In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like the Poindexters and figure filberts who knew all along that the roundly dismissed Canadiens were dangerous.
Last night, the Habs became the ninth No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1, and the first to do so after falling behind 3-1 in the series. ESPN is already declaring the Capitals' loss a "collapse of historic proportions," presumably on the order of the '94 Red Wings in San Jose and the '45 Nazis at the Oder River. "Defying all logic," Scott Burnside writes, "the NHL best regular-season team by a country mile folded in spectacular fashion," a "fall from grace" that left the "morguelike" Capitals' dressing room with "the distinct odor of barnyard." He's talking about goats, you see.
There was a logic, though. The numbers wonks could see it. They looked at the Caps' fat pile of goals this year and saw a lot of straw. Behind the Net's Olivier Bouchard, previewing the series, found in the cells of a spreadsheet a healthy-at-long-last Habs team that had pulled far closer to the Capitals in the season's final 30 games than anyone had realized. (Bouchard was wrong about the series only in that he predicted Canadiens in six.) And finally, here's Puck Prospectus, playing around with a VORP-y little gewgaw called GVT (for Goals Versus Threshold) and identifying the Canadiens as the fifth-best team in the playoffs, second-best in the East:
Translation? The second through fourth seeds––Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Buffalo––should be wishing for anyone but Montreal in the first round, because those are upsets in the making. And, believe it or not, the Habs might just be making the Capitals sweat out a long series in round number two. And from there on…You never know.
Montreal? Nous croyons.
The statheads are taking a lap around the ice today, and well they should, given all that cane-shaking stupidity directed their way in recent weeks. This one's for the boys in the basement. Nerds? Nous croyons.
Drawing via The Montreal Gazette.