Thursday, April 30, 2009
The West Division finals start tonight and it's hot and heavy over at T3I.
Just in case anybody stumbles over here looking for Aeros info (such as my pals from Preds on the Glass), redirect your browser to this here link: http://thethirdintermission.blogspot.com.
That's where the good Aeros shit lives.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Because there is no looking for signs or listening for voices or praying or any of that. You go out there and the hockey gods say YES or the hockey gods say NO. Clear as day.
Today, the hockey gods said NO to me. Oh, LORD, how I was smote at stick and puck. Those kids lit me the fuck up, especially early on. Like I wasn't even standing there. Incredible. And Mitch... with your back door passes. At least you knew to stay a stick's distance away from me after you scored, eh? Hmph. What a pal. ;)
Oh well. As I said Sunday, it's process. I was going down better and I'm getting my pads to fly properly more often than not. I went down a LOT more and with slightly better timing, got my toe to the post some of those times, but clearly don't have that whole thing even close to figured out. I'd find myself down and then reaching my leg out and not getting over far enough and, boom, right in the gap. Happened at least 3 times that I recall.
And then one I sealed my toe to the post and as I was basking in the glory of FINALLY getting that right, the fucker flipped it over my pad. So... Step 1: Drop. Step 2: Toe to the post. Step 3: Get the glove or blocker over to prevent chip-ins. Or maybe just start swinging that stick like a ninja. Haven't decided yet.
One thing I didn't do well that I usually do well at is making sure I'm ready energy-wise, but I was really busy all morning and hadn't eaten enough, so I had trouble staying sharp mentally. At one point, I made a save that went behind the net, but my team didn't clear it and when the white team set up again, I forgot that they weren't my team anymore (whites and darks had switched ends a few minutes earlier) and I'm all LOLcat-mush brain, which sounded something like this:
O HAI WHITEZ!
WAIT... WHY ISN'T U CLEARING PUK WHITEZ?
O SHIT! WHITEZ DA ENAMIE!
O FUK. WELCUM INTO NETZ, PUK.
SAD GOLIE SEZ BAD WERDZ.
Ahhhh, tragedy makes the best comedy, doesn't it?
Anyway... another day at the rink.
And since I've always got some kind of gripe, here's my gripe (What's Bugging Ms. Conduct?, if I can steal Barry's gig for a second):
Lookit, boys. SHOOT THE PUCK. I know I'm a girl and I suck and all but please PLEASE don't let up on shots. Pass, deke, whatever, but if you're gonna shoot, don't shoot for me to save it. Shoot to get a goal. Otherwise, I learn nothing. I'd rather get lit up and have my day ruined and my confidence shot to hell than have false confidence from guys purposely shooting into my belly or pads.
Honestly, I don't wear all that gear because it's comfortable or smells good or I look cute in it. /rant
(Oh, but speaking of gear, my skates didn't hurt one iota today! I think I've finally figured out that if I don't lace them tightly until the third set from the top, that works perfectly.)
Naturally, I've started nicknaming a few of these kids. Of course, Mitch and Mikey are just Mitch and Mikey (though Mitch was "GODDAMNIT!!!" a few times today), but the kid in black, #10 with the grey on his black pants... he's "Canada" and the guy in white with the cornflower blue socks... he's "Blue Socks"... I know, it's Earth-shattering stuff. The things goalies do to amuse themselves while trying not to think too much...
Anyway, it was fun, though it's more fun when I don't have to hear "Pull the goalie"... Pull me, fuck you.
So as to not finish this on a bitter note (because I'm totally not), I saw this on the so-lovely-I'd-switch-teams-for-her Sarah Spain's Twitter today and I totally related to the little squirrel. How sweet is that?
Monday, April 27, 2009
Ya know, learning to play goal is truly a process. You learn a little at a time, build on this and that, have realizations from week to week that help you along. You get a little stronger, a little more stable, a little more explosive every week. At least this is the goal.
There's always the week where your head is up your ass and they could bring the puck to your crease on a silver platter and you'd still manage to knock the son of a bitch into your own net.
Anyway, I did a little of all that tonight.
I started the night with about 5 trips to the bathroom for, uh, intestinal distress, so I was just really relieved (no pun intended) that didn't manifest itself during the game, and once I got on the ice, I was feeling nice and strong. My balance was back to feeling a lot more stable, my edges felt good. How annoying that that feeling of stability can sort of come and go.
First period sucked. I let in two goals mid-way through the first that I absolutely should have gotten. If I'd gone down, I'd have gotten them both easily. Just stupid and those were the goals we lost the game on. At least those are the ones I blame, and I'm the goalie so... there.
Had a great second period, until everyone noticed I was having a great second period, and told me how great I was playing. [cue death march]
After that, I let in a couple that were these ghey little novice league "rushes" that you can't even begin to time. You just crouch and wait and pray to god the damn thing doesn't trickle past you. In two cases, I went down to stop the shot I *thought* was coming, but then I left a gap between my toe and the post and in both cases, it went in that way.
So, my lesson for the night is if I'm on my knees, at least try to get over and seal my toe to the post on the side of the shooter. I know this seems like "duh" but when you're learning EVERYTHING... obvious things like this slip through the cracks. So, lesson learned the hard way tonight.
