Eep! Game 60? Only 20 more? *sad*
Yeah, so I'll be honest, I barely watched the game as I was having too much fun in the little chat window AHL Live provides, plus watching the Wild game that came on about halfway thru the Aeros game. HD vs. AHL Live means HD wins.
Not a terrific game for either team but these games against QC are never pretty. Never ever. They're always just ugly grinds for both sides. No difference tonight.
Luckily, Rosa brought his goal stick on the road because he got two PP markers tonight AND a shootout goal. And yet somehow Kolanos, who had an assist and the winning shootout goal, got the first star of the game. I might have even put the Flame's Cunning (suppose he's a linguist?) above Kolanos in the final accounting.
Maybe they let the choir who did the national anthem pick the stars and they liked K-Train's shiny blond highlights? I dunno.
Schultz got the other goal for the Aeros and most importantly, Chucko was completely shut out. Suh-weet!
Schaefer let in the first shootout shot after stopping 27 of 30 in regulation and overtime, but then stopped all the rest. I've never seen him look so dejected as after he let in that first SO goal, but he gathered himself admirably. As a goalie, I know letting in that first one feels awful. I know this because I almost always let in the first shot on me. Not tomorrow though. Bitches.
Anyway, Kassian and Brown dropped the mitts early in the third and Kassian wolloped him pretty good. Nice work Kass.
Even Schaefer got a little fiesty, putting the glove to Sutter as he was leaving the ice for the period and sending him to his ass. No penalty. The only thing better than a goalie roughing a guy up is the goalie getting away with roughing the guy up.
Irmen was back in the game, but Pouliot, Mojzis, and Crowley were out. Khudobin was minding the door (or sitting in a tunnel... wherever they tuck the back-up goalie in QC) and Brusty stayed home on this trip due to his injury Friday night.
Here's Andrew's Chron write-up.
Off to Milwaukee tomorrow. And you can watch it by going to AHLLive.com and signing up Sunday for their free viewing day. Aeros play at 4 p.m. Central, so go check it out. If there's someone named "Heather" in the chat saying inappropriate things, that's not me.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Eep! Game 60? Only 20 more? *sad*
Cycle Like the Sedins brings us Puck Huffer's All Decade Team
I obviously don't agree that he's a "thug" but hey, putting him on a line with Mario and Nasher? Okay. Call him whatever you want. I guarantee he's been called worse.
I love hockey and I love being a hockey fan. In fact, I even love days like this where it feels like doom is imminent and it's time to fire everybody and start over. One Russovillian is even suggesting blowing up the entire NHL.
I find the drama pretty entertaining though. The rush of the win or even the win streak wouldn't mean anything without times like this. And what times these are:
- The Wild kicked off their toughest roady of the season with an ugly loss to Calgary (natch) and look to be playing for an early golf season.
- Boogie is suspended 5 games for an embarrassing elbow to the head of a guy who just got back from a broken jaw.
- Cal seems to be playing through an injury and, as a result, playing a squirrely game the last couple of outings.
- Weller is on waivers.
- The Aeros killed and buried their handsome win streak with a 1-6 abomination last night.
- Our offensive studs look completely unmotivated.
- Brusty has a leg injury of some sort.
- Playoffs? Don't talk about... Playoffs??!
Anyway, the Wild are the late game on HNIC tonight against Scott TFCG's beloved Grease. I'm gonna predict a loss for the Wild. I know... way to go out on a limb.
And the Aeros are facing the QC Flamers tonight. Same prediction as above. If our scorers aren't motivated and our goalies can't see the puck, that's one salty pickle, my friends.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Well, kids, the streak is over with that 1-6 beat down, so the leash of superstition is off (which also means I no longer have to keep wearing purple shirts to the games) and I've got lots to say. But first, lemme get a beer.
Let's start with the good stuff! (This should go quickly.)
The Aeros scored a goal! And it was a really pretty one by a pair of defensemen who don't see the scoresheet all that often. Paul Albers finally finished what he's teased us with a couple of times over the last couple of games, with a beautiful streak down the ice, dekeing the IceHogs defense right out of their breezers, and firing one past Crawford.
It was a joy to watch and John Scott got the lone assist, so that was icing on the cake. Bravo boys.
The other highlight was just how damn tough Mitch Love is. At one point, he got in a tangle by the IceHogs bench and honest to God, it looked like he was fighting about 4 guys at once, a couple of them ON the bench. And yet somehow he got the double minor. Bullshit, I say. Those asshats shouldn't have been throwing punches at him from the bench without getting penalized for it, and I KNOW they were.
But then he got in a real fight midway through the third against Bertram and just beat the snot out of the guy. It was a nice one. Quick and decisive.
The beer is kicking in now. I feel warm and happy inside. Good beer. Beer doing its job.
Now for the bad stuff.
|3rd||RFD||0:07||P. Pelletier (25)||P. Kontiola, T. Brent|
|3rd||RFD||7:08||E. Brophey (13)||N. Hjalmarsson, T. Hambly|
|3rd||RFD||13:12||P. Pelletier (26)||T. Brent, P. Kontiola|
|3rd||RFD||17:27||T. Brent (19)||P. Pelletier, A. Hobson|
|3rd||RFD||18:09||P. Kontiola (14)||P. Pelletier, D. Groulx|
After the Brophey goal, Brusty replaced Schaefer but fell awkwardly making a save just a little over 4 minutes into his time, and Schaefer had to come back out, letting in 3 more and looking like a statue.
My crew said they thought he was injured, but I don't believe that's the case. Then again, I hope he wasn't playing like that healthy. And apparently Constantine felt the entire team folded like a cheap tent, according to Andrew's Chron article. Couldn't agree more. Shots were 29-14. Fourteen!
The usual guys who always work their asses off worked their asses off, but turnovers were plenty in the neutral zone and the team was miserable at getting the puck deep. The playmakers and scorers were sloppy and heartless.
Kolanos in particular has not carried on his level of play from prior to his last call-up to Minnesota. Very disappointing. Locke was nearly invisible tonight. Schultz looked timid after being the target of a number of IceHog cheap shots.
Rosa looked good, Earl had his best game since getting here. Falk was impressive tonight as well. Best I've seen him look so far this season.
Sometimes I watch the boys handle the puck and want to send them to breadmaking classes. The lesson is that the more you dick around with the dough, the tougher your bread will be. The chemistry is different, of course, but the more you dick around with the puck, the more opportunity the other team has to relieve you of it. Simple hockey, boys. Simple hockey.
Speaking of which, Madsen is back from his ankle injury, but Pouliot is out with a lower body injury. Mr. Crowley was a healthy scratch and Irmen's still out with his bunged up ankle. ETA: Oh yeah, and I guess Kilpatrick was a healthy scratch, too, though I'm starting to doubt his existance. Forgot to also mention that Mojzis is still out with an injury.
Kudos to Mr. Prediction for literally counting down from 5 to the first IceHogs goal (I keep wanting to say Chops... I'd forgotten what it's like to play anybody but them). It was uncanny and impressive. Though I have to wonder if he wishes he could take this back...
