Mitch has his 15th blog post up today.
I'm not much of a stats/numbers person so this post kinda makes my head hurt, but what I'm getting from it is that in a ratio of penalties drawn to penalties taken, Cal is third in the league in terms of positive contributions by drawing more than he takes.
Am I correct in thinking that's pretty impressive? Or am I just easily impressed? (I realize the two are not mutually exclusive so "both" is an appropriate response.)
UPDATE: Also, Buddha informs me there's a Clutter fan club on Facebook. It's a little odd, but whatever. I'm in.
Another UPDATE: Here's an interview with Cal by my hero Kevin Falness (he starts about 1/3rd of the way in, but go ahead and listen to Scotty's interview first because he's a doll, too). Anyway, kid's tired. Imagine that. I really don't know how even averagely physical guys survive a season in one piece, but especially a wrecking ball type of guy like Cal.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Mitch has his 15th blog post up today.
Cal talks to the media about everything under the sun. Were you this articulate and patient at 21? I'm not at 33!
So, I got into a bit of a heated thing in Russoville the other day surrounding southern NHL teams and their value as fan bases. I found myself getting hot under the collar at the notion that Nashville is at or near the top of the heap for getting relocated and realized I really like this team more than I thought.
I don't pay super close attention to them through the season, especially now that I don't get to watch as many random Center Ice games, but I keep tabs on them through Preds blogs and other news. And James Mirtle had a terrific interview with Steve Sullivan today that I think really gives legs to the argument I've been making that Nashville has some of the best fans in the league, they're a loveable team, they're a happy team, it seems.
They're definitely the team I'll make a point to watch in the playoffs, and I think the league and fans of the league need to quit belly aching about them and give them a chance to succeed. Pour your haterade on Florida or Atlanta if you need to rag on a southern team.
The subject refers to the fact that FINALLY someone had the balls to take some real shots at me tonight at hockey. Sutton rifled several slappers at me during warm-ups, two that I stopped with my arms. I've got some healthy bruises developing in the pit of my left elbow and on my right bicep as my battle wounds. The bicep one actually hurts quite a bit. I love it!
Frankly, I'll take those shots and their bruises, any day over the shots I usually see. You novice goalies know what I mean. On the ice, weak little shots, don't know what they're gonna do. Ugh. Bouncers and tricklers. Sounds like some kind of stripper specializations...
Anyway, we played four full periods and an extra 10 minutes tonight. I think the score was 9-9 at the end but they'd quit keeping score again. I had some quality saves and I allowed some real stupid crapass goals, especially later on.
First period was good again, only allowing one goal to 7 at the other end. It was 0 for the Red team until Ray comes over and says, "Hey, you have a shutout!" Are you f**king kidding me??
He played good D, was encouraging, and isn't sick of my weaksauce yet since this is his first game since I started in goal, so I love him anyway.
I poke checked Jessica on a breakaway again, almost exactly like last week, except I got a piece of the puck this time. Sick. But she got a pretty wrap-around on me later. I just wasn't processing the situation fast enough to get to the other post in time. But hey, it was a nice goal.
The new girl, Amanda, got one on me that wasn't my most frustrating but it was really really stoppable. I was screened and I should have just figured she was going to shoot it herself and gone down, but there was a shit-ton of traffic and I wasn't sure whether to stay up and mobile or go down. She was super excited about it though, so that's cool. It was her first real game goal.
But that conundrum is my biggest challenge right now. Stay up or go down. Because I spend the whole game watching the other goalie go down on EVERY save and half the time the puck bounces over or under him. I guess I lean toward more of a stand-up style right now because my current skill set leaves me somewhat vulnerable if I'm down. I feel more capable of reacting to a change in the situation if I'm up. At least I think that's what the nagging voice in my head is saying when I face these situations.
Twice tonight I let in shots from the low circle where I just couldn't decide what to do, so natch, I stayed up. Wrong choice. (I apologize to Sutton for telling him to F**k Off when he asked me if my stick was down after one of those goals... oh sweet Jeezus I was pissed and didn't need his smirking yap in my grill.) I think I yelled at one of my D after another goal, too, when he said something to me. He took it in stride, I hope. I feel badly about it. I don't mean to be a bitch, but it's best if these guys just don't talk to me.
I wonder if there's anger management for goalies, because I also swung my stick behind me as a goal scorer (maybe Jesper... maybe Paul) was skating away behind me. Not sure if I tagged him but it wouldn't have been much and it really did make me feel better. Just a nick. Just something to say, "Get off my lawn, punk."
(As an aside, I do find I play a little better angry. That doesn't jive real well with the sort of Type B nature of novice league. I yelled at my team more tonight than I ever have. Too many instances of just standing there staring at the puck 5 feet from my crease, like they're gonna move it with mental telepathy. I kept thinking it might be totally worth it to just freak 'em all out and go play the damn puck myself. I mean, once you've allowed this many goals, if it doesn't work out, I've at least made my point.)
But on the plus side, I did feel pretty solid in my movement around the crease. That's gotten so much better. Also, I felt pretty confident about my angles tonight. I don't think any of them went in because I didn't know where my posts were or I was leaving a ton of net. I just chose the wrong save. My depth is still not quite right though. I'm too deep on these shots from the circle.
