Thursday, February 24, 2011

Martin Havlat is Overrated

Remember that scene from Office Space where Peter is at the hypnotherapist's office and he asks if there's a way the doctor could hypnotize him to not realize he's been at work all day. Like, he could just come home and think he'd been fishing all day?

That's how I feel about Martin Havlat. I appreciate that he's a proficient scorer, assuming he's happy and his pillows are properly fluffed and he has his red Gatorade or whatever prima donna scorers like him must have to be successful.

But I wish there were a way to just.... not see him play hockey... until he's putting the puck in the net. I hate every other thing about his game.

I hate that he tucks his jersey in the back. I hate that his idea of forechecking is just leeeeeaaaaning way out and half-heartedly poking in the general vicinity of the guy with the puck (never close enough to actually get touched).

I hate how he floats in the defensive zone, keeping just busy enough to not stand out as completely worthless, but still being completely worthless.

I'm sure he's a nice guy but if I were making a list of hockey players I'd want to go into battle with out there, he wouldn't even make the back-up list. I wouldn't even want him in the building.

So, while Chicago fans had Havlat Jesus, all I have is "JESUS, Havlat...."


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Badgers win it

I almost don't even want to write about tonight's women's league game, because every time I write about good things, I suck for a while.

But we won, I think the final was 5-2. Our captain gave me the MVP prize, which I thought was very nice, but it was such a team win and she acknowledged that she wished she had a whole barrel of MVP prizes. The girls showed up, played their hearts out, won puck battles left and right, and just generally gave me a ton a confidence and played spectacular defense in front of me.

First goal, the stupid VHS would have stopped it, but meh. Second goal was me drifting to the shooter and she beat me inside the far post. Dangit.

But otherwise, I stopped quite a few breakaways from a few girls and some tough close-in shots, too, including the new one on that team, who is very good (and was so frustrated by me stopping her repeatedly, late in the game after a save, she comes up to me and says, "Man, you're pretty good!" Uh. Yeah, you keep thinking that. Haha. Nice to hear from a youngster like that though. I'll take compliments where I can get them.)

Anyway, I was just seeing the puck pretty well and managed to keep the crazy bounces out of the net, but huge credit to my team for clearing out my endless rebounds. I love love love my defensemen.

I always wondered when I'd have to cover the puck wayyyy out of my crease and I finally did that tonight. I didn't know what else to do about this puck that was coming down to my end with moderate speed, but had a gal coming in on it pretty much alone also with moderate speed. I didn't feel like I had time (or skill, frankly) to play the puck, so I just belly flopped and slapped my glove over it. Must have been above the hash marks, at least. Pretty far out there for freezing a puck...

Probably looked stupid but it got the job done and it was better than a breakaway shot.

One of the gals in the league was there and filmed the game for us, so we watched it back while we drank a little beer after. I can't even comprehend how slow it looks from the sidelines vs. how fast it feels when you're playing. It's like, "Really? THAT'S the game we just played?" Doesn't make sense to me. Feels very hopeless when I contemplate playing against faster players because I'm sure my "faster" drop-in on Mondays would still look very slow on video.

Ah well. No thinking. Just puck stopping. Amazing stuff. I love this game.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gear Notes & Save Strategy Question

Lots of stuff to talk about after tonight's fun drop-in, so I'll just dive in.

First up is the heart rate monitor. I finally managed to do it correctly and got readings for the full 1:20 that we were on the ice. The beats per minute data seems solid: 155 average and 179 max. It's wasn't a super strenuous game but I didn't have any long lulls either.

The part that doesn't add up is the calories burned: 1901. Ha! I WISH, but I don't think so.

However, I did find some places online that will calculate calories burned based on that average BPM number, weight, and age, and those come back in the 800-1000 calorie range. It's still higher than I expected, but seems much more reasonable. That pretty much covers my post-game snack of a breakfast sandwich and chocolate milk. :)

I'll wear it for women's league tomorrow, which isn't as long, fast paced, or busy for me, and see what the results are. Fun with science!!


I overdid it with the Sweet Stick on my right skate and that felt pretty weird. Hopefully I can get them sharpened before my game tomorrow night. They just don't feel right now. But there's no question the sweet stick gives them more bite between sharpenings. Just need to use a lighter touch.