Here's Royal's blog on the game. As I thought, Schaefer didn't stink it up due to injury. But Brusty IS injured and it sounds like Khudobin will need to pack his dimples and get to Moline, IL tomorrow. I'm sad. I miss watching Brusty.
That's all. It's been a bad hockey night for Ms. Conduct, but as Mr. Conduct says, "The sun don't shine on the same dog's ass every day." Indeed, my dog's ass is very much in the shade tonight.
And Cal... QUIT DIVING!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
TSN released their player rankings, including their rookie rankings, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to compare Cal to his peers and maybe debunk some of the myths around how great these other guys are.
First of all, here's the extent of TSN's ranking explanation: "Player rankings are based on statistical production and are intended to value the impact a player has on the game."
Well, there's your first problem. Statistical production and impact on the game are, in some cases, mutually exclusive. There is no stat for how many players you get looking over their shoulders or how many you get into a hot-potato mentality, unloading the puck too quickly for fear of getting plastered into the glass.
There's no stat for how much time the opponent spends seeking revenge rather than playing hockey or getting out of position to give some lip and a shove. There's no stat for leadership or for being exactly what a team needed even when they didn't know they needed it.
Not that I have an angle here.
So, for our analysis, we're going to look at REAL impact, which is about more than stats. Here's the list they came up with:
1. Steve Mason Columbus 88.13
2. Bobby Ryan Anaheim 81.88
3. Kris Versteeg Chicago 79.26
4. Blake Wheeler Boston 77.98
5. Patrik Berglund St. Louis 75.61
6. Alex Goligoski Pittsburgh 74.34
7. James Neal Dallas 72.62
8. Troy Brouwer Chicago 71.50
9. Michael Frolik Florida 70.93
10. Jakub Voracek Columbus 69.41
11. Drew Doughty Los Angeles 69.15
12. Kyle Okposo N.Y. Islanders 69.15
13. Mikkel Boedker Phoenix 67.88
14. Adam Pardy Calgary 66.66
15. Jannik Hansen Vancouver 66.46
16. Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay 65.92
17. Mikhail Grabovski Toronto 65.92
18. Cal Clutterbuck Minnesota 65.70
19. Kevin Klein Nashville 64.60
20. Luke Schenn Toronto 64.39
I have no idea, nor do they disclose, what these numbers mean. Therefore, I can only assume they randomly picked numbers.
"Hey, Gord, what do you think aboat putting Wheeler aboat a point n'a half behind Versteeg?"I'll assign them new numbers in the following categories (1-10 for more important categories, but 1-5 for less important categories, so I have a way of weighting the categories):
"Yup, sounds aboat right to me. Throw me a beer eh."
- Expectation Level - If you were a lower draft pick, weren't expected to make the team, came out of nowhere, then you get a high score here. If you're meeting expectations, you'll get right in the middle. If you're, say, Stamkos... no soup for you.
- Badassness (aka the Chuck Norris Scale) - It's nice to be skilled but if you can be skilled AND bring the pain, you'll do well in this category.
- Nice Stats - The more ways in which your stats are impressive, the better you'll do here.
- Team MVP Status - The more valuable you are to your specific team, the higher you'll be ranked in this category. If your solitary superstar is out recovering from hip surgery, this bodes well.
- Moment-Making - When the season ends, how many of the big moments and lasting memories did you make for fans? How many times will your name come up in this context: "Dude, you remember the game where ____ did ______? Holy crap, that was nuts!"
- Fan-Base Adoption - Do you lead your team in t-shirt sales?
- Foxiness - Oh don't act surprised. Of course it matters.
- Scorn from Hockey Legends - If you've make Gretzky turn purple with rage or gotten your own segment on HNIC calling your cowardly ass out, you'll rock this category.
- Name Game - How much game does your name have?
- Adorableness - I actually added this category in honor of Kris Versteeg, who couldn't be more charming and adorable if he tried (but also because Cal does well here, though the perma-smirk did lose him one point).
Cal Clutterbuck 61
Should surprise no one. Though I though it was interesting to discover that not only does Cal lead rookies in hits by about 80 hits, he also leads in Shots Missed. Maybe that's not something you write home to mom about, but hey, he SHOOTS! Anyway, he kicked ass in every category except Nice Stats.
Kris Versteeg 44.5
Low expectations, incredible stats, almost a 6 out of 5 on the adorableness meter... what's not to love with this one? He could make me a Hawks fan. Proof: (oh yeah, and can I please be Sarah Spain when I grow up?)
Michael Frolik 41
His extras, such as adorableness and foxiness and name game (any name that connotes frolicking and licking is a big time winner), boosted him up from fairly average ratings elsewhere. Look how adorable:
James Neal 39
Neal flies under the radar a bit but he's big and tough and handsome and has a hat trick among his above average stats, so he did will in these rankings.
Patrik Berglund 38.5
I was having trouble rating Bergie until I saw this video that a fan made. That plus nice stats and relatively high importance on a team that needed something to smile about, oh yeah, and being very easy on the eyes...
Steve Mason 38
Goalies are tough to rank among skaters, and it's even tougher to rank young goalies because those guys don't usually hit their stride until their late 20s. But his amazing stats and fairly clear cut MVP status on his team has him ranked pretty high in spite of being weakened by mono and not particularly attractive, even for a goalie.
Drew Doughty 37.5
To just be 19 and a defenseman, Doughty's success this season exceeds expectations big time, IMO, even though he was a high pick. This, along with average rankings elsewhere for Drew, put him right here.
Bobby Ryan 36.5
You've all seen that sick hat trick Ryan got a few weeks ago. This put him high on the Moment-Maker rankings. If a guy plays for a team you don't follow and you're still thinking about his goals, that's a moment-maker. That, plus very nice stats and a fairly gritty style, overcame a low Expectations ranking. Seems like fans were getting impatient for him to meet expectations and felt like he was a little behind the curve. He's caught up this season though.
Blake Wheeler 36.5
You'd think Blake would be higher because I'd sure love him on my team, and not just to get folks who bitch about not having a Minnesota player on the Wild to STFU already (though that's part of it for sure). But apart from making some great moments (anybody with a hat trick got ranked well here) and amazing stats, he was at or below average in other categories.
Troy Brouwer 35.5
I almost threw this one out. Why is he on this list? Yeah, he's a pretty tough dude and was a very good AHLer, but I'm not seeing how he's exceptional in the NHL. And yet he has surpassed expectations a bit and he's a major badass. It was funny to finally get to him after researching several of the other rookies. He looks about 10 years older than the rest of them.
Steven Stamkos 35.5
I like Stammers. Poor kid was thrown into the water with a big-dollar Stamkos for Savior campaign on his shoulders when the season started. No fair. But he was a trooper and a professional, from all I've heard, and now he's starting to get comfortable and find his game. He pretty much hit the average on most categories but blew the top out of the Foxiness and Adorableness categories, which made up for a low expectations score.
