Sunday, August 31, 2008

Inline Skates


It's official. I thought goalie skates were the ultimate reminder of how easy it is to skate in regular hockey skates, but I was wrong. Inline skates are.

The feel of them is actually really similar to goalie skates in that they're VERY heavy and don't have any rocker to them to make you more mobile. The difference is that in goalie skates, if you're out of control, you just glide into the boards and stop yourself. And your worst obstacle is another person or the nets. In inlines, any stopping must come from yourself because there are no boards and your worst obstacle is 2000 lbs. of moving steel that can crush you like a bug.

I just did a .75 mile loop of the streets around my house and since it's Sunday morning, I think I saw one car (nowhere near me) the whole time. There were more people out walking than driving, so that was a relief. I wore my bike helmet but no other protective gear. That won't happen again. I almost bit it several times and I need to learn to stop, which is invariably going to require some risk-taking and falling.

Anyway, it was scary but could be a lot of fun once I build up some skill and confidence. But I sure do miss the reliable flatness and coolness of the ice. :)

My team is playing hockey tonight but it's not a league game that I've already paid for (gotta pay extra), and my wrists are starting to feel better, so I don't want to bang them up again. Just enjoying a relaxing weekend without stressing myself out about hockey.

BTW, if you didn't see this week's Ace of Cakes where the Stanley Cup visits the bakery and they make a huge Stanley Cup cake, it's worth hunting down on the Food Network. I was kinda choking back tears when they presented the cake. It was pretty amazing.


Friday, August 29, 2008

5 Changes: Freeze Tag Rule

The Puck Daddy-facilitated 5 Changes to the NHL meme has been beat to death but Melt Your Face Off's Hextall454 had the funniest change I've read:

My simple solution will 1) increase scoring, 2) improve skating, 3) increase checking, 4) reduce diving, and 5) minimize pucks to the groin. My God - why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?

My proposed new rule: Any player who falls to the ice during the course of play must remain down on the ice until the next stoppage in play.
I'm assuming goalies don't count? Read the rest here.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Miss Elainey

The blog seems lonely after a couple of weeks of hard core posting. I don't have hockey this weekend, but my inline skates arrive today, so I've been kinda taking it easy, getting stuff done around the house (my poor overgrown garden!), etc.

But a few tidbits have stacked up that are worth mentioning:

  • Puck Daddy had an interesting (well, as interesting as any post involving the KHL can be) regarding how the KHL might actually have a significant impact on the AHL by luring veteran players who would otherwise be stuck in the minors. Though one of the commenters has a valid point that it seems that guys don't really make a career in the AHL. They almost invariably head overseas anyway, at some point, and with more money to offer and possibly a better caliber of player, the KHL would be attractive. But from the AHL perspective, gone is gone.
  • The Wild announced the roster for the Traverse City Prospect Tourney today. Lots and lots of tryouts, some they've seen a bit of before, and 5 AHL/ECHL guys (Clutterbuck, Kassian, Madsen, Noreau, and Khudobin). I don't think it's going to happen for this year, but the NHL Network seriously needs to televise this going forward. Hockey fans are utterly parched this time of year... fresh hockey in early September would get some good attention, I'd think.
  • Great post on Scoring For Houston today checking in with dearly departed Joel Ward, who is a pretty funny guy and will be missed here as he moves on to the Preds organization. Nice to hear from the boys in the summer. And hey, Brandon, you've got your NHL contract now. Buy your own Center Ice!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another minor nip/tuck

I find that I'm often posting at night and by midnight or so, my eyes just don't like reading type on a black background. It's been bothering me for a while but I didn't want to set up a whole new template. Then poking around tonight, I saw that they've added a color changing tool so that you can adjust the colors within the template without having to start over or dig through code. Bravo, Blogger peeps!

I think the result is much easier on the eyes, though I do kinda miss the edginess of a black background. I'm not sure the current scheme really represents Ms. Conduct as well as I'd like. I'll sleep on it.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Five ways I'd change the...

Houston Aeros.

Yeah, if you read a lot of hockey blogs, particularly Puck Daddy, you might have thought I was going the NHL route there. But no. I think all the good ideas, and some really bad ones, have been voiced, though it is an interesting read.

But in the real world, the Aeros President recently stepped down and presumably, the position is mine for the taking. My zero years of sports management, people management, and marketing/sales experience leave me stupendously underqualified, but I bet I've sat through and listened to as many Aeros games as Garrity or Tom Lynn have, seeing as they're both based out of Minnesota and are in charge of a lot more than just the Aeros. And I can tell you what works for me as a fan and what really really REALLY doesn't.

  1. Don't just advertise at the 4 or so hockey rinks around town. Houston is chock-a-block with sports fans. Get their attention (billboards, naked ladies, free beer, whatever it takes), get them to a hockey game, make it clear what's going on, and get 'em hooked. Also, hockey players are damn fine specimens... Ladies Night! $20 club seats, voucher for beer or soda, and a strip tease for charity after the game. Instant fans!
  2. Move the radio broadcast of the games to a sports radio station. I think we have three in town now that have either all or considerable sports content. Get the games off the wacko KNTH ultraconservative station. I can feel the vomit coming up in my throat when I hear even a minute of that station before the game. *urp* AND if it's on a sports station and they want to promote their content, they're gonna actually talk about the team on a regular basis! Imagine!
  3. Furthermore, there are several local channels that do their own "local sports" shows each week. Get the boys on those shows to "sell" the game. There are some great personalities on the team and they can sell the sport. Reporters would love to have the access to pro athletes that the team could really give them.
  4. Lower ticket prices. Club seats shouldn't be more than $25 at the gate, $20 for the corners and $10-15 for the end zones. Obviously glass should be at a premium. Include those in the advertisers packages as an enticement to advertise with the team, on the radio, and on the TV broadcasts, when those happen.
  5. Improve the gameday entertainment to be... wait for it... ENTERTAINING. Change the music up. Change the video up. And please PLEASE ditch the droning choirs. Put kids on the ice playing broomball or the squirts out playing hockey, or hell, even put the high school kids out and have a Battle of the Suburbs tournament that runs the whole season. Make it interactive for the fans. Stop putting us to sleep between periods! Make the lovely Aero Dynamics shake their money makers while the Zambonis run. Boom. 20 minutes of entertainment for everybody and nobody's annoyed or offended or drooling on their sleeves, everybody's ready and pumped for the next period, and the boys will return to the ice to an excited crowd rather than a yawning one.
  6. BONUS: Give all three Aeros bloggers a press pass. I know of two others and they both have one. *tapping toe* I don't even want locker room access. Knowing how I utterly clam up around the players, it would be useless. Andrew and John can handle the "OMG! Bare ass!" end of things (but of course, if I have a press pass, I can sit with them and tell them what I want to know!)
Now look, I'm not all that smart and I can figure this out. Hopefully someone will come in with a fresh perspective and fix this problem. Give the excitement and beauty of hockey the support it deserves in a market that may need a little nudge to "get up" for it. Slip a little Hockey Viagra in the water... that's all I'm asking.


Post Game - 8/25

Well, as awesome as last week's game was, this week wasn't so great. I've had worse but it was enough that I'm having trouble getting to sleep because my brain keeps chewing on it.

I actually didn't play that bad, other than one really bad shift where I fell twice (both times on my injured wrists... grr!, once caused by my center and his stick that apparently was glued to the ice... grrr again!) and one defensive gaffe when I was supposed to be covering the point and I just wasn't where I needed to be and they ended up getting a goal. Now, I know there was lots of other stuff happening to make that goal happen, but that one didn't sit well with me.

The main problem was that I was on a line with two VERY good players, who both should probably be in B-league. So by the time I've decided we're definitely on the attack and I need to get down there and set up camp in front of the goalie, they've already made one attack on the goalie and either scored or are fighting for the puck in the corners or whatever. So I hardly got the puck at all and when I did have a chance at it, I fucking whiffed on the damn thing. AUGH. I can't even tell you how frustrating that is. It's right there, it's all mine, and somehow my stick just doesn't connect. Just makes you want to fall through the ice.