Skate laces in the glove pocket did nothing for me other than look cool. Every single puck that went in my glove came right back out. If they made a glove called the ROACH MOTEL, I would buy that. Pucks check in, but they don't check out. Mine's more like a trampoline.


Okay, so now I need the union to put their heads together and help me figure out how to stop this move:

Skater shoots left (er, I mean the puck and stick face are to his left when he takes the shot... I guess that's shooting left? I should probably know this but I've never been curious enough about skater stuff to figure the lingo out.)

He comes in on MY left and then cuts across, usually around or just below the hash marks, so I track him across the top of my crease. My main worry is that he's going to try and put it high short side over my blocker shoulder, so I'm headed that way and my momentum is going to my blocker side.

Instead, he shoots across himself and puts it just inside the post far side, usually up a couple of feet to make sure it misses my pad (because I invariably butterfly). I reach for it, but it's JUST outside the tip of my glove.

This happened to me FOUR times tonight. The exact same approach, same move by me, and same shot, in the exact same spot.

And I just don't know what the fuck to do about it. I feel like I have to honor the threat that they could just pop it over my blocker shoulder, but if I'm over far enough to prevent that, I'm pretty much on the post.

Does that make sense or do I need to draw it? Anybody got any advice for that?

I don't get too hard on myself when I understand my reasoning for my move and simply don't know what else to do. That's just a learning opportunity. But these vultures have figured out this works on me, so I need to shut that shit down. All I can think is to challenge more? I dunno. I just can't figure it out.


Felt like I had to ask Gun Show tonight if he was okay with me giving him shit sometimes. Told him it's a compliment because I don't do that to guys who aren't a threat. This guy is amazing how fast he's picked up the game.

I remember when he first showed up at novice league, wobbling around on his skates. Now he's fast and strong and has pretty sick hands. He's a dentist though, so I guess good hands are part of the deal. Always think it's smart when dentists and orthopedists play hockey. They can probably just write it off as a business expense, right?

But anyway, minus the French Canadian accent, if I'm feeling good about my game, I run my mouth like Fleury. It takes a special (and confident) bunch of skaters to put up with me. Somehow it's adorable when Flower does it, but I do it, I'm cocky or whatever. Please. Just having fun, kids. I can take as much as I give.


Anyway, good night of hockey. Had some nice saves and played without thinking much. Man it feels good when the brain gets quiet and you're just playing.

I don't understand this song, but I like it. Hit the right note on the way home tonight.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trusty for Brusty, Lusty for Boobies, Gear Tweak

First of all, good lord. I couldn't be happier that Brusty's getting an arena full of adoration from Binghamton fans these days. But this made me laugh (of course, I want one, but it still makes me laugh):

T-shirt being sold by the B-Sens. I kinda don't have words for it. Magic. 
So, today we were at brunch and some boy, I dunno 7 years old or so, walks by our table with his family. And for some reason he stops suddenly and sort of stares at me, but not quite.

His mom shoos him away from our table and my friends go, "What did you DO to that kid to make him stare?" And I'm like, "He wasn't staring at me, was he?" "Yes, he was!" they all say.

But he never looked me in the eye. So I look right around me to see what might have caught his eye. Eventually I look down... at my low cut v-neck t-shirt and cleavage thusly exposed. *ahem*

I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

Then I came home and re-laced the pocket of my trapper with skate lace. I'm feeling pretty much like a rock star for pulling that off. It's not hard once you figure out the pattern, but it looks complicated and feels like a real accomplishment.

Plus, it just looks cool, and maybe if it's on my mind, I'll remember I'm wearing a glove and will actually think to catch some stuff. Boom?


Friday, February 18, 2011

Catching up, popping up

It's the rare week that I'm too busy to blog, but this was one of those weeks. With a big release at work last night, covering the Aeros for the Chronicle yesterday, and getting ready to do a story for, it's been a busy one.

But I did play Wednesday night just to keep the rust at bay and it was a mix of frustrating and decent. The frustrating was getting scored on in that hole over my goddamn blocker side shoulder 3 times in a row. The 4th time, I got my head in the way. Normally I don't mind a shot off the mask if I make the save, but I was so peeved about the prior 3, that it still annoyed me and was devoid of the usual post-save feelings of victory.

Oh well. I vote we round those corners off the net even more. Who's with me?