Kyle Okposo 34
Average pretty much across the board. Meeting expectations on a really bad team but not really blowing anyone away.
Adam Pardy 33
Another "filler" player on the list, IMO. If this were a "Most Improved" list or a "Late Bloomers" list, yeah, he's on it, but I guess they wanted another defenseman on the list. He'd be at the bottom if he weren't so good looking and adorable and if he didn't have a name that reminds you of, well, a party. Win!
Mikkel Boedker 30.5
The extra half point for Danish adorableness and the quite good stats can't make up for below average everything-else. Or I may just be bitter because he's been relatively useless on one of my fantasy hockey teams.
Jakub Voracek 25.5
Above average stats but below average on most everything else. I do have him at least meeting expectations based on age and draft status.
Jannik Hansen 22.5
Though he is exceeding expectations and is averagely cute (and got the .5 Danish bonus), he's just not pivotal to his team and isn't a badass at all. Sorry Jannik. But don't feel bad. I didn't even bother to rank some of the guys, so you're not really at the bottom.
Anyway, because I'm all about transparency, here's the spreadsheet where the magic happened.
Feel free to argue a rating in the comments here. Obviously I don't watch these other boys on any regular basis (though I've seen quite a few of them in the AHL), so I was having to use stats and scouting reports and YouTube and other resources to figure out where to rank them. It was a real pain in the ass, I have to say.
I'm even open to changing some ratings if you can convince me I'm wrong about something. A lack of objection constitutes agreement, so consider yourself on notice if one of these boys is yours and you don't defend his honor.
Anyway, the bottom line is that Cal is the bitchinest rookie in the league and the rest of them are prissy little mama's boys. (Except for you, Brouwer. I'm scared of you.)
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Congrats to Matt Beaudoin, who kept the pace up throughout his try-out and earned himself, not only a spot on the top line, but also a standard player contract with the Aeros.
Beaudoin, 24 (4/6/84), signed his SPC after posting 12 points (8 goals, 4 assists) in 19 games with the Aeros while playing on a professional tryout contract (PTO). The Rock Forest, PQ, native recorded the Aeros only hat trick of the season on February 14 in Iowa. He skated in 11 AHL games during brief stints with Hershey, Rochester, Iowa, San Antonio and Milwaukee since the 2007-08 season. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward also skated in 62 ECHL games during the 2007-08 season split between Las Vegas and Dayton while tallying 38 goals, 31 assists and 44 PIM.The Aeros have certainly "tried on" plenty of forwards this season. Glad to find one that has stuck and stuck hard. Can't argue with a hat trick, can you? Keep it up, Matt.
The icing on the cake is giving him his own tag here on the blog. I know, I know, it's a lot to take in.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Seems the Aeros have had to call up a defenseman. I approve of their decision. Sorry, Jenna!
Haven't I said the team should cater more to the fact that their primary asset is beefy, foxy young men?
Once again, the Caps organization gets. it. right.
UPDATE: Right-ish. I hadn't been to the Caps site yet when posted this. Pretty cheesy execution but again, team of hot guys + women with eyes = butts in seats.
After a little begging, Mr. Awesome, Fred Trask, hooked me up with some glamour shots of foxy Drew Miller from the games last week.
Drew is a relative newcomer to Ms. Conduct's roster of primo hockey hotties. And I feel a little bad for liking him as he's got some pretty big strikes against him. First of all, he's had 42 career games with the Ducks and could conceivably get called up at any time and become a Duck again, thus bathing him in the stinky filth of Duckdom and rendering him revolting and unfit.
But for now, he's a mere Chop, which is acceptable and often tasty.
Of course, the other strike is that he's pretty damn good and he plays the Aeros a lot. So he is the enemy.
But here's what redeems him for me and why, no, I do not need to see the eye doctor, as Fred suggests: See, his brother is Ryan Miller, the almost-but-not-quite-foxy, now laid-up-with-a-bum-ankle goalie for Buffalo.
I love Big Brother Miller. He's a good goalie and his mask is my all time favorite and Buffalo is on my short list of NHL teams I could fall in love with. And there's this picture:
Super hot, right? But normally, he looks looks skinnier and nerdier and I find myself wishing he'd cut the Jesus hair and have a cheeseburger.
And then along comes Drew to fulfill on the promise of foxiness that Ryan merely teases. Photos by the magnificent Fred Trask.
So, anyway, he's officially on the radar. I'd love to see him get traded or sign with a real team some day, so the looming threat of him going Quacker on me would go away. Meanwhile, I'll just try to enjoy his visits to Houston and hope he can't find the net while he's here.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Because they've actually watched him play and "get it." But then Clutter breaks their favorite boy and the gloves are off, as in the case of my blogger buddy covering the Flames over at hitthepost.
Cal crushed her Gio and now he's out for the season with shoulder surgery.
Her feelings last Thursday
Her feelings today
DOH! But I get it. I totally get it. Poor Gio. Poor WI. Guess that's one person I don't need to send a Cal for the Calder button to, eh?
The button you're holding is in honor of Cal Clutterbuck, a player you attempted to shame on HNIC a few weeks ago for wearing a visor in a couple of fights. You essentially watched a few fight clips of the guy and decided he was "a coward."
Well, I know it's your job to be outlandish and get people talking, and if that's your only goal, then you nailed it. As far as I can tell, you got pretty much everyone who's ever had Cal on their favorite team atwitter, because they know what kind of person and player Cal is from watching him night in and night out. And they all know you're dead wrong.
I've heard two sentiments consistently:
- I like Cherry and usually agree with him, but he's way off base here.
- Cherry would have LOVED Cal on his Bruins when he was coaching.
Let's count the ways in which he is awesome:
- He is one of the hardest working guys in hockey, giving 110% of everything he's got every shift of every game. He hits relentlessly, plays through pain and injury and illness. The only time I've ever seen him have to leave a game this season was when he was partially, temporarily blinded by a hit on him (and if you watch a game, you'll see he takes as many hits as he dishes out).
- He's mature well beyond his years in the way he thinks the game. For a rookie, his decision-making with and without the puck is first rate.
- He's absolutely fearless in his commitment to physical play. Cowards don't dish out 232 hits in 54 games AND back them up if necessary (though he's not a "tough guy" as you suggest... if he fought every player who wanted to drop the mitts for his clean hits, he'd do nothing else).
- Cal isn't afraid to pay the price of going to the net (in fact, I have yet to find any price he's not willing to pay to help the team). And he's developed a pretty wicked wrist shot, which adds valuable offense to his defensive and checking responsibilities.
- He gives a ton of time to fans and to the hockey community. Check this out. I can't even count the number of appearances he's done this season, even filling in when teammates are unable to make engagements.
The guy is 21, just getting started in the league, has tons of upside and a huge career ahead of him. Give him a real look sometime; watch a whole Wild game. Let go of the outdated stigmas and you'll love our little wrecking ball just like we all do.
