd seed team has won the Stanley Cup 4 times in the last 10 years, so ours hopes have not been dashed yet!

Ours Caps will always be #1 in our hearts, but being #2 isn’t such a bad thing. Be proud Caps fans! Let’s just hope when the final game of the season is finished, our Caps will all be healthy and strong and ready to go all the way to the end. Like I said back in January, now that we have; once again; clinched a spot in the playoffs, we still have the chance to see our boys raise that cup over their heads and finally put the naysayers to rest. And wouldn’t it be great to see Ovi lift it time after time on replays and in commercials, instead of Sid? Yeah, I think so too.

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