Monday, June 28, 2010

The Wanderer & The Savegasm

In my desperate scramble to keep my ice time up before camp in late July, I grabbed the reigns on a need down at the rink in Sugar Land. They've got 4 novice teams and have been playing with only 2 goalies all season. Since we weren't playing at Willowbrook this week, I figured I'd offer myself up.

I didn't play very well. Definitely was in my head too much, but I had some good saves and it was really interesting to see how different the vibe at their novice league is. Not any better or worse, but very different. Even the play is really different.

At Willowbrook, we have more player-coaches and we have more true newbies, so there's a wide variance in the skill levels. At SLICE, I'd say the play is more D+ across the board. Less wide-ranging than Willowbrook. Positionally, they're pretty good as I had traffic in my way all night, the likes of which I don't even see on Monday nights where it's more of a C level game. I've never had so much trouble maintaining visual attachment with the puck.

So, that will take some adjusting if I play there more. I have agreed to come out for a practice in two weeks, so that will be a 3 in 3, which will be good. I'm not sure what's going to happen in the fall with Willowbrook novice moving to Saturday and conflicting with a good number of Aeros games. Does it makes sense to switch to SLICE in October? It is about 10 minutes less of a drive, too, which is nice. But I'd be losing Scott on practice nights (though I'm getting him weekly at the goalie clinic).

I dunno. Stuff I'm pondering. Meanwhile, I have clinic tomorrow and NOTHING next week. NOTHING. AUGHHH. I'm gonna have to do real workouts? Madre de dios!


I'm coining a new term y'all are gonna love


I'm not sure if a word is allowed to have two quite so similar meanings, but this is my word so I'm saying it does:
  1. When a goalie makes such a sexy save, you find yourself a bit, um, flush. The last one that did that to me was, naturally, a glove save Brusty made while he was in Houston last season. Since we didn't have a photog for T3I, I had to do a stick figure of it. I still get a little tingly when I think about it. I'd have to ask Andrew and John but I'm pretty sure I fell out of my chair a little bit. I know there was gasping and dizziness and blushing and gripping the press table.
  2. When you, as a goalie, make a save that rocks you hard. Goalies know what I mean. Those saves where you just go, "Daaaaaamn, I just did that and that was fucking beautiful." I dunno if those same chemicals are released or what, but there's definitely a similar rush of those "feeling really good" endorphins or something.
So, there you go. Savegasm. Use it and, of course, have 'em as often as possible. :)


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Draft Day 1: Jack Campbell to the Stars

Well, I got my wish, or as close as I was going to get short of the Wild drafting him, which was highly unlikely. The Dallas Stars picked goalie Jack Campbell, which means I'll get to see him a whole bunch with the Texas Stars once he turns pro.

I'm trying to temper my excitement a little bit, because he is just a kid and there has been a great deal of hype around him due to his play in the World Juniors, but if he continues on his current trajectory of success, I think he'll be golden.

It's so rare for a prototypical Ms. Conduct goalie to come along, especially in this day of "I've been working with a goalie coach since I was 6 and I'm technically flawless and boring" robot goalies. But like my favorites, the kid is athletic and has undeniable flair.

What's more, he's a big game goalie who thrives under pressure. He's big on puck handling (*swoon*) and Marty Turco is his idol. I know Marty's had a rough couple of years, but I approve. You can idolize a player and still acknowledge and learn from their mistakes just like (hopefully) they do themselves.

What's more, I've talked to Mike Valley, the Stars goalie coach, and I'm familiar with his philosophy, and there's not another goalie coach in the league, who I'd be happier to see working with Campbell. I have total faith that Valley won't coach the uniqueness out of Campbell's game.

So, he's the whole package for me. And he seems to be a pretty good talker, too, at least for now. Here's a transcript of the interview with him after he was drafted. And here's a fantastic audio interview from Justin at the The Goalie Guild just a short while after Campbell won the gold.

And here's The Goalie Guild's analysis of the pick.

I was really disappointed to see Turco leave the Stars (though it's totally understandable on both sides). I've never been able to completely cotton to the Stars even though they're the "local" NHL team, but I still watched them a lot because of Turco (and also I love Razor's color on the broadcast). So I'm really happy they picked up the most exciting goaltending prospect to come through in a long while, IMO.

But now for the hard work of living up to these expectations. In a position where many guys don't hit their prime until their late 20s, it's still a crap shoot, but I love this roll of the dice.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

A serious look at the Wild's upcoming draft

And by serious, I mean completely, utterly not serious at all. In fact, it may be a new low for me, which I'm pretty excited about.

You see, it turns out the Minnesota Wild have the 69th pick in the draft this year. And being a 12 year old boy at heart (except for poop humor. I hate poop humor. Farts? Dicks? Yes. Poop? No.) this spoke to me.

Of course, I am also a grown-up and know that the ol' 69 is preposterously overhyped. I mean, how can you enjoy what's happening down there, when you're face is busy? I'm of the opinion you just gotta go all in on that stuff.

But the real purpose of this post is to salute the 69th picks through the years and see how they fared. Big time props to for making this just stupid easy. Here's a fun fact I discovered in my research: 1969 was the first year there even WAS a 69th pick. So, you know, that's synergy right there.

If anybody has more on any of these guys, throw it in the comments. And yes, it's a long post, and yes, you're lazy/busy/ADD-addled, but this is hockey history here! Impress your friends with your bizarre knowledge of all the NHL's 69th draft picks! Great party trick, I promise.