Anyway, it was a lot of hockey and I would have been pretty happy to stay out and play another period. At that point, I think my Gatorade would have run out so that'd be quittin' time for me. But it was a blast as usual.
I remember when I played out, it was like, "Oh SHIT another period!? Dammit. Can't we just get out of this gear and drink beer now?" Now it's like, I'm okay with being done, but also not really ready either if that makes sense, because I just love being a goalie. Someday being a goalie will love me back. I just know it. :)
Next week is our last game before the end of the season, another long one, and it looks like we have Easter Sunday off. Might be good to get to a stick and puck that week... Hmm.
I'm telling you, the Clutter media machine never sleeps. I guess now that he has Don Cherry's approval, he's okay to talk about again without feeling as though you're conspiring with All That Is Evil in Hockey. I actually laughed at the old coot this week. He's still nearly exploding with hot air, but we're cool for now.
Anyway, here's a new piece on NHL.com on Clutter, Tavares, and the general awesomeness that is Cal.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Here's a nice little Q&A with Cal from THN.
Chocolate chip cookie dough? I dunno. That's a pretty damn girly flavor, man. Perhaps nobody here introduced him to Blue Bell Rocky Road while he was a temporary Texan.
I've gotten so AHL focused and, frankly, the Wild are so utterly out of it, I haven't written about those guys in a while. But I did watch the whole Calgary game last night and, as usual, it was such fun watching Cal. He got some bullshit calls... some of the bullshittier I've seen against him. Haven't those refs seen a hipcheck before? Clipping? RUFKM? Sheesh.
Anyway, it's pretty sad where the Wild season has gone. I'm not one to call for change at the first sign of trouble but this team really seems to have significant problems. They need some fresh air. Sadly, this is probably the only time I'll use the "Wild playoffs" tag this season. Take a nice look at it.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Well gang, I'm adding another log to the towering inferno that has become my hockey lust.
For the goalie lovers out there, you should be subscribing to InGoalMag.com, a terrific blogazine run by a goalie for goalies or people who dig goalies.
David Hutchison, editor-in-chief, put out a call for section editors, specifically by league. And I figured, "Hey, I spend 80% of my time reading about hockey. I run in the AHL crowd. I wouldn't mind immersing myself in goaliedom a little more." So, bada-bing.
(Okay, I also thought, "If someone else does the AHL section and it's not how I would do it, it's going to bug me, so I better do it myself." This is how people end up being the neighborhood association president, isn't it?)
I'm starting today, and I'm already having a great time reading up on what all the goalies in the league are doing. I should be an expert on AHL goalies before the season is out. The idea is for me to bring readers all the news about AHL goalies each day. Links to the source, plus a little context, plus transactions and hopefully some nice photos and a little YouTuberation here and there as warranted.
All I ask is that if you nice folks out there run across a great AHL goalie article or have a bit of AHL goalie news, just send it my way. Even if it's an obscure source or just a photo of new gear or whatever. All that stuff's exciting to us goalie freaks.
Road game, so coverage is sparse but it was a great game for the boys.
Here's my write-up with a link to Andrew's Chron article.
Also, Derek Felska, who writes a Wild blog for MVN, was at the game and provides a great write-up here on the Wild board. Finally, someone in Minnesota besides Nick (okay, he's not even in Minnesota), believes me that Pouliot has changed! And after giving me shit about it all this time. Anyway...
The boys over at T3I are rabid about the Aeros allowing dogs into the game next week. I have absolutely no issue with it, assuming (and perhaps this is too much of an assumption) that the folks have figured out how to do it as successfully as other teams around the league have done it, including San Antonio and Milwaukee. I guess we'll see.
But anyway, Joe O'Donnell took John Lammers and Matt Kassian and a video camera out to the Humane Society to see the animals and play with the doggies and pimp the special evening supporting one of my very favorite causes, animal welfare.
I remember when we went to pick out a dog at the Humane Society over here off I-10, I just stood in the room with all the puppies in cages and started crying (I'm welling up now just thinking about it) because I had to choose only one of all these sweet faces. Heartbreaking! But Major the Dog is our kid and I'm so glad we did it, even if he was the worst puppy in the history of puppies. He's making up for it by being one of the best old dawgs in the history of old dawgs.
I'm pretty even keeled and don't get too impassioned about a lot of things, but pets and hockey are right at the top of my list of things I'll get red in the face and a little unglued about if pushed. So this is prime stuff for me. Mix in some foxy hockey players getting kisses from homeless dogs... Dear me. Anyway, this one's for the girls. Check out the blonde who really really wants to go home with Matt. Can you blame her?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
More bloggery goodness from Mitch Love.
Best wishes to his girlfriend and her family. Hope her dad gets on the mend as quickly as possible.
As you might expect, Cal didn't just break the hits record, he demolished it with 7 hits tonight in a seriously chippy game against the Isles and a season total 317.
Yeah, it's a newish stat and doesn't really mean a whole lot other than Cal is one tough little SOB. But I think most reasonable Wild fans get what he's meant to the team this season. I don't really need to go there again.
The boys at Hockey Wilderness summed it up even better...
The best I can come up with here is, Thank you, Cal, for giving Wild fans something to be excited about this season. It's been one crappy ass mother f**king season during which we've taken it in just about every orifice. But we could always count on you to bring the noise, no matter what the rest of the team, the front office, the coaches, and the Gaborik were doing to crush our hockey-loving souls.