I'm not being too hard on myself on those since making saves down low hasn't exactly been my strong suit, and at least I finally was getting down and was protecting the bottom of the net better, so I'm happy about that. So next job is to get the techniques around that more solid.
I did have a beauty of a pad save on Gerard. One of those awesome "real goalie" moves where I dropped and got that right leg out and it rebounded out to the other side of the ice where my guys could get a rush up the other way.
Some nice stick saves, too. And a couple right on the post that I froze, but could have easily been goals. On one of them, Jim was jabbing at it and blessedly, Luther blew the whistle before it went in, but that jabbing pissed me off so I whacked him in the shin with my stick.
Didn't hurt him, of course, because I'm too big a weenie to hit hard, but I think they were all a little surprised and amused. Um yeah. If you're gonna do that shit, you better back the fuck off before I can start swinging. I enjoyed the hell out of that. Yeah, I totally went to the Philadelphia Flyers School of Sportsmanship.
In the end, the score was 5-6 in favor of the red team, and I headed to the bench for the man advantage, but my guys couldn't get the puck past the other goalie (who incidentally spent most of the third period on his knees because he had a bum ankle or something... and he still beat me. Goddamnit!)
Oh well. Learned some good stuff tonight and had a lot of fun. Back to stick and puck on Wednesday to battle the speedy teenagers. I can definitely tell that's helping my stamina and strength and general ease in the net. Plus it's nice to see real shots. Why wear 40 lbs of gear if I'm not gonna get hit by a few rockets? Yay for masochism!!!
Update: For more weirdness, that shot to the inside ankle I took at S&P on Wednesday decided to bruise up after the game last night. WTF is that about?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Forgot to mention in my stick and puck report the other day that I actually got Poulioted by one of those punk kids.
Like this (except this goalie had a fighting chance of getting a glove on it):
I know other people do this move, but I'd never seen anything like it until I saw Pouly do it. And when there's no defense to contend with, I don't think there's a prettier, more graceful skater out there.
I was just thinking about this today as questions of whether he'll get re-signed by the Wild (he's an RFA) are starting to get floated. I'll tackle that over at T3I when the Aeros are done for the season.
Friday, April 24, 2009
In the Peoria Journal Star, about his kids, who were in Houston with him for the playoff series.
Cool that his boy child is a goalie, too. Though I had to laugh that his best advice was to "stay out of the crease" when playing too deep is something Manny gets caught doing more than he should.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
UPDATE: Rob, thank you so much! The jersey is gorgeous and so... CLUTTERBUCKY! I love it dearly. You're so kind to have gotten that for me. I truly thank you and cannot wait to wear it. And it fits perfectly (I really like how the CCM jerseys look on than the new ones... and yeah, I put it on and grinned at myself in my mirror for a few minutes when I got home last night).
I will find a way to get it signed, you can count on that. Surely I have enough connections by now to make that happen.
I'm so tempted to go to the Leaf on Saturday so I can watch the game and wear my new "sweater." :)
Wow! Seriously? You're much too kind! I didn't want to approve the comment yet so that any yahoo could just come up and ask for it, but I did want to acknowledge that I read it and will be there Wednesday with bells on. That's incredibly generous! And wonderful! Thank you!
You know, I don't get paid money for anything I do related to hockey, but I can't say there's been any other time in my life where I've had so much fun or felt so fulfilled. There's a generosity of spirit in the hockey community that is unrivaled in my experience. Gushy stuff, I know, but sometimes you just have to go there.
Puck Daddy brings to our attention this morning that NHL Celebrity Blogger Kevin Smith has moved his playoff blog back to his own web site from the NHL's site. Gotta agree with PD that it is 100% ghey of the NHL to be so prudish.
Of course, I don't have kids, nor do I even like kids, so when someone says, "Won't someone please think of the children?" I'm the one slunking off into a shadowy corner hoping no one expects ME to be that someone. It ain't gonna happen, bub. Well, I'll think of them... I'll think, "Won't someone shut that brat up?" or "Don't get your sticky hands on me, small germ-laden person."
So, when humor or cleverness are sacrificed in the name of being family-friendly, it makes me all Lou Ferrigno. RAWR! (And I don't mean that in my usual sense.)
But whatever, NHL. Your league is becoming one long string of retarded Colin Campbell punishments and humorless decisions (oh yeah, and awesome hockey, but I'm bitching right now), but you seem to like it that way, so more power, I guess.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Okay, not really. Some Canadian kid in black did. (How do I know he was Canadian? He said, "Nice save, eh?" Dude is straight off the plane from Manitoba, I bet my favorite tuque on it.)
But I did play well, I thought, and I have the bizarre aches to prove it. Stopped one shot with the inside of my ankle. Not a super hard one but not much padding there either. But it was a difficult save that I wouldn't have normally gotten over for but I was all bringing the noise right then and got in front of it. Sick. I was so proud.
Also made some really nice blocker saves and one with the shaft of my stick. Bitches, don't go blocker side on me. I got that. Glove side is another story.
One guy was nice enough to come over and say, "Hey, hold your glove up and open and you'll be bigger." Oh yeah. I think I'd kinda written off my glove side. Felt better after that. Amazing how your form kinda falls apart when nobody is taking the time to point out the stuff you're doing wrong. May need to talk to my D about helping me with that. I'm having a hard time progressing without feedback. Then again, I also want to rip their throats out if they talk to me after a goal so maybe I should just bring a video camera.
