eregyrn: (Canucks - Ohlund)
(Completely random note having nothing to do with the rest of this post: can ANYone out there PLEASE tell me what the real name is for the piece of music that goes along with the doubtless spurious lyrics of, "Do your ears hang low?/ Do they wobble to and fro? / Can you tie them in a knot?/ Can you tie them in a bow?/ Can you throw them o'er your shoulder like a continental soldier?/ Do your ears hang low?" (Or, insert your own filthier lyrics here.)

Why? Because around my neighborhood, there's an ice cream truck that, when it is not playing a bad MIDI version of "The Entertainer", is playing a bad MIDI version of the above tune. Over and over and over, GRINDINGLY. It makes me kind of insane. And I would really like to know what the hell that piece of music is called. Not that I think that would make me any less insane. I'd just like to know.)


Moving on...

Oh, and the Canucks were eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday. (By the Ducks.) I'm sad about this, although it has to be said that making it past the first round was a good achievement for the team this year. (In the years I've been following them, I haven't seen them make it past the first round, if they made the playoffs at all.) And they weren't swept; always important.

Luongo was Really Good, as he ought to have been, but he didn't give such a completely stonewalling performance that you felt sure he was going to be this year's Playoffs Story. Still, it was his very first post-season ever, and I feel that he acquitted himself well. He got in, he got into the second round, and you can't say that he was the reason they lost. I hope that this translates into confidence for him and the rest. His feet got wet. The big story about him is no longer that he's a superlative goalie who's *never* made it to the post-season because he was on crappy teams. Of course, it's not "once he got there, he was perfect", either. But I tend to feel that perfection is too much to expect.

If I had to name one thing that I think sunk them, it would be: lack of offense (which goes along with crappy power-play). They just couldn't seem to get enough goals. With one or two exceptions, all of the games were fairly low-scoring, and that means that *if* they had managed to put in 2 more goals a game, they probably would not have had to play a gruelling 7 game first round (really, 9 games in terms of total periods of hockey played), and they probably would not have lost the 2nd round, because what Luongo did in goal would have been enough.

*shrug* How to address the offense problem? Dunno. Will be interesting to see. It was a problem for them *all year*. In the first half of the regular season, it dogged them. In the second half, they solved it *just* enough to go on a spectacular winning streak to win the division and make it to the playoffs. But like everyone says -- the playoffs are like starting a new season. And thus, in the first half of the new season, lack of scoring dogged them again.

So pretty much, I feel a little disappointed, but not really despondent. I'm bummed that I won't be watching them truly contend for the Cup this year. But it's not a "oh god, everything's wrong, the sky is falling" feeling. They could do it next year; they don't need a complete overhaul. They need some tweaks.
eregyrn: (Default)
This morning, discovered little black flecks in the water from my tea-kettle. On investigation, discovered that the lining of my orange Oxo kettle was flaking off pretty significantly. Hard water? Ehn. Replaced with red Oxo kettle of different type; am sad it isn't orange.

New England makes no compromises. We shifted from horrible rainy cold straight to sunny and 75. I am not complaining, mind you.

Drove out to Broadmoor Reservation to walk around after other errands. Took my spiffy tan polka-dot Wellingtons to wear; too warm on my feet and made my legs sweat, but oh, I was glad I had them because of all the places where various trails were flooded out and I just DID NOT CARE. (It's neat to stand in a rushing stream just over a waterfall with the water pushing on your legs.) Took my foldy-chair, so that when I got tired of tramping around and came upon something that I wanted to enjoy for a it, I could just deploy it and relax for a bit. Did that next to a babbling bit of stream with views of sunlight through woods and marsh and meadow beyond. I really do love the sound of running water.

Nature encountered: one fairly big garter snake, slithering away at high speed. Then he paused, only about 3 feet from me, and I was able to get about 2 steps closer, before he took off again. Also: spotted a beaver dam in the distance.

Unfortunately, evening has been a complete wash. Got home, and a headache descended that appears to be resistant to painkillers. Have not been able to do anything all evening...

... except watch the last two parts of "100 Greatest Weather Moments" from the Weather Channel. Yes, I am a gigantic nerd, and I was riveted to this series, as I was describing to [livejournal.com profile] katie_m. (Note to [livejournal.com profile] telepresence: Galveston was number 19 (fair enough); rightly, they didn't include any of the tsunamis.) It should also be known that I am really a huge sap. It turns out that I *will* tear up if you show me footage of the Challenger blowing up; I will tear up listening to "Amazing Grace"; and I will tear up watching footage of Katrina.