So... I don't really like to see Cal fight, but I know he's gotta occasionally. It's just me mother henning him. But somewhere deep down, I've been wanting to see this one all season.
I thought Avery edged Cal a little bit (though now that I watch it again, I'm not sure... I'm gonna call it a draw), but it was pretty much what I expected from the pairing. Evenly matched, respectful draw. You had to think those two had their sights set on each other as this game approached, right? Ah, the drama. I love it.
I also liked this quote from Stan Fischler today:
Avery made forgetting Sunday possible by challenging Cal Clutterbuck in an old-fashioned first period sluggeroo. Each worthy doffed gloves and then — great stuff! — also their helmets in a who-cares-who-wins tilt that lifted The Garden a few feet off its moorings.Anyway, Cal skated away with a whopping 8 hits, but look how much more spread out the hitting is among the New York roster vs. Minnesota's. Weenies. (The Wild are the weenies in this scenario, in case that's not clear.)
So, the kid is 2 hits from breaking Dustin Brown's record 311 set last season. What should we do to celebrate when he almost certainly breaks it tonight against the Islanders? Maybe we'll make it another holiday in Clutterbuck Nation. In fact, maybe I'll just preemptively take the day off from work to, ya know, hang some streamers and make party mix. Sounds like a plan to me.
Hey, Bourne, you up for a little wager on the game tonight? :D
Monday, March 23, 2009
Swear to Maude I'm not going to make any 69 jokes.
Actually I just remembered I forgot to post links to the write-ups about this game. My hockey game was earlier than usual, only about 30 minutes to get ready after the Aeros game, so no time to deal with this.
Anyway, here's Andrew's view from the press box and his Chronicle write-up
And John's write-up and his article for the Press this week
And Fred's photos of Corey Locke's impossible-looking shootout goal plus photos and commentary from the rest of the game (glad to finally see what started the Stoner fracas... what the heck is with Mojzis getting the crap knocked out of him since he got back?) Since I love celebration shots, I particularly adore the Rosa photo.
And look at that form on the second shot of Nolan. Nice. He's on it. How pretty is that new gear? I like it a lot better than the white pads and mask he was wearing. Mask especially. Just never did get that one. Though I can't imagine having to break in a glove as often as he has to with his gear changes.
Anyway, nice stuff, fellas.
And here's my write-up of the game.
I've got a fun little subject to write about from our interview with AHL Commish David Andrews on Saturday. Just trying to get myself untired enough from hockey last night. I've been a zombie all day.
At least it wasn't JUST my awful play that resulted in Coach Dan and Ref Luther deciding to employ the mercy rule and quit keeping score. The final tally on the board was 12-9, green team, but it felt more like 17-13.
I let in some real stinkers. Like the dump in from the point that I thought was going to go wide and it bounced in off the far post. That one came right after some other goal. Can't even remember how the one before went in, but the next shot came quickly after and I made a great save. This was the third period and I was pretty fired up and really needed a save to pick me up. Pretty sure what came out of my mouth was something along the lines of, "HELL YEAH!!! TAKE THAT, BITCHES!" I mean, I belted that shit out. I was obnoxious. It felt gooooooood. I'm definitely out of the running for the Lady Byng though.
And on that note, I'm finding I'm not the classiest goalie ever. Between that and my new-found urge to slash the person who scored on me if they're close enough... I worry myself a little. But then I tell myself, it's just emotion and passion, baby. I love this game and I love this position. It's unreal. But Jesper's knees were in grave danger on several of the 5(?) goals he scored on me. Scotty, remember our discussion last week where I thought I kinda had a bead on Jesper's style? F**k that noise. He murdered me.
Jessica got a couple but I stopped her quite a few times, too. Including a really funny one where I could see she didn't *quite* have control of the puck as she was coming in on a breakaway, but she was gonna reign it in if I didn't pounce. So I challenged her and tried to poke check and missed, but I startled her with my aggressiveness and she ditched the puck right in front of me. That was awesome. I'm making her work for her goals now, so I like that. Oh, except for the one of hers where she got me moving across the crease and it caromed in off my stick. Son of a...
Joe got an ugly one on me short side. It was a 3 on 2 and he was coming up the wall on my left but I can see two red people to my right just waiting for the pass. And Joe being the red team coach, I was expecting the pass, since that's what coaches tend to do in this league, so I was cheating away from the post. Can't do that, Ms. C.
Anyway, the list goes on and on. I felt bad for the other goalie. He didn't realize there was going to be a 4th period because we had extra ice time and I think the game was over in his mind. His 4th was like my 3rd last week. Every shot going in for the first 10 minutes. He was tired, too, they said.
I dunno how getting lit up like that can be so fun, but it was fun. Go figure. I guess if my team wasn't making things happen at the other end, it would have just been depressing, but they kept putting the puck in the net, god love 'em. Fred (not photographer Fred, green socks Fred) is looking especially good lately. He's fun to watch. Crazy soft hands. If his feet ever catch up with his hands, he'll be a beast.
So anyway, I guess the power of Manny Legace's signature on the backplate of my mask doesn't make me a better goalie. Don't think it made me any worse though. It was just a tough game. And boy, I was sore, feet and calves cramping up, before I even got to the parking lot. Had some awkward landings on some of my save attempts and an awkward fall on my right arm that strained my tricep. Groins are gonna be screaming by about 5 p.m. But it will all be fine by next Sunday when we get to do it all over again. I can't wait!