Anyway, I had some really nice saves on some nice shots, even though, like Sunday, my footwork felt really clumsy. I'm not sure what's going on there. My balance was bad. My skate kept getting stuck in holes on the ice. Augh. The post saved me several times when I couldn't get across. I was looking at my blades and I think the inside edge is worn down but the outside is still pretty sharp and I'm catching on it or something. I dunno. I should have left them to get sharpened.
I also did something to my wrist but I can't figure out what. I didn't fall on it or anything, but man does it ache.
Here's what's so fucking dumb and drives me up the wall. Every. Single. Shot. I drop into the fly to save got past me. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Now if that's not incentive to stay on my feet... Plus with my balance so crappy today, getting up was clumsier than usual. Luckily these kids shoot high a lot.
And I have to admit, I actually kind of enjoy this more than Sunday nights. It's like a one-night stand. No strings, no commitment, just sweaty fun that feels great and then you go your separate ways. Novice, OTOH, is like a real relationship where both sides are keeping score and your own team is sick of XYZ about you and you're sick of ABC about them. But at least there's some comraderie there. I'm the only chick at stick and puck, so it's just me in the room, which is kinda lonely.
But I got several "great save" comments and one of the guys said I "played good today" on the way back to the room, so that was a real boost, as compared to last time where they spent the whole game looking sideways at me.
Next week: I bust out the monster poke check on these deking mother fuckers. I'm sick of that shit.
Time to shower and get up to the TC for Game 5. Hopefully the hockey high will last well into the night with an Aeros win. Someone down there slap Pouly around to get him pissed off. He plays better that way.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
More killer stuff from Justin Bourne, who explains how hockey practices work to us civilians. (We're ALL drill wreckers in novice league, BTW. The coaches should get some white boards. None of us played juniors, so maybe we'll be able to follow along, though some of us DO like shiny things, so maybe not.)
I've mentioned it before, but goddamnit, I hate Mustache Boy. I guess if it's a sign of good team chemistry, I'll grudgingly tolerate it but really... man... I hate it so much. One week, my guys are stone cold foxes and the next, they look like door-to-door vacuum salesmen.
Here's more indepth explanation on Mustache Boy and Juice Boy (the less aesthetically distressing version of the game) from Ben Lovejoy's hilarious, but abandoned, blog. (Now, I'm not wishing him a slapshot to the jaw, but I wish he'd get back to writing.)
Monday, April 20, 2009
Social Networking Coordinator for the Red Wings
Now granted, you have to live in Detroit, which is a tough ask, but I see all the postings that come through for both the NHL and AHL and this is the most interesting I've seen... interesting to me, anyway, as a blogger geek.
Remember when you told me that nobody can shoot a puck if it's in front of them? Honest to Roy, it took me until tonight to internalize and act on that bit of knowledge. Sometimes I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree.
Anyway, having that "Ah-ha!" moment (as opposed to an A-ha moment):
Like I was saying, having that "ah-ha!" moment saved a lot of goals in the practice drills and made my life a lot easier.
I was definitely better than last novice game, though I felt like my footwork was crappy at times and I was getting beat by all the deking mother fuckers in close. This is where a little b-fly slide skill would come in handy maybe. Probably could have poke checked more of those, but I wanted folks to be able to get a shot off (though I still poked a few of them if they were trying my patience).
Let in three during the scrimmage. One that I was too deep and it tipped in off my glove. (Wave hello!) Another that I dropped down to stop and thought my right pad was on it, but I guess it wasn't fully and one of them swept it in. One was a screen where I wasn't even thinking "drop" yet and I was out of position and boom it was in (this was Becky, Scott... She was so excited, she let out this shriek when she saw it in the net, and was pressing the rest of the game. Woman can smell blood in the water with the best of them.) I had some new defensemen and was screened a LOT tonight. Fortunately, they were pretty good d-men (other than the screening) so they cleared it most of the time.
Luther decided to do penalty shots instead of throwing anybody in the box, so I got to deal with that, but he had the newest girl, Amanda, take the shot (they were hollering for Peed to do it but Luther showed me some mercy), so it was one of those annoyingly unpredictable novice league type shots where she lost it a couple of times and had to re-set herself. She did good though, trying something other than just a straight shot and got me moving, which was smart because I wasn't getting around as well as I'd have liked.
Coulda just poke checked it away from her a couple of times, but decided to let her shoot. I'd almost rather see a penalty shot than have to kill for 2 minutes. One person shooting is more predictable. Plus, rebounds don't matter. Just get some lumber on it.
Anyway, it was fun, other than the practice drills getting a little old after a while. Need to hit up my stick and puck buddy and see what his week looks like. I should be itching to go again by Wednesday. Get me nice and tired for the Aeros game that night.
At least I'm back in the head space where I'm really happy to be the goalie. But I'm in a comfortable spot which means it's time to learn something new, push myself in a new way. Hopefully at stick and puck this week, I can make some headway in that regard. At the very least, I can hopefully finagle another cougar attack on one of the cute young hockey boys. Speaking of which, this is funny.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Quiet over here, we've been so busy at The Third Intermission with non-stop playoff action. Just a reminder to go check out the Aeros coverage over there if that's what you're into.
