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The feeling today is like a combination of the last day of school before summer break, Christmas Eve, all 8 days of Hanukah combined, the last day of Ramadan, and the time we were preparing to fly to Montreal for a Penguins game, just before Artistry realized his passport had expired. The NHL playoffs are about to begin. And once the Islanders and Penguins face off on Wednesday night, reason will once again take a backseat to an avalanche of raw, unfiltered, steaming emotion. That's why we need to analyze this match-up right here, right now. Who has the advantage? GTOG gives you the Tale of the Tape.
1. Obstacle Overcomeability
This category honors Ben Roethlisberger, who we revere most for his Obstacle Overcomability (this is true even though he creates his own obstacles, whether a 3-interception first-half or an ankle, rib, head, or knee). We ask ourselves, if either one of these teams finds itself in a 2-0 or 3-1 hole or suffers an injury to a star player, which one is more likely to persevere in the face of adversity?
The Islanders have one legitimate star player: John Tavares. It's very hard to imagine the Islanders winning a single period, let alone a game, if he gets hurt. No team with only one star player has ever had said star player go down with an injury immediately prior to playing a No. 1 seed and then proceeded to beat the No. 1 seed in a Game 7 on the road, have they? Hold a moment. Really? We're being told that, yes, that did happen, but only one time. What's that? It happened the last time the Islanders played a No. 1 seeded Pens team? OK, fair enough. But David Volek is 46-years-old.
The Pens, on the other hand, had a stretch late in the season where they were missing a veritable all-star starting five (Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Letang, Martin) and still looked like a No. 1 seed. That, friends, is Obstacle Overcomeability.
This is a new category, and now that it's here, we're not sure how we ever lived without it. It spans the terrain from scalp to chin, and it starts with the head coaches. Yes, Dan Bylsma is balding, but he's doing it with confidence and sass. Jack Capuano's hair would keep memories of 1993 alive even if we burned the tape. As for the playoff beards to come, who on the Islanders has any experience with this? Nabokov? He wears a mask. This isn't really a competition when Pascal Dupuis is on the bench.
3. Game Breakability
Our superstars are better than their superstars. When it comes to the Penguins, this is always going to be the answer as long as Geno and Sid walk the earth like Caine in Kung Fu. But Sid will be coming off a broken jaw and Geno has 9 goals in an injury-plagued campaign. Tavares is a legit MVP candidate at 22, he's got a true sniper on his wing in Moulson, and Grabner is coming on the third line ready to take advantage of what will probably often be a match-up against a neutral-zone challenged Crankshaft. The Pens might steamroll this team, but it won't be because they dare the Islanders' top-end talent to beat them.
"Tavares, we live in a world that has boards and those boards need to be worked by men with sticks. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Okposo? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself to a man who wishes he could rise and sleep under the blanket of the very leadership I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said, "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you come into the corner with me and throw a check. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to." -- Brenden Morrow.
5. Ability to be Ledability
Will the Islanders follow Mark Streit? Of course. They don't know any better. Mark Streit could be like, guys, let's get a sandwich at Jimmy John's before the game, it's the best sandwich in Pittsburgh, and they probably would. For better or worse, they're eager to be led, and if a leader raised his hand, they will fall in line.
Will the Pens follow? Can leaders also follow? If so, who will they follow? Iginla? Morrow? Orpik? Navy Seal Craig Adams? What happens when the Captain returns? What if Iginla is following Morrow while Morrow is following Sid while Sid is following Iginla? Is that like a Chinese Finger-trap of leadership?
6. Deep Downability
This category is about depth. Which team can better exploit match-up up and down the roster? Which team has a 4th liner who can step up in the third OT? Let's not belabor this. The Penguins will likely scratch either Tyler Kennedy - who has scored 20 goals in this league and a not insignificant amount of huge goals in the playoffs - or wunderkind Beau Bennett. Jussi Jokinen will soon be the 4th line center. Jarome Iginla is just hanging out waiting for passes in the faceoff circle. The Islanders have former WBS person Colin MacDonald on the third line.
|On our podcast, Eric the Islanders fan said Colin MacDonald was brought in to be the captain. Of Bridgeport.|
7. Grind Bitches Downability a/k/a Crankshaftability
The playoffs are a grind. There are no easy games, there are no easy shifts. As a series progresses, one goal is to win, but another is to wear down your opponent so if you get to a sixth or seventh game, maybe you've already won. The Islanders are fast, yes, but they won't have Pens defensemen looking over their shoulders in the corners. The Penguins have Kunitz, Dupuis, Cooke, Morrow, Iginla, Adams, and Neal catapulting themselves into unsuspecting depth defensemen. To the families of Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald: we're so sorry in advance for your loss.
8. Sex Appealability
Always a crucial category, for which we rely exclusively on the expertise of the Women of GTOG. [Cosmo has recognized Tavares and Kris Letang on its list of hot hockey players, but Cosmo has also so recognized Phil Kessel, so our advice is to stick with the Women of GTOG]. Mrs. Artistry and Artistry's Mom, please do the honors.
Mrs. A: "Pretty cute family man."
Artistry's Mom: "He looks like Woody Harrelson."
Mrs. A: [grimace, head shake] "No. He looks like somebody facing federal charges."
Artistry's Mom: "Sex appealability? Really?"
Mrs. A: "Good looking and the dog doesn't hurt."
Artistry's Mom: "Not bad!"
Mrs. A: "Ewww. is he a Capital?"
Artistry's Mom: "He looks like a Chechnyan terrorist."
Mrs. A: "I want to party with them."
Artistry's Mom: "I am a sucker for men who like children."
Mrs. A: "Hideous."
Artistry's Mom: "Fu manchu look is beyond unacceptable."
9. Fancy Statsability
Does the advanced stat community like the Penguins?
@gtogfinesse Yes, ~80% probability Pens win.That seems low. And there is an 80% probability Neil Greenberg is messing with us.
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) May 1, 2013
1975. 1982. 1993. It's high time we exorcised these ghosts.
There you have it, everyone. Pens win 8-1-1. The Tale of the Tape never lies.
Pens in 5.
We're live tonight on GTOG Radio after the game. LGP. GTOG.