1969 - Jim Jones (Boston) - The smallish defenseman never played for the Bruins but bounced around the minors all but 2 games of his 7 year professional career. Those two NHL games were with the California Golden Seals.
1970 - Bob Roselle (Boston) - What is with the Bruins? Anyway, this lanky center never played in the NHL, but he scored pretty consistently in the minors during his 5-6 years playing. Top year was with the CHL Tulsa Oilers when he racked up 57 points.
1971 - Fraser Robertson (NY Rangers) - Another small defenseman, Robertson only played pro for two seasons and never made it out of the minors.
1972 - Gillies Gratton (Buffalo) - Hey! We have a winner! Goalie Gratton played 4 years in the minors before finally playing 6 games with St. Louis and then a full season with the Rangers, but then with just one game the following year in the AHL, he was done.Also, he was a crazy mofo. Dig it!
1973 - John Flesch (Atlanta) - Ohhh, Mister Fancy Pants Left Wing has 124 NHL games, though the majority of his career was in the minors. But he was a scoring mofo, averaging a point per game nearly every year. Surprised the Aeros haven't brought him in for the playoffs...
1974 - Mike McKegney (Montreal) - He didn't play very long but Mike won the lottery for playing for teams with interesting names: Beauce Jaros, San Francisco Shamrocks, and Petrolia Squires. Beauce and Petorlia were in the LotRHL. You wit me, geeks?
1975 - Andre Leduc (Los Angeles) -  The big defenseman only played 3 seasons, all in the IHL, CHL, and AHL.
1976 - Rocky Maze (Buffalo) - Yikes. Try again, Sabres. Only 19 games as a professional left wing. Great name though.
1977 - Steve Stoyanovich (NY Islanders) - Shame about Stevie, cuz he could seriously score. He had a point per game in 4.5 seasons in the minors and Europe and about half that in 23 games with Hartford..
1978 - Kevin Reeves (Montreal) - Reeves had two 100+ point seasons with Muskegon in the IHL where he spent 5 years. His scoring dwindled the final two years and that was it.