Otherwise, I had some okay saves. I didn't know if the style this bunch plays would last but it really has. There are almost never any scrambles around the net or anybody coming in close to try and punch it in. Just shots from several feet away. Which is kinda what I needed after struggling with my angles lately. I felt a lot better on that front and most shots were hitting my stick, meaning I was square to them.

The one thing I did that I've never been able to do before is, say a player fakes a shot and I butterfly, used to, I'd just knee shuffle from there until the puck was either out of danger or they took the shot. I didn't want to be caught in an awkward balance situation getting up when they actually did shoot.

It looks absolutely terrible to see a goalie doing that, and Scott TFCG rightly, but annoyingly, gives me loads of grief about it. But I just didn't have the strength to trust getting up quickly enough, and most shots come low where I play, so I was playing the odds.

But Wednesday, one of the better players faked a shot from inside the circle blocker side. I go down and he doesn't shoot, so I pop back up. HUH? I literally didn't even believe I'd done it myself. And then I did it a few more times later on. Just without even thinking. In fact, annoyance was the dominant feeling I recall having in that moment. Just take the fucking shot. I hate when rec players do that, but luckily I hate it in a way that makes me really determined, so I guess that's a good thing.

It seems like such a simple thing, but in my head, that whole butterfly recovery thing has been a really difficult thing to get going. I guess the work I've been putting in on that front is helping. Nice to see some results before I was really even expecting them.

The other thing is that I tried out my new heart rate monitor on Wednesday. It was all hunky dory during the game. I get to the room and turn off the monitoring, figuring I'll look at the results when I get my gear off. Well, bad plan, genius, because I hit the "start" button again while I was getting undressed and lost my game data. FUCK. Lesson learned.

Anyway, I'll give it another shot next week. Drop-in Monday and women's league Tuesday vs. the Orange team, who I hear have a hot new player. Not hot as in *wolf whistle* but hot as in, assign two people to shut her down. They needed the help though, so it's okay.

Sounds like one of Mr.C's friends and her Canadian boyfriend will be coming to watch me play Tuesday. He referees apparently, so I dunno why he'd wanna come watch us play. I'm sure he sees plenty of slow hockey already, but whatever. Maybe it's just an excuse to catch up. My goal is to recruit her. She runs marathons, so I'm going to bill it as cross training. He can teach her to skate! *evil scheme*


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pics from a Wild night

Sorry if the title suggests there will be boob pictures or something along those lines. It wasn't THAT wild. It was... Minnesota Wild.

But thanks to Chris "Lead Foot" Jerina for the pics, so many of which are totally swoon-worthy that I'm afraid this post will get too long. (It threatened to. Here's the rest of the pics.)

Clutterbutter's hair had me going. I've never really had "those" kinda tingles for him but damn. The flow is working for me. Don't change a thing, Cal.
Mon dieu, c'est un gardien de but sexy...
I like when the end-of-warmups game of "swarm the goalie" lasts a long time. This one did and ended in a lot of laughs from the guys.

Um, yeah, so they also played a game after warmups. *ahem*

Backstrom was absolutely incredible. 
Cam Barker forgot he was Cam Barker and got in a fight. 
Halak, before he got the hook. Newish pads? Not too scuffed, are they?
The beautiful Xcel Energy Center from up high
Lil' Spurgeon battling for space or the puck or something. I figure he probably won. Kid is amazing.
Look, ma'! No VHS! I hate the VHS, so I like when goalies don't use it until they absolutely have to.
Anyway, there it is. Fun night and a great win. Thanks again for the pics, Chris!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Great night at the X and beyond

Well, after being a Wild fan for 4 years, I finally got to see them play at home and it was everything I hoped it would be. I'll just bullet point this thing because I'm fried after a very long day:

  • I still think "Let's Play Hockey" is a little cheesy, but it was awesome that the local Aeros players go to do it. I'm sure that was cool for them.
  • Clutterbuck had another STELLAR game for me. The guy just makes me so proud to wear his jersey. Not a lot of dudes you can say that about game in and game out. He got the first goal, he was scrappy and fierce all night, he CRUSHED some dude right in front of us. Damn. I love that kid.
  • And for whatever reason, I've always wanted to hear that goal announcement in person: "Scoring forrrr MINNESOTA..." and it was as gleeful a moment as I expected AND the first one was Cal's, so it was that much better. <3
  • It was also great to meet some folks, like Wild Road Tripper and a T3I reader who has the most amazing collection of Wild game-worn sweaters and equipment... you wouldn't even believe it without photos. I'll have to do a story on him sometime. What's cool is he didn't know who I was but said, "You aren't one of those media types for the Aeros... like Ms.Conduct..." Haha. Cool! I love meeting passionate Wild fans who keep up with the Aeros through us!
  • My seat was primo for goalie watching and I got to see Backstrom be awesome but also Halak be NOT awesome. Just a tough night for the guy. Backstrom is on another level though. His puck awareness is just off the hook. I don't even... It's like the thing is talking to him. "Hey Backy! Over here now!"
  • NHL hockey is weird. It's so... smooth. I'm so used to watching the AHL with its slower pace and rougher edges. Much like it's good to have the players here, giving them a sniff, stoking the fires of ambition, I think it's good for me to see the NHL in person sometimes to be reminded of where the Houston guys are in relation. And reminded of what incredible athletes these guys are. Just warriors. Except for Havlat, who I still think is overrated.
  • The Xcel is just... well... it's a hockey palace. It's fabulous. The glass is clear, the lights are bright, the views are extraordinary, the seats are comfortable. It's a monument to fans as much as to the game and I understand why people are so proud of it. It deserves a good team. It has one right now.
That's all I can really think of at the moment, but it was a wholly awesome experience. And honestly, as much as I treasure covering the Aeros, it was fun to just yell at the bad men and cheer for my boys with abandon. "GET OFF MY GOALIE, BITCH!"  Ai~shiwonhada!

But tomorrow, it's back to business. I'm looking forward to that, too. I mean, it's not exactly tough to talk to a coach and players who have been winning like they have (6 game streak now). And I guess they're expecting a pretty big crowd, so that will be fun for the guys and for the Aeros fans who have come up. 


I would be remiss if I didn't throw some love Brusty's way before I wrap this thing up. He's had an amazing Friday and Saturday. Got his 6th shutout Friday night, putting him in the lead among all AHL goalies this season. And then he and the B-Sens broke Hershey's 11 game point streak Saturday night with a win. He's also on a personal 7-game win streak himself. 

That's gotta feel Really. Fucking. Good. I can't even imagine what it's like to put that kind of consistency together in net and have the goal support to turn it into wins. Just great stuff happening for the B-Sens. 

Nice to see all my teams pulling it together here in the home stretch. *knock on wood*


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Okay! I get it!

My angles suck! I'm drifting to the shooter! 4-1 loss tonight. And Captain Nightmare wasn't even there. Their new forward was though. She looks like one of the high school girls I see practicing Mondays before drop-in. She's good.

Luckily, we got a new gal who is Canadian! Woohoo! She was really good and all over the place. And hasn't played organized hockey in 15 years. You'd never know it. I swear Canadians come out of the womb already trusting their edges....

Anyway, I don't feel too awful about it. 2 bad angle goals (fixable), 1 fluky bouncy one that rolled over my shoulder, and one that just beat me glove side. Fucking glove.

I'm never writing about something I do well ever again. It invariably falls apart on me. Or maybe I'll try reverse psychology....

Boy am I good at avoiding shutouts! It really comes naturally to me! No goose eggs for me, bitches! BOOM!

Aaaand, let the experiment begin. :)

Meanwhile, I get to let someone else stop the pucks for a few days and I'm glad for that. On the docket Friday is Milwaukee vs. Chicago (in MKE), then Saturday, the MKE crew and I drive to St. Paul and catch the Wild vs. Blues. It's my first Wild game AT the Xcel, so I'm pretty jacked for that. And then Sunday afternoon is Aeros vs. Peoria at the Xcel.

The weather looks to be cold but not pound you in the ass cold and no precipitation, so that's aces. My hotel is in walking distance of the X and stumbling distance of the bars around the X, so that's also aces. It will just be nice to get outta dodge and have some fun. I haven't been drinking nearly enough lately and I can feel it in my sore shoulders.

Now I want nachos.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On a boat... in a bad way

I wrote this whole big post yesterday after finishing up Open Net by George Plimpton looking back at how far I've come since I first strapped on the pads (as opposed to usually just being in shock and awe at how far I still have to go).

