Friday, May 19, 2006

The Former Cap Factor

I've finally figured it out - and it's been right there under my nose all this time. The key to Stanley Cup Playoff success isn't goaltending. It's not special teams or depth. It's something much simpler: in any given series, the team that is further removed from the Washington Capitals is most likely going to win the series. Let's call it the Former Cap Factor, or FCF, and set the parameters:
  1. If one team has fewer former Capitals than its opponent, it is most likely going to win any given series.
  2. If teams have the same number of former Capitals, the team with the fewer games played for the Capitals is most likely going to win any given series.
  3. If neither team has a former Capital and one team has a former Capital head coach behind the bench, that team is most likely to lose any given series.
  4. If both teams have former Capital head coaches, the team with the fewer games coached for the Capitals is most likely going to win any given series.
  5. If neither team has a former Capital or former Capital head coach, the team with the fewer former Capital draft picks is most likely going to win any given series.
Basically the fewer connections a team has to the Caps and the weaker those connections are, the better. So how has the FCF played out in the playoffs so far? Let's take a look:

First Round:
  • Ottawa (no former Caps on the roster) defeated Tampa (and former Cap draft pick/farmhand Tim Taylor)
  • Carolina (no former Caps) defeated Montreal (Richard Zednik and Jan Bulis combined to play 438 games for the Caps, dooming the Habs from the outset)
  • New Jersey (with one former Cap, Ken Klee) defeated the Rangers (who never stood a chance, what with two former Caps in Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander)
  • Buffalo (with Mike Grier, a veteran of 150 games as a Cap) broke the mold and defeated Philly (who has no former Caps)
  • Edmonton (no former Caps) upset Detroit (and former Caps Robert Lang and Jason Woolley)
  • Colorado (playing without injured former Cap Steve Konowalchuk but with former Cap Andrew Brunette) somehow downed Dallas (no former Caps)
  • Anaheim (and former Cap, albeit for only 33 games, Jeff Friesen) upset Calgary (and 320-game Cap veteran Chris Simon)
  • San Jose (no former Caps) upset Nashville (and former Cap blueline mainstay Brendan Witt)
So in Round 1, six out of the eight series ended up the same way you would have predicted, had you applied the FCF. Interesting, but not convincing. Yet.

Second Round:
  • Buffalo continued to go against the FCF in defeating Ottawa (though Ottawa is coached by former Caps bench-boss Bryan Murray, clearly lowering its immunity).
  • Carolina worked Ken Klee and the Devils.
  • Edmonton upset San Jose... coached by none other than Ron Wilson, a veteran of 410 games behind the Caps' bench.
  • Anaheim (recall 33 former Cap games) swept Colorado (755 former Cap games).
Round 2, like Round 1, came in at a 75% confirmation rate.

Now there are two series left. The FCF holds that Edmonton will beat Anaheim and Carolina will down Buffalo (though Buffalo has shown itself to be immune from the FCF over the first two rounds). We shall see what happens, but this analysis sure is a heck of a lot easier than matching up teams fourth-line wingers and face-off specialists.

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