Had novice league practice tonight. Feels like a secret middle-of-the-night rendezvous that I get to have every Sunday. I love that.
It was a good practice (as opposed to an evil practice) and I feel like I got a lot of out of it both in terms of gaining skill and practice/experience but also mentally. I was feeling the tiniest bit out of sorts (at least that's all I'm admitting to) and needed the boost. And I didn't feel like, for once, the folks saying I looked better were bullshitting me. Still a million miles to go, but I'm seeing progress every week and the things I'm doing during the week are making a difference, which is nice to see.
Not that I wouldn't take a few things back, of course, but I'd like to sleep tonight so I'll think about those tomorrow. I don't think anything is going to haunt me when I close my eyes like it often does.
The greatest thing is that I figured out how to tie my skate laces so I'm not spending 90% of practice hopping from foot to foot from the crippling pain across my stupidly wide forefoot. It's amazing how much that was making me miserable from head to toe.
No, wait, the really greatest thing was Scott TFCG and Luther again taking time to coach me. Honestly, I can't say how much I appreciate it. I know you weren't feeling so hot, Scotty, so extra thanks tonight. Really. And thanks to K for sharing you with hockey another night this weekend.
I'm so effin' sleepy now though, I can barely hold my eyes open. Hopefully this headache won't keep me awake when I drag myself up to bed.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I think I've figured out why I don't want to write up these games... I don't want to talk about the streak for fear of jinxing it. Shhhh... so yeah, it's 6 games but we're not gonna talk about it.
Exciting game, top to bottom, last night. Definitely a fitting culmination to a series of 4 pretty good games in two weeks against the Chops. It's been a huge boost to this team both in the standings and, I'd wager, to their confidence.
The question in my mind right now is, how much of this was riding the NHL-caliber coattails of Kurtis Foster? I guess it remains to be seen. And with 6 days before the next Aeros game, and their propensity for stinking after a long layoff, I don't have high hopes for next Friday's game against Rockford. Well, I have high hopes, but low expectations. What goes up must come down. Even the Red Wings have bad goaltending right now.
I felt like the Aeros dominated play, in significant stretches, though it certainly wasn't reflected in the scoring. Seems like at least three or four times, they had the Chops on their heels and were just peppering the net with shots. But it was posts or LeNeveu or deflections or whiffs or wide or high... Only Foster managed to blast one of his killer slapshots into the net during a couple of minutes of 4-on-4 play. Brute force, baby.
The goal against by foxy Drew Miller (damn his foxy hide) was a tough one because Schaefer had stopped it but it was beneath him and he didn't know it was still loose. But Miller did.
Both goalies put on a clinic but Schaef won the shootout for sure. And he won his 100th game, so congrats on that milestone! Great picture of him accepting his #1 star here by Fred. Good stuff.
One of the few lowlights was a 3-on-5 opportunity the Chops gave up late in the first period. The Aeros just couldn't get their act together and hold the zone. It was a jaw dropping choke job.
One of the highlights was a little scuffle after the play which resulted in Kassian dangling one of his gloves at an opponent, challenging him to a fight. We had a good laugh about that. Kass got 10 minutes for it. Sometimes it's just worth it, IMO. (More on this from Royal... I contend that my description isn't actually wrong.)
Also, Love got in a fight with Wathier early in the second and my sources, who sit next to the visitors' penalty box, tell me Wathier got a monster shiner and spent his 5 minutes with the ice bag pressed to his face. Oh snap!
Overall though, there were moments of just beautiful hockey in this game, especially on the PK. I was commenting to the guys that a good penalty kill just takes my breath away and that happened more than once. But there were also moments of "Hey, why is the dump and change back? Booo!!!" Regardless, it was a terrific game and I can't imagine anybody went home feeling short-changed in the entertainment department, which is especially great when it's in front of the second largest crowd of the season.
Anyway, linking you out to Royal's blog (with lots of good stuff on Foster) and Andrew's article in the Chron.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I know a lot of people think Tom's a jerk but I kinda like him. He seems to talk without a lot of filters or BS, and I'd rather hear the straight shit and not like it than have to read between the lines of someone who puts pillows around everything.
Anyway, this is a good interview with O'Donnell from the second intermission of Thursday's game. Good talk about the trade deadline, particularly as it relates to the Aeros, in which he basically says further trades aren't likely for the Aeros because the team chemistry is so good, they're afraid to tinker with it and throw it off.
If you believe it (and I think it's prudent to be skeptical), that's good news in several ways. So, I'll take it.
Also a good discussion about why they've called up certain guys and not others, so if you're wondering why you haven't seen Locker up yet, take a listen.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I'm suddenly really really cranky this morning and don't feel like writing up the game last night, so I'm just gonna point you elsewhere. What a pro.
Andrew's Chron article
I don't have much to add other than I don't like the new hot dogs and fries they're serving at the TC. The music was pretty decent last night. Beaudoin seems to be the real deal. And dammit, the Wild need to pull their heads out of their asses. If we lose our good players trying to help that lost cause, I'm going to be pissed. (Told you I was cranky.)
Oh and because it was a 2-game night for the AHL, we had a shot at someone getting among the 3 stars for the league and indeed, Lammers did for his GWG. But look at this. Can we get a better photo of him? He looks like he's going to the slammer. And meanwhile, the IceHogs' players look like 16 year-old church camp counselors.
Timmy: "Okay, kids, we're gonna sing 'Jesus Loves Me' now!"
Lammers: "F**k off."
Konti: "Oh Johnny, let the Lord into your heart already."
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Well, it appears my PHN article got published to the site just before Lammers put the game winner in the net, so thanks to Lou at ProHockeyNews.com for banging it out just in time and making sure the fates weren't affected by my dateline.
Anyway, here's the latest.
More on the game tomorrow. I'm tired tonight.
Great article on Cal from a Calgary writer. One of the best I've seen. Really well written and gets into Cal's thought processes around his agitation.
Less awesome article on Cal but a quote from Boogie, which makes it worthwhile. And how did I find out about this article? Because Wysh is the best damn hockey blogger ever and put this in his headlines this morning:
• Minnesota Wild Calder Candidate Cal Clutterbuck laughs at your feeble attempts to ridicule him: "They make fun of my last name, which is totally unoriginal. Don Cherry beat them to the punch." [Sun Media]BOOYAH!
Russo reported a fantastic Cal story this morning in his blog:
I got a really nice email from a guy named Peter Olson, who’s on the staff of the Roseville boys’ hockey team.Come on. If you don't love Cal by now, I can only assume you hate life. (And Aaron, THAT is the true test... not that silly Wild anthem.)