I actually felt like my stamina was pretty good in spite of the long game. I mixed some Gatorade in my water bottle and I think that helped, even if it was mostly psychologically. But sweating that much for that long, you need to put some electrolytes back and the carb boost is nice, too. One great thing about having done all that marathon stuff was learning what works best for keeping my energy up and stable for long durations. I'm pretty in tune with that and happy with how that worked out last night.
Though I don't eat a lot on Sundays because I get nervous, and the beer I had after the game went straight to my head. Had to hang out longer than I intended just to feel comfortable driving home.
This week I'm going to focus on core strength and flexibility. Last week was endurance/cardio. Amazing how a little bit of extra work during the week can make a big difference on Sunday. I definitely felt less tired during the game last night.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I look really calm and, like, "Whatever. Third star. Big deal. Manny who?" but inside, I'm like that dog from the Beggin' Strips commercial.
As always, many thanks to Fred Trask for the photo. And apologies to Mr. C for saying, "OMG! MANNY FREAKING LEGACE!" about 10 times on the way home from the game.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
This quote came across my Google Alerts regarding last night's Wild beat down by the Devils, and I had to post it:
Brodeur delivered his best stop at 5:23 of the second, stopping Belanger all alone on a breakaway through the slot. Cal Clutterbuck fed the puck to the middle to set up the chance.So, I saw this play and it was a beauty of a pass to the slot by Clutter but the save... the SAVE! I watched it thinking, "This is why nobody teaches the Brodeur style of goaltending... nobody effing knows how he does it!!"
"For some reason I didn't see him coming," Brodeur said. "I was mesmerized by [Clutterbuck]. It came in and I looked up and he had the puck and he was right in my face. I didn't really move much. He tried to make me open up, and I don't know if I was too slow or too quick. The puck just hit my pad and stayed there too; I was able to freeze it."
But it turns out, neither did he on that one. I feel better reading that. Though the stop he made with his armpit was pretty impressive and unlikely, too, I thought.
I guess if the Wild had to lose to the Devils, I'm okay with them getting Marty one shutout closer to breaking Sawchuk's record. If we're gonna suck, we might as well suck and help my boy Marty out.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Yeah, two Justin Bourne posts in a row, but seriously, what an entertaining writer. (I'm not just sucking up because he linked to my blog. Really.) And his next article on THN is out today. It's terrific, natch.
Go check it out.
Also, in Justin's blog post today, he says, "Today’s coaches preach shoot-shoot-shoot, and the players usually want them to shut-up-shut-up-shut-up."
And I thought, "AH HA! So you guys don't like to shoot!"
I have to ask why this is. Someone please enlighten me.
Of course, it's not the first time I've asked. Every time Butchy crosses the blue line, spins around, slams on the breaks, and gets the puck taken away, I die a little more inside. And I'm a pretty patient fan. I'm not a "SHOOOOOT!" person at all, unless I see a lane and they don't take it.
I recall watching my pal Schultzie's Tri-City Americans (WHL) play a televised game earlier in the season and it was clear that sometime between juniors and the NHL, the fellas decide a) they don't have to go to the net anymore and b) they don't wanna shoot.
Here's the list of things that can happen when you shoot:
- Fall down (maybe get laughed at)
- Broken stick
- Bounce off defender resulting in a breakaway
Unless you're shooting on Ms.Conduct. Then feel free to whiff and fall down. (Oh, I left whiff off.)
9. Whiff (maybe get laughed at... definitely by the goalie)
Went to Memorial City like I always do mid-week to work on my footwork today. Of course, I forgot it was spring break, so there were lots of kids, but it wasn't so crowded I couldn't do my thing (which, incidentally, gets LOTS of stares at that figure skating-oriented rink).
But dammit if those friggin' figure skaters hadn't put a million holes in the ice with their toe picks. Someone dug the goddamn Grand Canyon in front of one of the creases. Chunks of ice everywhere. Really annoying. Wish it was like golf where you have to fill your divots. Hope those triple lutzes were pretty, bitches.
(Mostly kidding, though the Grand Canyon was totally true. It's actually pretty fun to watch the better skaters there, though their movements around the ice are terribly unpredictable. I spend a lot of time dodging them and vice versa.)
Forgot to mention, my next PHN article is out today as well. Nothing special particularly. I feel kinda like I'm holding my breath through the rest of the regular season. The photos are pretty good though. Nice tight shots of Beautiful Benny and Krazy Krys.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I've posted his articles from THN a couple of times now and ranted and raved about how terrific it is to find a hockey player who is funny and can write like a pro and actually takes the time to DO IT. But as with all great things doled out all too infrequently, the THN articles just left me wanting more.
But then I ran across this (which is awesome) and it had a link to THIS! Huzzah! Fresh, near-daily Bourneiness!
What a gift. I'm a happy little hockey-obsessed writer right now.
The only problem is that I am on a deadline for my own article at the moment and can't indulge in reading the blog start to finish like I really want to.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I was frittering around after writing my post-game over at T3I and talking about Peoria next weekend, when suddenly I realized: Manny Legace is the Peoria goalie.
Well, it was more like, "OMFG!!! Manny! In my barn!"