I'm loving what the site has developed into. Exactly what I wanted when I was a fan in the stands. And I don't say that to brag, because other than my own posts, not one bit of it was my idea. Even Texting Brusty wasn't my idea. Really! I swear! Ask Andrew! (Though really, it should have been called "Textual Relations with Barry Brust" amIright? No? Squares.)
Hockey practice for me tonight. Need to do some stretching today. Then I'll spend the rest of the day talking myself into getting "up" for it.
Also, I ordered overdrive blades, which arrived from Canada yesterday. Shhh. They're illegal in USA Hockey, but I think that's ridiculous and who the hell is checking? Seems like people who have them, like them, and credit them for saving them from some exploding groins. Looks like it will take a bit of doing to get them installed, so I'll go au naturale tonight and I'll install them this week so I can take them to the skate shop if I have trouble. And hopefully try them out at stick and puck later in the week.
Speaking of Canada, I'll have to share my new theory on Canadianity as a religion rather than a nationality sometime. Like, "I'm from Texas, and I'm a Baptist and I love Jesus." but instead it's, "I'm from Texas, and I'm a Canadian and I love Hockey." I haven't fully fleshed this out yet, but I will say that I do gaze upon my goalie pads hanging on the garage wall during the week with a certain religious reverence.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The final weekly installment of Mitch's blog can be found here.
I only recently started sipping the Doug Risebrough Haterade, but it was elevated to gulping, with occasional chugging, in recent days.
So news from Russo a few minutes ago that Riser's been sent packing was good news, but I didn't realize just HOW excited I'd be about it. But I'm damn excited.
Of course, at the farm club level, you have to wonder what the trickle down effect will be. Tom Lynn is acting GM for now, but I don't see him getting the big job, nor do I see him sticking around, which I think would have more of an effect than Riser leaving.
I dunno, but I know Wild fans are, to a man or woman, ecstatic about this news and frankly, anything to stop their whining. (Love y'all, but man, it was getting ooooold.)
Then, you know, knowing certain players that weren't getting the love from this "administration"... like Pouliot, Locke, Stoner... maybe they get a chance?
Ahh, good good good.
This is a pretty wacky story brought to us by Puck Daddy today.
Some Blues fans started a little grass roots TJ Oshie for Mayor campaign (at least I stuck with a hockey-related title for Clutter), but apparently they crossed a line when they posted a photo of a ballot with his name written in.
Now, you'd hope that the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri have better things to do than hunt down the perp with the cell phone, a sense of humor, and a love for Blues hockey and fine them. But these days, who the hell knows. It's like bizarro world out there.
Speaking of campaigns, voting for the Calder is finished, according to Mirtle, so I guess the Cal for Calder campaign is also over. It was a good run. Cal got some buttons and seemed to appreciate the sentiment of the thing. And most folks were awesome about taking it all in the right spirit and showing the love for the way Cal made this miserable Wild season worth watching, game after lousy game.
It's all over but the crying at this point, so I'm being lazy in my compulsiveness.
From Friday, Game 78:
John's quick post-gamer
John's long post-gamer
Fred's game photos
Saturday, Game 79, the road trip to San Antonio:
Fred's game photos
Sunday, Game 80:
John's quick Post-Gamer
John's long post-gamer
John's Houston Press article
Fred's photos: Group 1 and Group 2
Somebody was conspicuously lazy this weekend, wasn't she? Sorry.
While I'm at it, I'll just tack on last night's butt kicking in Peoria. In the future, all game reports can just be found at T3I.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la.
(Sorry, Christmas, but it's playoff time and that's the gift that keeps on giving.)
So, tonight, the Aeros play game 1 in Peoria. I'll be paying my $8 to watch on AHLLive.com and live and die with every shift.
But I'll also be keeping an eye on the NHL playoffs. I don't have a dog in the fight, which will make it actually a little more fun because I know there won't be tears at the end, but I certainly have some favorites.
Here are the match-ups I'll have an eye on through the first round, in order of interest:
The series I'm most excited about is Caps v. Rags. It's the Ovechkins vs. The Averys. It's Son vs. Father. I love/hate the Rangers when they have Avery (I really didn't give a rats ass about them when he was gone). So, if the Caps destroy the Rangers, then the hate part of me is pretty happy to see them get what's coming to them.
And if the Rangers somehow manage to contain #8 & Co., then the love side will be happy. I predict the Caps win handily, but Beautiful Theo finally loses his hair dealing with Avery.
I probably should be more excited about Bruins/Habs, but I love my Western Conference and I'm looking forward to seeing how injury-riddled Calgary deals with adversity against the Hawks, who seem to have just redonkulous good will and positive momentum behind them this season. Plus, I heart Kris Versteeg and his adorableness. Kipper screwed me like a $5 hooker in fantasy hockey this season, so even though I have a certain Calgary fondness, I'll shed no tears if he's on the golf course by the end of next week.
And now for the Bruins/Habs. No brainer for the Bruins here. I hate the Habs and their obnoxious fans. I'll adopt Milan Lucic as my temporary, post-season Clutterbuck. If the Red Wings make it to the finals, I hope the Caps are there with them, but if anybody else makes it from the West, I hope the Bruins are the Eastern team. And I'm not usually a fan of anything Boston -- those whining Red Sox fans and the Patriots (augh, will they just get sucky again already?) I just wanna run 'em all over with the cah. But I make an exception for the Bruins.