“Between the second and third periods of the JV game [Tuesday], the boys got a special visitor. A very unassuming young man followed the coaches in the dressing room. The kids were looking, but not really staring at this gentleman. The head coach spoke up and introduced Cal Clutterbuck. The kids’ eyes widened, and smiles went ear-ear. By the way, the kids were lucky…they were gonna get a premeditated tongue lashing…so another reason for them to love Cal. He talked about how he was new to the area, and wanted to soak in some of this MN High School hockey everyone talks about. He talked a little about how hard he worked growing up, and how much he has come to love this area. He then wished the boys luck, and went next door to talk with the Varsity team. After the JV game, he sat with the team to watch the first period of the varsity game. … Just wanted to pass along just another reason why hockey players are the most down to earth and humble players.”
By the way, both the JV and varsity teams won.
And on the other end of the spectrum, tell me your stomach doesn't turn a little when you hear about the Albany River Rats' (baby Hurricanes) bus turning over on the road at 3 a.m. today. More on it from Puck Daddy.
Aeros game tonight and I just submitted my PHN article to my editor there, so my prediction is that they're going to lose 5-0 and make me look like a jackass (not that I don't pretty much get that done all on my own on a regular basis) when the article comes out in the next couple of days. Every time I write an article indicating a sense of direction for the team, they do a 180. *sigh*
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I loved Jason Shaver but Joe O'Donnell is gradually becoming my guy, especially as today he's promising lots of goodies coming down the pipe from the boys.
This quote in particular made me laugh:
Don’t forget that Saturday night is “Pigs In A Blanket” giveaway night in honor of the Chops, and that the Aeros 11th Annual Celebrity Waiter and Dinner Auction is coming up on March 3rd. The first of those two plugs is not serious by the way, although I would certainly love a pre-game snack.Word.
Anyway, the newest bit from the boys is that Falker is now doing movie reviews on road trips. He can't possibly be as full of sweetness and "aw shucks" charm as he comes across in these reviews, but I'm gonna pretend that he is and commence crushing on him now. Anyway, nice job, Falker. Though whoever came behind and edited might wanna make another pass. Just saying.
Any guesses as to how many times I've watched the video from my previous post today?
Okay, like 5x and I giggled every time, but it's still not enough to make me less irritable about not getting to go skate today at lunch time. :( But I'll strap on the gear and do up and downs later. Gonna toy with my toe ties (say that fast 10 times) to see if I can get a scheme going that works better for pad rotation.
Pouly got some press in the Strib today. I'm just going to quit paying any attention to what he says to the media and let his play speak for itself. I didn't think his words matched his effort lately on the ice, but fortunately it's going the right way for a change.
He sounds much more blasé about it in the paper than he looks during games. Normally he says all the right things but then the effort on the ice is paltry. I prefer this way.
Finally someone else is talking sense about Carey Price and the rest of Les Bad Habit-ants. (ZOMG, look at the quad muscles on those boys! You can see how they had trouble getting to Foster's femur through that stuff.)
And Stu Hackel over at NYT: Slap Shot blog mentions today how there's talk of divisiveness in the Habs room and the elder Koivu seems to be on the outside looking in. Much has been said of his free agent status this summer, and how both Koivus have said that playing together in Minnesota might be something they'd be cool with. Perhaps if the rumors from Montreal are true, the stage for Koivu's departure after all these years and a Koivu reunion in St. Paul is being set. Stranger things have happened.
Because this much-anticipated (at least by me) video might just do it to me.
What a trifecta of happy that is. Dear lord.
If I do actually expire from swooning, please send donations to Houston Aeros Charities in lieu of flowers.
Also, my dear Tamicakes sent this to me this morning. Awesome.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Pio loves Cal, too. Kinda interesting article on what constitutes a hit and what a badass Cal is. Tell us something we don't know, Pio. But hey, it's a new angle on ClutterMania, so we'll take it.
Keep rattling those teeth, my dear.
Mitch gives us a long blog update from Minny last week. Nice of the Wild to treat the boys to a nice big meal. And now I want chocolate cake...
Also, as I was looking for the above video, YouTube recommended this one to me. YouTube knows me better than I know myself. And that's f**king creepy.
Hat tip to Jordan in Russoville for pointing this excellent article out. It sent chills down my spine. I love this kind of inside look at a hockey player's psyche, his life, even the bad stuff, the inner struggles with loving the game and hating the lifestyle and all that.
What's more... a hockey player who finds catharsis through writing? Someone who appreciates a good penalty kill AND the value of the serial comma? Sign me up.
Anyway, go read it. And best wishes to Justin. Hopefully hockey can breathe in his ear occasionally while still having the day-to-day life he wants.
So, you know how sometimes you're drifting off and suddenly you feel like you're falling and you jerk awake? Last night I did that but what jerked me awake was someone scoring on me. Why can't I dream that I stopped the puck? Perhaps the same reason we never dream that we're safe and sound and NOT falling.
Anyway, I'd tell you where they scored on me but I know you're all a bunch of perverts, and as a lady, I simply won't abide by perversion in my blog.
HAHAhahahahahaha.... *ahem* Yeah. It was 5-hole.
Another little flurry of Cal stuff has come out, and I was surprised to notice that the AP selected Cal as the third star in that awful Sens game Saturday night. Talk about a guy who doesn't get sucked into whatever the team's mentality is and just plays his game every night no matter what. Incredible maturity.
Anyway, Souhan, who's had pretty decent columns about the Wild lately, nails one of the things we love about Cal and that's his intelligent, mature game. Some good quotes in there about how he deals with the retaliatory crap he gets from irritated opponents.
There was also an article about Cal and other teammates who play guitar (or try to). It's not the best written thing I've ever seen but I'm all about blanket coverage and whatnot, so here it is anyway.
And finally, here's a little Wild TV interview with Cal. Again, not the greatest interview I've seen with him but I suppose the tone is appropriate for where the team is at right now.
And BTW, while we're talking about Wild TV, I believe we were promised some special Aeros footage (in particular, with Brusty) from when the boys were stationed in MN last week. *tapping toe impatiently* Don't tease me, bitches.
I wrote about Carey Price the other day and suddenly my stats are FULL of people (okay, Canadians as they're all from Google.ca) searching for info on Pricer's partying habits. Apparently, the Eh Team is quite concerned that perhaps Carey's personal life is what's causing him to stink on the ice.
I'm just gonna wager a guess here, folks, that Carey has probably always had a pretty well-stocked personal life and still managed to get after it when it's business time (and not in the FOTC sense of the phrase... but probably there, too... but now I'm getting distracted... what? Um. Anyway.)
Oh yeah, so just chill out. He'll get it going.
And here's a piece on Foster's come-back with the Aeros from the Pio. Hope the boys don't play weird knowing Lynn is in the house like they did when Riser was here. Ugh.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I spent just enough time living (part-time) and going to sporting events in NYC to associate Sweet Caroline with happy sports feelings (so good, so good, so good!), and since it's been a happy sports day (sorry Wild fans who are still picking up the pieces from Saturday):
Forgive me, but I'm writing this in my post-hockey game (novice league) high, which is a little like being drunk... at least the way I'm typically drunk in that I love everyone and I'm full of good will.
But I'm doing my best to avoid being effusive, because invariably that leads to the team falling headlong into the toilet at the very next opportunity.
