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02-02-2014, 01:41 PM
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The last 10 games have seen us post the second most points (14) in the conference and fifth most in the league. We've gone from "out-of-it" to on the fringe of "in-it". Except for last year, we've been "in-it" since 2004, only missing the playoffs last year and 2008 (the year after the sell-off and even then hung until the last game of the season).

Being "in-it" is the first and most important threshold of Fandome. It provides meaningful games, a reason to watch other teams as their losses are as important as our wins, and provides the all-important intangible called "hope".

Last year was a brisk slap in the face for Pred fans accustomed to being "in-it". Old school, multi-sport fans like myself are painfully aware of the "Walking Dead" plight of an "out-of-it" fan experience. You shut yourself off from highlight shows, blogs, message boards (except to complain), and even attending/watching games. You settle for draft dribble about the next hotshot you can draft if you just keep losing. You miss all the things you cherish about Fandome. Like Fan Zombie's, we're left to stumble around in a unsatisfying, lifeless trance, appearing to be alive, but secretly hoping it'll all end soon.

Which brings us one week from the Olympic Break, a unique reckoning point of each teams "in-it-ness". The green eye shade numbers say we have a 5.4% chance. We need 91 points to have a 44.8% chance. That's 32 points in the last 25 games. This feels daunting for a team that has been allergic to getting over .500. We have almost no Top 6 forwards and we're riding an AHL goalie like SeaBiscuit. So, why do we even rise to the level of "Fringe In-it": Our last 10 games, the fall of the Canucks, and the stumbling of the Yotes, Stars, Wild, and even the Kings. With the new playoff format (top 3 from each Division, then two wild cards), the Nucks, Yotes and Kings will fight it out for the #3 seed in the Pacific. The losers of that fight (likely the Nucks & Yotes) are only 4 points ahead of our Pesky Preds, with one game in hand (Nucks) and 3 points with two games in hand (Yotes). The Mild are 6 points ahead of us with the same number of games. Then there's the irritant of having to jump the Stars, which we're tied with but give up two games in hand, and fend off the Jets behind us.

To put this race in baseball terms, we're at most 3 games out with 25 to play. There are 7 teams fighting for 3 spots. Nucks/Kings/Yotes for #6 seed, then 6 teams fighting for 2 remaining spots. Is it likely we'll prevail? No. Is it plausible? Sure.

Here's why. If we play the last 25 games at the rate of the last 10, we'll post 35 points, totaling 94 points. According to the stat geeks, we'll have an 87.9% chance of making it with 94 points. Can we go 6-2-2 for the next 10, and then the next 10, and then 3-1-1 in the last 5? Probably not, but we've done it for 10 games under less-than-ideal circumstances. We sacrificed 2 games at the alter of Devan Dubnyk's horrid goal-tending. Trotz has learned his lesson. Hutton played back-to-back this weekend, even though he let in two softies in Game #1. That's what our mediocre goal-tending has come to. We lost Cullen and Stals. We're playing Clune!!!!

Here's the blueprint: Split the last two before the Break, preferably beat the Mild. Play Peks in Mke in rehab starts during the Break. Pekka comes back, shakes the rust, and gives us near-Pekka level goal-tending, with a battle-tested Hutton backing him up. We win most of the 4 point games against the Mild, Nucks, Stars, and Yotes. Let the Pacific teams beat each other up, while not having any blow out the others. We get at least 91 points and hope it all falls into place.

Even if we fall short, being "in-it" for March/April is a blessing given how we got there. We've been preparing ourselves for irrelevancy so anything is a plus.

Note of caution: Don't fall prey to the "play for a lottery pick cuz we're one-and-done at best". If we sneak in, anything can happen. We'd likely play the Ducks or Hawks. We play them both well and how fun would the underdog role be?

Trust me, I'm not delusional. This is a long shot, but geez, why deprive yourself of the possibility. Why protect yourself from caring and losing. Invest in the chances, enjoy rooting against the 7 other teams, and take it day-to-day. Just hang around. Remember, all these other teams have Pred-like flaws. We're not trying the catch the Hawks or Ducks. Who would have thought the Canucks would go 3-7 (6 pts) while we went 6-2-2 (14 pts) over the last 10 games: an 8 point swing in 10 games. We’ve got 25 games to work with.

Stuff Happens. Enjoy the ride.

ILikeItILoveIt is offline