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2009 Playoff Predictions, Conference Semifinals, Capitals vs. Penguins May 2, 2009

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

As promised, here are the predictions for the conference semi-finals. Got started on these a little later than I would have liked, so apologies that these are up so late.

Deck: Quest Tarot (Martin)
Spread: Celtic Cross
Question: “How will the Washington Capitals fare in their playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins?”

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Only one Major Arcana card in this spread, and it’s all the way up in the Outcome spot (as always, no fair skipping ahead). This tells me that while our fate may in fact be somewhat destined, everything else in the series is not. It’s an interesting dichotomy that might be worth some discussion: how can you have free will almost everywhere you turn, but in the end, have a predestined outcome? I’d welcome any discussion on that point in the Comments section, but I know I’m not going to get it. Also of note, there are four court cards here out of a possible ten cards. That’s unusual: normal distribution in this deck would be two court cards, two or three Majors, and the rest numbers. But here, there are a lot of court cards, which indicates that a lot of big personalities will have a major impact on this series. And while that was to be expected with a Caps-Pens matchup–there are a LOT of big names in this series–it’s telling that the cards are not only confirming that, but saying that the personalities may have an even larger impact than even the talking heads would believe coming in. So, let’s look at the cards, shall we?

BASIS: SON OF STONES, ADVOCATE, REVERSED. The impression I’m getting on this card isn’t so much of a person, oddly enough. Here, I think the meaning is one of “bad advocacy.” And I think this is directed at us, the fans, more than anything else. There were a lot of Caps fans–including yours truly–who had written the Caps off after Game 2, then again after Game 4, in the previous series with the Rangers. There was a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth, and a lot of fans who seemed to be almost HOPING the Caps would lose, that their opinions about the team could be justified in failure. The Son of Stones reversed is a caution against that. Put simply, this train is leaving the station, Caps fans. You can stand on the platform and get left behind; you can jump in front and get your ass run over; or you can hop on board and enjoy the ride, however far it goes.

CROSSING: 5 OF STONES, MATERIAL DIFFICULTY. On the one hand, we’re without Donald Brashear at this point–he still has five games left to serve in the press box. That was my immediate impression when this card fell, even before I’d finished dealing the rest of the layout. But there’s a little more to this card than simply being without your biggest bruiser. It also speaks to fear of the unknown; fear of the future; and a fear that the future is painful. Now, I don’t think that’s the road the Caps are on, and it’s certainly not a deceptive good. That means that the fears this card depicts are–and this is very, very important–the biggest obstacle getting in our way at this point. Yes, the Penguins have beaten us 6 out of 7 in playoff series past. Yes, they have won more than they’ve lost in the Ovechkin/Crosby era. Yes, by almost all accounts, this could be the most difficult draw for us in the entire postseason. Yet, the 5 of Stones as a Crossing card is a reminder to not be afraid of the future. And this is directed at the team and fans alike: DON’T BE AFRAID. The past is irrelevant, as we saw against the Rangers. This was the first time in their history that they had lost a playoff series after leading 3-1. And with the Caps and Pens having no playoff history since 2001, I think it’s safe to say that the players for the Caps could care less about the history. They’re out to MAKE history, not BE history. For us, the fans, it is our job to face this series fearlessly. Not quite as harsh a read as I would have expected from a face-up 5–I’ll take it.

DISTANT PAST: 2 OF CUPS, LOVE. This card means “love” more than The Lovers in the Major Arcana, so this is a bit of a surprise here. I’m not quite sure what to make of this–love’s done? Or is some of the love from the distant past still going to affect this new series? Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 comes to mind here, especially the line about “Love’s not Time’s fool.” True love–capital-L Love–is timeless. So even if Love does show up in the past, if it is TRUE love–which the 2 of Cups refers to–it is still there. It’s not going anywhere. So there will still be some Love for the Caps during this series–just not on the road, to be sure. 2 of Cups love means love anywhere, anytime. So if it’s showing up in the Distant Past, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going away. Quirky, true, but that is the message I’m getting on this.

