It’s time once again for hockey blogging, or, as we call it, “hogging”! As CT’s only resident hockey blogger, it naturally falls to me to explain precisely what will happen in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. As usual, I will provide precise and preternaturally accurate predictions about the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and I will challenge Scott “Scotty” Lemieux to do the same for the West.
OK, those of you who clicked the first link have now learned that my first-round picks last year were a jumbo package of epic fail. But don’t forget, I’ve had my moments. And I did say that last year’s finals would be Penguins-Hawks, and I still think that’s what should have happened in the end, so I was kind of right about that too, except for the Penguins part. So, without further ado:
Washington Capitals (1) v. New York Rangers (8). Is this finally the Caps’ year? I find it impossible to root against them, given their recent playoff history, and yet I ran into Rod Gilbert last month as he was emerging from a restaurant on East 62nd Street and told him that I’d been in his hockey camp in 1970 and 1971 and still have my autographed copy of his autobiography, so I can’t root against the Rangers either. If I lie open to the pressure of society I often succeed with the dexterity of my tongue in putting something difficult into the currency. See my little toys, twisted out of nothing in a second, how they entertain. I am no hoarder—I shall leave only a cupboard of old clothes when I die—and I am almost indifferent to the minor vanities of life which cause Louis so much torture. But I have sacrificed much. Veined as I am with iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud, I cannot contract into the firm fist which those clench who do not depend upon stimulus. Capitals in five.
Philadelphia Flyers (2) v. Buffalo Sabres (7). Philly comes in badly banged up, but still dangerous, and the Sabres, as ever, are talented but inconsistent. At least they’ve gotten rid of that hideous Slug! They moan, passing upon the clouds, horned and capricorned, the trumpeted with the tusked, the lionmaned the giantantlered, snouter and crawler, rodent, ruminant and pachyderm, all their moaning multitude, murderers of the sun. Onward to the dead sea they tramp to drink, unslaked and with horrible gulpings, the salt somnolent inexhaustible flood. And the equine portent grows again, magnified in the deserted heavens, nay to heaven’s own magnitude, till it looms, vast, over the house of Virgo. Flyers in six.
Boston Bruins (3) v. Montreal Canadiens (6). The seventy-ninth matchup between these Original Six rivals promises to be explosive. Outside it’s getting cold and if you don’t have someplace you really want to be you wish you did because it’s cold, suggesting the beginning of winter in New England, suggesting that this winter, when you have to go anywhere, the streets will trap you in a mouse-maze of painful cold, suggesting that you will need to buy a sweater or two that you don’t have the money for. You hope at least that you’ll get a phone call from a friend who wants to talk for a long time, so that you can bring the phone near the bed and get under the comforter and talk. Outside it’s getting cold, colder than you would expect after such a warm afternoon, when people were lying on the grass reading in the sun. Bruins in seven.
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) v. Tampa Bay Lightning (5). It’s insane that the Penguins are still legitimate Cup contenders without their two best players. Think of the mid-90s Bulls without Jordan and Pippen, or the early-00s Lakers without Shaq and Kobe. And yet here they are, facing a team that didn’t show up on anyone’s preseason radar and that features Methuselah in goal. The woman who I’m sending knows all about you. We have spent many nights reminiscing about you and laughing about your ingenuous kindnesses and social clumsiness. She is impressed by your poems and surmises that, as a child, you must have been force fed like farm poultry. Of course she is drifting very peaceably now right towards you. It’s a fine sunny day. She and the raft look marvelous, rocking in the tide. She is doing her impersonation of an automobile showroom. You would enjoy it very much. Lightning in six.
Scott, I think I’ve said everything I needed to say. Over to you.