Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome To The Fallout

As you may or may not know, the Blackhawks lost Monday night to end their season and send the Phoenix Coyotes to the second round. All that agony, all those last minute goals, a brutal injury, and we couldn't even make it through one series. Here's the rundown of the game and aftermath:

Night 0. I am convinced we will not lose tonight. I am also sure that we will go to overtime, and that tonight or Wednesday, we will win or lose by a one goal margin. I will admit that I might be wrong, but only very grudgingly.

The night starts out well. They put a ton of shots on Mike Smith, and I disagree with the commentators who don't think many of them are viable scoring chances. They seem to have decided that the best answer to their goaltending woes is to never play in their own zone ever again, and this seems like a pretty solid strategy. By the end of the second period, we are down one goal but leading in shots 28-8. This seems pretty promising.

Two minutes into the third we're down two, but still, given the ability of the Hawks, collectively, to be clutch in this series, it doesn't seem insurmountable. Then, eight minutes in, Jimmy Hayes takes a 5 minute boarding major and Phoenix scores on the PP. Even though it's clearly over, even though it seems the gas has run out of the tank, even though Mike Smith doesn't appear to have broken a sweat, we're all still hoping for a miracle.

And then with 5 minutes left Phoenix scores again and there's no denying it. There's just five more minutes to go and it's brutal and awful and miserable.

The Night 0 reaction goes something like this: "FUCK fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck the powerplay makes me want to throw up fuck" *sound of intoxicated and heartbroken hockey fan falling off their chair*

(I didn't fall off my chair. I was extremely dignified about it all. I didn't even cry.)

Day 1. You wake up with an ugly feeling in your stomach that has nothing to do with the amount of liquor you may or may not have ingested the previous night and then the Internet explodes. "Trade Kane! Trade Sharp!! Trade Keith!!! Trade everyone!!!!!!!!!!"

Night 1. It's all starting to sink in. It helps to watch something soothing before you go to sleep, like adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. No one in prewar Britain ever talks about ice hockey, and everyone is very polite. Not one single person gets cross-checked in the throat.

Day 2. Rationality returns slowly. Why did we lose?

         1. Inconsistent goaltending
         2. A terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad powerplay
         3. Periodic egregious defensive errors

None of these things are a surprise. All of these things plagued the Hawks all year. There was no reason to believe they would magically be fixed in the playoffs.

         4. A really, really hot opposing goalie

In the press conferences today, the players all emphasized this, and they aren't wrong. Mike Smith is a very, very good goalie (as well as being an Oscar nominee worthy actor; see Game Three: Travesties of NHL Discipline), and he played at the top of his game. I may hate the fucker, but wow.

As for the other problems, the solution is not to blow up the team. According to Stan and Q, the solutions appear to be:

         1. Trust Corey to come out of his sophomore slump. I think I'm ok with this. I love Corey Crawford, and we know what he's capable of. He looked awful and shell-shocked during the postgame handshakes and I really feel for the guy.
         2. I don't know, but presumably something. A lot of people think an assistant coach will be fired, though the staff is keeping this close. There's no excuse to have this kind of talent on your roster and yet to consistantly have such terrible special teams.
         3. Apparently they are going to try and keep Oduya, which I am in support of, generally. He wasn't impressive in the playoffs but he did good the two months before that, providing a lot of stability on the back end. Hjalmarsson's name was notably absent from the dicussion of defensemen (Keith, Seabrook, Leddy, and Oduya mentioned as the main four, with presumably Olsen coming up from the AHL more permanently) and given his recent play that's not surprising.

Also notable: Stan really likes Kane at 2C and Q thinks Kruger has improved and will continue to.
Message: they aren't shopping for a new center.
They don't need more top six guys (duh) but guys to complement them with "physicality and grit."
Message: Guess we get more Carcillo this year. Davy Bolland mentioned him twice in his interview, and for the record, Davy Bolland uses a soft voice and pulls his baseball cap real low and does, in fact, come off like a potential sociopath.
Brunette doesn't think he's coming back to the Hawks and might not play again regardless.
Patrick Kane's beard looks terrible. Aren't you supposed to shave after you lose?
Jon Toews is beautiful.