RECENT PAST: DAUGHTER OF SWORDS, CONFIDENCE. If this were a player, they would be a very young player–2 years in the bigs or less–and very, very intellectual. Varlamov, anyone? For someone who had so little experience, he came through like a seasoned vet. The playoffs are supposed to be murder on goalies, but I don’t think Varly ever got that memo during the series against the Rangers. Think somebody ought to clue him in now that it’s the Penguins we’re playing? 😉 I jest, of course–I hope he keeps playing lights-out and sends the Pens home early this year. What troubles me is that he’s showing up in the past. While it’s undeniably true that his performance in the recent past has a huge bearing on where we are right now, I hope that this doesn’t mean his best work is in the past. Time will tell.

GENERAL DIRECTION: 7 OF WANDS, COURAGE. Recall a couple cards back how I said the biggest obstacle in the team’s way was fear of the future? Courage will come as this series progresses. I assume that means it will come by way of Capitals victories, but that may be too optimistic by half. Regardless, there will be more courage to come for the Caps–and the fans, if I’m reading this correctly–as the series progresses. If so, that may end up negating that 5 of Stones at the Crossing, and move the Caps closer to victory. Overall, a very pleasant card to have in this position.

IMMEDIATE FUTURE: MOTHER OF STONES, PERCEPTION. An intriguing card for this position. Yet again, I don’t think this refers to a player, strangely enough. What I’m taking from this is that Games 1 and 2–which is about as Immediate Future as it gets in a best-of-7–will be determined by which team can PERCEIVE the weaknesses on the other side, and then ACT upon them. And since this card is face-up, I’m going to have to give that edge to the Caps. Bruce Boudreau has been quite the tactician since his arrival in Washington, and you have to wonder if the Pens’ bench boss has enough chops to compete with a coach who has a full regular season and an additional 7-game playoff series on his resume. The team whose perception is better in the first two could very well end up winning the series. Worth recalling was how the Caps eventually figured out Lundqvist–he wasn’t very good at stopping shots high and glove-side. That perception eventually clinched the series, as Sergei Fedorov’s series-clinching goal beat Lundqvist–exactly–high and glove-side. It’s that kind of perception which will determine the winner of this series.

TEAM: 7 OF SWORDS, USELESSNESS, REVERSED. I’m glad this isn’t face-up! When reversed, the 7 of Swords speaks to having things figured out. When this card is upright, everything you do seems to have no effect. It’s kind of like a Skinner box, for those of you with a background in psychology: you can see what’s going on on the outside, but you have no idea what’s going on internally. But when the 7 of Swords is reversed, you figure out the inner workings of that box. You don’t have X-ray vision or anything, but you know what’s going on inside that box. You’ve settled down and found your place. You know where you are, and where you’re going. You’ve got things figured out, and can now move forward.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES: FATHER OF STONES, GUARDIAN, REVERSED. Again, not a player, but a situation–in this case, a bit of a read on the opposition. When reversed, the Father of Stones will destroy anything in his way to get what he wants. He is very, very dangerous, and needs to be handled with caution. I would surmise from this that the Penguins are going to come out and play their dirtiest hockey, trying to force us off our game. Expect cheap shots, and expect no whistles–such is the playoffs. And since this is the Father card of the suit, it will be someone with seniority on the Penguins–either by age (nine or more seasons) or, possibly, by letter (Sidney Crosby, I’m looking at you.) Expect a dirty game from the Pens, especially from their senior players.

HOPES AND FEARS: 10 OF STONES, RICHNESS, REVERSED. Face-up, the 10 of Stones is about wealth and celebration. Reversed, that’s still there, but just not yet. This is a card of anticipation, of hope, of being about to celebrate–or, in this position, knowing that the celebration is there, but not being ready to embrace it.

It reminds me of the song “Airships” from VNV Nation:

I pressed my face against the glass, smiled as my breath made some pattern or other
The world beneath unfurled before me like a sail, glinted in gold from this rich dawn sky
Awaiting the ship they had told me would come, quietly anticipating that which was to come…

The whole song goes on for eight minutes and change, and the lyrics are hideously complicated, but it’s well worth a download if you have iTunes. Better, buy the whole “Futureperfect” album and thank me later. It’s life-changing if you’ll let it be.