Of course, I understand the guys on my line wanting to get down there and play to the top of their ability but it sure doesn't make it much fun for the true novice-leaguer on the line, I can tell you that much. But I'm not making excuses. This is really just a call to action for me to get faster so I can keep up with the play now that I've got a semi-idea of where I need to be. But it really did make the game less fun. I get where my frustrated teammate was coming from a couple of weeks ago. I should tell her next time I see her that I "get it" now...

Oh well. This seems to be how it goes. One week is fabulous. Next week is sucky. No game next week so we'll see if I get sucky twice in a row or if fabulous will hold out for a week.

It was also kinda tough being the softie for goalies that I am... the final score was 14-1 (my team won). *cringe* The other team's goalie just had a really tough night and his D wasn't helping him at all. I just felt bad for him.

Oh, and get this! I got a penalty!! It was totally justified, though as I recall, I was going for the puck when I tripped the guy, but maybe I'm imagining that and really just lost control of my stick (more likely). I felt bad about the trip and should have apologized but got so thrown off that I got a penalty, I failed to do so. I absolutely didn't mean to but his skates intersected with my stick and I just was powerless to stop the chain of events unfolding in front of me. Though Coach Stalin (who, I should add, has never gotten a penalty and called me "Goon" the rest of the night LOL) said he checked her right after that, so he deserved it.

I was yelling at the ref and pointing at my chest going, "Girls don't get penalties!!!" So he tells me, "In novice league: Everyone gets a goal. Everyone gets a penalty." Though I don't know any of the other girls who've gotten penalties, so that's bullshit. But I deserved it. I tripped the shit out of the guy. It's very lonely in the box, BTW...


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weekend Update

In the excitement of Prospect Watch 2008, I failed to post any of my training this week, which consisted entirely of making sure the couch didn't float away and nursing a banged up wrist (from what, I couldn't say... an accumulation of abuse, I guess).

That is until Friday when Coach Stalin and I busted out the outdoor puck and wooden sticks and went to the open air basketball court for a little passing practice. It was pretty fun but did my wrist no favors.

Yesterday, Coach and Mr. Stalin came over to Wii for a few hours. We wore ourselves out! The boxing is an especially good workout. My shoulders and upper back are definitely feeling it today. Even my hip is sore, which I can't figure out.

Anyway, the exciting thing is that I got a little chunk of Mr. Conduct's bonus and decided to buy myself some inline skates (RBK 5k Forsaken)! It's one of those things I've wanted for a while but couldn't justify buying unless I ended up with some mad money. The nice thing is I can use my bike helmet rather than having to buy another hockey helmet without a cage. Plus bike helmets are a lot cooler and have a ponytail hole.

There's a flat 1 mile loop that's closed to cars near my house that cyclists and rollerbladers can ride on safely, so that will be good for training. Should spare me some trips out to the suburbs to skate and some ice fees.

Game tonight, and it's the last one for two weeks since Labor Day is next weekend. Several members of the team are going to a novice league tournament in College Station over the weekend. At some point, I'll be up for something like that but not yet. I'm sure they'll have a great time though. Not really nervous about tonight, thankfully. But I do need a nap... :)


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Prospect Watch 2008: Anton "Dimples" Khudobin sez:

Anton Khudobin -- A native of Kazakhstan, the 22-year-old is coming off a tremendous season at the minor-league level. Khudobin was masterful with the ECHL's Texas Wildcatters, going 20-1-4 with a 1.98 GAA and .934 save percentage. His play earned him a promotion to Houston, where he posted a 1.99 GAA and .911 save percentage in 12 appearances.

While the Wild are basically set between the pipes with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, Khudobin can solidify a spot in Houston with a strong camp.

"I'm anxious to see him at summer camp," Thompson said. "He played OK when we brought him up to Houston, too. He had a tough start last year, but once he found his game again, he was pretty good. We want to see him at our summer camp and see if we can keep him going in the right direction. He's a fiery competitor."
Ms. Conduct sez:
Are you crackers, Brian Compton? No effing way Anton beats out Schaefer or Brusty this year. And he wasn't ever promoted to Houston. It was a call-up. He went back to the Catters once Schaefer recovered from his injury.

Now this makes it sound like I don't like Dimples, but nothing could be further from the truth. I adore the kid! But let's be realistic here. We have four NHL-experienced goalies ahead of him in the pipeline, which means unless there's a trade involving one of the top 4 goalies in the organization, Anton's back in the ECHL this season. Tom Lynn said as much recently:
We hope to add another goalie by end of training camp. The Aeros will generally carry 2 healthy goalies, as will the Wild. Any injury to one of those four goaltenders means our “third goalie” (or the #5 goalie for the Wild) will b e called up on to play. If there is a further injury or call-up, then we would like to have another good young AA goalie waiting in the wings.
Maybe I'm a little bit defensive on this point because I'm so irrationally high on Brusty. He's the new cat's pajamas. So, ya know, don't be throwing any little Kazakhstani kids into my Brusty soup, baby.

Seriously though, Anton is a good young goalie and was definitely a gem in the rough for the Wild, who drafted him in the 7th round in 2004. Kinda small (AKA Legace-sized!) but very eager, very professional, and incredibly happy-go-lucky, so the baggage of a bad game doesn't stick around for long. Of course, it takes most goalies a while to have enough experience under their belts to progress even once they are technically sound, and that's where Dimples is right now. He played 30 games last season (not including ones where he relieved the starting goalie), so he really just needs playing time, and he should get plenty of that in the ECHL this year. Bob Mason agrees.

Here's a little more color on Dimples. Note the expectation of playing in Houston this season... Sorry, kid.

Of course, the very best thing about Anton is that you could, without a doubt, do shots out of those dimples of his. And maybe I have him pegged wrong, but I'm betting he'd let you. Smile, Dimples!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Blog Botox

I was gonna call it a face lift but really, not much has changed except the forehead.

What do you think? I finally had some inspiration for a new banner and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out given my perfunctory PSP skillz.

Just for grins, the banner roster clockwise from left:

  • Mikko (who was with in mom in that photo but I cropped her out... sorry Mrs. Koivu!)
  • Clutterbuck
  • Brusty
  • Headless Harding
  • Schaefer
  • Scotty punching someone who surely deserves it
  • Burnzie
And of course, the giant hockey sock for a background. I really maxed out my PSP skillz on that. Phew. Pass the Gatorade.


Prospect Watch 2008: Defensive Wrap-Up

Here's what weird about the Aeros. As a group, we had (and probably will have again) the best defense in the league. Individually, though, when the Wild were in a severe pinch for d-men at the end of last season, Reitz was the only one deemed good enough for a call up.

So it's understandable that the list of defensive prospects is relatively short, but I still think it's wrong. Scott shouldn't be on there, nor do I think Scandella should be on there. I can't really justify the Scandella decision as I haven't seen him play, but as I've said, I'm skeptical.

Who should be there? I think you can make a case for both Brandon Rogers and Clayton Stoner.

Brandon played 4 years in college and has 3 years of AHL hockey under his belt, where this season he had a career year and secured his first NHL contract with the Wild for the next 3 years. Brandon has great hockey sense and I think his 4 goals/24 assists and +17 (the team-leading +/-) speak to his gifts.

He actually reminds me a lot of Nick Schultz, both on the ice and in the room (allegedly). They both play a pretty low key game but are effective and calm and good leaders.

Stoner had a tough year last year, playing only 56 games due to injury after injury, but he obviously also saw some benefit from the new coaching regime as his numbers went up significantly in 9 fewer games than last season. But like many defensemen, numbers don't really tell Stoner's story. His bread and butter is his gritty game. He's like Reitz without the offensive touch and, IMO, more hustle and self-sacrifice. Plus, he just seems like a really nice, earnest guy. What can I say? I've seen enough aloof, selfish players and I think it matters to have guys like this.

