Monday, March 16, 2015

Seinfeldology - Opposite Personalities?,

Welcome to the first ever Seinfeldology, a new feature that will run once a week (or whenever I feel like it) on Caps Circle!

Seinfeldology is exactly like it sounds: an attempt to explain the Caps, NHL, or DC sports by looking to the greatest sitcom of all time: Seinfeld (ok, maybe not exactly like it sounds). First I'll explain the issue at hand; then I'll compare it to an episode or a scene from Seinfeld; and finally I'll break down what we can learn from Seinfeld as it pertains to the issue.

Now that the administrative part is out of the way, let's get started!

The Issue: Exchanging Slumps

Today, I'm focusing on the Caps and their opponents last night, the Boston Bruins. Coming into yesterday's game, the Caps had lost 3 of their last 4 at home, the lone win coming in a domination of tanking Buffalo. Boston, on the other hand, had won 5 in a row and 7 of their last 8 to help them come all the way back and wrest control of the higher wild card seed from the Caps.

Before these recent streaks, the Caps had dominated throughout the winter months, whereas Boston had stumbled and bumbled and at times looked like the biggest disappointment in the league this year, leading to doubts about whether they would even make it to the playoffs. The Caps, on the other hand, were all but a foregone conclusion to make the playoffs in at least the 7th seed, and possibly even one of the three top seeds in the division.

Now that the Caps have defeated the Bruins, it remains to be seen if the teams will exchange their slumps again. Caps fans will certainly be hoping that they do.

The Episode: The Opposite (Season 5, Episode 22)

The Season 5 finale is arguably the greatest episode in Seinfeld's run, and featured the show at the pinnacle of its quality. The episode's main storyline follows George and Elaine and their coincidental changing luck and all the humor it brings with it.

George's life has fallen hard in Season 5, having moved in with his parents, lost every job he's taken (including being a hand model), and simply not had anything go right. Elaine, on the other hand, is riding high with a promotion and a raise at work thanks to the company she works for, Pendant Publishing, merging with a big Japanese conglomerate.

In a twist, George decides to do the opposite of everything he has done in his life:

Ali Parr (YouTube)

The results are immediate. George suddenly has good luck with girls, gains confidence in himself, and even gets an executive job with the New York Yankees.

But to keep the universe in balance, Elaine's luck takes a turn for the worse as well. Her boyfriend dumps her when she stops to buy some Jujyfruits before meeting him at the hospital, and she ends up losing her job when her sick boss refuses to shake hands with the head of the Japanese company.

Two people exchanging their hard luck... seems familiar, doesn't it?

What Can We Learn?

In the Seinfeld universe, George and Elaine eventually reverted back to their rightful places in the show's totem pole. Despite being completely inept, George was able to keep his job with the Yankees for a few years, although the rest of his life took a turn for the worse. Elaine eventually got another job where she had a more important position and soon met David Puddy, the best TV hockey fan in history.

The Caps made some poor decisions, like Eliane did, and began to fall, while the Bruins raced up the Eastern Conference ladder. However, if last night and how Seinfeld turned out mean anything, we should soon see the pecking order restored with the Caps above the Bruins.

Don't panic, Caps fans. If Seinfeld is to be trusted, we'll still be #7 in the East.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Final: Pre-OV #1 4OT Loss to Pittsburgh vs. OV #1 Montreal Meltdown

We have reached the final of the Worst Moment in Capitals Playoff History (WMICPH) contest! Today we pit the worst moment of the Pre-OV Caps, the 4OT loss to Pittsburgh in 1996, against the worst moment of the OV-era Caps, the 2010 first round loss to Montreal, one of the biggest upsets in Caps (and maybe even NHL) history.

So, to quote Dave Dameshek, LET IT BEGIN!!!

