April 4, 2001
Losing When You Should Win, Winning When You Should Lose
Well, enough about my job... let's talk sports.
As I've said elsewhere, I've become a big hockey fan -- my Impulse Buy of the Month is a replica of the Penguins alternate jersey -- so I'm following the last games leading into the playoffs very closely. The Pens had been on a bit of a tear, winning four in a row and playing a defensive scheme called the left-wing lock. Less restrictive than the neutral-zone trap, but it also allows them to flex their offensive muscle.
Anyway, on this gour-game winning streak, they beat some good teams: The New Jersey Devils, currently the best team in the Eastern Conference; the Buffalo Sabers, the East's current number five seed; then came a gimme against the out-of-contention Chicago Blackhawks; and a win against the St. Louis Blues, the fourth seed in the West. So you could say they're firing on all cylinders.
Then they played a game against the New York Islanders. The Isles are the worst team in the league -- literally -- with a 21-48-7 record. They're 53 points behind the division-leading Devils. In baseball terms, that's 26-1/2 games back. Hockey only plays an 82-game season, half that of baseball. These guys suck.
And they're the only team in the Atlantic Division with a winning record against the Pens. New Jersey, the best team in the East? Just under .500 at 1-2-2. The Philadelphia Flyers (with a 41-24-11 record) are 1-3 against Pittsburgh, with a game remaining. The Rangers, missing the playoffs by a few points? Also lost the season series to the Pens. Just the lowly Islanders.
The Penguins do this really annoying thing called playing down to the level of the competition. They don't take a team seriously, and get caught flat-footed and wind up sweating it out (or losing).
So I'm hoping that the Pens are always the low seed. They're currently sixth in the East (the top eight teams go) so they'll be the underdogs just about anywhere they go.
Which is probably the best thing that could happen to them.
Lets go, Pens!