I was struck with a familiar feeling this weekend.
It is a particular, specific feeling. One I associate with art museums, which I attend whenever I get the chance in Milwaukee, Chicago or New York in a (superficial) attempt to broaden my horizons past a detailed map of Wisconsin microbrews and in-depth knowledge of the Brewers career leaders in Wins Above Replacement.*
*Man, that is a gruesome list. The immortal Geoff Jenkins sits at No. 9 all time in Brewers history. At No. 9 for the Yankees? Alex Rodriguez.
Maybe you are familiar with it.
When I look at a surrealist -- your Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Theodor Geisel types -- I know there is something special I am supposed to be seeing. Some burst of inspiration that an educated, cultured, 21st century adult can obtain by studying the contrast in accurate details with impossible pictures. If I just look at it hard enough, I too can be struck by the beauty or sadness or irony that makes these works of art worth millions of dollars.
I never get much past "Hey, that melting clock is kind of cool."
That same feeling, one of knowledge just on the cusp and just out of my reach, came to me Sunday afternoon as I studied the WCHA standings.
What a mess. But hey, that ability to simultaneously picture home ice for the playoffs or no playoff appearance at all is kind of cool.
There are two things we know for certain about the WCHA right now.
Alabama-Huntsville is out. They fought the good fight, but a 1-20-1 record leaves them dreaming of next year's rebuilding effort.
Ferris State and Minnesota State, in some order, will finish No. 1 and No. 2. They are tied with 34 points apiece right now, but the Bulldogs have two games in hand, so unless they slip for an unexpected collapse, the MacNaughton Cup is theirs to polish.
After that, we know nothing.
Alaska Anchorage (26), Alaska, Bowling Green, Michigan Tech and Bemidji State (22) all sit within four points of each other right now.
Northern Michigan (21) and Lake Superior State (20) trail just behind that pack.
But even that is misleading.
Northern Michigan and Lake State have six games left, the group above them have just four. And for Tech's U.P. neighbors, two of those six games come against Huntsville.
Those are a free four points. I know the cliches -- one game at a time, respect your opponent, Herm Edwards pontification yada yada -- but at this point in the season, I'm just giving them the points. Feel free to direct all jokes to @michaelbleach on Twitter if the Lakers drop a tie down south this weekend.
So with those "updated" standings, that leaves four teams at 24 points, Northern Michigan at 25 and Anchorage at 26 and Bemidji trailing with 22 points. Two of those teams will earn home ice for the playoffs, one will miss the postseason entirely.
So that's cool, we figured out that Northern and Anchorage have an advantage ... oh wait. No. We know nothing, remember?
Anchorage still has to play Ferris for a series. At Ferris.
The Bulldogs have not lost a conference game at home this season. And while they are not quite as sure a result as Huntsville, it's difficult to imagine that Anchorage comes out of there with more than one point as Ferris still has to lock up its regular season title.
Well, what about Alaska? They just laid 14 goals on the Huskies this weekend, enjoy most tiebreaker scenarios thank to their 11 wins (Tech and BGSU have 10) and are peaking at the right time. Right? Bueller?
Yup, they have a series with Ferris too. Though it is in Alaska, so points are possible to come by.
Even at the bottom, things are muddled. Bemidji needs help from everyone else to make the playoffs at all -- and that help likely comes from the series with Huntsville in two weeks. Give four points to the Beavers, and they are right in the thick of things.
So just like an extended viewing of a Dali oil-based, the mind eventually wanders to big picture questions. Was he crazy? Am I crazy for not appreciating this more? Which drugs did he use for this particular piece? Can I get my parking validated?
For Tech fans, only one question matters.
Can the Huskies play better than they did this past weekend?
If the answer is no, then this exercise has been largely academic, and like movie day in class, a waste of every ones time.
But if the answer is yes, the rest of the details might not matter. If Tech can regain the form it showed at Bowling Green and they displayed in a win over Ferris, then perhaps mundane specifics such as playoff seeding cease to hold meaning anyways.
And if that isn't surreal, I don't know what is.