So, let me temper my delight over tonight's win by saying that they were playing a tired Chicago team on the fourth game in five days for the second straight week (and another one to look forward to next week).
And yet, Brusty was sharp in goal and the boys were on it pretty hard defensively so he didn't have to do much in the way of acrobatics to keep the crease tidy. The scorers did their thing and even the Tough Guy line chipped one in, which is always exciting, especially after Kassian got robbed Saturday night.
The final score was 4-2 and if you'd told me that this team would win 4 in a row with this crazy brutal schedule and score all these goals, I would have laughed at you. Well, who's laughing now?
The first goal, in fact, came from the aforementioned Tough Guy line, with the marker going to Love, whom the puck bounced off of on a Ryznar shot and the second assist going to Kass.
(Total aside here, but speaking of things you don't see every day, there was a couple sitting down in front of us wearing matching Wild #18 Park sweaters. I don't think I've ever seen a Park sweater in person and then to see two people who must just love the guy... weird. But, hey, go team!)
Then mere seconds later, Schultz fought hard to finally bang in one of about three juicy rebounds he got off of shots on Pavlec. The Wolves defense pretty much just stood there and let him do it. Nice assists by Pouliot and Stoner to create that opportunity.
And speaking of Pouliot... the boy is channeling Clutterbuck lately. It's crazy! He's hitting everything that moves and he's a better hitter than Kassian or Love, who are kind of the guys you'd expect to be good. But I think there's a speed element there that you need to nail guys. Also, maybe they just don't expect it from Pouly. Whatever the case, it's fun to watch. He's a solid hitter who keeps his balance after the hit, which is cool because he stays in the play and makes shit happen.
I continue to be amazed by his transformation since the demotion. Something has clicked in that kid's head. Whatever it is, I hope it stays clicked. During a second period PK, it dawned on me that Ben might be one of the Aeros most effective penalty killers right now.
At some point, I'll officially eat crow for being upset that he was sent back to us. Make a sacrifice to the hockey gods or something.
Anyway, the first period ended with the shots 16-6 in favor of the Aeros and that's pretty much how it went. Unfortunately, the first intermission entertainment was particularly loathesome. I don't even remember what it was but it was bad enough to write it in my notes.
Kurtis Foster kinda pissed me off in the second by getting a stupid unsportsmanlike penalty for mouthing off at the ref, and the Wolves got themselves a power play goal right out of the gate. Boom. 2-1.
But then on a later Aeros power play, Locker beat Pavlec on a shot set up by Foster and Kolanos. 3-1.
The ice tilted at the start of the third period, however. The Wolves came out foaming at the mouth and leaving me wondering if everyone on the ice had gotten their vaccinations this year. They weren't about to let this game go without a fight.
And they make their mark early by pinning the Aeros in their offensive zone for nearly a full minute before finally getting one past Brusty. 3-2. Oh boy.
With about 7 minutes left in the period, Brusty's getting fired up. The Wolves are taking some liberties and he's plastering a few with his blocker (including former Aero Mike Hamilton). It occurred to me during this that if I were a little dying kid and I got a wish, it would be for Brusty to be mic'd up during a game against Chicago (with whom he often seems to get chippy) and let me listen in. It's gotta be good stuff right?
Ironically, Mr. Prediction to my right says that Motzko is going to score the tying goal. Well, what Motzko did do was get a holding call with 1:34 left on coincidental minors to Stoner and Siddall, putting the Wolves at a 3 on 4 disadvantage.
This led to the insurance goal on a picture perfect, super-patient shot from the high slot by Noreau, on which Foster and Locke both got their second points of the game.
I'm just saying. ;)
Scratches were Mojzis, Irmen, Madsen, and Rosa.
More (and better) from the guys here on John's blog and here in the Chronicle from Andrew. Oh and a terrific picture of Foster (and here's some more) in the totally lovely Aeros darks that the boys were wearing tonight to bring the road mojo home with them. Nice work, Fred.
That is all. I'm dog tired.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I've got real-job work that I HAVE to get done today so I'll make this brief.
While I am grateful for the win, even by the skin of their tooth, what the hell is with letting teams come back on them like that?
We get two goals.
They get two goals.
We get three goals.
They get three goals.
We get two goals.
They get one goal and blessedly the fat lady sings before they are able to tie it up.
You just can't sit back. YOU. CAN'T. SIT. BACK. I don't care what the lead is.
Anyway, congrats to everyone who got points. The big winner, of course, was Beaudoin, who got a hat trick.
Dear Tom Lynn and Troy Ward,Also, Fozzie got the first two points of his triumphant return to hockey on Lammers' goal and Beaudoin's second goal (both first assists, in fact). Amazing!
Earl, Schultz, and Kolanos also each got 2 points apiece. And as much shit as we give Earl, he was the only + player for the Aeros. Rogers' woes in the +/- department continue with a -3 night. What the hell?
Of course, it doesn't help the stats that 4 of the Aeros goals were on power plays. In fact, I'm guessing that Chops will spend their next practice working on the PK because 4 for 4 is pretty rotten.
Kassian and Donally fought for some reason, and Kassian beat him down like Donally was his kid brother. Suppose Kass's number is 42 because he's the answer to the universe?
Apparently Rogers and Baines fought, too, but I missed it and can't get the archived game to load, so screw it.
As predicted, Rosa was dinged up on that Noreau shot Friday night, so he was out and Albers was back in, rolling with 7 d-men, in addition to Love, who is essentially a forward for the remainder of the season.
We'll see what shows up at 5 p.m. at the Toyota Center today. My prediction is that Brusty is in goal and plays well but both teams are so tired from tough schedules that it's a pretty dull one.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I haven't watched the whole game, so I'll just comment on the highlights. Sunday's home game is so close I can taste it and watching on AHL Live, as nice as it is (particularly the Chops games, as they do a great job with their broadcast), is getting really old. It's just so hard to judge the tempo and intensity of the game that way.
Pouliot started the scoring with a shorthanded goal. He just picked the pocket of the Chops player out at the far point on the PP, jetted up the boards with Locke keeping the pace on the other side providing a passing threat. With only one defenseman and one goalie, who couldn't be happy to see what was coming at him, Pouly just wristed one right under the crossbar from the circle. Good, simple hockey. Didn't dick around, didn't give and go, just shot the puck. Love it.
Not to be outdone, later in the first, Foxy Chop Drew Miller nabbed the puck on an Aeros PP and beat Rogers and Noreau to rocket one past Schaefer. The Chops scored again with about one minute left in the period in a goal mouth scramble that found Schaefer out of his net and a rebound going in behind him.
Apart from one minor penalty per team, both teams just battled the second period out without a change in the 2-1 score (which means I'm not watching it), but midway through the third, Rogers tied it up.
Then with Earl and the Chops' Evans in the box for coincidental penalties, Pouliot showed he's more than just hot in a suit when he smoked the Chops D with Rosa coming up the middle a step behind him. Pouly passed to the middle and Rosa got a stick on it and just banged it past LeNeveu.