Obviously, the Ducks need to get completely and embarrassingly swept by the Sharks. Anything else will be terribly disappointing. Suck it, Pronger.
Okay, confession time: I don't give a rat's ass about Columbus. Seems like people are universally so happy to see this team finally in the playoffs, so I kinda feel guilty that I have absolutely no interest in getting on the Good Will Bandwagon. I mean, they're in Ohio. OHIO. Who gives a shit? Go Red Wings.
My apologies to Kevin, but I'm taking the Flyers against the Pens. I like my hockey mean and gritty, so I guess it shouldn't surprise anyone. Plus, that orange looks awesome on goalie gear. And the Pens have just never captured my imagination. I mean, yeah, they've got a ton of talent and Malkin's funny with his broken English and Sid's pretty with is pillow lips, but ... meh.
Naturally, in the Nucks/Blues matchup, I wish the Nucks nothing but heartache. From Luuuuuuuuu to the brain-eating Sedins (Is it worse to question their humanity or their sexuality? Let's just continue to do both and cover all the bases.) I'm rooting for the Failboat to just crash right into the arena and take 'em all out. Then again, I'm not real fond of the Blues other than their goalie, Chris Mason, and their giant backup goalie, Ben Bishop. Carlo Colaiacovo can take a flying leap.
Finally, I actually think Devils v. Carolina could be a really good match-up. Cam Ward is hot, Brody is The Man. But there's no rivalry fire here, so, meh. I'm definitely rooting for the Devils, but probably won't see much, if any, of this series unless they go to some ridiculous overtime.
I dunno about you, but I'm ready to drop the puck, bitches. Month and a half of late-night hockey hangovers, here we come! *yawn* Right after this nap...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Scott TFCG was trying to explain a concept to me today, but in typical Ms.C fashion, I needed the crayon version.
So he fired up the Powerpoint and knocked these little lessons out. They were too funny not to share. Told him we need to collaborate on a Goaltending for Dummies book.
(Confession: One of my secret fantasies as a technical writer is to get to write a For Dummies book. It looks like about as much fun as one could possibly have in my line of work. Which mostly just goes to show you how damn boring regular technical writing is.)
Anyway, here's the first lesson on angles in relation to the faceoff dot: Alignment
And here's a lesson on angles when the puck is in the corner or behind the net: Garbage Zone
Honestly, I'm a writer, not so much a talker. But I do love to talk about the Aeros, so I'm lending the farm team perspective to the Wild Nation Radio broadcast.
I hate listening to myself recorded, but hopefully, if you choose to listen (it's about an hour long), you won't hate listening to me recorded.
Linkage is here.
Much ado has been made of the idea of Kevin Constantine being Jacques Lemaire's successor. Let's do a little myth debunking:
Myth: KC is a lesser JL clone.
Truth: Not true at all. Sure, they both have sort of an old school, demanding work ethic. And they both have terrifically smart hockey minds. And they both derive great pleasure from seeing their players grow and succeed. They both have players who want to come back and play for them, and who, after leaving them, are full of appreciation for how much they've learned under them. They both have players who can't wait to get out from under them. They both believe the defense is the foundation of a hockey system.
But outside of that (and I think most of those are GOOD qualities), they're unique individuals who have vastly different approaches to teaching the game, different temperaments, different backgrounds, different bench personalities. To think that bringing in KC and his staff wouldn't be as big a change for most of these guys as bringing in Carbo or Renny seems narrow-minded.
Myth: Free Agents won't want to play for KC even more than they didn't want to play for JL.
Truth: I think the real statement is that the Wild consistently don't have the personnel to be successful enough for free agents to want to sign here. And what I'm saying is that the coach and the system aren't the reason FAs don't want to come to Minnesota. It's the mediocre teams Doug Risebrough has cobbled together.
Look at it this way: Has anybody ever accused Mike Babcock of being a "players coach?" And yet some of the best players in the league are beating down the door with the winged wheel on it, taking less money, willing to live in Detroit of all places, to play for him. Why? Because they're not just playing for him. They're playing on a team with great players, with a culture of success, where nothing but the best is acceptable.
What about a guy like Scotty Bowman? Not a players coach, but hugely successful. You think any of those Stanley Cup winners he coached regret playing for the organizations in which he coached? Not likely.
Point being, the problem in Minnesota is at the very top of the food chain. Whatever coach they bring in has to be the kind of coach who can be successful even with mediocre players and I think we've seen KC do that. But moreover, I think it's time for Craig Leipold to consider installing a new GM. He won't do it, but that's what needs to happen.
Myth: Defensive coaches like KC keep their offensive studs on a short leash, which will keep talented FAs away.
Truth: Have you seen the Aeros this season? I think most Aeros fans would agree that Constantine has actually given guys like Kolanos, Locke, Schultz, and Pouliot a rather large degree of latitude when it comes to creative, sometimes risky, playmaking.
Sure, last year's team was all defense, all the time, but they had to be, because they had so little scoring talent on the team. And that's what KC has shown: An ability to adapt to the personnel he's got. Last season, he had no offensive talent but the guys learned the system well and were adept at a very plug-n-play style of game, so lines were constantly changing.
