Loose Change: The 2008 Playoffs – A Pessimist’s Guide

They say one of the keys to life is to aim low and avoid disappointment. This would explain George Clooney being with that Girls Gone Wild chick instead of, say, the Queen of Belgium or the entire WNBA.

You, the loyal, but terribly-worrisome fan now stand at the precipice of the NHL Playoffs and wonder how your beloved squad – with an entire third line formed from a federal government make-work program – will overcome a 42-point deficit in the standings and beat a team that has a backup backup goalie.

Truth is, your chances are pretty bleak, which would explain the undertaker now on the team payroll. The best way to embark on this daunting journey is to realize your coat has enormous holes in it and you have no shoes. Aside from that, things are looking up.

Here now, is a pessimist’s guide to your team’s, uh, “chances.”

Montreal Canadiens – Yes, history is on your side, but The Rocket is holding a harp now. You have a rookie in net, – a strategy that has worked before – but that might be a lot to ask of a 12-year-old. Your captain is also on the sideline with a boo-boo, so direction will have to come from one Alexei Kovalev. Of course, he tends to turtle more than a turtle. And Guillaume Latendresse? That name alone would take up two sections on the Cup.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Crosby, Malkin and Hossa? If only this were PlayStation. Marc-Andre Fleury sounds more like a wrestler than a goalie. Thank goodness you have the leadership of Gary Roberts, although you will need someone to fortify his walker…

Washington Capitals – Alex Ovechkin, we’re banking on you, buddy. We need you to score, hit, work the PP, play big minutes on the PK, block shots, tie skates, work the concession stands and maybe even clean the toilets. You do have that guy from France in goal to help you out, too. If you can’t decide between the Chardonnay and the Beaujolais, Huet’s the man. Dennis Maruk is also on stand-by.

New Jersey Devils – You can always count on Marty Brodeur. And since he’s 13 pounds heavier that means, I guess, there’s that much more of him to count on. I’m not sure a team of Hobbits has ever won the Stanley Cup, though. If you’re going to get there, you’re going to have to be willing to battle – by there I mean The Prudential Center, and by battle I mean, dodge gunfire.

New York Rangers – You hate the Devils like the world hates New Jersey. Of course, they win all the time and you tend to win in half-century cycles. On the plus side, that puts you almost 30 years ahead of schedule. And with the Devils being just a Yonkers-spit away, you will save a lot of money on transportation costs, although the subway will make your equipment smell even worse.

Philadelphia Flyers – Years ago you could scare the bejezus out of opponents, now you have Sami Kapanen wowing them with balloon animals. First line scoring comes from a Mighty Mouse and a guy who has trouble remembering the playoffs (or his phone number) most days. Niittymaki is very valuable – assuming the game is Scrabble.

Ottawa Senators – Go Nashville!

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Boston Bruins – You play the Canadiens, eh? Great historical precedence to motivate you here. I cite the case of Bunny v. Sherman Tank. They have two Kostitsyns and all you can offer up is a Lucic and a Sturm. Better fold.

Detroit Red Wings – If only The Presidents’ Trophy came with super powers. I would give you the power to see through walls and act tough against oversized Ducks. By all rights, Hasek should be a belligerent old man running a deli in Saginaw by now. But, he’s just belligerent, and damaged – more than a paper mache speed bump.

San Jose Sharks –
Stop the teasing! I mean it. Every year it’s the same thing: entice us with a dominating regular season performance; enter the playoffs like a peacock in a tuxedo; then proceed to lick your collective wounds. Do us a favor and pull the cord early this year. The autopsies aren’t nearly as long that way.

Minnesota Wild – You’re more Vikings than Twins. Yeah, your building is a tough place to play in, but Minneapolis is a tough place to live in, unless you have excess hair and walk on all fours. Your on-ice style is reminiscent of the Devils – minus the talent, depth, execution and championships. You do have red in your logo though. That’s a start.

Anaheim Ducks – Champions simply don’t repeat. You’d like to believe you’ve been there so you should know how to get back. You’d like to believe you still have all the tools. You’d like to believe last year wasn’t just an aberration. Hey look, a unicorn.

Dallas Stars –
I’m not sure basing your faith on Mike Ribeiro is a smart thing – unless it’s a spirited game of Hide and Seek. Brad Richards was a Conn Smythe winner with Tampa. They thought so much of him he’s now a Star. Marty Turco tends to come up big in the playoffs, much like excess tequila tends to come up big from an unsettled stomach.

Colorado Avalanche – Your team needs only one thing to win it all this year: a Time Machine.

Calgary Flames – If you don’t count Florida, Boston, Vancouver and St. Louis, coach Mike Keenan has an impeccable track record. And that old guy in the corner being kept alive on a respirator was around the last time the Flames won anything. He said – actually coughed out in Morse Code – the key to winning it all is to getting the puck to Nattress. What the hell’s a Nattress?

Nashville Predators – On the plus side, emotional trauma is great fodder for the blues…and this is Nashville.

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN’s hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie’s cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

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