I gotta tell ya, much has been made this week in the interviews with Aeros folks about how professionally Pouly has handled his demotion and while I'm not around the guys, I feel like I can see it. He smiles more, his face looks relaxed, his body language is confident, he's playing like he's not afraid. I'm just completely impressed. Keep it up, Ben.
The insurance goal came less than a minute later on a power play ignited by a Kolanos breakaway that drew a tripping call. Noreau took a hard shot that rebounded off Rosa (not before leaving him pretty gimpy) and then Schultz banged it in. Seems like Rosa should have gotten an assist for pain and suffering.
Amazingly, not a single point for Kolanos, but some nights, his best and highest use is as a decoy, drawing penalties with his speed, etc. It's nice to have a game here and there where he isn't the hero. Definitely gives the team a better sense of balance when he's not involved in every goal.
Scotty's thumb was well enough to play, so it looks like Alby got the "Foster Scratch" for the game. I believe Mojzis is injured, and of course Irmen and Madsen are still out with bum ankles. Kilpatrick was scratched as well, but if Rosa's injury at the end of the game is still smarting today, I would assume he'll get in the game tonight.
So, what's up with this crazy team anyway? This getting behind and then locking down in the second and then scoring in the third happens too often to be a coincidence, right? My theory is that they don't like playing with a lead because they tend to choke them away. So if you play 75% of the game a point or two down, and THEN bring the noise, there's no time for the other team to hit back.
Plausible? What do you think?
Either way, happy for the win. The game got increasingly chippy as the evening progressed, so it will be interesting to see how tonight goes. With four games against each other in two weeks, this puppy is likely to blow at some point.
Happy Valentine's Day, lovelies!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Here's a great post from Alanah McGinley at Canucks & Beyond giving some Valentine love to hockey, and there's not one bit of it that I disagree with. I love all that stuff, too.
My four favorite words are "ride the hot goalie" but my SECOND four favorite words are "the Aeros are back" and indeed they are back on the ice the next three nights for another round of three games in three days. First two are in Iowa Friday and Saturday. Sounds like a few Wild fans will be headed down to Des Moines for the game, so that will be nice, to have someone to cheer if they score any goals. Yeah, I meant that "if."
Then they're back at home Sunday afternoon against the only team they ever play on Sunday any more, the Chicago Wolves. Luckily, the Wolves will be at the end of their own traveling 3-in-3, so nobody will be fresh. I expect it to be a pretty dull game with both teams tired and probably in "lock down" mode. In fact, looking at Chicago's schedule, they're in the midst of a pretty tough month in general. Here's hoping they show up already beat to hell so we don't have to do it.
The tentative plan is for Foster to play Friday and Sunday. I'm looking forward to see the big guy play in person.
My prediction is (you might want to sit down for this): Whoever has the lead at the end of the game will win it.
I live on the edge. Don't try this at home, kids.
Oh and here's a bit of an interview with Joe O'Donnell by Kevin Falness. But you all read my blog so none of this will be news to you, other than a slightly more positive spin than you might get from me. :)
I'll be honest, I don't watch Habs games unless there's nothing else on. But it's difficult to escape the sound of salty tears hitting the ice around the blue paint up there. Pricer is melting down in an epic fashion and, man, is that tough to watch.
Kelly Hrudey had some interesting things to say about it last weekend. His compassion for Price seems genuine and heartfelt. So much so that I think I'm crushing on him a little. Finally, an age-appropriate hockey crush! Oh wait. Never mind. He's like 14 years older than me. Dammit! But still, if anybody wants to buy me the new King's third with a Hrudey #32 on it for my birthday, I'd totally dig that.
Anyway, the kid's in deep shit at the moment, but I'm certainly sympathetic to his plight. And it appears that his coach has decided to just make him work through it as he seems to be playing most games and never getting pulled. I dunno. Crazy stuff.
And it only increases my thoughts of, "And Backstrom isn't signed yet, WHY?" I mean really. Who is more solid than Nik Backstrom? Who gives up a goalie who WANTS to be in Minnesota, WANTS to re-sign, ISN'T a headcase, and has some of the BEST stats in the league.
Further, I'm in a tizzy about our goaltending depth in the Wild organization. Dimples isn't having a great year and isn't even the #1 goalie on his own ECHL team. Brusty is in the doghouse and possibly the toilet. Next year could be very interesting. If the Wild don't pick up a goalie in the first round
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I love this from mlive.com, a Michigan news web site:
Now, that's the kind of homeriffic crap I would write here, but come on. Couldn't deal with? Please. Please!
Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck couldn't deal with Brett Lebda delivering a clean hip check on the Wild instigator in the first period, so Clutterbuck charged the Red Wings defenceman early in the second period. Lebda attempted to duck under the hit and ended up taking its full impact, leaving the game at the 1:22 mark. He has yet to return.
And Lebda totally did NOT take the full impact of the hit. Please. Please!!!
What a bunch of candyass crybabies these Detroit fans are. Come on. Do your awesome team justice and man up, or start watching figure skating.
Oh yeah, and "instigator"? Sweet. Fancy. Moses.
Awesome interview with KC, especially his talking about Foster. Very cool stuff. Thanks to Kevin Falness for that.
Though I did LOL when he compared Corey Locke to Butch and Bruno. Butch, I get. Not so much Bruno.
But much love for the boys there. I have also found it interesting listening to some interviews with Foster where he seems sort of amazed by how much fun the Aeros guys have. Like maybe they don't have quite that much fun in the NHL.
I kinda like that. It should be more fun. You're making relative peanuts and still getting the crap beat out of you every night and the schedule sucks and travel sucks... hell yeah, it better be fun.
Genius idea to work the boys in MN this week. Sounds like lots of good is coming out of it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Honey, we all miss you, too.
Great interview by O'Donnell (really, one of the best I've heard... good work, Joe!) as the Aeros are stationed at the X this week for practices.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
- Sean Avery returning to pro hockey.
- Rob Daum returning to head coaching in the AHL.
- Having this song stuck in my head for 3 days straight and just wanting to eradicate it or at least share the misery with my fine readers.
Poison by Alice Cooper
Monday, February 9, 2009
The NY Times hockey blog, Slap Shot, is a little hit and miss in terms of covering things that interest me, but occasionally they come up with beauties that remind me why I subscribe to that blog (plus, I just like Stu Hackel, as he was the first to pimp the Ms. Conduct blog nationally).
Anyway, they put together a cool set of photos of people playing hockey outdoors and, while I dearly love Texas--and I really do--I'd love to be able to skate outside on occasion. The notion of just wandering up to a frozen body of water, not having to pay for the time or check schedules or share it with a 50 ankle skaters from the church group du jour... that's totally foreign to me. Ice is something I have to drive to, plan for, pay for, follow rules about what I'm wearing or carrying, etc. Seems quite magical for it to just "be."