Tomorrow: Dimples!


Prospect Watch 2008: John "Condominium" Scott sez:

John Scott -- With massive size (6-foot-7 [he's actually 6'8" and change], 255 pounds) and a mean streak to boot, Scott racked up 184 minutes in penalties in 64 games with Houston, his second season at the pro level. The 25-year-old spent four years at Michigan Tech and eclipsed 100 penalty minutes in two of those seasons despite the shorter schedule.

Clearly, his skating will play a factor as to whether Scott can play in the NHL.

"He's come a long way," Thompson said of Scott, who signed with the Wild after going undrafted. "We liked him at Michigan Tech. He's shown some flashes. He's an older guy, but he's huge. He's strong and powerful. Are his feet good enough for the NHL? I guess we'll have to find that out. It's harder for the tough guys to make it on defense. In your own end down low, you can't use your stick and you can't use your free hand."
Ms. Conduct sez:
Scotty Scotty Scotty. This is the player whose inclusion I have a real problem with, particularly to the exclusion of some other players (more on that in the defensive wrap-up).

I'll admit, I watched him the last two seasons with rose-colored glasses on. I loved the way he played and fought with such glee his first season. He defended his teammates but didn't quite fit the "tough guy" mold. He's just enormous and has a huge reach so he's the safest one to use when you need to send a message. All he has to do is grab the jersey and start pounding. The other guy is just flailing around because he can't even reach Scotty's jersey. Very effective and he hasn't fought too many guys twice.

But the reality is, he's just too nice to be the full-on bad ass you want him to be. You get the distinct sense that unless a guy has done something pretty egregious to him or his teammates, he really doesn't want to hurt anyone, nor does he want to get (yet another) penalty. And get penalties he does. There have been games where, no sooner does he come out of the box for boarding or tripping or making a guy shit his breezers in fear, that the ref slaps him with another 2 for something else. It's PAINFUL to watch, especially if you have a particular fondness for the player. Because you know he's just gotta be frustrated as all hell, and as a fan, it's just frustrating for the team's performance.

So, I really don't see Scotty in the NHL. Yeah, he's huge and tough and has amazing reach, all of which are useful, but he's just gonna get his ass handed to him by the speedy forwards in the league. And if he's not into the enforcer role all that much, what else is there? He did play forward a few times this past season and seemed to have fun letting loose a little bit, but I'm not sure converting him to forward is the answer and I don't think he'd want that anyway. But who really knows. I know the guys in Minnesota love the big galoots so we'll see what kinda look he gets at training camp. But I don't see Lemaire trusting him over others.

Finally, here's my favorite Scotty story: Last season when Reitz was injured and sitting in the broadcast booth with Shaver during a game, somebody on the other team was hassling one of the Aeros forwards (can't remember who). The game was close but Scotty decided to defend his teammate anyway and take the instigator. Reitz questioned the decision but said, basically, that's just Johnny and his "big teddy bear heart."


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Prospect Watch 2008: Erik "Who Are You?" Reitz sez:

Erik Reitz -- He spent the entire 2007-08 season in Houston before joining the Wild for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Wild were so thrilled with Reitz's play that they rewarded their sixth-round pick from 2000 -- who just finished his sixth campaign in Houston -- with a one-way contract for next season. Reitz, who's 6-1 and 215 pounds, had 34 points and 99 penalty minutes in 49 games for the Aeros.

"He was the best defenseman on the ice in the games I saw. He finished the year with us in the playoffs," Thompson said. "We intend for him to be one of our defenseman this season. He has a good, solid two-way game. He's a feisty guy. He can shoot from the point. He's physical. He's a good player."
Ms. Conduct sez:
You don't think "thrilled" might be a bit of an overstatement? Then again, with the skanky level of player loyalty (to everyone but Gabby) the team has demonstrated this summer, the fact that he got a contract at all says they were at least "really really happy." Well, that and he came really cheap.

Anyway, Reitzy. Get this: I've never been to an Aeros game where Reitz wasn't on the roster. That's a long ass time to be in the AHL and not get a cuppa, my friend. But he did finally get his shot and he did play solid in his few minutes on the ice. I'm glad he was rewarded for his patient time here in Houston and I hope he knocks 'em dead in Minny.

But do I think he will for sure? I dunno. He spent a lot of last season battling injuries because he does play a pretty physical game. Fortunately, they signed him early in the off-season so he's hopefully been able to rest easy and recover from last season and train for next season appropriately.

Of course, the other thing is that I don't even really consider him a prospect any more. He's not OLD but he's not one of the "yutes" anymore either. I think he's either going to be good enough or he's not and we'll know it pretty quickly. The frosted side of me thinks he's going to rise to the occasion. The wheat side of me says thinks he may not be fast or durable enough. As I often say, the truth is probably going to be somewhere in the middle.

Bottom line: He's a good hockey player who's hard to intimidate, doesn't take any crap off anybody, and, while he's not a "tough guy," he'll drop the mitts without a whole lot of hesitation. He just needs to bring HIS GAME to the NHL and make the most of this chance.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good Avery Interview

Yeah, I know, he's an affront to the purity of hockey or whatever, but I like him. End of discussion. And I thought this interview with him on the Stars site was pretty good. Especially the stuff about his lacerated spleen.

I watch Avery and want to see what he's like when he's really excited about something. He can't always be this cool and blasé, can he?


Prospect Watch 2008: Marco "Polo" Scandella sez:

Marco Scandella -- The converted forward was grabbed by the Wild in the second round in the 2008 Draft. The Montreal native has grown remarkably over the past few years -- he's now 6-2 and 190 pounds -- and the Wild are excited about his potential to be a stay-at-home defenseman. Scandella had 14 points and 35 penalty minutes for Val-d'Or in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.

"Our doctors said he had as athletic a body as any of the prospects he'd seen," Thompson said. "This guy is one of these late developers. Three years ago, he was undrafted in the Quebec League as a 5-foot-9, 140-pound center."
Ms. Conduct sez:
Aww, he has ReitzHair! Cute! (Not the best picture though. He looks like he's in some kinda Wild-branded prison.)

Beyond that, I got nothing on this kid. There's no video. There's no nothing. So, why is he listed so high? Maybe these lists aren't meant to be in order, but it seems the forwards were. Of course, just because I don't know boo about him doesn't mean he's not better than every other defensive prospect except Cuma. *skeptical face*

But since I haven't seen him play, I'm just gonna focus on what I know: He has the very cute ReitzHair, a great "wing span," was drafted way higher than anyone expected (too high?), he's too young to play in the AHL for 2 more years (but he's already almost big enough to go pro... how huge will he be in 2010-11?), and he's fluent in English, French, and Italian.

It's not often in hockey that we are blessed with our very own:

Ciao infermiera!


What the deuce... Awe to Korea; Rosa in Houston for 08-09?

So, ya know, being a minor league team we get some guys who are sort of destined to be minor league journeymen. One of those guys for the Aeros, who I ended up really liking by the end of last season, was Jon Awe.

He's a big defenseman (see left for a demonstration of his big defensemanness) with a bone-shattering slap shot AND he's from MEMPHIS! I love that, though he's kind of an amped up dude.

So, I'm having my usual bout of insomnia, just bumming around on the net and I decide to Google him and see if there's any news of his plans for next season. What does Wiki tell me? Wiki tells me that Jon Awe now plays for the Anyang Halla in South Korea! (Annyong!)

Check it out! Even the NHL is aware of this!

Anyway, I'll miss his huge slapper, but I hope it's a great, rewarding opportunity for him. I'll have to keep an eye on him over there.

Next thing you know, I'll find out Marco Rosa is playing hockey on the goddamn moon...

ETA: Well, now that I've done some digging on Marco, this agency's site says he's signed with the Aeros for 08-09. Wouldn't that be great? (The answer is Yes.)