I talked about how I don't really get sore after I play like I used to and a whole list of other indignities that quietly mock a new goalie.

And I wrapped up that section of the post (I intended to just tack last night's drop-in notes to the end so I never posted it) talking about how the ONLY thing that has come naturally to me as a goalie is my orientation to the net. And that shooters have even commented on it. I always seem to know where my posts are and never get lost in space out in front of my crease.

So naturally, I'm sore, seemingly all over, today. And my angles and net awareness were absolutely GOD AWFUL last night.

Thanks, Hockey Gods. You're super funny... 

I had a bad start to the night, first of all forgetting to fill up my water bottle until everybody's already on the ice. I got to my net and thought, "Something's missing that I usually do right here...." Oh yeah, put my water bottle on top of the cage. Ha.

So I'm lumbering around getting that filled up while everybody else is either warming up on the other goalie (I saw zero warm-up shots) or on a half-hearted mission to find the pegs for my net. *grr* The other net had pegs but not mine. The rink guy can't find them, players are looking on the benches and in the scorekeeper box. They are nowhere to be found.

And of course, I'd set the net in place a little behind the line like I always do when I'm about to peg it, so by the time I got back to it and moved it up to the goal line, the ice was set and the net was sliding all over the place.

I really just couldn't use my posts at all for anything or the net was sliding a foot out of line in one direction or another.

So that rattled me and whatever natural inner net compass I have went spinning like a top. I just didn't have my bearings or any faith in where my net was. Felt like I was playing on a boat.

Not in a cool way though, mother fucker.

I know the kids have to play with the nets unpegged and man, that sucks. I feel sorry for the little bastards.

So, yeah, that was a pretty shitty night in goal. But it didn't feel like the kind of shitty that's going to leak into tonight's game. Just a weird "thrown off from the start" kinda night. I'll get a good warm-up tonight and be just fine against Captain Hat Trick and her crew of ringers. ;)

Gun Show (the hot boy who plays our drop-in) was amazed by one save I made that was pure dumb luck. They were trying to jam the puck in over my right pad next to the post and I stopped a couple of the bounces from going in. He was impressed but I wasn't even moving so it wasn't anything I did other than be in the right place. They just couldn't lift it over the pad.

But after all that suck, it was nice that someone was focused more on that one silly lucky stop than the rest of the garbage. Gun Show, to his credit, doesn't act like he's hot. He's a pretty nice guy. And also very VERY hot. And changes out in the stands with us so we get to see his big, tan muscles. Lordy. Yay for Gun Show!

Anyway, on to bigger and better things tonight. And what better way to start a fresh new day than with some JaegerPorn. O hai!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thank you, Hockey Gods

I played an attentive, focused game tonight, and the girls in front of me were awesome, and it all resulted in a nice little 2-1 win.

While I'm very happy for the win, I definitely feel like on my part at least, there was a lot of luck. Like the hockey gods were throwing me a bone. You know those saves where it really could have gone either way? If you'd not gotten your toe over that extra inch, if you hadn't gotten your pad on top of that one that bounced into your 5-hole, etc.

I guess what I'm saying is the bounces were in my favor tonight and even though I stopped every thing I saw (the one goal against, I described as a "a sea of butts"--I never saw it leave the stick--just went down and hoped for a low shot), I know it wasn't because I was playing lights out or anything.

Seems important to recognize when you got the good bounces so those nights you get the bad bounces don't seem so heinous and unfair.

I got some laughs from a few of the girls when a puck was sort of threatening my crease while one of my D was trying to settle it down, and I let out a SHRIEK. I do that less than I used to, but hey, sometimes it happens. "That was so... girly!" Ro says. Hey, I have boobs and a vagina! I do girly things sometimes!


I was concerned how it was going to go tonight because I've been moving at groaning, moaning geriatric speeds today thanks to my hamstrings and quads being in absolute agony after Monday's workout and game. The squats and stuff really did me in.

Fortunately, our friend adrenaline has a way to making those aches just fuck right off while you're playing. I didn't even notice or feel tired legs. Felt really good actually (I'm liking the Sweetstick so far). And am sore still, but no worse for the wear, now that I'm home.

Tomorrow is a workout day off though. Thursday is back at it and maybe start the yoga classes on Friday? We'll see.


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