So, here's where it changes from an Amateur Draft to an Entry Draft and the success rate increases quite a bit:
1979 - Glenn Anderson (Edmonton) - How does 1129 NHL games sound? 11 years with Edmonton, 3 with the Rangers. Oh yeah, and in the Hall of Fame. And had his number retired by the Oilers. Quite a leap in the status of 69th picks, eh?
1980 - Jari Kurri (Edmonton) - Okay, now 69th pick is just being obnoxious. First Finnish player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, GM of Team Finland, blah blah blah. Show off.
1981 - Terry Tait (Minnesota) - Phew, I was thinking this was gonna be all hall of famers at 69th. Nope, Tait never played in the NHL and only 5 years pro.
1982 - John DeVoe (Montreal) - Yikes. Played 4 years of college and then nothing. John DeVoe! What happened?
1983 - Bob Essensa (Winnipeg) - Goalie Bob spent most of his career with the Jets and Oilers, and has been the Bruins goalie coach (though I understand it's somewhat part time) since 2003.
1984 - Tom Glavine (LA Kings) - You probably recognize the name, not for hockey but for a long, successful baseball career. He was drafted both by the NHL and MLB (Braves, 2nd round). He's quoted as saying he chose baseball over hockey because he wanted to keep his teeth. But the hockey gods being the pranksters they are, Glavine lost two teeth in a car accident in 2004. He does have one professional game to his name, however, as he "played" one game with the Gwinnett Gladiators as the honorary starting center in a charity appearance.
1985 - Mike Berger (Minnesota) - Berger, a defenseman, played 30 NHL games with the North Stars but spent most of his long career in the minors, including a long stint with the Tulsa Oilers near the end of his playing days. Seems like he was a bit of a tough guy with a bit of scoring touch, so you can see why he was a valuable player in the minors. In his last season with the Oilers, he had 60 points and 93 PIM.
1986 - Kent Hulst (Toronto) - Kent was nearly a point per game center in the AHL from 1989-2001, spending 8 of those seasons with the Portland Pirates, but never played an NHL game. He was particularly fired up in 1995-96, when he had 99 points and 152 PIM in 99 games (including playoffs). Pirates lost in the finals that season.
1987 - Mike Sullivan (NY Rangers) - The centerman played 709 games in the NHL with San Jose, Calgary, and Phoenix. After his playing career, he was head coach of the Bruins for 2 unspectacular years and saw his career come full circle when he served as an assistant coach for the Rangers this season.
1988 - Ted Crowley (Toronto) - The defenseman played 14 seasons, but boy did he get around, playing for 19 teams in that time, including my Aeros. Holy crap. My favorite? Essen Mosquitoes
1989 - Allain Roy (Winnipeg) - The highlight of his goaltending career must have been winning an Olympic silver medal with Canada, but now he's a player agent and president/CEO of CMG Sports.
1990 - Jeff Nielsen (NY Rangers) - Nielsen had a heck of a run with Binghamton in his first 3 years as a pro, steadily rising from 30+ points to 50+ points. But once he got into the NHL, that touch seemed lost, though he played 252 games in the show. His final season, he was picked up by Minnesota in the expansion draft.
1991 - Terry Chitaroni (Toronto) - The unfortunately-named Chitaroni (his nickname was "The San Francisco Treat"*) played well at the AA and European levels but couldn't really get it going in the AHL. *totally lying about that nickname
1992 - Jeff Connolly (Vancouver) - I kinda like this guy's story. He's all over the map. A year in college (BC), a year in Junior, 3 years in the ECHL where he played a whopping 58 games and then left the game in 1997. But then in 2001 he pops up with the ECHL Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (love that) and plays 13 games. Why not? Now he's a hockey instructor in the northeast.
1993 - Patrick Boileau (Washington) - Boileau was an offensive defenseman with a fairly long career, though most of it was in the minors. He spent 7 years in the Caps system, mainly with Portland in the AHL. He had a total of 48 NHL games and spent the final 4 years of his career in Europe before retiring in 2008.
1994 - Rumun Ndur (Buffalo) - Ndur, a big (6'2", 244) bruising defenseman, is the first ever Nigerian to play in the NHL. Another fun fact? Ndur played exactly 69 games in the NHL. More synergy! He was a tough SOB, too, and one season later in his career with the Danbury Thrashers in the UHL, he had 289 PIM in 46 games. That's over 6 PIM per game! Stick taps to Chris Jerina for finding this gem: Check out the penalty to Gretzky.
1995 - Sergei Gusev (Dallas) - Gusev is a Russian defenseman who played in the minors for a number of seasons, then broke into the NHL here and there to rack up 89 games. But in 2001, he headed back to the motherland and has been there ever since, playing just this past season with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL.
1996 - Curtis Tipler (Tampa Bay) - Tipler, a right wing, put up quite nice numbers in junior and decent ones in his rookie season in the UHL with Rockford, but that was it for him. Guys like that, I really wonder why they left the game.
1997 - Maxim Afinoginov (Buffalo) - This speedy Russian winger spent 9 seasons playing for the Sabres. Would have been 10 if not for the lockout. His production waned near the end, so Buffalo sent him out into the world as a free agent. Atlanta snatched him up for a mere $800k and putting up 61 points, he was a helluva steal for the Thrashers. Taps to Jerina again for reminding me of this story about Max dropping in on a pick-up game when he was getting ready for Worlds. Great stuff.
1998 - Jamie Hodson (Toronto) - Hodson, a goalie, retired in 2008, but consistent with the Maple Leafs' luck in goal, he didn't play much outside of the ECHL.
1999 - Rene Vydareny (Vancouver) - The Slovakian defenseman spent 4 years playing pro in North America, mainly with the Manitoba Moose, but has been playing in the Czech Republic since the lockout.
2000 - Ben Knopp (Columbus) - Knopp, a forward, spent  his pro time in the ECHL and AHL before heading to Europe for a couple of years before retiring.
2001 - Joel Stepp (Anaheim) - Stepp never played in the NHL, but if there's money to be made in moving allowances, he racked it up. He only played 5 years professionally (and 5 years in junior... is that even allowed?) but played for 9 teams during that time, and 2005-06 alone played for 4 teams. Appears he was one of these star crossed guys who was bit by the injury bug a good chunk of time.
2002 - Erik Christensen (Pittsburgh) - Talk about a guy who gets traded a lot, but unlike most guys, he's still hanging in there in the show. In 6 seasons, the centerman has played for 6 teams and played last season for the Rangers after he as traded to Anaheim from Atlanta and then placed on waivers.
2003 - Colin Fraser (Philadelphia) - Ironically, Fraser was drafted by the Flyers but just won a cup with a little team called the Chicago Blackhawks. I'd say things have worked out pretty well for him. Though he looks like he gets Botox in his forehead. Am I right?
2004 - Casey Borer (Carolina) - The Minnesota-bred defenseman is still working his way up from the AHL, but has 16 NHL games with Carolina under his belt so far, so it appears it's just a matter of time before he sticks.
2005 - Gord Baldwin (Calgary) - God, I love Canadians named Gord. It's just so Canadian, that name. Anyway, he's a baby still and playing for Abbotsford. No games with Calgary yet.
2006 - Steve Mason (Columbus) - Boom. Well, kinda boom. He stole Clutterbuck's Calder Trophy in his rookie season, but he didn't blow the doors off the joint his sophomore season. He's got time though and he's in a good market to come along patiently.
2007 - Maxime Tanguay (Chicago) - Tanguay spent most of the season with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL. Toledo. Man. Minor league hockey is so fucking glamorous. Anyway, he's Alex Tanguay's brother and here's a great article about him and how he almost didn't end up turning pro.
2008 - Michael Stone (Phoenix) - Stone, a big offensive defenseman, just wrapped up his junior career, so we're likely gonna have to put up with him in San Antonio next season. Man, the kid really racked up points in the WHL though.
2009 - Reilly Smith (Dallas) - Smith was a freshman at Cold Miami this past season. He's super duper skinny and was born on April Fool's Day.
2010 - ? (Minnesota) - All we can do at this point is hope for a guy with a great innuendo-riffic name. I doubt Emerson Etem will fall that far, but he'd be a great 69th pick. Goalies seem to have the most 69-worthy names though: Tyler Bunz, Scott Wedgewood, and Sean Bonar. No wonder those poor boys ended up between the pipes.

Regardless, Minnesota, you have a legacy to uphold! Okay, not really. But I DO really wanna make a lewd joke about being right on top of that 69th position Friday night Saturday afternoon. But I'm afraid I'll end up in jail.

Enjoy the draft!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cabbage Patch

I was in such a good mood after goalie clinic last night that I didn't even feel the need to write. It was a good night and Scotty's really become a heck of a goalie coach.

Even better is the group is about half little kids and half adults, so the little kids kinda do the whining for me. As long as somebody's saying it, I don't have to. :) It's cool though, because they're also game for pretty much anything you tell them to do.

Scott sent out an email with our agenda for the clinic and pretty much everything on it was stuff that gives me anxiety (because I'm bad at it), but everybody's so busy doing their own thing, it doesn't matter if you're bad at it.