He's one of my favorite goalies. Just the picture of the underdog and perseverance and, lately, a bit down on his luck. But all the guy wants to do is play hockey, and so he takes his lumps after a mostly bad season in St. Louis and goes to the minors.
But the guy is a friggin' Stanley Cup winner, he argued with Bettman on national TV in the middle of minding the net in last season's All Star game (how is there not video of that on YouTube?), he's a little goalie (love the little goalies)... I just love the guy.
I want to get him to sign the backplate of my goalie mask, but can't bring myself to do the "wait outside the arena" thing. Hmm. Anybody got a kid I can give $20 to go do it for me? :)
The 13th installment of the Mitch Love blog is here.
Posts over at T3I (and thanks to Buddha over at Hockey Wilderness for the incredibly nice introduction of our new baby... I'm totally not worthy but my co-conspirators certainly are):
Is any other sport so full of delicious innuendo as hockey? I nearly hyperventilated reading the second paragraph of this entertaining article on Wild.com about players relationships with their sticks, but that's just me and my filthy mind.
Anyway, Cal apparently has the longest stick on the team, which kinda doesn't surprise me. I remember two seasons ago when we had seats right behind where they put the "best seats in the house" promotion winners now (which are actually really awful seats because the team keeps the extra sticks lined up on the glass at the end of the bench completely blocking the view down the ice). I noticed then that Joel Ward's sticks were as long as John Scott's, but being a big PK guy, as is Cal, that makes a lot of sense.
Go check it out. It's a fun read.
I'm crazy tired but kinda amped up. Hoping writing about it will let me let it go.
So, you know I've had this issue with letting in the first shots on goal of the game. Well, not tonight, bitches. I completely shut the red team out in the first period and actually saw quite a bit more pressure than usual in the first.
But then the, "Wow, you're doing great!" "You've got your game face on tonight!" talk started. The stick taps to the pads. The thoughts of the S-word.
Yeah. You know where that's going.
Luckily I didn't see a lot of shots in the second but I let two of them in. I recall pretty much floating to the other end of the rink after the second and Jessica at center ice asking me how I was doing. I said, "I'm fantastic!" So I guess I was pretty happy with my effort in the second as well.
But the hockey gods, wise creatures that they are, decided to knock me down about 10 pegs. I think I let in every shot on goal in the third. 5 goals, one on the PK, a couple just me not being in the game, a couple that I don't know how I could have stopped them, at least where my skill level is at right now. It was ugly and I was really pissed on the last couple of goals. I even got a piece of the last one but it went off my blocker and in. Mother F**ker. I was just a sieve in the third.
And we lost 5-7. My first loss and it was all on me. Which is pretty disappointing after such an amazing start.
So, I walk away from this game feeling fantastic about the first 2/3rds and crappy about the final result. But, as usual, my teammates were awesome about it and congratulated me on a good game.
Even better, Jessica only got one goal, in the third period (natch) and had herself a big celebration about it. Which I actually kind of appreciated because I knew she was frustrated that I'd been stopping her. And she said, "You were pulling saves out of your ass tonight!" after the game. Heh. Yeah. For a while. That zone they talk about... I was in it. And it was a really good feeling. My downfall was when I started thinking too much and about the wrong things.
Anyway, off to bed with me. Everything hurts and I'm wiped out.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
This was going to be a Quick Hits post but then I realized both items are about the Ducks, so now it's a Duck post.
Y'all know I hate the filthy Ducks, right? Well, I'm so convinced that the Wild are going to lose in Dallas tonight, I declared on the Wild message board that if the Wild win, I'll buy this shirt:
I didn't say I'd wear it, but it's bad enough having to buy it. But I know Coach Dan is a Ducks fan and, particularly, a Pronger fan, so I'll get it in his size give it to him if it comes to that. Nothing wrong with a goalie bribing her best defenseman to keep up the good work, is there?
Also, a fellow Russovillian went to the Wild game in Anaheim last week and spotted this woman in her MS CON'DUCK'T jersey and busted out the cell phone camera. She's a Duck fan, which automatically makes her taste pretty damn suspect, but I gotta say, I like it.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I've had a lot of sugar in the last hour so forgive my randomness...
First of all, even though Riser thinks it's not enough of a suspension, I'm delighted that the NHL actually gave Cody "Hockey Spice" McCormick 2 games for cross-checking Cal in the head.
I really really really really really hate the Avs. Skunky little bastards. The way things are going, they're gonna outpace the Ducks for my #1 hated team before long.
Been off the ice for a while with vacation and all, so I put on the gear yesterday and banged around in it. Did a few up and downs and just generally got used to having it on again. And today I went to Memorial City and worked on my backwards skating from the face-off circles to my posts and from the slot into the net. I haven't quite learned how to STOP while going backwards, so most of the time, I overshot it and would have caught myself in my own net had there been a net on the ice. Dork.
Also, on goaltending, I'm very slowly reading through Ken Dryden's "The Game," which is arguably the greatest hockey book ever written. There's a chapter in which he goes through his game day and then in-game mental and physical processes. I was heartened to see that the goaltender experience is fairly universal. Either that or Dryen and I are just really in sync and should probably go have a beer sometime (call me, Kenny!).
