Larry Goodenough wrote:The regular season is constructed to prize durable, sustainable talents, to average out streaks and slumps and give the favorable position to the most consistent teams. But then that reward is followed up by a tournament of ridiculously small sample sizes where any little surge of awesomeness, from anyone, no matter what their true talent level, might make the difference between a Cup ring and a golf cart. The game is designed, in the end, to give out its highest prizes based on unsustainable streaks.
The business of pro sports is essentially the business of selling drama: thus the bolded part above is at the heart of what a Final should
produce for fans (at least from the marketing angle): everyone loves the notion of heroes that lead their teams to success - unfortunately for us, that hero was on the other team last year.
And while I agree with your analysis Larry, in the micro-cosm that is an NHL playoff round, the seven game series is also designed to take some of the streakiness out of it. But first we need to define "streaks"
Let's look at Tim Thomas as an example. What he accomplished last year was not only freakish in a visceral sense, it was also that in a statistical sense. In a "normal" performance one would expect Thomas to have significantly lower stats; really one could, based on his performances leading up to the Final, also expect at least one shaky (ie. no-contest) game in a seven game series. In other words, if we played that series again, the law of averages would favour TT having at least one or more loss by at least 2+ goals.
That didn't happen - Thomas played waaaaaaaay over his head (statistically) for seven straight games
- kudos to him, our guy managed the exact opposite.That's the proverbial "unsustainable streak" mentioned above.
But is it? There are "unsustainable streaks", and then there are "once-in-a-lifetime freak-show never-to-be-seen-again superhero performances", and that's more like what TT produced.
So, while I agree with the sentiment of your post, I just wanted to aply it to what happened to us in the Final last season. I still do adhere somewhat to the idea that two skilled and fairly evenly-matched teams will play a series that does tend to even some of those more common type streaks out.
But then there's the refs...