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prospect Watch 2008: Tyler "Tiger" Cuma sez:

Tyler Cuma -- It had been four years since Minnesota took a defenseman in the first round, so Cuma instantly became the franchise's top prospect on the blue line when he was grabbed at No. 23 on June 20.

After winning Rookie of the Year honors in the OHL for his performance with Ottawa in 2006-07, Cuma was the only member of the 67s to finish with a plus rating in 2007-08. Minnesota loves his offensive ability, as Cuma is willing to rush the puck up ice and has tremendous vision.

"This is the ninth draft that the Minnesota Wild has had, and never before have I ever said I was surprised when the guy was there when he picked," Thompson admitted. "I was very surprised. We're just delighted we have him."
Ms. Conduct sez:
Okay, so I have never seen this kid play other than scouting video and such, which I find hard to tell anything from. So I have very little to add other than I'm pretty excited about this guy. He's got the whole package you look for. In-fucking-credible attitude and work ethic, great hockey sense, great speed, good size. Plus, his NHL idol is Phaneuf, which I love to hear. Can you imagine a Phaneuf-clone AND Burnzie on the blue line for Minnesota? Holy hell.

Since I have so little substance, here's some video:

Draft Montage from the NHL
He'll drop the mitts for his goalie (oh, you know that gets me, right?)
Wild Development Camp video
Scouting Video (this is my favorite... not all souped up like the other stuff, just real hockey)

Of course, being the kind of guy Cuma is, he wants to make the team this year. It seems highly unlikely, but I think camp will be a good experience for him to see what he needs to do next year to make it.

I wish he weren't too young to come to Houston, but he definitely is. Never hurts to have a guy around who is in relentless pursuit of being #1 at everything he does. But then knowing how these kids party down here, it might just be his undoing.


Monday, August 18, 2008

What a effing relief!

The important piece of the Aeros gameday puzzle (if you have a penis) is finally in place. The lovely Aerodynamics have been selected for the 2008-2009 season. Phew!

I know I was on the edge of my seat about that because really, nothing says Calder Cup Contenders like a troupe of scantily clad college girls gyrating to a few songs and throwing t-shirts.

Honestly, I know that's just how it is these days. Every sports team (except baseball, apparently) has to have some eye candy because being at a hockey game where guys are hitting each other and bleeding out their ears just isn't testosterony enough. T&A, good; neutral zone trap, bad. I dig. Whatever.

All I'd ask is that the gals take a lesson from the Texans cheerleaders in terms of hair and make-up. Sometimes... well... we're looking a little bit like we should be slithering around in a thong with dollar bills stuck in our cleavage. I'm just saying. Too much make-up, overbleached hair... just class it up a little. You're all naturally pretty girls. Stop trying so hard.

Meanwhile, I really feel for Kristin and the gas bills she's gonna have. I'm not sure it's worth the drive from Nacogdoches for this gig alone.

I'll end on two positive notes in the midst of being a catty bitch:

  1. The girls were pretty game last year when it came to post-game skates or skate-with-the-player events. Even if they were obviously not comfortable on skates, a few of them got out there and gave it a go and interacted with the fans, esp. the little kids. Anybody who will put themselves out there like that and interact with the little kids is okay in my book because it keeps the kids away from me.
  2. The more little dance routines they do during the game or intermissions, the less opportunity there is for those horrid kiddie choirs to sing God Bless America or a hymn or a Christmas Carol (welcome to the Bible Belt). Just shoot me dead. I hate that shit. I'd rather see marginally hot chicks dancing instead of listening to that ANY day. Unless they start dancing to God Bless America or This Little Light of Mine, at which point I may just go to the upper deck and jump off.


Prospect Watch 2008: Forward Wrap-Up

They did a pretty good job with the forwards who seem, at this point, to have a shot at going up. As I mentioned earlier today, the only oddball was Foster simply because he doesn't even play for the Wild organization any more. But I prefer an odd inclusion over an ugly omission.

I'm a little surprised that Morten "Marmaduke" Madsen wasn't included, but I think he's still finding his way, both in terms of the North American style of play and as a pro, and maybe isn't as highly regarded at the moment. We've got some very good centers coming into town this year, though, so hopefully these are guys he can learn from. I'd love for him to be learning under Mikko (a la Shep), though. Morty's a big, blonde, blue-eyed cutie who maybe doesn't score like you'd hope but also isn't a liability and has some potential, so I can't help but like him.

Tomorrow we move on to the defensive prospects.


Prospect Watch 2008: Adrian "Milk Carton" Foster sez:

Adrian Foster -- After failing to catch on with the New Jersey Devils, who picked him in the first round in 2001, the 26-year-old finally enjoyed success in his first season in Houston. In 70 games with the Aeros, Foster tallied 15 goals and 23 assists. It marked only the second time that he was able to play more than 50 games in a season.

"He's a smart player," Thompson said. "The biggest thing with Adrian was that he played a full season for the first time in a long time. He's had a whole lot of physical problems. If those are behind him, I think he's got some talent. He has to show what he can do."
Ms. Conduct sez:

Now this is an odd one.

I actually really liked Fozzie last season and thought/hoped the Wild would sign him. He seems to have recovered from the injury-plagued start to his career, having played most of the season in good form. If I recall correctly, his best hockey was in the middle of the season, and he kind of faded at the end, though I attribute that to him not having played a full season in several years. He's obviously got talent, he works hard and seemed to have a good attitude. He made an impression on the ice, and I don't mean just his skates.

But it's strange that he's even on this list. He tried out for the Wild last training camp and got cut. Then the Aeros gave him a tryout and apparently gave him a 1 year contract (though it was never reported or announced). My assumption was that he'd move on to less humid pastures looking for an NHL contract, or maybe to Europe, but then here's TT giving an opinion of him here in the summer as though he's still (or ever was, actually) in the Wild system?

So, I emailed someone in the Aeros front office the other day to see if he could fill me in on Fozzie's status: "To be honest, we don't know where he is or where he's going..."

Well alrighty then!

So, as much as I really like Fozzie, apparently he's gone walkabout! Maybe he's with Elvis, my missing socks, and Voloshenko.


Well, shit, that was fun

So, the skating clinic actually went really well. Helps a lot to not have "first time" nerves like I did last time. Plus, even Coach Stalin agreed that she dialed down the "drill instructor" tone quite a bit. I enjoyed it much more.

The game was a blast and I had this beautiful pass to the slot but my center just couldn't get it in the net. Both goalies were playing really well. Scott, the opposing goalie, gave me a shove in the back for the first time ever, and that just thrilled me because it told me I was all up in his kitchen and bugging him. Heh. If I can't be a goalie, I'm gonna be irritating to the goalie!

Anyway, our team played pretty well and it was all happiness and smiles after. All the angst of last week was gone gone gone.

I've had my Whataburger now and I'm letting the Advil kick in. I feel my eyelids getting heavy though, so hopefully the Advil will kick in quickly so I can get some sleep.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekly Nerve Report

So, in good news, I found my beloved bottle of Xanax that I thought was lost forever. The good/bad news is that my hockey nerves didn't kick in until about 4 today and we hit the ice at 7:15. So, I'm just gonna have to find my own zen.

Tonight we have Andrea doing another power skating class, and really, that's what I'm most anxious about. I don't want to badmouth her because she really does know her stuff, but she's a hardass and I just don't really dig hardasses. I think every person has a different way in which they are optimally "reached" and her way (straightforward, humorless) just sets me on edge and makes me nervous and intimidated.

I've been trying to coach myself through it a bit by telling myself that I'm just there to learn. If I already knew how to do this stuff, then I wouldn't need the class. Also, I'm telling myself that I don't have to impress her (Lisa Simpson Syndrome). I just have to focus on ME and do my best.

It doesn't help that I didn't hit the ice at all this week.

*deep breath*

I wonder at what point I'll just look forward to playing rather than looking forward to being done playing for the week. Probably when I have a lot more confidence in my skating skills. Hey, good thing there's a skating skills class tonight! (See there?)