He talks about going through the gate from the bench to the ice and thinking, "Don't fall!!" (Seriously, it's a chore to go through the bench gate in goalie gear.) He talks about how, when that first shot on goal doesn't come for a while, it becomes too big an "event" in your mind and shakes your focus a bit. Here's a quote that spoke to me:
"And whenever we get a penalty, whenever I see them come this way, I get the same unnerving twinge of panic, my mind nagging the same doubts, my body finding the same phony ready posture. I can't get comfortable. I'm not bored, but I'm not enjoying this very much."Anyway, genius book and I kinda have a hero-worship thing going for The Honourable Mr. D. Thank goodness he's not a scout, that's all I'm saying.
I've found another reason to love Canada. The dairy farmers of Canada are pushing Chocolate Milk as a sports drink. What have I been saying? Chocolate milk is the BEST thing post-workout. Moo, bitches!
I swear I feel 100x better on Monday morning when I have a big glass of chocolate milk after my hockey game (and no beer) than when I don't. I know, that's heresy for a beer-leaguer but I'm willing to put my neck out for this.
My other milk excitement for the day is that my CVS now carries Horizon Organic Milk. I may never go to the grocery store again!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Rather than cross-posting, which seems like work, I'll just link out to my posts on The Third Intermission, which is pretty much where all my Aeros-specific stuff will go.
First up is the Aeros Clear Day roster and the signing of Tony Hrkac (which I have to look up how to spell every single time I type it). I'm tres skeptical but I guess the proof will be in the pudding. If he can still play and can bring fire and leadership to this team without completely hosing the chemistry they already have going, I'll happily eat crow.
And then I take a look at which Wild prospects we might see in Houston either in the home stretch or next season. And I bust out some P.Y.T. Oh yeah, baby. I went there.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
You may have seen a hint of this already, but exciting stuff is in the works for Aeros fans!
Rather than running willy-nilly from link to link to see the latest Aeros news, commentary, and photos, you can now get it all in one place at The Third Intermission.
I was gonna say it's like the Super Wal-Mart of Aeros coverage, but it's really more like the Costco of Aeros coverage, because it's classier (I promise to try to keep the f-bombs to a minimum) and we only take American Express.
We're still sorting out the details but it's up, running, and looking like a good thing so far. You'll get posts from Andrew "Prediction" Ferraro, John "Bikini" Royal, Fred "Awesome" Trask, and yours truly as soon as I come up with something better to say than, "Oh damn, that Stoner is hot."
So, go bookmark it, add it to your Google Reader, and feel free to comment, speak up, tell us what you want more of, etc. etc. Don't be bitchy though. That's my gig.
I wasn't there, haven't watched it on AHL Live, may not, other than to look at the goals, but for the sake of continuity, here's links to game reports and whatnot:
Royal's blog report
Andrew's report for the Chron
Royal's report for the Houston Press (covering the prior week)
But I will say, yay for a Pouliot goal, yay for Alby either finding his goal stick or getting a little offensive freedom, not sure which, and I'm still wrapping my head around the John Scott call-up. But whatever. Onward!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Rapid fire, bitches, because I'm getting out of dodge in about 12 hours and there is still packing and sleeping and various other things to be done before then:
- Why is Pouliot such a freaking badass on the PK and such a dorkus maximus 5 on 5? Luckily, the Aeros were on the PK for, like, half the game, so I guess it was a good game for him. He's back to hitting a bunch again, too. *wolf whistle*
- Then again, this was a hit-or-be-hit kinda game. Both teams came out with guns a'blazing. I haven't seen such a physical game in a long time. It's clear these guys love to hate each other. And that makes for some fun effin' hockey, baby.
- Second in the division! Shhhhhh... not too loud or they'll take it away.
- Six kiddie choirs? For the love of...
- The penalty kill at the end of the game with Krahn pulled from the Wolves net and the Aeros battling 6-on-4 was positively heroic. They just kept their shit completely together, didn't panic but played with the utmost urgency, and not only survived the two-man disadvantage, but then Rosa dished a soft backhander up the ice and the puck glided just inside the post. The crowd went nuts, as it was the third such empty net attempt, the first two going a bit wide.
- Like I mentioned, lots of bad blood with these teams and it didn't take long for a huge hit by Stoner on LaVallee to trigger the first fight of the game between Stoner and Brooks (edge to Stoner). And later, Love fought Lehman and this is the first Love fight I've seen where he looked genuinely pissed and it clearly wasn't an "energy" fight. Love schooled him.
- Schaefer kept them in this game and got second star. Stud. Kolanos got the GWG and first star and $1000 for charity thanks to Mr. Anonymous. I wonder if I get a new Smiley Krys picture as a result... :) Update: Woohoo! Mr. Awesome comes through for me yet again!
Here's Royal's accounting of the evening.
I'll miss Chucko coming to town on Tuesday but am back on the clock for Friday's game. Behave yourselves. Or don't, but don't call me for bail money.
Friday, March 6, 2009
So I went to the game as a fan and sat in the stands for the first time this season. First of all, I'd forgotten how difficult it is to eat without a table in front of me to hold all my crap. That well honed skill has deteriorated this season.
Second, I'd forgotten how, when you don't have to appear mostly neutral to the events playing out in front of you, the emotional investment in a single game is pretty strong. And how nice it feels to clap for a great performance. That felt really, really good... and it was a great performance in the second and third periods, well deserving of a big round of applause.
