Don’t Hedge Your Bets: Our Guide to Caps-Bruins

There’s a lot riding on tonight’s appointment with the Bruins, and it all merits serious discussion. Unfortunately, the Russian Machine is staffed by morons, so we’re going to swap genuine gravitas with overblown stupidity.

If the Caps win tonight, they will break the team’s record for consecutive games won (10, by the 83-84 Caps). They will also break the Bruins’ record for consecutive games lost (8, by the 56 Bruins). The Caps team is playing at their acme right now, whereas the Bruins are hoping they’ve already hit rock bottom. What does this portend for tonight’s game?

Well, if you flip a coin, your chances of getting heads are the same from one toss to another. Ideally, all binary competitions (one winner and one loser) would be like this. If the principle could be extended to sports, the Caps would likely win tonight just because they are the better team objectively. But first we much deal with a few others factors, and also, we must maul intelligent statistical theory until the results please us.  Please join us behind the jump.

I. Advantages

Momentum. The Caps have momentum of the winning kind, the Bruins of the losing. At this risk of spurring the ire of physics nerds, inertia dictates that teams that suck will continue to suck.  Put another way: the Caps might win tonight because they’re in the habit of winning. The last two games could have easily been lost if not for some unquantifiable, mystical winning-ness. Maybe the guys are visualizing their victory and using the power of positive thought to actualize it. Maybe Bruce Boudreau is reaping the benefits of sage training.  Either way, the Caps are in the mode to win.

Daddy. The Caps’ dads have joined them on their trip up to New England. Right now, they’re all getting soused at the Sam Adams brewery tour. In most people’s experience, a drunk father would criticize you about your hair, clothes, video-gaming habits, career prospects, handshake firmness, political orientation, or car maintenance skills. But the Washington Capitals are world-class athletes whose fathers must be immeasurably proud. The good tiding shared by their forebearers may lift the Caps to a win.

The Doors. Craig Laughlin said that his winning ’84 team used to get focused by listening to The Doors’ “Break on Through to the Other Side”. Well, at the risk of influencing tonight’s result…

II. Disadvantages

“They’re due.” This is the flip side of the momentum argument above, and it too is characterized by a stunning lack of logic. The Bruins haven’t lost this long since the fifties; they’re not going to blow it now. The Caps have won as many as they can, it’s time to let the streak die a noble death. In the coin-toss scenario, that the Bruins have lost eight straight would not affect the chances of losing the next match. But hockey ain’t coin tossing. In this case, the “head” side of the coin is furiously motivated to win, whereas the “tails” side just sort expects it to happen. The further a team descends into a streak of either kind, the less likely it seems they will continue.

Barely squeaking by. Some of the last ten games have been blowouts. Doubling up over the Pens, for example, felt like a particularly well formed blowout. But the games against the Panthers and Lightning have found the Caps playing not at their peak, but managing to eke out a win somehow. If your average winning margin decreases, you’re trending towards imminent loss. Will tonight find the Capitals on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the first time in over a month?

Records are records for a reason. They’re hard to break. Is anyone closing in on Cal Ripken’s consecutive games played record? No one knows why, but some force kept the Red Sox away from winning the World Series for 86 years. Let’s name that force excellence.  To win tonight the Caps must prove their excellence exceeds the opposing force presented by the record. To lose tonight the Bruins must be beyond excellent at losing.  Tonight’s decision is not which his the better team, but which team’s excellence is proportionately greater than the excellence of its record?

Confused yet?  Good.  Me, too.  I’m just making this up as I go along.  Drink something brown and stored in a barrel.  It’ll start making more sense when you’re as besotted as “Grandpa Nasty” Schultz.

III. Conclusions

We’d like to think that Caps will win tonight’s game because they’ve got momentum.  But to believe that a previous appointment will affect a new appointment is known as the gambler’s fallacy; however, we all believe that momentum counts for something in sports– even if we cannot quantify it. Even if the influence of the last win on the next game is marginal, we admit it exists. Contrapositively, we must also admit the presence of the “being due” principle, the efficacy of which is probably just as marginal. This entire paragraph has been a cop-out, and I’ve scammed you into reading it.

Here’s the bottom line. I’m wearing the damned shirt (8-0-0).


We’re winning this one. The team has the attitude, fundamentals, and familial support needed to break a record.  My prediction to blogiarch Ian Oland is a 4-3 win (GWG by Semin) for the Caps. Ian predicts a 9-0 win (GWG by Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin).  That’s right: the fabled triple hat trick.

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  • Your Nation’s Capital

    AO is four points away from 500 and Sid dropped a hattie last night. You do the math.