Making predictions about hockey is tough business. Sure, there’s a 50/50 shot of being correct, but there are upsets all the time. We humans use as much information we can to come up with who we think will win a game or a series. Crustaceans, on the other hand, go off their guts.
Paul the Octopus gained worldwide fame during the 2010 FIFA World Cup for his prognosticating skills. Four years later we have Petrovich the Giant Crab, a Belarusian crab currently living at the Minsk Oceanarium. He’s been given the task of predicting every game of the 2014 IIHF World Championship.
Petrovich is given a puck for each of that day’s games. The flags of the rival nations are glued on to opposite sides of each game’s puck and then handed to the submarine soothsayer. Then we wait for Petrovich to make his choice, to drop the puck and show us the likely winner – the team whose flag is visible when the puck lands on the aquarium floor. He makes his choice alone, so as not to be swayed by any passing fans and the video footage is shown online.
Like any celebrity, Petrovich enjoys VIP treatment. He has his own room in the oceanarium, decoration with children’s portraits of the most famous sea creature in this landlocked country. Almost all the pictures show him wielding a hockey stick, and it’s true that his claws do look a bit like a hockey stick. But it’s not always easy to find out what the crab is thinking – often he lies motionless in the water. Oracles cannot be hurried.
That last part is true. According to Petrovich’s caretaker, the process could sometimes take up to two hours. What a prima donna.
Here’s a look at Petrovich in his home as he prepared for the Worlds:
With the tournament coming to an end this weekend, Petrovich’s services will no longer be needed and like any successful pundit crab, he’ll retire to the lovely claws of his girlfriend, Petrovna.
How successful has the giant crab been? According to the IIHF, through Sunday's games, Petrovich was 26-for-39 in his predictions. That's a cool 67-percent, which further shows -- with the successes of Paul the Octopus and the legendary Maggie the Monkey -- that NBC, Sportsnet and TSN should really add some sort of animal to their post-season TV panels.
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