ESPN's Arash Markazi is More Certain Than I Would Be

What is it with sports writers and bold declarations? Having just gone through it with the Vancouver Sun obituary, I find this ESPN post-mortem (link in the box), and I keep thinking, don't these people know that there is a high degree of randomness built into hockey? Don't they know that one game may or may not turn out to be a turning point, or a death knell (etc.) when we look back on it -- after the series is over -- but when the series is still going, it's just guesswork signifying nothing? The Canucks were on their "last leg" two games ago, now the Kings are "doomed." I guess they have to write something.

I personally don't know how the series will play out, and I don't know what it will mean when it plays out however it does. But to make concrete declarations about what is so certain to happen next that it basically already has happened...I don't might turn out to be right, but, flip a coin, you might not. If you're right, does that mean you were right to be so certain about being right? Or is it what we call a Gettier Problem, where -- like my mother-in-law, you're right by accident?

I'm too tired to dig into the ESPN essay in much detail. So I'm just going to cut/paste some of the key assertions.

2010 NHL Playoffs: Arash Markazi: Los Angeles Kings show they're still not there yet - ESPN Los Angeles

While the Kings may remember O'Brien's act and certainly plan to retaliate Sunday in Los Angeles, it won't matter when it comes to deciding the series. The fate of the series was probably decided when Canucks coach Alain Vigneault decided to pair red-hot Mikael Samuelsson, who now has seven goals in the series, on the top line with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin during Game 4. [...] When the Kings' run in this season's Stanley Cup playoffs inevitably comes to an end either Sunday in Los Angeles or Tuesday in Vancouver, they will have been done in by their dependency on a litany of unsustainable "ifs" only a youthful bunch with little to no playoff experience could have thought was realistic. [...] On the surface each one of those ["ifs"] may [come] true and at one point or another in this series may have resulted in a Kings win, but to expect all of them to continue [...] It's not happening. You might get lucky once or twice but championship hockey teams don't depend on as many "ifs" to win playoff games as the Kings have this postseason.[...] It's not impossible, but if you're banking your postseason success on those odds you're probably also the type to plan your next vacation on winning the lottery. The Kings are [...] far from the finished product general manager Dean Lombardi has been piecing together. When they get there the only "if" that will remain is the "if" all true contenders have: If we play our game, we'll win and it won't matter what the opponent does. [...] The only hope they have to win games in this series is to prevent the Canucks from playing the style of hockey that made them the second highest scoring team in the league and propelled Henrik Sedin to the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer. [...] What the Canucks essentially did to the Kings during their 7-2 shellacking was play the role of overzealous bouncer teaching the upstart youngster a lesson by taking him behind the woodshed and giving him a beating he won't soon forget. The message was simple: You may have had your fun, but it's all over now; come back when you're a little older kid. [...] The Kings may be ready to compete for their playoff lives but they're certainly not ready to compete for the Stanley Cup yet. [...] Friday's embarrassing effort was an indication of how much the Kings' kids, who let a "clown" get in their heads, have to grow.

Just to return to planet Earth for a moment, let's look at some facts.

  1. Vancouver finished two points ahead of the Kings this year. Two points.
    The last time Vancouver got out of the second round was 16 years ago, one year after the Kings made it to the finals.
    The Sedins have been contained more than half the time in this series alone. Yes, they are excellent hockey players, game-changers. And, yes, they have played well the last four periods. I'm sure they were that good or better in the Chicago series last year, when they choked.
    Luongo sucked early, when Quick was brilliant. Lately, Luongo has been solid and Quick has been bad. Which goalie shows up tomorrow?
    Before this year, Luongo's playoff record, over nine NHL seasons? 11-11. Twenty-two games. Now he's 14-13. Quick is 2-3. Yeah, that's a big difference.

Of the five games so far, two of them were not close (one win for each), two went to OT (flip a coin), and one was a hybrid (Kings dominated through two periods, then Canucks uber-dominated). Slight edge to the Canucks. Someone always has a slight edge after game five. If you really dominate your opponent, school them, take them to the woodshed, you don't get to game six.
I just hope the Canucks are reading all these articles in which the series has already been decided.