The Penguins seem to officially be darlings again, almost unanimously picked to advance past the speed-bump Capitals. Remember when the Pens were going to miss the playoffs, and we were all ready to be spared from having to hear Sidney Crosby and his enabler hockey pundits talk about “overcoming adversity” or “facing adversity”, perhaps the most over-used phrases (with “it is what it is” coming in a close second) in all of sport? Those were nice days, days in which we might have dreamed of the Pens merely being relegated to talk of moves to Kansas City, days in which they might have again been abandoned by their supposed non-fairweather fans, who are of course superior to the all-bandwagon crowd filling Verizon Center.
However, in all of the renewed christening of the golden boy and his golden team, there may be a voice of sanity in the unlikely mulleted form of Barry Melrose. We all remember Barry, right? He made a trip to Washington mere days before his 16-game tenure behind the Tampa Bay Lightning bench ended. Well, over at 5-hole.com, amidst a summary of overwhelming predictions of a second-round Penguins’ triumph vs. the Capitals, Barry and Pierre LeBrun stand alone as the only prognosticators willing to vouch for at least the possibility of a Washington victory.
What’s the point, you might rightfully ask? Well, a look back at predictions for Round 1 of the playoffs will reveal Melrose as the only one out of 18 expert predictors (including a monkey, who, incidentally, likes the Caps’ chances) who forecast Anaheim to knock off presumed Cup finalist San Jose. So he predicted, so it came to pass (and note the Capitals vs. Capitals phenomenon amidst the Yahoo! experts).
Maybe this guy is on to something. Maybe he knows something the rest of the expert hockey-predicting world doesn’t. Maybe he realizes that just because a #2 seed took a game or two longer than expected to knock off a #7 seed which possessed one of the East’s best defenses (if one of the worst offenses) and a goalie with series-stealing capability (as we were many, many, many times told), it doesn’t necessarily mean they are doomed by the prospect of facing Brooks Orpik and M-A F.
So, thank you, Barry (and, to a lesser degree, Pierre, since you predicted it would take the full seven games for the Caps to advance and face the Hurricanes in a paradox-causing all-SE-Division Conference Finals), for not falling blindly into another premature coronation of the Penguins. Your prediction is a refreshing WAS in an otherwise bleak world of PIT.