Day 3+. I guess the players get to play golf or go on vacation or do whatever it is rich twenty-somethings do when they're out of a job for five months. Fans start counting down the days to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, grudgingly admit that maybe they could root for the L.A. Kings a little bit, if it means they get to become emotionally invested in more hockey this season, or design an elaborate greenhouse experiment to test the effects of various levels of drought stress on coastal and inland accessions of Arabdiopsis, whatever is their wont (I did all three).

Go Hawks

ADDENDUM: Also I am totally obsessed with Andrew Shaw's twitter feed because: so adorable. Like a puppy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


HOW did I not know that Rupert Everett has played Sherlock Holmes????

So perfect. Yummy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ugh Wednesday

I was going to write a post about the State of Hockey and some other things.
But after some reflections on the unpleasant realisms of sobriety, I decided to have some wine and go to bed instead.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

shawsy suspension

i was expecting zero games. i was prepared for one game. don't get me wrong, i was still planning to be irate for one game. but three games? THREE GAMES? did shea weber fly to toronto and perform sexual favors on the entire staff of the nhl disciplinary offices? has shanahan just finally snapped? is the prohockeytalk commenter correct and suspensions are now decided via dart board ("the video clearly shows that the dart landed in the three game area")?

and it's not that i think andrew shaw is a game changing factor, although he could have been, i don't know. hopefully, the hawks will be so angry about this that they will demolish the coyotes and fucking mike fucking smith. i wish he had three names so i could insert another fucking in there. no, this is just about the utter ludicrousness of this entire process. it's just become arbitrary and ridiculous. any mom or kindergarten teacher can tell you that discipline is effective when there are clearly defined rules that are consistently enforced. well nhl FAIL. i have been patient. i have cut them infinite amounts of slack because it's a transitional period and we're all confused about concussions and it's hard to be consistent and on and on and on. i ignored the totally stupid injury severity criterion. i forebore to be only mildly irritated about the keith vs doan suspension lengths because even though it was unfair, keith did elbow a guy in the head in a fully malicious manner and did deserve to be suspended. i thought very carefully about ellen etchingham's points re: officiating's effect on outcome. but now i am fucking done. 

honestly, i feel really, truly sorry for andy shaw. i am sure he is going through hell, and he doesn't deserve to. for fuck's sake, aaron asham cross-checked a guy in the throat, and then when he fell down, punched him in the back of the head, and i bet he doesn't feel half as bad as andy. based on the andy shaw suspension rubrick, he should be suspended until about 2015, but, oh, wait, it wasn't on a goalie. he'll probably be back on friday.

i have kept most of my ire reserved for shanahan and the clowns at the league, but i haven't forgotten the yotes stupid stunt. mike smith is playing now, by the way. i dare you to listen to that press con of tippett saying that they can keep players out of practice for whatever reason they want and they don't have to tell anyone and not want to punch him in the face. sure they can, but this was just a cheap ploy to grind their heels into this poor kid's face. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids' Party; Adults' Party; Men Punching Each Other; Just Another Manic Monday

Friday night:
chili cookoff at girls'
skittles infused vodka
arguments involving Michael yelling "THERE WOULD ONLY BE ONE TIME, LAURA" repeatedly
dramatic discussions about dramatic happenings in Castle

CHI wins in the SO to clinch 6th seed
sigh of relief because Nashville is terrifying and now Detroit has to play them instead

Saturday night:
party at Madlen's
lovely vegan food
adult conversation
obvious contrasts with previous night
obsessive checking of phone until PHX wins and playoff seeding is finally determined

Easter service; much enjoyment of elaborate Easter hats worn by old ladies and little boys wearing suits (so cute, they think they're people!)

now that panic re: Nashville is over, begin obsessing about Mike Smith, Phoenix's very hot goalie (hot in the technical sense of the word)

reading of English mystery novels
viewing of movies where large men punch other large men for an hour and a half
this conversation between two twenty-ish male movie theater employees:

Boy 1: I like that song.
Boy 2: That Celine Dion song?
Boy 1: (somewhat embarassed) I didn't remember it was a Celine Dion song. In my head it's sung by someone else. (ok, so this doesn't seem that funny written down but when I overheard it I thought it was hilarious)

cooking of pizza

solving coding problems
arguing about the attractiveness of seminar speakers
reading player by player playoff predictions written by people as obsessive compulsive as I am
adding one more step to my elaborate, borderline ritualistic skin care regime
hand washing my unmentionables while drinking jack and coke

Sunday, April 8, 2012

oh grad school

some days the only thing that is real or important to me is how the blackhawks are doing.