Okay, time to get ready. Damn. I just remembered I meant to go buy a bigger water bottle this week with a straw on it. Oh well. Next week.


Prospect Watch 2008: Peter "The Librarian" Olvecky sez:

Peter Olvecky -- In his third full season in Houston, the Wild's third-round selection from 2004 set a career high with 17 goals in 61 games. Regarded as a solid two-way player, Thompson believes Olvecky's late development is partly because the franchise didn't know where he was best suited.

"He's a guy that turned things around," Thompson said. "We didn't know what he was. We didn't know if he was a center or a winger or offensive or defensive. We never really knew. The second half of the year, he played a lot better. Hopefully he'll give some people a run for their money in camp."
Ms. Conduct sez:

Again, a frustratingly vague analysis from TT. He poses all these questions and never answers them. How'd he turn things around? Is he a center, winger, offense, defensive? I sure don't know based on watching Peter play last season (and apparently the prior TWO season, which I don't remember him at all).

And frankly, I can't fill in those blanks. The most I can say for sure about Peter is that he's a solid, even-keeled hockey player who will get you 30 points a year regardless of the system. The thing is, he apparently missed 29 games this season, but I had no idea. That's only 5 more games than Stoner played, but his absence I was keenly aware of.

In fact, if someone took the stats away from me and asked me how many games each guy played, I would have said Stoner played 50 and Olvecky played 70 (and wow, isn't he durable?). I'd be wrong all the way around on that guess, but it just demonstrates that whatever impact Peter has, it's a very, very quiet one. Shhhh!

Also, he had by far the worst plus/minus of the top 5 scorers for the Aeros. Ten below Reitz, who was +5 in 49 games.

I don't dislike Peter, but he's got "warm body" status in my mind. I haven't seen him make any big improvements (though his goals were up a bit this season) in his 3 years here, where some of the previous low key guys made fairly large strides. TT seems to think he has found his mojo, but I until I see evidence, it seems to me he's really just meeting the basic requirements:


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Prospect Watch 2008: Petr "Crack Squirrel" Kalus sez:

Petr Kalus -- The 21-year-old is still trying to find his way after being acquired from Boston in the deal that sent goaltender Manny Fernandez to Boston. Kalus scored four times in nine games for the Bruins in 2006-07, but spent the entire 2007-08 season with Houston. He had just 18 points in 58 games for the Aeros after nearly making the Wild's roster in October.

"I think he lost some of his confidence in Houston," Thompson said. "We got him in the Fernandez trade, and he was pretty good in training camp. He was our last cut as a forward. His play was up-and-down in Houston."
Ms. Conduct sez:

That's not much of an opinion from TT as far as Kalus' prospects with the Wild or their expectations of him, is it? Really just a statement of fact there. Howzabout a little insight, Tommy?

Fine. I'll give some. Kalus is a frustrating enigma like Pouliot, but with some of the opposite problems. He's got a lot of talent, a lot of energy, and actually too much willingness to play physically. He's not a small guy, but he's not real big either, yet he plays like he's 6'4", 220 and ends up injured a lot as a result. I'm the last one to criticize a guy for playing physically, but when your body can't hold up to it AND you're offensively gifted, howzabout we leave the crushing blows to the beefier fellas and you just get the puck in the fucking net?

Kalus is talented, no doubt about it, but he's got a wild, undisciplined style, which might work on some teams, but will NOT work for Constantine and Lemaire. I just have visions of Lemaire with his hands around Kalus' neck a la Homer and Bart... though the reality is that he'd just get healthy scratched like Kalus occasionally was in Houston (to his obvious irritation if you talked to him about it).

In fact, when we played Providence this season (Kalus' former team), Shaver interviewed Scott Gordon (now the Islanders' coach) who basically said Kalus was a challenge from day one and when he finally started making strides, injuries set him back. Sounds familiar. Listen to it here. He starts talking about Kalus at about the midway point.

The St. Paul Pio-Press had a good article about Kalus during the Development Camp a few weeks ago, but unfortunately they charge for access to older articles. If anybody out there has Lexis-Nexis or something and can pull the content for me, e-mail it to me and I'll put it here. I believe it was published July 11.

The gist of it was that he had a bad year last year due to Coach Constantine basically breaking his game down in order to re-build it to work in this system. Kalus says he feels like he's matured, but that if he doesn't make the big club this year, when his contract runs out, he's gone. Fair enough, kid. Make it work! Holla atcha boy!

Honestly, I hope he finds his niche this season. He's a funny guy with a ton of crazy, crack squirrel energy and I like that about him, but want him to harness it.

Dr. Conduct sez:

I have a simple solution. Get the boy a Ritalin prescription!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Prospect Watch 2008: Ryan "Box o' Chocolates" Hamilton sez:

Ryan Hamilton -- The undrafted 6-2, 200-pound power forward enjoyed a breakout season with Houston, increasing his scoring output from seven goals in 2006-07 to 20 last season. Hamilton dealt with injuries for a large chunk of his junior career, but has been able to stay healthy as a pro.

"He's a big, strong guy," Thompson said. "He had a good season. He has an excellent attitude. The question with him is whether he'll be able to adapt to the NHL tempo. Hopefully, he will."
Ms. Conduct sez:

I don't have much to add here. TT sums it up perfectly. Ryan is a great guy (by all accounts) and a solid hockey player who works his ass off out there. He's not a "tough guy" but he's not afraid of digging for the puck, finishing his checks, and fighting for those dirty goals in front of the net. He's a gutsy, selfless player who just got more and more valuable as the season went on last year.

Here's a great article on Ryan that gives a better sense of him and his game.

NHL? He's a bubble guy. If he continues on this path of improvement he started last season, he deserves a shot. Where Reitz was last season is where Hamilton might be this season. It's going to come down to what the needs are in Minny and how he impresses in camp.

To be honest, I had chalked up Hamilton, even as recently as the All Star Break, as a guy like Danny Irmen who'd peaked and would be a solid AHLer but not much more. Well, he found his mojo and may just prove me wrong this season:


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aeros on TeeVee

I got confirmation today from the nice PR dude at FSN Houston that Aeros games will be broadcast again this year and "While the schedule is not yet set, we anticipate increasing the number of telecasts from last year."

Presumably they'll do the same thing as last season and also show them on delay on FSN North, so the Wild fans can get a glimpse of the young'uns.

This is great news! Should hopefully entice better talent to the team for the newly-vacated broadcast director gig. By the way, Aeros, if you need any color commentating, I'm available and I can guarantee colorful language.


Prospect Watch 2008: Cal "Land Mine" Clutterbuck sez:

Cal Clutterbuck -- Minnesota's third-round pick in 2006 is coming off his first season of professional hockey, which was spent with Houston. In 73 games with the Aeros, Clutterbuck, a 5-10, 196-pounder, scored 11 goals and added 13 assists to go along with 97 penalty minutes. The Welland, Ontario, native had back-to-back 35-goal seasons in his final two junior campaigns with Oshawa.

"We think he can be a solid, two-way, physical player," Thompson said. "He would have had more points if (Houston) had used him in offensive situations. He had 70 goals his last two years of junior. He can score if you put him those situations. He can shoot. I think he's got a good chance with us."
Ms. Conduct sez:

It's no secret, Clutterbuck is one of my favorite players in the Wild system, if not all of pro hockey. If I were writing a book about him, it would be called How I Learned to Relax and Love the Agitator.

Cal is smart, wiley, calculating, and nasty. He's a shit-stirrer (watch him during warm-ups skating juuuuust inside the center line). I'm told he runs his mouth constantly, though I think he's got some kind of ventriloquism thing going, because I've never seen his lips move other than in a direct confrontation.

Even though Cal is a classic agitator, he doesn't push the boundaries a la Avery. He doesn't do silly shit to embarrass his team and he's a great guy in the room (from all indications). But he's pure nasty on the ice and I love him for it. He crushes guys with gleeful abandon AND he's strong enough to do it without getting himself hurt. I'm sure he had some injuries last year, but you'd never know it.