The 1996 Caps were, arguably, overachievers who had scraped the 7th seed in the East. However, like always, the Caps played the Penguins tough. Going into Game 4, the Caps were up 2-1 in the series after sweeping both games at the Igloo. Had the Caps won the game, they would've had 3 tries to beat the Penguins. Assuming they did, their next round opponent would be the Flyers, who the Caps probably wouldn't have beaten. Even if they did, their next round opponent is either the Panthers or Rangers, both of whom had great seasons.
The 2010 version of the Caps represented perhaps the greatest Caps team in franchise history. After one of the most dominant seasons in recent history, the Caps were favorites to win the Stanley Cup, let alone get out of the first round. Had the Caps won the series, their next round opponent would be against a Philly team the Caps had swept in the regular season, and in the conference finals they would have either played the Bruins or Penguins, both of whom the Caps dominated in the regular season. At the very least, the Caps would have made it to the Cup finals for the second time in team history.
Overall the Montreal Meltdown going the other way would've been of greater importance than the 4OT loss going the other way.
Advantage: Montreal Meltdown

The 1996 loss was just another in a multitude of disappointing losses to the Penguins in the playoffs. This particular loss didn't have much of an impact on the Caps other than in Caps lore.
However, one could attribute the Caps changing into their defensive shell to the Montreal Meltdown, as well as the system change that led to Alex Ovechkin's slight decline over the next two seasons.
Advantage: Montreal Meltdown

Shock Factor:
Both of these were stunning losses, but for different reasons. The loss to Pittsburgh was shocking because of the circumstances in the game: the game was at home, Mario Lemieux left with an injury, Joe Juneau had the first ever playoff overtime penalty shot (and failed to score), and the Caps still couldn't pull it off. Heck, the GWG was courtesy of Petr Nedved, him of less than 10 career playoff goals at that point.
The Montreal loss was stunning because, not only were the Caps at home for Game 7, they were the best team in the league and had been up 3 games to 1 in the series. Plus, the Caps completely outshot the Canadiens.
Overall, this category is too close to call.
Advantage: Push

Grudge/Hate Factor:
Yeah, no, not a contest.
Advantage: 4OT Loss to Pittsburgh

Overall, the worst moment in Caps playoff history is the Montreal Meltdown. Thank you for joining me on this sad trip down memory lane, and chime in with what you think is the worst moment in Caps playoff history and if I missed a moment that should be added. Also, be sure to be on the lookout for more fun content from Caps Circle coming up as the Caps enter the stretch run into the playoffs!

OV Final: #1 Montreal Meltdown vs. #3 Shocked by the Lightning

The second semifinal match in the WMICPH contest is underway, as the infamous 2010 Montreal Meltdown takes on the little less infamous sweep in 2011 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The winner of this will take on the 4OT loss to Pittsburgh in the finals.

Let's jump right into it.

Both of these teams, 2010 and 2011, were ranked number one in the Eastern Conference, and represented what were probably this franchise's best opportunities to reach the SCF. I'd say that the Lightning loss was a bit more important based on the fact that it was in the second round, and it was after the Caps had changed their team identity to that of a more defensive one, and this second point probably led to Bruce Boudreau's dismissal in 2012.
Advantage: Lightning Shocker

The impact sort of goes along with importance, but Montreal has evened the playing field a little in this one. The impact of the Meltdown was the franchise facelift that saw the team switch directions into a defensive style and led to Alex Ovechkin's two-year slump. The Lightning Shocker would eventually lead to Bruce Boudreau's firing, but that can be attributed to other factors as well.
Advantage: Montreal Meltdown

Shock Factor:
This is not even close. While Tampa was not supposed to win, they dominated the entire series, whereas Montreal won as an 8th seed after being down 3-1 in the series. Again, not even close.
Advantage: Montreal Meltdown

Grudge/Hate Factor:
Whether it is all the years as division rivals, the two disappointing playoff losses, or something else completely, Caps fans just can't stand Tampa Bay.
Advantage: Lightning Shocker

In the end, the Montreal Meltdown wins a tight one, with the sheer unpredictability of the loss sending Caps fans into dismay and completely changing the OV-Era Caps for the next few years. It makes one wonder what would have happened if the Caps hadn't run into an impossibly hot goalie; would the Caps still be in search of the first Stanley Cup in team history?

Come back soon to see if the Montreal Meltdown was worse than the 4OT loss to Pittsburgh in the finals of WMICPH contest!