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Playoff Predictions, Conference Quarterfinals Edition April 10, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

I originally was hesitant to do readings for the playoffs. I know I’ve gotten good feedback from some, but so far as I can tell, it’s only because I’ve been predicting success, and I’ve generally been right about it. Let’s say I predict success and I’m wrong; what then? Or, what happens if I see very bad news, and end up right? I’ve already been accused of jinxing this team, and if I accurately predict that the Caps will lose, I’m not going to be the most popular person at the Phone Booth next year.

But the thing is? There are only a handful of cards in the entire deck which would indicate near-unavoidable failure. Any bad news in the Minor Arcana can be avoided with a change in course. As for the Major Arcana, there are only two real show-stoppers (Tower, Death), and a whole lot of hopeful cards (Magician, Strength, Justice, Chariot, Wheel, Star, Sun, Judgement, World, and that’s not even all of them). That’s not to say I’m going to shuffle the cards and just like that deal up certain Capitals victory. I WISH I could do that, but alas, all I can do is read these.

And like a weathercaster, all I can do is read what’s there. And to be truthful to the art, I have to be able to forecast foul weather as easily as I forecast fair. IF there’s any to be seen in the forecast.

So here goes. I’m using Tarot of the Angels in a Celtic Cross layout.

The Question: “How will the Washington Capitals do in their Conference Quarterfinal series with the Philadelphia Flyers?”

Initial impression: There are only two Major Arcana cards showing out of ten on the layout. That’s good: it shows that there’s a lot of free will at work here, and there’s really no Major Life Lesson to be learned here. So, on a subtle level, the Caps are in control of their own fate based on the choices that they make. What’s worrying me is that half the cards on the layout are reversed, which tends to indicate an unwillingness or an inability to accept what’s happening. And one of the cards that’s NOT reversed is a 5, so that’s even more worrisome. Even if I weren’t reading this from other NHL writers, I can tell by looking at this layout that this series will be hard-fought, and the outcome, at this point, is anyone’s guess.

Card 1: Basis. Ace of Pentacles, Reversed. This is not what I wanted to see to start the reading. A reversed Ace of Pentacles would indicate physical or resource-related difficulty at the start of a journey. I think this may be a reference to the health of some of our defensemen, as well as that of Chris Clark. A reversed Ace speaks to not having all you need to get started, or lack of acceptance of resources, generally of a physical, earth-bound nature. It may also be a warning not to rush players back into the lineup who have been sidelined with injuries. Pentacles represent very PRACTICAL, very PHYSICAL, very DOWN TO EARTH matters, and a reversal can indicate that things in this sphere are not quite where they should be. While a reversed Ace is by no means as challenging as, say, a 5, it is at the very least a cautionary note. The team’s physical health may very well end up becoming a factor in this series. I’m not sure if this refers to an injury during this series, or a rushed return of an injured player that upsets the apple cart too much. While this is by no means a red light, it certainly is a yellow one. Based on this, I have to counsel caution in this series where matters of health and physical resources are concerned. The overall impression I get from this is BE CAREFUL. Not “Danger,” not “Batten down the hatches,” not even “Duck and cover.” Just keep your heads up, and make sure you look both ways before crossing Riley Cote. The Flyers are using the phrase “Vengeance Now” as their playoff mantra. I will say it again: BE CAREFUL.

Card 2: Crossing. 3 of Pentacles. Other than in Swords, 3’s are generally fun numbers to have come up. The 3 of Pentacles generally tends to represent being rewarded for a job well done. What’s interesting to me is that it’s coming up as the crossing card. The crossing card in a Celtic Cross layout can indicate the road you’re on, in which case this would be quite good news. But a crossing card can also indicate something that looks good, but which can still get in your way. I’m going to read it both ways, and put it like this. The team is on a general path of success and reward. However, they shouldn’t be so quick to fall in love with these rewards that past rewards start interfering with present success. So, OK, we finished the regular season on a miraculous tear. Great. We made history when we made the playoffs. Fabulous. We’re one of the hottest teams in hockey right now. All well and good. But because this card is a crossing card, there is a slightly cautionary note to it. And that is, don’t fall in love with the success that got you this far. Don’t celebrate yet: you still have to win. This is better news than I’m probably making it out to be, but when I consider the reversed Ace that this is covering, the news isn’t exactly one of unmitigated success. This isn’t a failure signal: just a reiteration of the cautionary note sounded by the reversed Ace of Pentacles as the Basis card.

Card 3: Distant Past. 5 of Cups. I’m glad this is showing up as Distant Past, that’s for sure. The key phrase for the 5 of Cups is “Emotional Loss.” This is the distant past, mind you, but it still affects where things stand right now. My intuition tells me that this harkens back to that Bruins-Penguins weekend a month ago. Some of the negative emotions from that weekend are still at play as this series opens up, if I’m reading this correctly. There may be some doubt as to whether the officials may be biased, or if a freshly-minted division champion with several Stanley Cup Playoff rookies can run and gun with a team that’s trying to resurrect the Broad Street Bullies. If there are doubts, they need to be dismissed. This team is good enough, and the losses of the past need not have any bearing on the series before us. Does somebody need to tell Nicklas Backstrom to forget, now and for all time, that own-goal in the Penguins game?