One of our fun drills was King of the Dot, where one goalie is on the face off dot and the other goalie tries to push them off the dot. I was Queen of the Dot in the first round and nobody got a blocker to the face or their nuts cracked, so I consider that a success. Jason beat me in the "finals" but I held my own for a while. I really like shoving people. Like, a lot.

I even kinda like being shoved, though that's probably something to do with not getting laid in a while. I don't understand why people get so pissed at me when I do it to them when they're screening me. It's a compliment. You're doing your job and pissing me off. You should revel in that!

Anyway, crap I'm sore. In a good, productive way, so I'm pretty happy about that.


Monday, June 21, 2010

You spot me 8 goals and I'll get you the win

Awww fudge, I stunk tonight to the tune of 7 goals. Only one was a screen, one maybe I should have had a little help from my D (tic-tac-toe stuff right in front of my net), but there rest were squarely on the goalie and I really disappointed my team, which is THE worst feeling in goaltending.

But rather than break the game down, I want to pose a problem and see if my goalie friends have any advice for me:

I dunno if I'm just OCD or what, but I have a mental block when it comes to flopping to make a save. And what I mean by flopping is getting down on the ice and potentially being out of the play, laying down across the crease, paddle down, whatever.

My instinct to stay vertical and try to maintain squareness to the puck that way is SO STRONG. By the time I realize, "Oh, I should dive for that." the puck is in the damn net.

I mean, we all know how much of goaltending has to be instinctive. There's just no time to think, "Hmm, shooter is doing xyz so I could either do a or b. Okay, I'll do b." Your body just has to do it and ask questions later or you'll get burned.

I probably let in 1 or 2 goals per ice time because I try to stay up, chest high, butterfly wide, get a toe on it or something, when the answer is to flop the fuck down and get my glove arm or stick or something... ANYTHING... in front of it.

But the instinct just isn't there and I don't know how to get it.

The last time I had a big mental block screwing up my game, it was back in the beginning when I didn't want to butterfly at all. Mainly that was fear-driven, because I was worried about having to get up fast enough. But then one day I watched this Flyers game with Ron Hextall back when he (and most other goalies) were still pure stand-up goalies.

I was horrified by how ineffective he was in not blocking the lower part of the net with his pads. It was truly a eureka moment in my development. And I'm sensing a need now to find that eureka moment about this flopping thing.

You'd think because I have how Brusty plays so burned in my mind and he's a master at just getting whatever the fuck in front of the puck, that I'd have some instinct for that. Unfortunately, no. Brusty's out there, arms and legs flying around, rolling around, anything to push that puck out. But I just can't. It's butterfly block and either that's good enough or it isn't.

So, I'm asking you, my dear goalie friends, did you ever have this problem? If you did, have you fixed it?

I think what I need is just to practice it and trust that all is not lost just because I'm flat out on the ice. Like, be on my knees to one side of the crease and have someone shooting from the other side forcing a diving save. I need to learn I can recover and my d will be there and it will be okay. And even if it's not, they're fucking scoring on me anyway, so at least it will look to my team like I'm making an effort and they won't scowl at me so much. *sigh*


One thing I've noticed though, since I've been back, is that my mind is so quiet when I play now. I'm not really second guessing myself or beating myself up. The only time The Voices act up is when I'm playing well, but I haven't done enough of that lately for that to be a big deal. Haha.

It's nice though. Not really much emotion, high or low. Quiet mind. I don't know why that is, other than the time away from the game gave me a mental break that I needed, maybe gave me some perspective I didn't realize. Whatever the case, it's a good thing, I think. But I do feel I'm missing a certain intensity, so maybe it's not a good thing. I dunno.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm not playing the drop-in at SLICE but I am going to the goalie clinic before it that Scott TFCG is coaching. With camp coming up in exactly 1 month, I need to be on the ice at least twice a week. I probably should go for another skate mid-week, but physical therapy is taking up work day time when I could go do that.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm finding that YouTube videos are getting bigger and it hacks me when I can't use a video I want. So I shifted stuff around here on the blog. Labels are at the bottom of the page now, in cloud form. Everything else has moved to the right and/or been ditched.

To celebrate, here's Bowie:

And a big picture of John Grahame putting the moves on us. (Photo by Chris "Oh I'll Show You the Moves" Jerina)


Self-Indulgent Rambling Because Twitter is Down

I stunk tonight, but kind of expected to. It will take a bit to get back up to speed for that drop-in, as I'd really only just started playing that game well right before I got hurt.

I was sore from Sunday night and from my PT session in the morning, but no biggie. And then I fucking pulled my groin on the first save of the night. Lovely. That nagged all night but didn't really slow me down. Just kind of annoying.

Anyway, I'm kinda writing that one off for now. I'll pick it back up next month. In the meanwhile, the rest of this month I'll go to Scott TFCG's goalie clinic on Mondays since I'm not on the schedule to play. That should be good. It's fun to watch Scotty work with the kids. He's got a way about him. It's really cool and makes me really proud of him for how much he's accomplished with his passion for the position in such a short time. Thank god for Type A people or nothing would get done.

Of course, working with my lazy, bitchy, uncoachable ass, he's still great, but probably has less fun. :)

PT was good today and really, it's quite a bargain as I'm basically getting a personal trainer 2x a week for 6 weeks for $20 a session. She said my core is weak, my hamstrings and IT band are tight, and while my hips are very flexible, I'm likely giving up some strength in exchange for that.

Fixing these issues should help with my knee, balance, etc. So I'm excited to see what kinds of results we get. Oddly enough, my PT said she'd just seen another hockey goalie that morning. What are the odds of that in Houston, TX?? Crazy.