So, even if he doesn't get a ton of points, his value goes way beyond that, and I think the blurb doesn't capture that at all. However, it is cool to see that TT thinks, given the opportunity, he's got some offensive firepower in him. I tend to agree and think he hasn't hit his stride in that regard yet, as he's had some really nice goals in Houston, so I know he's got a bit of sniper in him. But that's all gravy to me... it's the dozen other terrific attributes he brings that makes him the valuable player he is.

Things that are awesome about Cal:

  • His poker face. I've never ever seen him smile or appear frustrated or angry during a game. And when you've got a guy who's so infuriating to the opponent, the fact that he has absolutely no reaction to THEIR reaction just makes it so much sweeter.
  • Along the same lines, I love how he'll just CRUSH a guy into the boards and we're all going, "WTF? Did a bomb just drop in here?" (or if you're a seasoned Aeros fan, you just start looking for Cal's number because you can be pretty sure he was the culprit) and the other team's enforcer is on his ass and Cal's wearing this look like, "What's everyone looking at?" It's like someone causing a 10 car pileup during rush hour and just getting out of their car and walking away like, "You dudes deal with this shit. I gotta go." Awesome.
  • That he claims to have no talent. That everything he's got is just from hard work. Now, while I do believe that he's probably one of the hardest working guys on the team, I don't believe for a second that he's not blessed with something special. But his humility is charming, so who am I to argue?
  • He manages to avoid crossing the line between being a distraction to his own team and being a distraction to the other team. Occasionally, Scotty has had to come in and cast a dark shadow over some altercation that Cal stirred up, but I think those little dramas do more to fire up the team than to throw them off. But it sure gets the other team hating us and hate is distracting.
So, I hope TT is right and my little Land Mine gets a serious cuppa in Minny this season. The only thing is that Minnesota's never had a true agitator like this. Some folks there think Voros was an agitator. No. He was a pest but mostly harmless (unless you're Novotny). And it seems most of these old skool hockey types don't like agitators. So, it remains to be seen if they can find a spot in their heart for one who's on their side for a change. To those people, I think Cal would say:


Shaver Out

Looks like Aeros broadcaster, Jason Shaver, is moving on to the hated Chicago Wolves broadcaster booth. I'm surprised and sad, but I totally get it. The Wolves appear to be an excellent organization and they broadcast all their games on television, so this is a step up for him from the Aeros (somewhat cheesy but totally lovable) radio broadcast.

But personally, I'm pretty bummed. I listen to EVERY game if I can't be there in person, so his voice is tattooed on my brain. And the fact that he's going to the Wolves is even worse. It's like Gabby going to Colorado or something. Blech.

I'll be happy for him at some point, assuming I like the new voice of the Aeros, so here are some fond memories I have of "Razor" from this past season:

  • I loved him with a player in the booth providing some color. His dry wit played off some of the boys really well. Especially the goalies. Both Brusty and Schaefer were terrific foils for Jason's style of delivery. The game or two where all three of them were "in the booth" practically required a 2 drink minimum, they were so funny.
  • I liked how he wrapped up his introduction of each game, where he posed a question and then said, "We'll find out tonight... together... on Aeros Audio" or something along those lines. Always felt kind of warm to me.
  • He was also very fan-friendly, taking e-mails during the game either for himself or the player with him, and he was always very diplomatic while still getting across sometimes a less than diplomatic point.
  • I remember the game, though I don't remember what arena, where the Zamboni came out and chewed a big hole in the ice delaying the hgame for what seemed like 40 minutes or more and he just had SO much air time to fill. It was to the point of, "PLEASE send in questions!" LOL But he handled it with grace and humor.
  • His relationship with Joel "The Landlord" Ward was particularly funny, too, as Joel was a moth to a flame when Jason's recorder was rolling. I wondered what he was going to do without Joel there to fill so much airtime on the game-day podcasts. Someone else's problem now, though Kassian seems like the new go-to guy for a funny quote.
That's all for now, but a big shout out to Jason for providing such great interviews throughout the season, keeping this obsessed fan as informed as possible, and calling the games in such a way that I really don't feel like I missed any games this year, even when I couldn't be there in person. What more can you really ask for from your broadcaster? Godspeed, Shave!

If you want to listen to some of Shaver's interviews throughout the season, go here.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday workout

Hit the 3 mile loop tonight with Coach Stalin. Then went to Niko Niko's and had the gyro I've been craving for 2 weeks. Yuuuum. I could totally eat that again tomorrow. The itch is not fully scratched, apparently.

I'm resisting getting into the Olympics here, but I have to say, I really don't like the guys doing a floor routine. It's such a girly event in my mind. At least there's no music. But the prancing around between tumbling runs... ick.

ETA: I also added a link in the sidebar to email me. A little homage to the Hip. One of my favorite lyric bits from the World Container album.


Prospect Watch 2008: Benoit "Delay of Game" Pouliot sez:

Benoit Pouliot -- The fourth overall selection in 2005 has been a late bloomer in Minnesota's system and played for the Wild down the stretch last season. After racking up 35 goals and 161 penalty minutes in his final junior season with Sudbury of the OHL, Pouliot hit the AHL and scored 19 times for Houston in 2006-07. He made his NHL debut that season, but was held off the score sheet in three games. After going 10-14-24 in 46 games for Houston last season, Pouliot made the jump and scored twice in 11 games for the Wild. Both of those came in one game against Calgary on March 22.

Thompson is confident Pouliot is ready to have a breakout season in 2008-09.

"He's been an enigma, but we accepted that when we drafted him," Thompson said. "He finished the year with our club and played in the playoffs. He's certainly got a chance to make it, too."
Ms. Conduct sez:

You had me at "late bloomer" and then REALLY had me at "enigma." On paper, he's got everything you could ever want in a star forward. Big, agile, creative, fast, good looking (now that he's shaved his head and put some weight on)...

But there's been a maturity and confidence missing in his game in Houston that has left so many fans anywhere from mildly disappointed to downright angry. I've been both of those things in the span of one game (more than once!), so I know whereof I speak.

There's a laundry list of things Pouliot Needs To Do to be successful in the NHL and I think he's working on them. I think he'll do better under Lemaire and his system because it is a bit more free than Constantine's. I tend to agree with Tommy that this is likely the year the long-dormant Pouliot finally blooms, but I'm not sure if I feel that way because we've only got 4 centers in Minnesota so we really don't have a choice but to hope for that, or because it really does seem like his "time."

I find the blurb is a little misleading with that PIM stat though. Pouliot isn't a fighter or even particularly tough. Based on what I've seen him do in Houston, I'd wager most of that PIM is from immature stick retaliation penalties. He's a hacker and a slasher and not very good at hiding it from the ref, though he's getting better, I think. Add that to the list of problems he needs to solve.

I'd like to suggest a new mantra for Benny as he attempts to conquer the NHL this year and get a long term deal with Minnesota (it's a contract year for him):


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I suck at golf

Not even golf. Just hitting golf balls. But we went tonight anyway and I've gotten my swing back to normal before I started screwing with it and it was better.

My wrists hurt from our driveway hockey yesterday, and my abs are sore but that's about it for aches and pains. Funny how hockey has conditioned me to tolerate stewing in my own sweat. Before I started playing, the sweat dripping off me tonight would have driven me crazy. It was actually fairly mild but really humid. Shocker.

Anyway, that was today's workout. We're planning to walk around the park either tomorrow night or Thursday night, but I shredded my big toe on Monday night by not wearing socks in my running shoes to play driveway hockey. So 3 miles on that didn't sound good tonight.

I need to skate at some point, too, but it's looking like it's going to be difficult. Must check the public skate calendars and see if anybody's doing an evening one this week.

This was a really boring post. I'm even bored by it. Sorry about that.