I'll let John and Andrew take you through the play-by-play. I didn't take notes and they did a fine job of it. Oh and some nice pics from Fred!
- I was relieved, after a first period where the Aeros failed to convert on four ripe PP opportunities, to find out the Giffins have the best PK in the league. Last night's performance did nothing but reinforce that, as they staved off the 4th best power play in the league in the Aeros.
- The defense was terrific. Focused, quick, passing well, seeing the ice well, putting well, chipping well. It was the kind of D that will just frustrate the hell out of you as a forward because they've constantly got a stick on you, poke poke poking the puck away, not an inch of space to move. I recall a couple of times the Albers/Scott pairing got outnumbered and they (Alby in particular) and Schaefer did a great job doing damage control.
- The PK was so good, the penalties were virtually irrelevant. The Griffins were hard pressed to even get across the blue line. Gorgeous!
- Schaef's dramatic glove save with .3 seconds left in the game perfectly punctuated a game in which the Aeros confidence and dominance just crescendoed the longer it went on. It was a beauty. (Though apparently crescendoed isn't a word... sorry.)
Anyway, back working the game Saturday and then I'll miss Tuesday's game against QC, but since Chucko's been called up to Calgary, what would be the fun anyway?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I didn't get to all the teams, but these are the ones that jumped out at me. Feel free to put some suggestions in the comments. I'm ashamed that I couldn't find a Barry Zuckercorn.
San Jose Sharks = Michael Bluth
Well-mannered, upstanding, well-behaved, smart, successful, handsome in a way only Californians can be. They're the steady rock of the bunch.
Dallas Stars = Lucille Bluth
Aggressive, irritating, disliked by many but still seems to get ahead in spite of adversity. Mooches off social status-seekers, who in turn benefit from the opportunities to see and be seen at various Bluth/Stars functions.
Phoenix Coyotes = Buster Bluth
Though not without certain talents, remains generally bumbling in spite of efforts to the contrary. Extreme dependency on Mother/Gretzky at once holds them aloft while also limiting the success of growth efforts.
New York Rangers = GOB Bluth
Extremely unsympathetic character. Not particularly good at anything, other than being arrogant and unpleasant. Fancy themselves rather suave and handsome, but are really just coasting on the family name.
Pittsburgh Penguins = Lindsay Bluth Fünke
Pretty and occasionally tries to care about something, but ultimately doesn't have the depth.
Philadelphia Flyers = Maeby Fünke
Gets bored if not living on the edge to some degree. Revels in rebellion, specializes in con-artistry. Can pull off wearing Safety Orange.
Toronto Maple Leafs = Oscar Bluth
Wants to be as esteemed and respected within the family as his brother, but constant ineptitude and foggy decision-making has resulted in a lifetime of failure.
Boston Bruins = Annyong
While appearing hapless and harmless most of the time, we suddenly discover they know things and are plotting their revenge for the years of disrespect. Hello, Frozen Banana Vengeance!
Nashville Predators = Lucille "Two" Austero
Completely lovable, warts, dizzies and all, for the whimsy and gumption shown in the face of adversity. Plays the spoiler and incites ridicule from traditionalists for her "Little Engine that Could" approach to life.
"Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else... noticed?"
Though giving off an air of serious professionalism, ethics and moral fortitude aren't a high priority.
Almost obnoxious in their focus and seriousness and lack of frivolity, yet willing to hide behind the couch or skate through octopus slime if it helps the matter at hand.
Creates a lot of good will through sheer confidence and contagious enthusiasm. You want to hate them, but can't find a solid reason to.
Tampa Bay Lightning = Kitty Sanchez
Slightly (okay, maybe a lot) crazy, not to be trusted with anything important, like #1 draft picks or long term contracts. Likes to make a splash by showing off sexy assets, but isn't smart enough to actually do any real harm with what little power they have left from their heyday.
Vancouver Canucks = White Power Bill
Like to act tough, but we discover soon enough that they're really just full of self-loathing. And because we loathe them, too, we sympathize (and yet do nothing to discourage it, as we know that eventually they'll jump off the ledge on their own).
Minnesota Wild = Ann Veal
"Her?" Highly principled, often rather dull, but nevertheless inspires great, inexplicable devotion from loved ones. Often forgotten about by everyone except aforementioned loved ones.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Installment #12 of the Mitch Love blog. An "absolute egg" is what he calls last Friday. Yeah, Mitch. Sunday, too.
March 14 is Pucks and Paws night when the Aeros play in San Antonio. I was already thinking about going to that game... now the temptation is irresistible, knowing that I could bring the mutt with me and support a four-legged-friend cause.
Here's the info on the game. This is the second-to-last chance to go see the Aeros play in SA this season.
The way things are going, I'd rather go now while the games matter. I'm not sure they will that last weekend of the regular season when they meet in SA again.
So, I woke up this morning to leaking, puffy eyes and a snot-faucet for a nose (stuck in the ON position). Alavert didn't touch it, so I hit the Benedryl. By 9:30, I passed out cold and woke up an hour and 45 minutes later.
As often happens when I turn my back to my laptop for a few minutes, all hell broke lose. Well, kinda good hell, actually, for some guys. Not so much for others.