Anyway, I'm glad to have my hockey over with for the week. The itch is scratched and I can relax and sleep normal hours and have the odd Coke Zero without a panic attack. :)

Also, I'm super excited for tomorrow. Apart from taking Mr. C to the airport at 5:15 a.m., I have the house to myself for a couple of days. I used to ALWAYS have the house to myself, so it's been a big adjustment having him around all the time. Good in most ways, but I miss my "me time." So, tomorrow I have big plans for working, then heading for a massage from my friend and big time Aeros fan who is going through her massage school internship. (Boy do I need it! Get those magic fingers ready, girl!)

Then I'm coming home to take a work call, and THEN I'm watching the Jays game on the TV down in the Man Cave. Woooo!  Love when I get to pull it up on the big screen. I hope Brett Cecil is pitching, because he's quite good at that. Unlike the rest of them (okay, Marcum, you're good, too). Suck it, Padres!

So, I'm pretty jacked to do whatever the hell I want for a couple of days. Righteous. Life is good.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Have you hugged your stay-at-home D-man lately?

So, I KNEW a plate full of garlic parmesan wings wasn't good game day food, but I did it anyway, and paid the price with a lethargic game tonight. And I had no excuse. The rest of the skaters, including the other goalie, did a power skating class before our scrimmage, and while it didn't look real vigorous, I know how deceptively hard those power skating classes are.

I'm pretty sure our team lost but it was a scrimmage and there were some iffy goals and the score board wasn't very studiously attended to, so I'm not exactly sure what the final damage was, but I wasn't pleased with my play. First goal was super soft 5-hole. Another got me 5-hole while I was moving.

Actually, really only a couple of goals I don't feel bad about. One was a really nice breakaway and a great shot. The other I was screened badly and never saw the shot go off. I could tell by what I *could* see of the skater that he was about to shoot, so I dropped and it was a hard glove side shot that hit the bottom of my glove and went on in. I just wasn't ready for where it came, but I felt like I did all I could.

I mentioned we have all these new people at novice, which is awesome, and one of my new defensemen, I'm just in love with. He's a stay at home guy, and he's competent and has some hockey sense and can skate pretty well, but isn't so dominant that he has to let up, so his play is very predictable. He tells me when I have the puck on a save when I'm not sure I have it. OMG, I love that in a d-man so much. I need to ask him what his name is next week. I can't just keep calling him "Inside Out Jersey Guy"... but regardless, I love you, IOJG! He would get happy cats and lens flares if he were a Jays player.

It wasn't all sucky for me though. I had some good stops but damn, I think I froze the puck maybe twice? It was Rebound City around my net, but my team did a great job clearing. Did a lot of work on my knees though, like a pin ball machine, kicking second, third, and fourth chances out. Been doing more of that since I came back and I'm not sure why.

Anyway, I was way more tired than usual. Not sure if it's just that I've had a draining weekend or really about how few carbs I ate today. Friday night was the Iron Maiden concert where we stood and dripped sweat for 2 hours. Yuck. Then I spent all day Saturday at the beach. Well, on the porch of a beach house. Where I thought I was okay without sunscreen because I was in the shade. WRONGO! My face is red red red. I even have a knee brace sunburn. So that was kinda draining, too. I dunno. Just not my night.

Tomorrow night at SLICE may be a little rough. I'm not up to that speed yet, but my skating felt totally back to normal tonight, so that is great, and the knee definitely hurt less. Dinged the fuck out of my blades tonight though. Need to go early so I can take the stone to them. Yeesh.

Have my first Physical Therapy appt tomorrow morning, too. No clue what to expect from that. Don't really know whether to focus on the knee problem in particular or just show them what I do as a goalie, how I hurt it, and how I work the right muscles to avoid that. I guess that's why they're the pros.

Anyway, as a closing thought, there I was, 2nd period, kinda realizing I wasn't playing so great, but still having a helluva time and I just thought, "My god, hockey is the greatest game on earth. I'm so lucky to be doing this." Hockey is transcendent. It's magic. The joy of playing hockey... just playing... is amazing. I wish two things:

  • That everyone who WANTS to play finds a way to do it. I know it's expensive and inconvenient, but man, there's nothing else like it. 
  • That everyone who takes it too seriously lightens up and has a laugh and forgets the scoreboard and just PLAYS occasionally. It's so wonderful for adults to "play" at something, and yeah, sometimes you have to grind it out, but sometimes it feels great to just play, like a little kid. Kinda in one ear and out the other. 
Much love to the people who contributed to my interest in playing and who continue to support me through the ups and downs, especially the goalie fraternity. I'm so blessed.


    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Quick Hits: DP_57, bloggers, Gregg, withdrawal

    I keep hoping St. Louis Blues David Perron will drunk tweet or something. He can't really be as "gee whiz," straight-laced as his Twitter persona, right?

    I mean, I'm not looking for him to be rolling shirtless in a limo with a bunch of ladies of questionable attractiveness or beating up cab drivers, but surely there's some edge in there somewhere? Maybe a naughty Eagle Scout badge he earned? Cougar Snaring? I dunno.

    Get drunk and do something marginally unethical, boy. If you're not using a few of those free passes they hand out at the "Dude, You Won't Fuckin' Believe the Chicks You're About to Get: An Introduction to Being a Pro Athlete" seminar, then how can we live vicariously through you? Sheesh.