Prospect Watch 2008: Colton "Freight Train" Gillies

NHL. com sez:
Colton Gillies -- At 6-foot-4, Minnesota's first-round pick from 2007 certainly has the size to become a legitimate NHL power forward. After scoring 24 goals for Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League last season, Gillies made the jump to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. In 11 games there, the 19-year-old picked up a goal and seven assists.

Whether Gillies will be on Minnesota's roster come October remains to be seen, but he'll certainly have every chance to make the club out of training camp.

"He doesn't have to score points to earn his stripes with us, so that will help him in his attempt to make our team," Wild assistant GM Tommy Thompson said. "We're very pleased with his development.

With Colton, you don't just look at the points. He had a very good World Junior Tournament, too, and won the gold medal. He's got size and he's an elite-level skater. He's very aggressive and very coachable."

Ms. Conduct sez:

Word to your mother! Colton is the real deal. Put 15 lbs. on and get some NHL experience under his belt and he's gonna be a scary mother fucker. He's big, he's fast, he's got a mean streak. He also seems like a pretty decent, serious dude. Like, he's not clowning around, he's not a diva or an egomaniac. He's grounded and focused and doing what it takes to succeed.

Is he really NHL-ready this year? I think he can be, but it will be a slow start for him. Ideally, if it weren't for the rule that you have to be 20 the year you turn pro to play in the AHL, he'd play in Houston for at least half a season before going north. I think the seasoning down here would serve him well.

But is he wasting his time spending another year in juniors? I think so. He fit in so nicely, so quickly in Houston at the end of last season, where other guys took a half or whole season to really get with Coach Constantine's system, my socks were officially knocked off. Yeah, he got pushed around a bit along the boards due to being a bit light for his height, but a few pounds and some experience will solve that.

I love being in an AHL city because it's really thrilling to me to watch these guys develop their game and move up in their careers, and he's one who I think will be pretty special to watch develop. He's just so full of potential. I think all I need to say to any Wild fan about Colton is that he reminds me of Brent Burns, from his size, to his ice presence, to his aggressiveness. And it seems that he's bonded with Burnzie a bit after living with him for a while earlier this summer, so that's even more kismet that makes me think Colton Gillies can say:


Prospect Watch 2008

That name might be a little dramatic for what I'm really doing, but I'm lazy and it's the first thing that came to me.

But here's the deal: came out with an article today on Minnesota's top prospects. Some of it is good, some of it is questionable, but since it's the off-season and there's really not much to talk about, I figured I'd take one guy each day from the article and give my first-hand take on him (or if he's still in juniors, I'll just make stuff up).

Sound like fun?

You can read the full article here. I'll give each guy his own post over the next couple of weeks, and then sum it all up with who I think got the shaft, because a few guys did IMO. Gaborik should be signed by then, right? Right? Hello? (ETA: Wrong!)

Colton Gillies
Benoit Pouliot
Cal Clutterbuck
Ryan Hamilton
Petr Kalus
Peter Olvecky
Adrian Foster
Forward Wrap-up

Tyler Cuma
Marco Scandella
Erik Reitz
John Scott
Defensive Wrap-up

Anton Khudobin


Monday, August 11, 2008

Stick and puck, sort of

Coach Stalin and I are batching it this week, so we're gonna try and do a little bit of a workout each night since we've got the time to do so. Tonight we were both feeling a bit lazy from hockey yesterday, so we did a little stick and puck work tonight in her driveway.

She's got these cool pucks that actually have about as close to a puck feel as anything I've tried off ice. We just worked on puck handling and then passing for about an hour. Good stuff. I think it was helpful.

More helpful still was just talking about the game last night and some of the *GIRL ALERT* feelings we're having about our teammates and our own playing and stuff. Plus, I asked her a few questions about what I needed to be doing in various situations. One of the things I need to do is ask questions of my center (usually the best player on any of the lines) when we get on the bench if there was a situation that I need clarity on what I should have done.

The double edged sword of novice hockey is that sometimes the play goes pretty fast and its hard to keep up with as a new player. But then they try to accommodate the new players by giving us space when we have the puck, which means everyone on the ice practically stops moving/playing. Well, when you're new, you're taking your cues from your more experienced linemates. So when they and the other team basically stop in their tracks, and the puck is on your stick, sometimes you're left wondering WTF is going on. Especially if it happens around the blue line, because then it's like, Am I offsides? What's going on? Should I clear? Should I get the puck and clear? WTF!?!?

So, I just need to ASK when we get off the ice what the hell was going on there.

Anyway, I feel better having had some good talk about that and all the other stuff going on. It was the catharsis I was looking for but didn't get after the game last night.

Do guy hockey players need to "talk out" their games afterward? :) Neither Coach nor I are particularly "girly girls" so I'm guessing this is pretty normal.


Game 3

Played my third game of hockey last night. We had extra time so it was 4 stop-time periods (thankfully not five as my water bottle had run out and I was parched).

It was kind of a strange game. Disharmonious. I think the game ended up 12-4 or something, with the other team winning (which is pretty unusual as the red team doesn't win very often, though it's usually pretty close). I know I personally wasn't particularly pumped up for the game. My parents were here, Mr. Conduct was there. I started out by falling in each of my first two shifts. Just didn't have my legs, or my heart, really, in the game.

As far as MY game, I didn't feel all that good about it. I did more things right, but between those things I was doing right, I didn't play as well as I would have hoped. I just felt sluggish and kinda "who cares" about it for a lot of the game. But I had a few good instances of clearing the zone or keeping the puck in our zone, but several others where I had the puck clean and open and skated right past the fucking thing. I think I need to go to the eye doctor because my depth perception is jacked up or something. I swear to God, my blade is heading right for that puck and I just skate right past it. AUGH! It's maddening!

Then we get to the locker room after and nearly everybody in the room is mad about something. Goalie is mad because of the 12 goals (hey honey, it's a TEAM sport...) Coach Stalin is mad because she feels like some of those goals were her fault (she's only got 3 games of playing D under her belt). One of the other new players was mad because, while this is novice league, the game actually goes pretty fast sometimes and the guys like to play all out with an occasional nod to the newbies with a pass attempt or whatever. I don't mind it being that way, so far, but she's complained about it the last couple of games and I see her point.

And then on top of that, I was frustrated with my own lack of enthusiasm, but also kinda bummed that everyone else was bummed. You really just want to have fun and for everyone else to have fun.

I didn't get to hang around in the parking lot after since I didn't want to drag my parents out so late, so hopefully it was cathartic for those who did stay later and they kinda drowned their sorrows a bit. It was just kind of a weird night. *shrug*

Next week is another skating clinic and then, presumably, a scrimmage. Really really REALLY not looking forward to the clinic. Andrea really knows her stuff but I'm doing this to have fun and she doesn't make it fun. More drill instructor than anything. I dunno. I didn't enjoy the last clinic at all. But of course, it's the Lisa "Oh god, I MUST please the teacher" Simpson in me at the root of this. I should just look at it as an opportunity to make strides in the practice of not giving a shit what other people think, eh?

As August passes, I'm growing more and more desperate for hockey. The only thing remaining until training camp is getting Gabby either signed or traded. Not exactly a Yawn situation, but still a slow one. And Russo's on vacation, so we're just getting nibbles of info here and there. Certainly better than nothing, so I'm not complaining.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Lunch Skate

Skipped lunch today (man, my tummy is rumbling, too) and skated instead. I'd intended to just refresh my stopping a bit and then work on backwards, but my dumb-leg stopping needed more refreshing than I expected, so I worked on that the whole time, along with some just straight up laps around the rink to work on my stride and crossovers.

There was a guy (teenaged) getting a lesson from one of Andrea's students. It was fun to watch because they were working edges and doing some crazy, swervy stuff that I don't trust my edges nearly enough to do yet. It was just nice to see some really well-executed, hockey-style skating. Not that my novice league doesn't have some nice skaters, I'm just usually too wrapped up in my own stuff to care during a game.