This season, you have guys who are strong offensively, but they play best with certain linemates, so out the window goes the plug-n-play system and in comes a slightly firmer (heh) roster of lines and special teams, ensuring some retention of chemistry.
Myth: They need to bring someone more offensive-minded in.
Truth: Um. Who are they going to play? This roster is built with defensive, solid two-way players, at least for now. I think you bring in a coach who, like KC, has a solid philosophy but can adapt the application of his systems and philosophy to accommodate the talents of the players he's given.
Myth: Constantine is the heir apparent.
Truth: I don't think so, nor do I think he necessarily *should* be. I like the guy, I think he's smart, a good coach, good with the media, cares deeply about his players, surrounds himself with good people. He's intense and fiery and isn't afraid to take risks. He's a former goalie (and we all know goalies are the smart ones).
But his reputation as a bit of a tyrant (whether deserved or not) does precede him, and his long absence from the NHL bench does make one wonder if perhaps that's not the level he's best at coaching. It seems he would not be a popular choice among fans, many of whom are already sour on the team, though I would assume and hope that fan opinion doesn't factor into a coaching decision. Riser hasn't done anything else that was popular, so why start now?
So, I'm ultimately on the fence. I wouldn't be upset with the move at all. I've enjoyed his time here in Houston and I think he'd be great with the young group of guys coming up, who mostly seem to be real quality kids who don't mind working hard. Even Sheppard may enjoy Constantine's version of tyranny more than Lemaire's.
I recall an interview with Pouliot when he was up with the Wild earlier in the season and Lemaire was riding his ass 24/7. He expressed a great fondness for Constantine and how much he learned from him and how much he helped him. Maybe I interpreted it wrong, but I thought he very much had the tone of, "Man, I didn't know how good I had it in Houston." So if Pouly is picking sides and choosing KC, how bad can he really be?
One thing I will say, Constantine isn't this funny:
Monday, April 13, 2009
Ahhh, that was SOOOO much better than the first stick and puck. I still can't do shit about these fucking passes to my back door, but I'm moving around the crease a million times better than that first one I went to back in... when? January? A thousand years ago, it seems.
There's something up with this damn chest protector. I took another bicep shot and sonofabitch that hurt. Like there's no padding at all, or just a piece of cardboard or something, is what it feels like. I need to put my c/a on at home and just see where the various pieces are hitting me. Might be I need to adjust it a bit. It's all red and swollen and ouchy now. But the shot went to the corner, so it was totally worth it. ;)
Anyway, the guys were pretty nice but seemed a little weirded out by the random, sucky, chick goalie. You'd think they'd be delighted to have any goalie at all, or maybe they thought they needed to behave with a girl around? Ha! I'll have to start dropping some f-bombs.
For instance, one shot broke my water bottle lid (like an idiot, I put a lid on it that was a more brittle plastic) and I heard one of the guys say, "Well, if she's gonna play with the boys, she'll have to deal with it." Or something like that. *snort* Okay, man. Whatever. Like I'm gonna cry because my water bottle is broken? I might nut you for it, but that's just playing with the boys, right? ;)
Another thing I liked was that some of them were much more aggressive around the crease, which permitted me to take the occasional swing or shove at them. That's my favorite part and I never get to do it in novice.
Though I did catch one in the top of my pad and couldn't shake it out, so I made one of the cute ones reach in my pad and fetch it. He got razzed for it. I laughed. Mission accomplished. Dirty old cougar embarrassing the kid hockey player. Sweet.
Anyway, it was good. I got to see lots of shots in a situation where the only pressure on me is what I put on myself. I'll definitely plan to do that once a week in lieu of public skates. I get a lot more bang for the same buck (though it does take more time). And the nice ops guy unlocked the coach's locker room for me to use so I didn't have to mingle with the stinky boys. Didn't even ask him to. My own bathroom and everything! Sometimes it's good to be a girl.
Bonus: I did my good deed today and encouraged a mom who was there with her daughter. She hadn't skated before but said, "It looks fun and I've always wanted to do it." I said, "Get out there!" She was hesitant but I told her how scared I was the first couple of times out but that then it's really fun. Well, she got out there during the public skate and she had fun. Hope she sticks with it. Told her she's gonna be playing novice league with me before she knows it.
Okay, I'm sure Cal has lots of friends but this article came out in the Pio a couple of days ago about how his "no sacred cows" style of play isn't good for fostering friendships within the league.
Won't it be interesting when he's plastering his former Oshawa linemate, John Tavares, next season?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Well, another season has ended. In spite of a little fraying around the edges on my part, as I've stretched myself pretty thin with all my hockey pursuits, it really feels like the season just started a couple of months ago.
Perhaps that's because neither of my teams ever really got off the ground and found themselves. Always one step forward and two back for the Wild. One forward and one back for the Aeros, with the occasional three forward and three back. What a weird thing it's been to cover the team this year.
And here we are at the end, at least for the Wild, though honestly, my hopes aren't very high anymore for the Aeros getting out of the first round. Maybe I'm just taking some self-defense measures with my skepticism, but I don't think so. The Good Aeros are SO good, but so ephemeral and fleeting. The Mediocre Aeros seem to be the default.
I suppose melancholy is the word for my mood today.