    I love when someone has a totally fresh, weird, twisted, strange take on something that's been beat to death by a thousand other people. This how it happens a lot in bloggerdom:

    1. News "event" happens (actual newsworthiness may vary)
    2. All the legit people (beat writers, THN guys, etc.) tweet it in a boring legit way, maybe with a dash of analysis or snark from the ones we'd actually wanna have a beer with (sorry Mirtle)
    3. All the bloggers RT or rephrase the legit people
    4. All the bloggers then take turns whacking at it like it's on fire
    5. All the bloggers giggle at how clever we were on that subject
    6. The really ambitious bloggers will then go blog about it, whether it's how it relates to their team, how it makes them feel, how it's Gary Bettman's fault, how it affects Phoenix moving to Winnipeg, where it makes them itch or tingle, etc.
    You see stuff hashed and rehashed and re-rehashed until it's a bloody pulp and everyone is tired of the smell.

    But occasionally there's someone who is just out there doing their own thing. They react to news but in their own way completely. There aren't many like this but I cherish the ones who have the creativity to do it. A couple of my favorites in hockeydom are Down Goes Brown and The Willful Caboose. I can see new posts from these guys (okay, guy and gal) and know I'm going to get a fresh take every single time.

    I was thinking about this because I ran into one for baseball. I don't even understand what's going on really, and I don't even care about the Phillies. But I don't care about Buffalo either, so clearly that doesn't stop me. Anyway it's called I want to go to the zoo with Roy Halliday. Because, who wouldn't? They even have t-shirts. My favorite is the "Kids Drink Free" shirt. Ha! Philly fan...


    Kevin Gregg makes me want to drop-kick puppies. Even when he wins, it's done so tenuously, it's almost like a moral loss, where you won, but you played so shitty, you probably didn't deserve it. I've never been so frustrated with an athlete for "almost not" winning. Normally I'd find that pretty exciting, but when it's your closer, it feels like a root canal. It's odd and extremely unpleasant. I can't even imagine how the starters must feel.

    I'm thisclose to starting a I want to punch Kevin Gregg in the face blog. He'll have to take those stupid looking glasses off first though. I'm delicate. But I bet Brett Cecil would hold him down for me while I do it. Mmm. Cecilicious.



    Hockey is over. It's been over several times. Aeros season ended (sans playoffs) and it was over. Constantine left town and it was over. Brusty left town and it was over. All the teams I was fond of in the playoffs were eliminated and it was over. And now, it's just over. Yeah, the AHL finals are still going on, and I'm pulling for Texas, but whatever. It's over.

    I always feel a little lost and rudderless this time of year. I'm cranky and withdrawn and, well, depressed. That's really what it is.

    But this ain't my first rodeo and I know it will pass. We've got the draft coming, then Free Agency, then AUGUST (FU, you sweaty, worthless POS month), then things start to happen and life becomes worth living again.

    Hockey Season.


    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    The Vesa Effect

    Read a couple of goalie things today worth blogging about:

    First is this intro to an article from Die by the Blade, a Sabres blog, on why Jhonas Enroth can and should be Ryan Miller's back-up. As much as I love AHL goalies, I know next to nothing about Enroth, so I have no opinion on that one way or another, but the intro caught my attention:

    What in the world drives a person to become a hockey goaltender? Of all the positions to play, it is the easiest spot to place the blame on when things go awry. There's a slim chance of being a hero, but the odds of turning into a villain are higher, and there's also the compliance of placing your body before a puck being fired ferociously, tracking it's destination, while putting up with forwards who refuse to get out of your way blurring your vision like a blindfold.
    The lonely feeling of teammates skating away after a goal is conceded and the sad fact that the netminder won't be included in a scoring celebration - as an unwritten rule, a player who's found himself a goal should skate over to his goaltender for a complimentary fist pound before the next whistle - can create a sense of abandonment. But there's also the triumph of a win, symbolized by the extraordinary feeling of everyone skating towards you for a celebration. Handling such ends of a spectrum are their obstacle, and treating it smoothly, is why they are uncommon athletes.
    Goalies? What do you think of this description of our position? I love to read how people (even goalies) perceive the position on an emotional or interpersonal level.

    Personally, this is pretty much the opposite of how I feel about the position. I guess I don't really crave being the hero, but I do want my efforts to be important and have an impact. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but it always matters.

    And as opposed to feeling lonely and neglected, this is how I watch hockey:

    Everything revolves around goalies in my head. Always has, even before I knew anything about the position, or even hockey, really. I always wanted to watch my goalie make saves rather than watch our players score goals. I suppose some people think the goalie is like Pluto, just orbiting off in the distance, occasionally coming into view, but in my world, the goalie is the sun and everything revolves around them.

    And even when the action moves to the other end, I'm busy watching the other goalie, looking for break-out threats, thinking through things I need to work on, catching my breath, etc. to even consider being lonely. I honestly felt more lonely and just generally bad when I skated out. I always felt uncertain and uncomfortable and out of place. Yuck.


    Now, on to the other piece. You know how I got my Vesa Toskala Leaf's shirt for $6 a while back? And you know how he got traded to the Ducks and then like a week later, traded to Calgary?

    Well, apparently he is not going to be re-signed by Calgary. Not because he's bad (at least from his perspective), but because... you might wanna sit down here...
    "Vesa made it very clear that he wanted to be a one or 1A in the league," said Sutter.
     I'll give you a moment while you laugh your ass off.

    Oh man. To top it off, Mirtle's comment on this quote on Twitter was, "Was always delusional." Ha!

    I love Vesa. No matter how crappy or crazy I get, there's always Vesa doing it just a little bit crappier and crazier to make me feel better. Every goalie in the league should send him a tip each season just to thank him for keeping the big heat off of them.

    But it does take me back to the mentality of goalies again. Is Vesa delusional because he HAS to be to survive the pressure? Are all goalies cocky to a point, just as a means of keeping their head above water when things get rough? And I don't mean cocky as people, but cocky about their play. "I'm better than that guy." "I could have stopped that." I think you have to be, right?

