It’s Time to Start Cheering for the Bruins
January 10th, 2012 7:37 p.m.
(Lucius’ cell phone rings. The ringtone is “Vertigo” by U2)
Margaret: Where are you? You said you’d be here at 7:00.
Lucius: I did? When did I say that?
Margaret: Saturday night. It was after Montreal beat Tampa and you said your faith in the Habs making the playoffs was renewed. You said you’d stop putting their games on mute while watching videos of people making diet coke and Mentos bombs on YouTube. I asked you if you wanted to come over to my place to watch Halak’s return to Montreal and you said you’d be here at 7:00.
Lucius: Oh yeah, you’re right. Uhh, I’m busy now though so I’ll have to cancel.
Margaret: Are you watching the Habs game right now?
Margaret: But I can hear the Canadian national anthem being sung on your TV.
Lucius: Uhhh, no that’s uhh curling, yeah curling.
Margaret: You clearly just lied to me about watching curling. Why are you being evasive?
Lucius: I’m not being evasive…Hey did you get to talk to your sister today?
Margaret: Yeah the swelling has gone down but she really doesn’t know when they’ll let her handle the mongoose again. Hey! Don’t change the subject! What are you watching?
Lucius: It’s nothing. No big deal.
Margaret: Why can’t you tell me then?
Lucius: I don’t feel comfortable talking about it.
Margaret: Do you remember the time Beulah found your Herpes medicine but just before she read the label identifying them as yours I kicked her in the kneecap and accused her of chronically huffing the paint thinner?
Lucius: Haha. Yeah, that had the potential of being the worst day of my life but it ended up being the best ever.
Margaret: Right. Now, what sort of secret is so shameful that you can’t tell it to someone who already knows you have a venereal disease?
Lucius: I’m watching the Bruins/Jets game instead of the Habs game.
Lucius: Hello? Are you still there?
Margaret: (coldly) You disgust me.
(Margaret hangs up the phone)
(Margaret’s cell phone rings. The ringtone is “Cowbell Dropped into a Wood-chipper” by Nine Inch Nails)
Margaret: (sigh) Hello.
Lucius: You push me to disclose a deep dark secret and then you make me feel like a creep. What the hell?
Margaret: Sorry, it was a kneejerk reaction. It triggered my gag reflex and I had to go rinse the taste of bile out of my mouth. Why the fuck are you watching Bruins games?
Lucius: To see them win
Lucius: Hello!?! Please don’t hang up on me again!
Margaret: I’m sorry, but you’re really throwing a heavy burden on my lap here. Why do you want to watch the Bruins win?
Lucius: Alright, well it all started while I was skimming stats on the playoffs. I came across an interesting footnote: with one exception, the minimum number of points needed to make the playoffs has been between 92 and 94 points since the lock-out. The one exception was Montreal with 88 points in 2009-2010.
Lucius: So I asked myself, what was so different that year? So I dug a little deeper and I learned that it was in part because the Western Conference owned its Eastern Conference rivals during the regular season play. It was so lopsided that seven out of the eight Western teams that made the playoffs had over 100 points. Buuuuut, there were also four teams in the east with 100 points or more including Washington with 121 points – the 2nd highest point total in the last decade.
Margaret: This what you do in your spare time?
Lucius: You talk to your cat in a baby voice. What’s your point?
Margaret: Please continue.
Lucius: That year also showed a distinct pack of leading teams that had distanced themselves from the rest of the league – after the 11 teams with 100 points or more, the 12th place in the league was Ottawa with 94 points. When there’s such a big gap between the leader pack and the rest of the teams it lowers the number of points required to hold 8th place.
Margaret: And you’re watching the Bruins because….?
Lucius: I’m watching Boston games because if current point trends hold, it will take 92 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. What’s more, New York, Boston and Philadelphia would have a 10 point advantage over the 4th placed team. If we consider the mediocre to piss-poor starts that these three teams had in October, we can assume that this gap could be even bigger and that 92 point minimum will be lower.
Another thing to consider is the news out of Pittsburgh that James Neal and Jordan Stall will miss significant time due to injury. I assume that they’ll drop out of play-off contention in the next few weeks. Currently, they’re the team projected to earn 92 points to claim 8th in the East.
Margaret: So if Boston, New York and Philadelphia dominate the Eastern Conference the rest of the teams will need fewer points to make the playoffs?
Lucius: Precisely. Those three teams will be playing over half of their remaining games against Eastern Conference teams that are 4th place or lower (29 out of 43 games for the Bruins, 26 out of 42 for the Rangers, and 27 out of 41 for the Flyers). The Canadiens will also be playing a total of 5 games against these three teams. That’s a potential gain of 10 points from now until the end of the season.
Margaret: Well…I’ve got the Habs game playing on mute and it almost looks like the Habs are timidly asking permission to have the puck. They’re showing no sign that they could take on the top teams in the east.
Lucius: The Blues are making them look bad because they’re rolling right now. Montreal doesn’t need to beat these good teams all the tim,e but they do need to beat them more often than the other teams competing for a playoff spot.
Margaret: So if they lose this game it isn’t the end of the season?
Lucius: Nope. Of course we want Montreal to win games first and foremost, but having the other teams lose is a second option that’s nearly as good as the first. Every time the Bruins beat an Eastern Conference team that is competing for the same playoff spot as us they’re actually helping the Canadiens’ playoff chances. So, if for nothing more than a change of pace, I’m going to avoid watching the Habs get their tender asses handed to them by the Blues and instead I’ll be cheering for a team that’ll more than likely win. Either a Habs’ win or an Eastern Conference team loss can help Montreal’s chances of making the playoffs.
Margaret: Well then! I guess it’s time to start cheering for the Bruins!
- Pat Wallis
Read more from Pat Wallis on his Al Carlin blog where this article was first published.