Friday, April 8, 2011

around the plynth is better

One of Pierre Idiot Trudeau's favorite locutions is "paper tiger". In the decades I have known the man, he has called at least the following things "paper tigers":

  • the Detroit Red Wings (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2008)
  • Tim Thomas
  • the American Democratic Party
  • the Los Angeles Lakers (2001, 2002)
  • the American Republican party
  • a bouncer who had me in a fairly secure headlock
  • the Taliban
  • Iran
  • English soccer
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Julia Child
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • the strong and weak nuclear forces
  • the American Constitution
  • the cities of Boston, San Jose, Los Angeles and Paris
  • the Oxford comma
  • Strunk & White
  • the Borg
  • wheat
  • Ernst Gräfenberg
  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Jane Jacobs
  • Groupons
  • one of those paper dragons you see at Chinese New Year--he was pretty drunk
  • the police state as a repressive apparatus
  • Martin Scorcese
  • the Oxford English Dictionary
  • the Death Star

Another thing he has enjoyed saying over the years is that the Northwest Division is superb and that a team that wins it is battle-tested and ready for the playoffs in a way that winners of weaker divisions aren't. This year...that seems unlikley to be the case. As of today, the Canucks have gone 17-4-2 against the Northwest--with two of those losses coming after they secured the President's trophy!

They've piled up 36 points in those 23 games, meaning that if you exclude the Northwest, the Canucks have not gone a superhuman 53-19-9 (1.42 points per game), but "only" a very, very good 36-15-7 (1.36 PPG).

Are the Canucks a paper tiger? Almost certainly not. But in the playoffs they're not going to be playing any talent-challenged Minnesota teams, any top-heavy, aging Calgary squads, any three-years-away-from-being-competitive Edmonton rosters, nor even any way-closer-to-Edmonton-than-you-think Colorado Avalanche collections of minor leaguers.

Again, I'm not suggesting the Canucks are anything but excellent. But it does seem reasonable to suggest that the Canucks' 1.36 points-per-game against the rest of the league is a better predictor than their 1.56 against the Northwest. (Which was really 1.71 before those two meaningless games in Edmonton.) The former would put them at around 110 points, a notch better than Washington, and two notches better than anybody else; the latter would put them at 128 points over an entire season, or HOLY FUCKING SHIT territory.

--Collision, grasping at straws

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