    But there's confident and then there's just plain, "Dude, you need to get a grip on reality."

    I'm kinda reverse cocky... when I play well, I'm pretty quiet about it (well, not here, but on the ice) and then usually crater under the pressure to keep playing well (oh-ver-think-ing *clap clap clapclapclap*). It's when I'm playing poorly and THEN do something good that I'm a little mouthy about it because I'm just freaking excited to not be hating myself for a little while. :)


    And a couple of Blue Jays notes:

    I missed all but the first inning last night against the Rays. We went to dinner after that, and on the way home, I flip the XM radio over to the game just to see what the score was (love that about XM). It said, "TOR 9, TB 0."

    WOOO!!! Yeah! I look at it 5 more times to make sure I'm seeing that right. Cuz, like, the Rays are really good and the Jays... well, they've got Kevin Gregg. But hey, that's what the little screen says, so it must be true. I laid in bed and thought about how I was going to pull up the archive of the game and watch it today and savor the whole thing. Ohhh, won't it be grand?!

    And then I log on this morning. And I see one of the Jays beat writers on Twitter saying how hard it is to go down and interview "after games like that." And I'm thinking... "What does he mean?"

    So I go to TB 9, TOR 0.


    Silly birds.

    On the upside, today Mr.C was on a conference call in the living room and he stops in mid sentence, says, "Hold on a sec," put the phone on mute, calls upstairs to me, "Hey, if you hurry, there's a big blue jay on the deck!" I thought that was pretty sweet of him, given he generally just rolls his eyes at my new interest in baseball.

    And let me tell you, I'm predicting a win tonight because that bird looked like a mean cuss. I dunno if he was pissed or trying to impress a girl or what, but he was all puffed up and skulking around the deck railing. Pretty funny. Go Jays, dammit!


    Monday, June 7, 2010

    The Bitch is Back

    My back aches, my groin muscles complain with every step, my glutes are sore.

    I'M SO HAPPY!!!! :)

    My return to the ice after 6 weeks of no hockey was a success. I played well, my team played well, and we stuffed the blue team in regulation 4-2. (We won't talk about that extra 4th period where I was the only goalie and had to play in the enemy net for the final 10 minutes. I understand and didn't mind, but yuck. What a mindfuck.)

    I'll just bullet point this sucker:

    • Highlight was stoning the best player on the blue team. Maybe he was taking it easy on me by not shooting high, but I stopped him on a big breakaway, and got a toe on several more of his shots. All good ones, but I was motivated. I wanted to shut him down. Beauty. That felt awesome.
    • Took me a good 15 minutes to not feel like I was tripping over my feet. I was definitely a little wobbly, like those small muscles that deal with balance were out of practice. 
    • I was surprised, however, by how strong my legs still felt. No biggie getting up from the fly, which is how I hurt myself initially. Made some big lateral pushes from the posts for a couple of saves. Real proud of those for reading the pass correctly. 
    • I would say my rebound control was lousy but, frankly, it always is, so nothing new there.
    • TONS of new people at novice, though some are quite good and probably should be playing C, unless they just like the easy pace of novice. It's great that this group is growing. I like my teammates. They were fantastic last night. And Mitch was there! Everything's better when Mitch is there. I think because he was always so nice to me during some rough early months when I was going to drop-ins and he was the only one I knew and he didn't pretend to not know me, even though I sucked so bad. I'll always love him for that.
    • You need that as a new goalie. You need people to say, "Man, that sucked" and you need people to say, "Good save!" even if you only make one save all game. You need SOME air in your tires all the time or else, you have no motivation to keep going. 
    • My knee hurt the entire time out there. Controlling that blade dug into the ice is exactly what my knee doesn't like right now. Felt like I was going to take my gear off and it was going to be swollen up like a grapefruit. But it wasn't. And it doesn't feel any worse today than it has the last 6 weeks, so I'm calling it a success. 
    • The brace was absolutely no problem didn't even notice it. Don't know if it helped, either, but if I can't feel it, it obviously isn't hurting.
    Here's the thing: I started playing goal because I had to. Like, if I hadn't tried to play, I would have looked back on my life when I'm 90 and thought, "Dammit. Why didn't I do that?" And really, when you feel that way about something, you KNOW you have to do it. You have no choice. You have to honor that instinct.

    So to not play for 6 weeks, which I realize is not THAT long if you think about how long some guys go without playing, even as pros (*hugs Brusty*), was like a part of me was missing. Sure, I missed it less as time went on, but then as soon as work stress started to lift, there it came back again. I had to have it.

    I've been avoiding this comparison because I didn't want to seem like I'm just trying to be shocking (which I'm not inherently averse to, but I'm quite serious about this), but I want to play goal like I want a good lay. You know the feeling I mean? Like you just need to get fucked until you're limp. That's exactly the inner tension I feel when I can't play for a long time. It's nasty. It's fabulous. And nothing else can scratch that itch. I had this one toe save, literally off the plastic cowling over the toe of my skate, that was worthy of a cigarette after. Heh. Yeah. Hockey is amazing.


    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Dodging Bullets

    "You're a hypochondriac."

    "I know."

    "Ha, just kidding. But really, there's nothing wrong with your knee."

    I knew this already because I had gotten a copy of the MRI report when I got in the room. I spent the 10 minutes waiting on the doctor searching the cobwebby corners of my brain for the 2 semesters of Latin I took in college trying to understand what it said. But I didn't need Latin to see that there was nothing wrong with my knee other than my patella being a little off kilter.