Anyway, I'm looking down the road a bit at things on my mind that I want to write about. I've got lots of thoughts on Constantine as a potential replacement for Lemaire in Minnesota. I've got some post-season awards to hand out. I've got my NHL playoff picks. I've got some ideas for how to spend the long, hot, hockeyless summer. These should fill a little of the immediate post-season void.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I'm getting excited about a weekend full of delicious, nasty hockey. You know it's gonna be nasty, right? I-10 rivals, a San Antonio team with nothing to lose, an Aeros team with everything to lose.
Plus, my first Aeros away game. And possibly some Beaver Nuggets. FTW.
I've been thinking a lot about Sunday still. I've over feeling sorry for myself and am ready to go again. No game on Sunday due to Easter, but I'm going to stick and puck on Monday with one of my novice teammates.
I was telling Coach Stalin (who is now cast-free and ready to go get her skating legs back next weekend!) about it and I heard myself say, "I'm terrified." But I realized as I was saying it, no I'm not terrified. I'm just anxious; maybe a little nervous, but mostly I'm just ready to go. Ready to do better. Ready to prove myself to myself again.
I've also been thinking about why I've been letting so many in lately, what is freezing me up, making me so fucking crazy out there. I think part of it is that I know my D is purposly playing "soft" so that a) the red team gets more shots on goal and b) I see more rubber.
But knowing this, I'm spending ridiculous amounts of mental power analyzing them. "Are they getting this or are they gonna let me deal with it?" "What are they doing?" "Don't play HIM soft! For shit's sake!" Instead of just being ready for the puck, no matter what's going on in front of me. Trying to figure out my defense AND the offensive play coming my way. That's waaaaaay too much noise to have in my head during a game. Any wonder I haven't been able to process all that in time to react.
So anyway, hopefully this bit of awareness will help me shut those thoughts down and just do whatever I have to to keep the puck out of the net.
Been meaning to talk about my off-ice workouts a bit since I'm ramping that up lately. Not that anybody but me cares. It's just good to talk this stuff out sometimes.
Anyway, I took Monday and Tuesday off. Monday because I always take Monday off. Tuesday because I was lazy and still pouting. At least I'm honest, right?
But yesterday I did both my yoga flexibility video and the shorter of my new Pilates DVDs to get some extra core work. It's not as intensive as I'd like, but I was also talking to Coach S last night about how to recreate some of the tougher core challenges I face in goal, so I may supplement on my own.
The worst one for me is when I'm flat out on the ice, belly down, and then having to get upright on my knees again. I find that strains my abdominals and upper quads and is more difficult for me than I'd like. So, we've worked out something I'm going to try this evening after I do my Stretch-a-flex and Pilates videos.
I do find that I'm getting more flexible all the time but I'm still not close to what I would call "flexible" by goalie standards. I've gotta keep working on strengthening my groin muscles, while also keeping them limber. I need to put a routine together specifically for that. Maybe do that in lieu of Pilates after my main workout every other day.
That's the thing with training for this... I am so behind the curve in nearly every way coming from an endurance sport previously, it's a little overwhelming figuring out what to work on each day without feeling guilty for neglecting something else. I need to work on aerobic conditioning (usually a 3 mile run/walk around Memorial Park or spinning), flexibility, core strength, upper body strength, explosiveness (plyometrics), balance, hand/eye coordination... That doesn't even include the up-and-downs, the skating and footwork drills, stick handling, or the actual tending of goal.
How do I fit all that in, in meangingful amounts, without making it a career? I honestly don't know and I've been trying for a year to figure it out. So, I'm just doing the best I can. And speaking of which, it's getting to be that time.
Just one more thing: Speaking of the best, here's the Wild's Hit Leader tribute video for Cal. Awesome.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It's Getting Pucks Deep, a Thrashers blog. Terrific photos from Thrash games, a goalie fixation, special attention to the hot boys, snarky commentary... I'm in bluv (that's blog-luv).
She may even convince me to appreciate the Trash in some small way, in spite of their association with the nasty Chicago Wolves.
Go get it.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Week 16 of the Mitch Love Blog
And boy am I happy to push my miserable post-game report down a notch. I'm letting it go, ever so slowly...
They say goaltending is 90% mental. I contend that *I'm* 90% mental, goaltender or otherwise, and boy did I have a 2+ hour meltdown last night. If there's ever been a more apathetic, heartless, gutless, spineless goaltending performance, I sure as hell don't want to see it. I'm sorry and embarrassed my teammates had to see it.
I don't even want to go into the blow-by-blow, because there's nothing worth writing about*. My head just wasn't in it, and my body followed suit. I let in 12 goals in what amounted to 6 periods of play, most early on before my D figured out I was completely hopeless and clamped down. Granted, we won, but that's absolutely zero consolation to me when I know how utterly awful I was. I had absolutely no part in the win. None.
The one good thing was that I didn't actually just get in my car and cry my way home. I limped** to my team, drank my chocolate milk and water, and faced up to the people who just watched me implode. They're still speaking to me, God bless 'em. I mean, we won, so I guess they're happy, but Coach Dan can't have been and really, above all, I want him to be happy with me. Fuck.