Card 4: Recent Past. The Chariot, Reversed. This is surprising. The Chariot represents victory through adversity, and the finish to the regular season was a Chariot finish if ever I’ve seen one. And yet, here it is, in the recent past, right where you’d expect it to be, and it’s reversed. This is a Major Arcana card, so it represents one of life’s major lessons. But when a Major Arcana card is reversed, that indicates that the lesson isn’t being learned. Or, in this case, that perhaps the wrong lesson was learned. Now, if the Basis card weren’t enough, and the Crossing card weren’t more than enough, this card in this position is saying, for the third time in four cards: this team MUST not let success go to its head. Just because you guys pulled off a last-game miracle to win the division, does not mean that playoff success is guaranteed. This is a whole new hockey game you’re playing, gentlemen. Don’t think that just because everything went your way to end the regular season, that the first round is going to be a cakewalk. Because it won’t be. This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the toughest sporting tournament on the planet, and regular-season miracles mean nothing now. The cards are beating me over the head with this, and I have to say it yet again: what’s past is prologue. Forget the regular season, or you could soon be forgotten in the playoffs.

Card 5: General Direction. 4 of Swords. The 4 of Swords is all about rest and recuperation. There are two ways to look at that. Either the Caps will win very quickly, and be able to rest up before the Conference Semis; or, they’ll be getting more rest than they want when they lose the series. This is another cautionary card, and the impression I’m getting here is, Play like there’s no tomorrow, because afterwards, you’ll have time to recover. Whether that’s an extended series elswhere in the East, or the offseason, I can’t tell. Even the Outcome card isn’t much help here (and no fair skipping ahead.) There will be time to rest when this series is over, but under what conditions?

Card 6: Immediate Future. Knave of Wands, Reversed. This card came up just two weeks ago–peculiar. I think this is a reference to a player, a rookie or sophomore, who embodies spirit, fire, warmth, and maturity beyond his years. Backstrom again? I hope not, because reversed, that might indicate that he has doubts about the playoffs. I hope Nicklas doesn’t have the off couple of games that this might seem to indicate, but this really does feel like “his” card, and it’s reversed. I want to be wrong here, but this certainly isn’t the best card to find in this position.

Card 7: Querant. Queen of Swords, Reversed. Swords represent the intellect, and I’m getting the feeling that the Queen of Swords reversed indicates that there’s a major mental block of some kind that’s getting in the team’s way. I’m not sure if this is an indication of lack of playoff experience for key individuals, but it seems to indicate a team experience level that may not quite be where it should be. This team has been through quite the wringer the past couple of months just to make it this far, but this may indicate, yet again, that that might not be enough. The mental game that has worked so far may be insufficient for a sustained playoff run. The playoffs are a whole different mind-set. Incisive thought turned back on itself, is what I’m getting. Watch out for psych-outs by the Flyers. Beware of mind games out there on the ice.

Card 8: Outside Influences. 7 of Pentacles. Key phrase for this card: “Earthly Wisdom.” This feels like a reference to Bruce Boudreau, who’s won championships at practically every level he’s coached. This is good news, as it seems to indicate that Coach Boudreau has the wisdom to match the X’s and O’s, knows how to out-psych the psych-outs, and will be a decisive leader behind the bench. What I’m reading here is that despite all the other obstacles I see on this layout, that Coach Boudreau will know how to handle them, and turn them to the Caps’ advantage. He’s going to be our trump card in this series. His wisdom will be a major factor in the outcome of this series.

Card 9: Hopes and Fears. The Empress. Not bad at all! The Empress, in layman’s terms, represents a very “Mom” kind of energy. And you know how, when you’re young, if something goes wrong, a loving Mom is always there to reassure you that everything’s all right, and that no trial lasts forever? That’s kind of the energy of The Empress. Very nurturing, very loving, very optimistic, very hpoeful that her kid will turn out for the better. I read this as an indication that, should this series take a sour turn, that there will be loving emotional support from the Divine for everyone–players and fans alike–to fall back on. Despite using an angel-themed deck, I don’t often mention the role that I see the angels playing in a question. Here, though, the indication is loud and clear: if trouble comes in this series, look inward, look upward, and know that Help is just a prayer away.

Card 10: Outcome. 6 of Wands, reversed. Talk about an inconclusive conclusion! The 6 of Wands Reversed tends to indicate a bit of a struggle, but a struggle that can still be won. It will not be an easy struggle, but it is winnable. When I take the entire gestalt of this layout into consideration, what this reversed 6 tells me is that this will be an epic series, one way or the other. It will be hard-fought; it will be physical (three Pentacles on the layout); and either team could win based on where things stand right now. This will be a competitive series, and that’s probably why I’m being given such a “wait and see” type of card for the outcome. I think that if the Caps realize that the playoffs require a different approach from the way they got there, that they’ll do just fine. The Flyers are going to throw their weight around, and may try to sucker the Caps into doing something foolish. However, with a proven leader behind the bench, such shenanigans may not be enough for the Flyers to win. And if the Caps learn the right lessons from their end-of-season run, this reversed 6 may turn face-up. And a face-up 6 of Wands tends to indicate victory.

Final thoughts: It’s going to be an ugly series, but we all knew that already. This one could go either way; neither victory nor defeat looks more probable than the other right now. However, the Caps do know how to win hockey games, and given their coaching, they have a good chance at success. A sweep doesn’t appear likely given this layout, but I think that the Caps should win the series after adjusting to playoff hockey for a game or two. But whatever lessons need to be learned, need to be learned quickly. If not, this miracle season may not survive the first round.

My prediction: Capitals in 5.




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