    So, thus continues my lifelong record of having very expensive testing when there's absolutely nothing wrong with me. At least I'm consistent. And, well, there still is pain in the knee. At least I can't chalk this up to anxiety like I was able to with the other things when I was younger..

    But it's good news, even if it does make me feel like a complete pussy. Let's be honest. I totally am. I may be a goalie and like getting hit by pucks, but that's pure masochism and love of hockey. I don't like to be uncomfortable, I have a low pain tolerance, I'm easily annoyed. Hey, at some point you just have to accept who you are and work from there.

    Doc gave me a brace that shoves my kneecap over a smidge (which is a distinctly weird feeling, but very clever of the knee brace to do that). It's got hinges on either side but is otherwise quite soft. And he's sending me to physical therapy to work on strengthening those muscles that support the knee. So I'm pretty excited about that.

    Now, here's the part that made a few of my tweeps wag their fingers at me: I asked Doc when I could play and he said, "Not until you're pain free."



    But there's nothing wrong with me.



    I'm playing.


    I'll take it easy and I'll ask my D to not go out of their way to let me see a bunch of shots. I need to keep it light and easy (though after being off 6 weeks, it's still gonna feel pretty damn hard).

    But I'm pretty stoked. You goalies know... that first save. Oh man, I hope it's a good solid shot that I can feel. Fuck me, I miss that feeling like you wouldn't believe.

    And if that goes well, I really will have to prepare for my camp in Minnesota in earnest. Which means working out on non-hockey days. Boooo... but necessary. I've been off so long, I feel like goo.

    But I really feel like I dodged a bullet here and it's a gift and I need to make the most of it. So, that's what I intend to do.


    This is awesome. Someone should buy this. AND PUT A GOALIE MASK ON THE POOR GUY! Yeesh. But still. Awesome.


    Offered a wager with my Yankees friend on the Jays/Yanks series this weekend but he was too chicken. ;) Guess it's just bragging rights. Either way, I'm looking forward to a bounce back from a couple of ugly ones. BRETT CECIL, bitches.


    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    MRI and Kevin Gregg Blows

    MRI is done and I'll see the good doctor on Friday to see what's what with the bad knee.

    My hip is starting to hurt now from limping for nearly 6 weeks. Any "healin' feelin'" I was having the last few weeks was strictly from the prednisone, because my knee feels as bad as ever now. It's less tender when I twist it, but it's swollen and stiff. It sucks. I'm really ready for Friday to get here. Let's just get this train rollin'.

    On the upside, the MRI tech was very handsome. On the downside, I had to listen to Sunny 99.1 during the scan. Ugh.


    So, the Jays were just supposed to be a summer fling. Something to occupy the sports-loving part of my brain for a few months until hockey comes back. Maybe become literate, or at least semi-literate, in another sport.

    But then the Jays turned out to be so fun and inexplicably good and lovable. And really, there's nothing more fun than a team playing above its talent level. They're like lovable losers... who don't lose!

    But then Kevin Gregg darkens the mound with his chomping and his Oakleys. Screw his hot start. Night after night, he HEMORRHAGES leads. I was mad when I went to bed and I woke up still mad. At first I was shocked at myself. I can't tell you the last time I woke up still mad from a hockey game. Even my OWN games, usually a good sleep and I'm full of perspective and zen the next day.

    So, why am I getting this worked up for baseball?

    Well, I figure it's because I don't know what the fuck I'm looking at with baseball. As in, I have no perspective because it's too new to me. I can look at one miserable loss in an 80 game season for the Aeros and go, "Okay, I know why that happened and I know what this team can do, so I'm assuming they'll do it better next time." Hockey is a slow burn. Baseball is sirens and red flashing lights and OMGOMGOMG!!! You'd think, given the divergent pace of the two games, it would be the other way around. You'd be wrong.

    I'm assuming this will get better. Or the Jays will finally start being bad-to-mediocre when they remember that gravity applies to their balls (baseballs, I mean), too, and there won't be so many fat leads to blow. I'm not sure that's better.

    Anyway, Kevin Gregg will continue to be a magnet for my ire and disdain until he's sent to Vegas or he quits seeing the Baseball Reaper every time he's on the mound.

    (P.S. Even worse is that he's HOT. Like break-my-neck-doing-a-double-take hot. And 6'6". Bitches!!! But he's completely unlovable and reeks of GAZOLINE! What a waste of a perfectly good object of lust.)


    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    You love Carcillo. Admit it.

    Watching tonight's game 2 and reading the tweets and seeing the stories being written, I can't believe how much fuss there was about Dan Carcillo playing in this game, before, during, and after. *chirp chirp chirp*

    As much as everyone says they hate Carcillo and all those similar NHL villains, you love it and you know it. You love having someone to hate. Because that's how passion works. You have passionate love for your team, your guys, your way. But you have to have the flip side, right? You have to have those players you love to hate. Avery. Carcillo. Tucker. Pronger.

    Before Avery got his lobotomy and became a boring douchebag rather than the interesting prick he used to be, that was always my stance. I love that the guy brings an edge to the game that most other guys are too stuffy or noble or well-behaved to bring. Would I want everyone doing that? Of course not. But a little shit stirring is good for a culture and every great story needs the antagonist.

    Sure, the game is beautiful and is theoretically "enough," but for those of us immersed in it day after day, for those of us who tell the stories of the game, who live and die with each shot or save or trade or draft, we want these guys. We want them to be jerks, we want them to succeed, we want them to fail, we want karma to kick their lousy asses. It's great theater.

    It's the bleu cheese crust on the filet mignon of hockey. It doesn't NEED it but sometimes it's a delicious, odorous change of pace.


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