today a playoff spot vs. phoenix has been determined.

i am alright with that.

i do not know what this says about me.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Tempt The Hockey Gods

an article by a st. louis blues blogger (ick) on Things One Does Not Do that accurately summarizes the attitude of most thinking hockey fans. of course, saying the word "shutout" in your living room could in no way affect the outcome of a hockey game being played by what are in effect complete strangers potentially hundreds of miles away. of course, the level of hair on the face of players and male fans can't possibly change the level of talent displayed on the ice. there is no plausible connection between putting your fingers on a piece of metal and plastic and subsequent wins or losses. but why risk it? i mean really, why?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Euphemisms For People Punching Each Other Used By Hockey Announcers

exchange of pleasantries
get together

A Tale of Three Cities, or Playoff Seeding for the Obsessive Compulsive

I wrote this as an email to my brother but decided to post it. Actually I don't know why since Jack is probably the only one who cares. Never mind. 

[CHI = Chicago; DET = Detroit; NSH = Nashville, who actually have a pretty good hockey team, I know this is kind of surprising; MIN = Minnesota, who actually have a pretty shitty hockey team, also surprising; DAL = Dallas; NJD = New Jersey Devils, I'm not sure who came up with the NHL abbreviations but some of them are city abbreviations and some include an abbreviation for the team name, it is very inconsistent; COL = Colorado, I think they should have the best home record in the league because they play at altitude and visiting teams have to shorten their shift length by about half when they go to Denver, however, this is not the case, much like my "NBA players should make like 90% of their free throws" theory, actual sports do not follow the logical rules I come up with] 

CHI, DET, and NSH all have games tonight (CHI vs MIN, NSH vs DAL, DET vs NJD) and Saturday (CHI vs DET, NSH vs COL).

All tonight's games are up in the air to my mind. NJ has themselves a playoff spot and is most likely locked into 6th seed, but they shouldn't be complacent, and Dallas is fighting to get in, so that should be a good game. Saturday, Nashville should win, just like we should win tonight, but at this time of year there are always a few weird upsets where teams that are out of the playoffs feel the need to prove something and teams that are in the playoffs are tired and trying to gear up.

We are at 98, NSH at 100, DET at 101. They both currently have the tiebreaker on us.

Therefore, we will be:

6th seed  IF we win 0 or 1 of our games.
OR  IF we win both games but NSH and DET each win at least 1

*5th seed vs NSH
IF we win both games and NSH wins at least one game but DET loses both

5th seed vs DET 
IF we win both games and DET wins vs NJD but NSH loses both

**4th seed vs DET
IF we win both games and NSH and DET both lose both games

*worst possible scenario but seems pretty unlikely, although the necessary three conditions are not independent as we are playing DET.
**ideal but also very unlikely.

Overtime losses (3 point games) don't change any of that, I think. The wins have to be wins.

Lose to Minnie tonight and the suspense is over. DET wins tonight and the worst case scenario is off the table. In any case 6th seed seems most likely and I'm fine with that. Against who, it remains to be seen, looking like the Kings (who have embarassed us a couple times this year but who we should, on paper, be able to handle). 

no toews or bollie tonight.

I just spent like half an hour of my work day figuring this out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Absolutely NO Hot Dogs During Holy Week

I think about this every year during Holy Week. What does it mean? Unfortunately, the antecedents of the phrase are lost in Merwin family history. Like a piece of cultural flotsam, this truism is all that remains, adrift in our conciousnesses, untethered to any contextualizing memory. Well, in mine and my brother's at least. For some reason my mother doesn't remember it at all, although I have the sneaking suspicion she is the one who first said it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why It's More Fun To Read Hockey Bloggers Instead Of Beat Reporters

ESPN's Jesse Rogers on Brent Seabrook's gamewinning goal Saturday night versus Nashville:

"A crazy night went the Hawks’ way when Andrew Shaw found a pinching Brent Seabrook for the winning goal midway through the third period. It was a perfect back-hand pass and helped ease the pain of the Hawks blowing a 4-0 lead." (full story)

Same goal described by Cheer the Anthem's Tim Currell: 

"He moved to the half-boards, found Andrew Shaw down low, whose backhand threaded the needle through a Nashville defender to find Seabs pinching down low. Seabrook slammed that puck home like it had just fucked his girlfriend, and that was the game-winner." (full story)