In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Josh Kestenbaum, asks our panel of experts three questions: Will the Los Angeles Kings make the playoffs, how will Matt Harvey pitch after getting Tommy John surgery and who would you want coaching your team in March Madness?
1. With the NHL playoffs approaching, will the Los Angeles Kings, the defending champions, clinch a spot?
Otto: When asked, Olivia said yes. So I have to say yes. The defending champs recently beat the Colorado Avalanche, permanently eliminating them from playoff contention. This leaves the Kings, the Flames and the Jets to fight for two spots. Unfortunately for the Kings, they have been unable to take advantage of close games late this season, giving away a couple throughout the year. Their strength over the last couple of years has been their defense and superstar goalie Jonathan Quick. But he can have only a small impact on the game if the offense struggles to score, as it has the entire season. If they don’t make the playoffs, they shouldn’t worry, though: They only win Stanley Cups on even-numbered years.
George: Knowing as little as I do about the NHL, I’ve decided to invent my own rating system for hockey: Canadians. Let me break this down, it’s kind of complicated. For every Canadian on a team’s roster, they get one Canadian. Eastern/Northern Europeans count as 1.5 Canadians. Russians count as two. This season the Kings have 16 absolute Canadians (that’s Canadians) plus three Eastern Europeans (Andrej Sekera, Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar) plus one Russian (Slava Voynov). However, they lose half a Canadian because Robyn Regehr was born in Brazil. That’s a total of 22 Canadians. Now divide that by 27 to get the Canadian Ratio — an impressive 0.815, which is only a little less than the ratio of the top scoring team this season, Anaheim, who has a ratio of 0.840. The difference is small, but given the nature of this statistic I’d say the Kings have a good chance of clinching.
Chris: As a hockey expert, I can guarantee to everyone that the Los Angeles Kings will make the playoffs. This has been a back and forth year for the Kings, with the highlight of the season honoring legend Barry Melrose earlier this season. Has anyone seen that guy’s mullet? That is as sweet of a salad that I have ever seen. A mullet like that could push any team into the playoffs. Speaking of L.A. King legends …Wayne Gretzky. WAYNE GRETZKY. He’s the greatest player in the history of the NHL for crying out loud, AND he used to play for the Kings! People call him the Michael Jordan of hockey, but I’ve never seen him dunk on the Monstars, so quite frankly I’m not buying it. That being said, I’m probably just going to take the one point for this round and start the comeback nice and early.
George gets three points for creating a new statistic. Otto gets two points because Olivia said no, and Chris gets one point because he ripped on Gretzky.
2. How will Matt Harvey perform this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of the 2014 season?
Otto: I think Matt Harvey will have a very strong season this year. He’s still really young, and frankly, this is a very common surgery. In fact, a lot of executives and managers have talked about making their young pictures have the surgery before they pitch in the majors just to correct any problems they might have. While I don’t think that’s a smart move, the surgery has made a lot of guys healthier and has kept them at the same level they were on before. He’s been absolutely dominant in Spring Training, and we know that he loves the spotlight. I see him having a huge year and bringing a young Mets team with great pitching depth back to relevance again.
George: Matt Harvey will definitely perform better now that he has been Tommy John’d. After Spring Training, he finished with a 1.19 ERA, impressive for anyone — especially someone who just spent 16 months recuperating from surgery. While these are only spring stats and might not be a completely accurate projection of Harvey’s prospects this season, they do give Mets fans a bit of hope. On top of that, there is data that states that 80 percent of pitchers that get this surgery are able to get back on the mound, and usually it takes that 80 percent up to six months to get used to throwing a ball again. If Harvey is throwing like this already, there’s a good chance he’ll improve.
Chris: Matt Harvey is one of the many young, stud pitchers to have to undergo reconstructive Tommy John surgery. We have seen both successful and failed comebacks from this surgery, but I cannot see Matt Harvey being anything but successful. He is young and driven with amazing stuff in his arsenal and has just as much talent as any pitcher in the majors. The Mets get him back at the perfect time, just as they are expected to begin their run as a competitor in the NL East for years to come. Harvey will be leading a pitching staff with both young talent and long-time experience, with a top prospect in Noah Syndergaard waiting in the wings until the dog days of summer. Matt Harvey knows that the New York Mets will go as he goes, and that alone is a recipe for success for the Amazin’s this year.
George gets three points for using spring stats to predict success. Chris gets two points for mentioning the Mets’ success, and Otto gets one point for pointing out how common the surgery is.
3. If you could choose any active college basketball coach, who would you want coaching your college’s team in March?
Otto: If I want to be successful in March Madness, I want Coach K leading my team. Mike Krzyzewski has now made 12 Final Fours and nine championship games, winning four of them. The 12 Final Four appearances ties John Wooden’s record, who many consider to be the best college coach of all time. All the coaches in the current Final Four have a lot to offer: Calipari is brilliant at getting stars to work together, Ryan is a great at getting the most of lesser talent compared to other schools, and Izzo is a fantastic leader and motivator. However, Coach K has shown to be able to do all of those throughout the 40 years he’s been an NCAA head coach. He has done it with completely different personnel throughout his time. For example, two of his greatest big men, Christian Laettner and Jahlil Okafor, are very different, but Coach K has led them both to the promise land.
George: What colleges need to do to shake things up a bit is to hire a relative unknown from the best country in the world: Lithuania. Rimas Kurtinaitis, current head coach of BC Khimki in Russia, would be perfect for NCAA Division I ball. Lithuania, nestled in a corner of Northern Europe by the Baltic Sea, is teeming with the culture and life necessary to produce a top-notch basketball coach for an American school. Who hasn’t been enamored with the rich heritage of Lithuania? Who hasn’t heard the legend of Vytautas the Great, whose deeds have echoed with those of Alexander and Frederick of Prussia? Which country or kingdom of any period could touch the glory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania?
Chris: If I could have any college basketball coach leading my team through the tournament, it would have to be my man Kevin Ollie. Ollie is the ultimate players’ coach who is a leader in the new wave of young coaches getting set to take over the sport. If he was able to take over a University of Connecticut basketball team fresh off of a two-year ban from the NCAA tournament into the tournament as a seventh seed and lead them to cutting down the ropes as National Champions in just his second year on campus, then honestly, what can’t he do?
Chris gets three points for picking a young, experienced coach. Otto gets two points for comparing Coach K to big names, and George gets one point for not picking Andrija Gavrolovic.
George wins Around the Dorm 7-6-5.