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Karma, Superstitions and the Caps…

April 13, 2011

… Or How I’ve Singlehandedly Won and Lost Capitals Playoff Games

The horn blew ending the second period, and a dejected Verizon Center crowd filed into the concourse to attempt to digest giving up three straight Flyers goals in four minutes setting the stage for a 4-2 uphill climb to kickoff Game 1’s final stanza.

I turned to Berg to curse Donald Briere just in time to catch him slipping into an unorthodox, and typically frowned upon second intermission booze-induced slumber.

“Is he serious?” I wondered. “How could he possibly consider sleeping when the 18,397 other people in this building were venting about how they want the last ten minutes back.” As I reached out to shake him, it hit me. Letting him sleep might just be the move we needed to generate the karma necessary to turn the game around. It might just be something we would look back on, as The Moment Our Luck Changed.

Jumping around on Fun Street with Adrian Fenty an hour later, we wouldn’t point to Green’s two strong goals (one of which was slightly bush league). We didn’t even credit Ovie’s game winner and first ever playoff goal, which remains the most wild playoff goal I’ve seen live.

Of course, it was Berg’s uninterrupted nap that was the difference.

On the eve of the 2011 edition of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s important for me to run through what I’ve learned over the years, and particularly since that day, about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to winning a playoff game. Nobody wants to forget the failures of the past, and unknowingly set out on a brisk trot toward disaster.

There are two ways to kick off a superstition – after a big win, or following a particularly traumatic loss. Just as I Berg will always have the “as necessary second intermission nap,” I have my “nothing but a jersey to a playoff game” rule.

Last year, I went to my first ever Caps potential series clinching game. Big moment. However, it fell on a weekend evening and instead of opting for my Ovechkin jersey, I decided to rock the red in my favorite red polo. In other words, I placed my desire to protect my beloved Ovechkin jersey from the perils of a night at the bar above supporting the team, and propelling them into the next round. Terrible attitude and a big mistake. The rest, as they say, is history.

The past, though, is best left in the past. Let’s stay positive and take a look at some winning strategies.

Everyone is aware of the tried and true gold standards for NHL superstitions. For instance, there’s the playoff beard. It’s a widely understood truth that the team with the best collection of scraggly facial hair is most likely to lift the Stanley Cup. This, unfortunately, is terrible news for the Caps since Ovie is contractually obligated by Gillette to maintain a cleanly shaven face. Bruce Boudreau, Caps head coach, has his own non-beard superstitions, which, it’s rumored, also include not eating McDonald’s before a game, and the old reliable “same article of clothing throughout a win streak” move.

As a particularly superstitious individual, I have my own observances. Tomorrow, as Maddie and I venture to this year’s Game 1, the first of many, not only will I obviously have my jersey on in the stands, but I’ll be observing a few things myself. Aside from lucky underwear (standard), tomorrow I’ll listening to nothing but movie soundtracks on my iPod (all about The Natural and Last of the Mohicans), enjoying anything but California Tortilla for dinner (never goes well “before, during… and after the game”), and we’ll be entering the Phone Booth through the North Entrance (not seeing anybody at the Turtle).

Should be a good one. Hopefully, Berg packed his Tylenol PM. Just in case.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dan permalink
    April 13, 2011 11:57 am

    On the flip-side: Caps playoff strategy different than last two runs, but consistent with season strategy

    Awesome that you’re going to the game tonight…rock that Ovie jersey!

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