Back to the cards. I think what this card is trying to tell me about the hopes and fears of the team is that they’re not quite sure they can beat the Pens. They know that it will be a heck of a celebration if they do, but they either aren’t ready to accept it yet, or are afraid to embrace that celebration. To which I’d say, Go for it, guys. Turn this card around, beat the Pens going away, and let’s get this whole city Believing with a capital B.

OUTCOME: IX, THE HERMIT REVERSED. While there is an element of “come down off the mountain and get back to work” in this card, as I’ve written recently, there’s a little more to this card than that. The Hermit reversed can indicate that a higher way is being ignored. There’s more going on that you’re aware of, but you’re ignoring it. There is a greater truth that’s not being accepted. I know my last post a couple of days ago touched on this somewhat, but that’s not the point of this card. Recall the bit about Perception a couple of cards back? It’s not about picking out the weak spots in the other goalie’s game, or about finding which buttons to push to send the Pens “on tilt” and win the mental game. There is a spiritual dimension to this series: I wrote about it a couple of days ago, and this card seems to be backing that up. How does that translate into playable counsel? Like this: if the Caps play like they’re the good guys, they’ll win. If they stoop to Pittsburgh’s level, oh well, at least they won ONE series. DON’T IGNORE THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS OF THIS SERIES. Because this series will be decided as much in Spirit as it will be on the scoresheet. That’s what I’m getting from this, the final card of the reading.

DISTRIBUTION: 6 EARTH, 2 AIR, 1 FIRE, 1 WATER. That’s an odd distribution to say the least. There’s too much Earth energy going on here–way too much focusing on the physical. 2 Air cards isn’t bad, but what concerns me is that Fire and Water are singletons. There’s not a lot of emotional investment going on, and–as the Outcome hinted–the spiritual side of this isn’t being addressed much, either. The team needs to raise its sights a little higher. Yes, they can win by out-hitting and out-scoring, while ignoring the subtler aspects of the game. But that kind of lack of balance would make them a one-dimensional team, and very easy to beat. Look higher, guys. Look beyond. Look within. There’s more going on than you realize, and the sooner you see it, the sooner you’ll win this series.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m not getting anything easy to read here. Last round, I had an Ace as the Outcome, and that was about as open and shut a read as I could give. And while that 7 of Wands as a General Direction looks promising, that reversed Hermit troubles me a bit. If the Caps stick to their game, and play clean, they win; if not, it will be an unlucky seventh loss in the playoffs. In their favor, the Caps kept their cool against Sean Avery’s antics. So the Pens should be easier by comparison on the subtler levels, which is where this series will be won or lost. I will assume that the Caps will stay on their game, despite some cheap shots from the Pens. If they can do that, they’ll win. If they can’t…well, it’s been fun. But I’m going to assume they will stay on their game, so I’m going to call this one:





1. Paddy - May 2, 2009

Hey, I care CS. I like your prediction!!!

2. CapitalSpirit - May 2, 2009

Thanks. These take a ridiculous amount of time to interpret, type up, format, and so on, and it can get a bit frustrating sometimes when no one says anything.

I do have a question, if anyone wants to discuss it. Nine of the cards are Minor Arcana cards–free-will cards. But the final outcome is a Major Arcana card–a destiny card. So how do you go from free will in the past, present, and some of the future, to a final outcome that’s destiny? At what point does free will end, and destiny kick in?

Any discussion?

3. KJ - May 4, 2009

I care as well. Very nice writeup! I too like the prediction. I personally do not get into the prediction game, I’m a bit “Superstitious”. lol! Anyway, great job on the write up. I’m impressed with how much time you must have put into it. I have a link to your blog on mine. Could I get a link to mine on yours? Just do a google search on “Behind The Goal Line” and it will come up. Thanks!


4. CapitalSpirit - May 4, 2009


I’m currently running out the door for Game 2. I’ll update my links sometime later this week as time permits. Thanks for your comment.–CS

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