Then again, I don't so much like driving or walking on it, so I'm just as quickly back to appreciating what I've got. :)
I'm starting to think that Mikko is kind of a pain in the ass. Watch from the 2:20 mark (or watch the whole thing but at least through that point).
Amazingly, not a Cal post.
It's funny in retrospect, but when I'm doing shuffles across the ice in my stance (or some tired version of a goalie stance) and Scott TFCG (oh man, I really meant the F when I typed that... like I hit it extra hard on the keyboard) is in my grill calling me "Buttercup"... it's not funny. If I'd had the strength to whack him in the nuts with my stick, I would have. I'd have felt bad after, but I would have.
So, Scooter, keep those knees together because someday my stick arm will be nice and strong.
Anyway, point is, novice league last night was tough. I hate missing a week because I kinda forgot how hard it is. I'm not gonna lie, it's hard. And practice isn't fun. And the scrimmage after practice isn't fun because my legs are burning and I've got The Dumb (and therefore, not such good focus) and I'm letting stupid goals in. But that's all part of learning to suck it up, princess.
All I ask of myself on practice nights is to go out and work hard and do what Scott tells me to, even if I have to strafe him with f-bombs in the process (it really does make me feel better to do so... not sure what that says about me... it also felt really good to remind him of how my Wild beat his Slick yesterday afternoon. In fact, that might have been the best part of the whole night.)
I'm not much worse for the wear other than being sore and tired and jamming my finger into the boards at one point, so now I can't bend the ring finger on my right hand and it's all purpley and ouchy. Didn't affect me when I was playing, though, so no biggie. It will get better. But only I would wait to jam my finger into the boards for when I'm a goalie and hardly ever anywhere near the boards. Sheesh.
Game next week and hopefully a couple of trips to Memorial City at lunch this week for some practice. Scotty gave me a good drill to work on and maybe I'll take my pads one time. I wonder if they'd be sweet and let me take my stick out. It's just me and a handful of figure skaters, so I dunno what the harm would be. Maybe I'll wait until they know me before I push that issue.
Anyway, not much to report. Definitely didn't finish the night feeling pumped up about anything. Practice just reminds me of how much I have to learn. It's humbling. I had one nice blocker save that mostly I was just in good position for, I didn't own goal at all, though I did let too much scrambling go on in my crease before I dropped to protect the puck on a couple of occasions (thank heavens for a good D).
I'm disappointed in a couple of goals I let in. One by Peed, who put it in just like Jessica did last time. I fucking hate goals like that! It's one thing for someone to just shoot straight on and beat me or my positioning is off and I leave too much net, but these deking pieces of shit that freeze me and then tuck it in behind me like I'm not even there... those are the ones that just get me roasting and keep me roasting until the next game. Scotty said I should go for the poke check on that stuff. I'm gonna have to practice launching my stick. Might need to make my knob bigger. (Oh behave.)
Tonight, I'm having beer and hockey night at the Maple Leaf Pub with the goalie who used to guard the net for the green team. Devils v. Rangers, so that should be fun. I wish Brodeur was back in action, but it sounds like he's getting close. Nice to hang out and have a few Blue Moons (nom nom nom) and watch hockey with the girls, as I think Coach Stalin of the Broken Wrist may join in the fun. If you're in the area and like beer and hockey, stop on by.
So, I spent Sunday morning working on my next PHN article, toiling with the notion that the team is actually WORSE in 5 on 5 scoring with the return of Kolanos and Pouliot and the trade of Hamilton for Earl. I was searching for answers (heart? skill? professionalism? what?), but what I knew for sure was that this Aeros team couldn't score if you dropped 'em in the middle of a Puck Bunny convention.
I watched the first period in real time and the boys looked pretty good by the end of it, though they struggled to get any time in Chicago's end early on. Then I had to go to dinner not long after the second started when it was still 1-1.
I came home assuming it's a loss or it went to the shootout or some annoying outcome and nearly fell out of my chair when I refreshed the Gamesheet page I'd left open on my laptop. 6-3 Aeros win. Four goals in the third period.
And then while I'm OMGing about that, I skim the list of goal scorers and see.... M. Kassian. I blink a couple of times to make sure I'm seeing right. M. Kassian.
So just when we're back to thinking this team is a bunch of blind squirrels, they find a giant nest of nuts in Chicago. Lammers and Rosa, both of whom needed some points, got the first two goals.
Schultz got a really pretty one against his former team at the top of the third, after a Chicago player turned the puck over to Kolanos by the net and Schultz came in to punch in Kolanos' feed across the slot. Beauty! I love it when a plan comes together.
The fourth Aeros goal was courtesy of Locke on a Kolanos rebound during a PP opportunity.
Schultz got his second of the night, on a terrific feed from Ryznar right on Pavlec's doorstep. Love got the second assist for a nifty pass up to Ryz from the high slot. Another beauty of a play. At this point, it's clear that the Chicago defense has already hit the showers. If I'm Pavlec, I've got steam coming out my ears.
And then... the real capper... a little over a minute later, Kassian strong-armed the puck away from a Chicago player along the boards, headed for the net with two more Wolves circling him, and just jammed it home five-hole on a seemingly surprised Pavlec. Man, you hate to be the goalie on which the team's enforcer gets his first goal of the season 53 games in.
But it's been coming. Matt is so big and strong and just goes to the net and shoots, and eventually that work was going to pay off. Wish it had happened at home so Aeros fans could celebrate with him, but I'm sure the boys saw to it that it was appropriately recognized.
Anyway, super exciting game, and Kurtis Foster's amazing, hard-earned return to pro hockey was really just the icing on the cake. What a great story and a stud he is! And huge kudos to his trainers and rehab folks for creating a program to get him back. It's astounding and if he doesn't win the Masterton this season, they're simply doing it wrong. I'm not all that great at hockey history, but a return from an injury this catastrophic is surely unprecedented.
And it can safely be said, the guy still has a killer slapshot. He ripped one off in the second that sent Grant Stevenson crumpling to the ice. I hate to see guys get hurt, but somehow I make an exception for booming slapshots hitting defenders. Screw you, hoser. Stop screening my goalie.
He also was hitting, being hit, generally NOT avoiding physical play, and made a really solid block on a breakaway attempt where he dropped to the ice and went careening into the boards behind the net with a Chicago player. Good, heroic stuff.
Of course, he had some rust, and some timing and decision-making issues, but good heavens, he contributed more than he didn't.
Scratches were Pouliot, Irmen, Mojzis, Madsen, and Scotty.
Oh, and BTW, this was Schaefer's third game in three nights and he played VERY well the last two nights, stopping 32 of 34 Saturday and 23 of 26 Sunday. But I'm starting to wonder if Brusty's ever going to play again. He seems to really have pissed Constantine off a couple of weeks ago. And rightly so. I'm still convinced that he plays better in "save the day" mode than as the #1 goalie.
UPDATE: Here's a link to a Chicago blogger's post about the game from their perspective, including photos! Nice!