The big bomb is that the Wild FINALLY got Backstrom re-signed! Four years, 6 mil-ish per. This is excellent news and you could hear the collective sigh of relief in Minnesota all the way from down here in Texas. Or maybe that was all me. But it seems most folks are awfully happy about not only the signing, but also eliminating the prospect of losing ANOTHER guy to free agency for absolutely no return.
As contradictory as this might seem given the brutal netminding I provide my novice team each Sunday night, I'm positively compulsive about my pro teams having good goaltending. After Daum's final season in Houston, with Miro and Swiss as our only goaltending options, I'm scarred for life. Give me good goalies or give me death. Contrast that with be spoiled by our goaltending in Houston last season... well, my expectations are sky high, and it seems Backstrom can come as close as anybody to meeting those.
I guess we'll see tonight how this affects his play. None at all, I would hope. Or he's elated, because it was clear he wanted to be here pretty badly, and will be even better. Nice interview with Backy here.
What is it with these Finnish goalies? I need to find a nice Finnish name to put on the back of my goalie jersey. Maybe I'll suck less?
In addition to this news was a waiver wire that runneth over, including some familiar names like Peter Olvecky. I suspect he'll just clear and return to Houston. There are too many big names on the wire today for him to get much attention. It will be really nice to get him back, especially with this experience under his belt.
Other familiar names... Aaron Voros and Erik Reitz. Doh! I wonder if Sather's still talking to Riser these days. Seems he didn't ultimately find what he was looking for in the Wild's sloppy seconds (really, he could have just asked the fans and saved himself some trouble). And speaking of which, the Rangers DID pick Avery up off the wire. I guess losing AV and Reitz and sending one guy back to the minors was enough to clear cap space for the Mouth.
And now that Avery is back... and Brodeur is back in New Jersey and playing like a MFing beast... how many of you have the only remaining Rangers v. Devils game circled in red on your calendars? March 30. Be there or be square, kids.
Finally, on a totally unrelated note, Justin Bourne, the minor league player/THN blogger gives another divine slice of life. It is a must read, especially if you play or have played hockey for fun. All I'll say is that I'm a little irritated that the boys know they look that good in those suits. Dammit!
Monday, March 2, 2009
And last night at novice, I was wearing milkbone underwear.
Stands to reason, after having a pretty decent, fun game last week, that I'd get blown up this week. Though really, I only let in 6 goals (though I could swear there were more, but I was assured they were keeping track), which is pretty much on par for me, and we ended up tying the game.
But I wasn't happy with how at least 4 of those went in. I should have gotten them. And I was a f**king statue in the first period, not seeing the puck well, kinda jumpy and flinchy. I've gotta find a way to be more prepared when the puck drops. Jessica got two on me in the first, but I stopped her the rest of the night.
Honestly, though, my D clamped down when they saw I was having trouble and pretty much didn't let the puck near me most of the night. I was finally stopping them later in the 2nd and in the 3rd, but I hardly saw anything. At one point, the green team had the red team pinned in their zone for 5 minutes straight. It was unbelievable.
Mostly, I felt like a schmuck. Any stops I made were such gimmes, they're hardly worth relishing.
But, ya know, I knew there'd be nights where I'd take steps backwards and feel like shit about my game. It's just motivation to work harder during the week, and show up better mentally prepared. And the really awesome thing is that I get to live with this for 2 whole weeks because I'll be out of town next Sunday. Yay.
I'm so bugged by it, I'm even considering hitting a stick and puck this week. But I fell up the stairs yesterday afternoon and have a huge lump and bruise on my knee right where I'd be dropping on it, so I dunno.
On the positive side, though, my freshly sharpened skates didn't give me too much trouble, though I'd love to knock the edge down a little. And as far as improvements go, I feel like I did do better playing further out of the net, but at the same time, knowing where I was in relation to the net.
Mr. C is sweet though... He was still up when I got home and I was moping a little about how disappointed I was in myself, and he said, "Did you have fun?" I had to think for a minute, but yeah, I did.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Can we just never play 5 on 5 again?
The Aeros special teams are just spectacular, with the boys converting on 2 of 3 PP opportunities and staving off 7 of 8 man advantage chances for the Ads.
But there's part of the problem in this game. 8 trips to the box, some pretty legit, some kinda weak calls. Either way, you can't get shots at the net when you're spending 18 minutes a game defending your own.
Oh and speaking of shots!!!
Ads - 38
Poor Dimples, but more to the point, poor BADASS Dimples, who stopped 35 of those 38! Well done, peanut! Welcome back to the Aeros!
Anyway, the boys started the game with a 2 point lead. Danny Irmen got the first goal with help from Schultz and Rosa. Kolanos got the second from Noreau and Locke.
But as I told a chat room full of nice Ads fans and one colossal asshole Ads fan, "Don't worry. This team lives to choke away leads." And indeed, the rest of the goals would be against the Aeros.
It's hard to tell from the little window, as usual, but I felt like the boys were playing without any desperation in the second and third, making way too many mistakes, etc. I know it was the third in 3 but really, the way they mailed it in on Friday, I don't really count that game.
Anyway, next game is Thursday back at home and I'm going as a fan and bringing the Mayor of Russoville with me, so that should be fun. Unless the boys continue to play without the appropriate urgency for this time of the season and for a team teetering on the cusp of being out of the playoff picture.
Enough of this. I've got a bunch of pucks to stop.