Greeting to all of my fellow roller-coaster riders in Caps-land!
As the 2011-2012 NHL regular season draws to its conclusion, there are still more than a a few questions left unresolved regarding the playoff races in both Eastern and Western Conference-not to mention how games not involving the Caps can help or hurt the cause of our young warriors.
To this end I have devised a few basic rules (appearing after the jump) which-when combined with daily schedule and standings information--can help to clear the muddy waters for those who are perplexed.
FIRST RULE ("Go Caps Go"): You should always, always, ALWAYS want the Caps to win. No exceptions. No matter what. Like I even have to explain.
SECOND RULE ("Climb that rope, soldier!"): You should root for teams that are ahead of the Caps in the Conference Standings to lose. and those behind the Caps to win...as long as the latter are not close to overtaking the Caps.
THIRD RULE ("Go West, Young Fan"): When the game pits and Eastern Conference team against one from the Western Conference, root for the Western Team. If both are from the West, flip a coin or root for the team with fewer standing points.
FOURTH RULE ("No Dating Within The Division"): When one of the teams is a Southeast Division team, root for the other guys unless it conflicts with the other rules; if both are Southeastern teams, root for the one with fewer standings points, or the one you hate less, or whatever.
FIFTH RULE ("O Canada"): Generally, I like Canadian teams and hope for them to do well (when they're not playing the Caps, that is). After all, an NHL without Canadian teams just wouldn't be the NHL anymore, now would it? Plus the entire industry that is the Canadian Hockey Media's Bashing of Alex Ovechkin would go out of business. So, when one of the team is from north of the border, root for them to win unless it conflicts with one of the other rules. If both teams are Canadian, root for the one with fewer points whenever it helps the Caps.
Except for Montreal: never root for the Habs unless their winning clearly helps the Caps.
SIXTH RULE ("The Enemy Of My Enemy" or "I hate you I Hate You I HATE YOU"): When one of the teams involved is NYR, PIT or PHI, always root for their opponent...unless a victory by one of these three teams helps the Caps in the standings. Come to think of it, we hate NJD and MTL too; Habs fans are like Yankees' fans, only worse, plus they speak French. And the Devils...well, let's just say they blew one of the all-time great opportunities for alliteration in sports writing history by failing to sign Miroslav Šatan to a contract (‘Satan, Devils Burn Rangers Again"; "Satan, Devils Agree To 6-Year, $6.6M Pact", etc., etc. If any two of the "Rule 6" teams are playing each other, then pick your poison or else hope for a double forfeit.
And so, without further ado, I give you your Rooting Instructions for Tuesday, April 3, 2012:
DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions only; if you disagree, then so be it...
TOR (77 points) vs. BUF (86 points): Never mind the Division title--after last night's debacle in Tampa, Caps need help (even if they win out) to cement their by-the-fingernails grip on the 8th seed in the East GO LEAFS GO! (duh!...oh, plus RULE 2, RULE 3).
NYI ) (77 points)vs. NJD (96 points): The Isles are eliminated and we probably won't catch the Devs in the seeding unless we win the SE Division, but I so do not want to see this wretched franchise trap its way to yet another Cup. GO ISLANDERS! (RULE 2).
NYR (107 points) vs. PHI (101 points): Rule 6 says we should hope for neither team to get any points from this match-up, which is unfortunately impossible. But Rule 6 also says that we should root for PHI because a victory (coupled with a PIT loss to the Bruins) vaults the Phlyers past the Pens in the standings. Also, Rule 2 would support rooting for a Phlyers win because they have less points than NYR. Not to mention the fact that winning the President's Trophy will make Ranger fans even more insufferable than usual. GO FLYERS (blecchh!).
PIT (102 points) vs. BOS (98 Points): Ottawa can't catch the Bruins but could catch the Devils-with help. Plus, dislike "T3" (Tea Party Timmy) and his band of thugs though we may, there is nobody we hate more than Pittsburgh. Thus, clearly illustrating the difference between a rival (whom you want to defeat, but for whom you also have respect) and an enemy (whom you want to crush, disgrace, humiliate and annihilate, no matter what). GO BRUINS (RULE 6).
WPG (81 points) vs. FLA (91 points): Pivotal game, this one. Jets can't catch us even if we lose out, but a win over the Cats can set the stage for an epic tilt for the division crown when the latter team comes to Verizon Center for the Caps' final regular-season home game. GO JETS (RULE 2, RULE 4, RULE 5).
CAR (78 points) vs. OTT (92 points): Carolina has been eliminated; If the Sens lose out and the Caps win out, Caps could improve their playoff seeding even if they fail to capture their Division. So, although it may seem contradictory (despite CAR having previously embarrassed the Caps and being in our division, after all), I will have to say that, under the circumstances, Rules 2 trumps Rules 4 and 5. GO 'CANES (RULE 2).
SJS (90 points) vs. DAL (89 points): Although am not kindly disposed to the Sharks on account of the way they have abused the Caps in the last, oh...GAZILLION meetings, my religious beliefs prohibit me from rooting for any team from Dallas, and a Sharks' win keeps the Starz on the outside looking in...BWAHAHAHAHAA! GO SHARKS.
MIN (78 points) vs. NSH (98 points). Predz Iz Scary. Wild haz a Sadz. Meh. GO WILD (RULE 3).
CBJ (61 points) vs. PHX (91 points). The Jackets Suxz. The ‘Yotes might be considered the Zombie Franchise of the NHL...Seriously, Gary Bettman, do you really think that either team could do worse by moving to Hamilton with Jim Balsillie as owner? Do you? GO COYOCKETS (Whatever).
ANA (77 points) vs. VAN (107 points): Say what you will about Bruce Boudreau, but one thing he had going for him was passion-if he was displeased with your play you knew it right, then and there. And he never hesitated to give the zebras #311 when he felt his team was being jobbed. So despite my affinity for English-speaking Canada I have to say that in this case Rule 3 trumps Rule 5; the ‘Nucks have already clinched their division, and the only remaining question is whether they, the Blues, or the Rangers (gag! ptui!) will capture the President's Trophy. GO DUCKS!(RULE 3)