Further Aeros Schedule Analysis

Turns out the Aeros have 15 instances of 3 games in 3 days. Which sucks even in a vacuum (no pun intended). But then when you add up the 3-in-3s our main opponents are dealing with, it's clear that the boys in the Bombers done been screwed, and not in a good way.

Here's the 3-in-3 rundown for the teams we play the most (and therefore have the most difficult travel schedules... eastern conference teams have relatively easy travel in comparison):

Manitoba Moose - 5
Milwaukee Admirals - 7
San Antonio Rampage - 7
Chicago Wolves - 8
Peoria Rivermen - 8
Rockford IceHogs - 8
Iowa Chops - 10
Quad City Flames - 11
Houston Aeros - 15

Holy crap! Who'd we piss off?

Not to mention the fact that NONE of those 15 are all at home! Plus, the Aeros were notoriously lacking in pep after having more than 3 days in a row off last season. Hopefully the extra rest between ball busting weekends will work to our advantage this year rather than against us.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aeros Schedule

Man, I hate to bump the previous thread down. Nom nom nom...

But the AHL released the schedule for all its teams, so now we can plan our Aeros-watching (all whopping 15 games... hmph) and hopefully put together our trip to Minnesota for some Wild games.

In seasons past, we've tried to see as many different teams as possible, but in most cases, there's just no history with these teams, none of the bad blood and fierce rivalry that makes for really great hockey. This year, I want to spread the love but I'm okay with repeating games against certain teams. Though with only 15 games to attend, I'm gonna have to ration. *'scuze me while I go cry*

Our big rivals are Chicago and San Antonio, though I'm guessing we're going to hate Iowa pretty much off the bat. I know I do already.

Peoria is always good competition, too, and they'll have Matt Foy, if he doesn't make the Blues big club, and that giant goalie who I can't seem to tear my eyes away from, Ben Bishop.

And of course, my dear "you left us too soon" Ryan Jones will be with Milwaukee along with gregarious former Aero, Joel Ward. Plus they have cool uniforms. Definitely want to catch them.

I don't know how it has played out for the rest of the AHL, but we have LOTS of 3 games in 3 nights on the schedule. Rough stuff and hard on the guys.



Marty F. Turco, Sean F. Avery, and Brenden F. Morrow

I hereby contend that the Stars have the most F worthy players of any lineup in the league. I can't even tell you how I'm beside myself to see this team on the ice in a couple of months.

P.S. Look at those skinny chicken legs on Turco!

P.P.S. A good wrap up of SFA's visit from Puck Daddy.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Players whose middle name starts with F...

Been reading a few blogs today about Sean Avery taking his party to Dallas to do the media rounds and throw out the first pitch at the (Texas) Rangers game and some other things that his girlfriend probably doesn't want to know about.

Anyway, the rest of the afternoon I've had his name bouncing around my head. Sean Fucking Avery. Sean Fucking Avery. I'm not sure what his real middle name is but it really should be Fucking.

But of course, there are others in sports with an eff-bomb for a middle name. Bucky Fucking Dent comes to mind. And Wiki reminds me of Aaron Fucking Boone.

Even the marvelous Mikko Koivu gets the F treatment by some Wild fans, but it's pure compliment, I assure you. Mikko Fucking Koivu. Damn straight. Watch your back, bitches. And then there's Martin Fucking Skoula. Not a compliment.

Who's your F player? Who am I missing?


By the by, I added a tag cloud at the bottom of the page so you can quickly find subjects of interest. Plus it's pretty.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Weird Day

So, Edouard barely whimpered his way through my neck of the woods with nothing other than steady showers all day. Which is pretty much what I predicted. I'm patting myself on the back for my lack of overreaction. I think it helps to avoid the local news completely.

It was kinda weird though. A let-down, really. I was ready for some excitement! Even Major wasn't even phased.

And then, for some reason, I'm having a very Pro-Pouliot day today. My frustration with his lack of achievement in the AHL this past season is no secret. I really wish the guy well, but he's GOT to be tougher in the face of physical pressure. Or he needs to work out an elaborate keep-away game with Butch and just wear the D out, while a grittier player (Nolan?) makes some space or screens or shovels in rebounds or whatever it is he can do.

But today, I'm feeling hopeful about my newly-hunkified prospect. I was watching some of his video on YouTube while I ate lunch. Nice stuff. I can't help but smile.

I don't think I'd seen this video before either: Aeros v. Rampage late in the season. Two classic Hamilton "never give up on the puck" goals and a Kassian/Vandermeer fight (draw).

Man, I miss hockey.


Waiting for Edouard

As if Houston summers aren't fun enough with the $500 electric bills and heat stroke, we also get hurricanes. This one doesn't look to be too big a deal. I filled up some water bottles and margarita pitchers (all four of them) and bought some Dos Equis for when the water runs out. ;) I'm all set for whatever comes our way.

Anyway, I never did recap yesterday's game. But this should sum it up pretty well... before yesterday, I couldn't tell you the last time I went to sleep with a smile on my face. I went to sleep with a smile on my face last night. And not just because I was tuned into one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies (Robin Hood: Men in Tights... I know, but it's a Cary Elwes thing).

It was just plain fun last night. Not the Festival of Intimidation that it was my first week. I did more than one thing well, I tried to hustle when I was sure what direction to hustle in, and I got a shot on goal from a really pretty pass my center sent me in the slot. I even blocked a clearing shot in our offensive zone. Some would call it just being in the way, but they can suck it. :)

I'm still amazed by how nice and patient and encouraging everyone is. The littlest thing done right, the smallest successes are cheered. Of course, my cynical nature doesn't know what to do with that on a rational level, but I appreciate it none the less. Fortunately, Coach Stalin gives me the straight dope.

It was a big game for her, as well, as she switched to playing D, which I've been telling her is her calling in hockey. She's a mean little defenseman, which is great since she's on my team. I laughed about Reitzy's autograph on her stick giving her special hockey powers, but I swear, she's a different player since he signed it.

We played 3 periods, practiced for a bit, and then played another 15 minutes to run out our ice time. Next week is a full stop time game like the first game and my parents are going to be in town so I'll have an audience. Yak! Of course, it's nearly impossible to tell who I am out there. In fact, I think there are two of us on the green team wearing #6. All my gear is black, except my socks, which are red. I guess that will have to be the cue. The one in red socks who's behind the play. Pfft!

Anyway, it's 3 a.m. and I've been writing this post the entire length of that movie Body Heat. Apparently it's some kind of theme night on HDNet because there have been lots of women killing men, including The Last Seduction, in which the guy leaves to play hockey. So, you know. Hockey. Cool.

I think that's enough for tonight. Been up so long, I'm hungry again.


Monday, August 4, 2008


I'm so tired. And I've wolfed down a couple of breakfast taquitos (god bless Whataburger starting breakfast service at 11 p.m.) so my stores have been replenished. But the game was SO much better than last week. I genuinely had fun (that wasn't overshadowed by frustration).

I'll recap tomorrow. Gonna put on some bad middle of the night TV and die for about 8 hours.



Sunday, August 3, 2008

All's Quiet

I think since I spent nearly a month in sort of a blind panic about skating out, I fried the "hockey thought" part of my brain. I even got a new Goalie News that I'm only halfway through (normally I sit down and read it cover to cover), and I haven't watched any games on the NHL Network, etc.

Just needed to give my mind a rest from it between games and I think that's been good. Of course, it doesn't mean I'm not absolutely dying for the new season to start or jumping on every bit of news about my teams (of which there is nearly none).

But I do have a game tonight and I'm waffling between looking forward to it and dreading it. I'd say I'm more on the "dreading it" end of the spectrum. So I'll probably spend the day telling myself to put my ego aside and just have fun. And then listening to myself say, "LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" back at myself. Stupid self.

Actually, I think I might do my easy yoga video just to calm down and limber up a bit. Maybe get a nap in this afternoon.


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