What's more, our game next week has been called off, so I get to hang my head like a dejected Mii and feel like a heel for two weeks. At least I'll feel utterly deserving of whatever torture Scott TFCG lays on me when the new season starts. Though really, I hope we work on technique stuff and not so much conditioning, because I've GOT to get more comfortable with the idea that if I go down, I'm not stuck there. FUCK FUCK FUCK. FUCK.
I think the issue was that I was a good little goalie and did my workouts this week like I wanted to, I felt prepared, my mind was calm and empty. I thought that's how I needed to be. But apparently *I* need to be anxious, nervous, and unprepared. Great.
And then the warm-up was short and didn't really jar me enough... no hard slappers or mishaps, just sort of weak little shots that annoyed me but didn't get my blood pumping. And then the break between periods was infinitesimal. Just enough for me to skate to the other end, have a swig of Gatorade, and then puck drop. Normally I've got a good minute or two to drink, stretch, regroup, whatever. That pissed me off.
Anyway, I can't think about it any more. If my foot is feeling better, I may see about hitting a stick and puck this week or early next week. One of the guys on the team goes pretty often so I'm gonna see when he's going and maybe join him.
*Five different people said, "But you made that awesome glove save!" What glove save? I don't make glove saves. But apparently I made some sick glove save, and then dropped it and covered it. I remember the puck falling off of me (though I thought I'd gotten it in the top of my pads) and covering it but never the glove. Whatever. So, there's my one good save for the night.
Dan even came over and asked if I was okay because "that looked like it hurt," but I think he meant the awkward position in which I went down by the post to cover the puck. Sort of one leg out in front of me and one in a fly. This is why I stretch. :)
**Limped because 2+ hours on my skates just killed my foot. Sitting here with an cold pack strapped to it right now to get the swelling down. Oh, to be rich and able to afford well-fitting skates for my ridiculously wide forefoot.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I couldn't even finish my In Goal update last night after this game. Was totally in "F**k it" mode and just went to bed deciding it deserved more effort than I was willing to give it.
Today the mourning continues, somewhat, as the Wild are, for all intents and purposes, out of the playoff chase (though I've been sizing up their coffin for a while now because, like a good occasional-fuddy-duddy, I'm also an occasional realist). Still, I feel for the guys who have worked so hard and just didn't have the help or the breaks they needed to git 'er done.
Anyway, it's much ado about nothing at this point. Time to put together the post season awards.
Here's my weakass commentary on last night's Aeros game. Didn't even include the score. Figure if the Aeros are gonna suck at hockey, I'm just gonna go right ahead and suck at writing about hockey. That'll show 'em. *petulant*
If you love hockey, this is a fascinating, beautifully-crafted report on an under-18 hockey tournament in Taipei among what are decidedly NOT hockey superpowers.
This first report is about Australia vs. South Africa. It's about the game, do a degree:
By the second period, the Australians are so confident of victory that they become arrogantly sloppy.They take penalties casually, kill them lazily, and their goalie still has so little to do that he’s practicing day-dream plays at his end- butterflying and sliding and waving his trapper at phantom pucks.But really, it's about the bigger story of what these kids go through to play hockey in places that just don't have hockey. Like, they make Florida seem like a hockey hotbed.
It's an eloquent, intelligent read. Check it out.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Mr. C tells me, "Hey, it's just a game." Yeah, I know that. But if I weren't passionate about it, why would I watch? So when I'm screeching, "YOU DUMB F**K!" at the little game window on my laptop for the entire first period, it's all out of love.
Anyway, another city, another disappointing, unnecessary loss for the Aeros.
Here's my wailing and gnashing of teeth after the game.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I'd love to pretend this game didn't happen, but the time for that kind of denial-as-coping-mechanism passed a couple of months ago.
Here are the write-ups:
Andrew's View from the Press Box and his Chronicle piece
John's post-gamer and Press article
My post-game rantings
Fred's awesome photos (including new megahot ... but not so good... goalie Rejean Beauchemin)
Awesome interview with Cal over at Puck Daddy.
Thanks for the link, Wysh.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
There's a relatively new site called The Goalie Guild and a post there yesterday resonated with me big time.
I had actually written a post Monday about the place in my heart that being a goalie has taken over. About how awestruck I am that I'm The Goalie for a team of hockey players. The position is just so precious to me, both as a fan of the sport and as a player, I really can't even express it.
But I deleted it because it got sappy and embarrassing and made me feel too vulnerable (for once, full disclosure of my inner world didn't win... is this good or bad?)
However, the gist was that every week I feel so incredibly privileged to partake not only in such an amazing sport, but to get to play a position where what I do matters every single game, where I'm integral to the fabric of the team on the ice, but still sort of playing a game of my own, not really understood by the rest of the people on the ice except the guy at the other end. There's just nothing else like it, my friends. Nothing.
I don't quite have the words for it just yet, but I thought this TGG post came quite close to expressing what I cannot. Any coincidence we're both Texas kids?
Also, the video really is hilarious. Even if you read my blog and don't care about goaltending, go watch the video.
Meanwhile, even though they still hurt like the dickens, my bruises from Sunday never got photo-worthy. Boo! But if you see me in person, I'll be happy to show 'em to you. :D
Ahh, finally a win! So I bothered to write a real game report about it... At least as real as you'll get from me.
And yet another stinker. Here's Andrew's post-game standings analysis plus a link to his article in the Chron.