Dallas Stars win tonight, forcing a game 7 with the Canucks (I assume, on Monday; in Vancouver). Historically speaking, the Canucks have not had a lot of luck in the past few trips to the playoffs, with first-round game 7s. Let's hope they *really* gut-check and pull this one out.
eregyrn: (Default)
As an addendum to my post yesterday reviewing all of the 2007 SuperBowl ads -- I was watching the Oscars last night, and the GM "suicidal robot" ad came on... and it had a different ending! That is, it no longer had the "commits suicide by jumping off a bridge" ending.

Instead, the ad was slightly longer, and the end featured what looked to me like the depressed robot, after failing at a string of unappealing jobs, passing by a junkyard and watching a big crane dropping a crushed car on top of a junk-heap, from which the car came tumbling down. That was the thing that made the robot "gasp" and wake up from its "nightmare".

See my comment to [livejournal.com profile] ravenhbh at the end of my previous post, for an over-thinking analysis of what this change might signal about the "reading" of the commercial. (Overall, I still don't think it's very positive; it's just no longer *as* gobsmackingly insensitive as it was.)

And while we're on the subject of the SuperBowl ads -- [livejournal.com profile] elishavah commented, "Except for the huge viewing audience, the good SB commercials aren't really different from the great ones we get throughout the year now." And I basically agreed with that. I was reminded of it as I was watching the Oscars, during which I saw a number of ads (many of them with movie/film themes) that, honestly, I felt were the equal or better of the SuperBowl ads, and indeed with a much-decreased "people acting dumb" quotient.

Anyway...

Continuing in the vein of advertising, I wanted to share with folks some of the recent funny commercials that the NHL has been making. This is also sort of a survey -- because I'd love to know if anyone out there has SEEN these commercials on regular TV. I personally have only seen them during hockey games, which... *headdesk*, NHL.

The NHL has had two major ad campaigns since the start of the 2006-07 season. The first was "Game On!", which was designed to "remind" people that the new season was starting/had started. I found the spots a little surreal, and mildly funny. They were at least trying to take advantage of some of the most recognizable/popular faces in the NHL today, both new and old. One ad, which I can't find, featured new wunderkind Sidney Crosby. Another featured famous veteran Peter Forsberg:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsQchEt8fqY


So, more recently, the NHL's newest campaign is "my NHL: Hockey players are just like you and me". With one exception, I've found these ads to be cute, and fairly funny. Again, they're trying to take advantage of popular names and faces that folks (who watch hockey, at least) know, and via the commercials, I think, they are trying to impart a "personality" to the guys who are basically known for their feats on-ice.

Here is an example featuring Alex Ovechkin, who plays with the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin was a rookie last year, he's from Russia, he's enthusiastic and personable, and he's a stupidly talented goal-scorer. Last season was enlivened by the "rivalry" between him and fellow rookie Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who was another stupidly-talented goal-scorer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2dlS47aync


And here is a more recent example, featuring the Sedin twins of the Vancouver Canucks. The Sedins are known for... well, for being identical twins (who annoyingly wear the same hairstyle and even facial hair; presumably because they like messing with people), for having played their entire hockey lives together, for being eerily in sync with each other (as you might expect identical twins to be), and thus for being very good (if not "superlative") goal-scorers and who are almost invariably in on each other's goals, and who tend to make anyone who plays on a line with them look good. Neither of them is a Wayne Gretsky or a Mario Lemieux, but they get notoriety anyway because hey, how many identical twins who've been line-mates since about age 6 does the NHL have?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdXPcGCCUjQ

As [livejournal.com profile] telepresence commented after I sent this to him: "Okay, that was fucking hilarious. Although obviously gender and sexuality are contributing factors to how the comedy works in the ad, it's not offensive and homophobic like the Snickers ad."


Finally, the latest entry in this campaign features 18 players who went to the NHL All-Star game. Now, I grant you -- I'm a hockey *fan*, and I could only recognize a few of the guys by face, although I did know all of their names. Still, I think it's a cute and funny ad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp1DMQ-x33k

The guy on the phone is Alex Ovechkin, as described above. His "rivalry" with Sidney Crosby comes into play in the commercial. Some of the other notable cameos: the guy stuffing his face from the dessert trolley is Joe Thornton (now of the San Diego Sharks, formerly captain of the Boston Bruins); the guy asleep on the couch is Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco (who's a funny, laid-back kind of guy from everything I've seen); the guy tickling Turco's nose with the feather is rival Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (who despite the name is French-Canadian). (I think the guy standing next to him, from the Buffalo Sabres, is another goalie, but he's one of those whom I don't recognize by face.)


Thus, my survey. It's not like I watch a LOT of TV, except on certain channels. But I have only ever seen any of these commercials play during actual hockey games, which seems really stupid to me because, hello? We're already watching, NHL.

It has certainly been remarked that at least one of the things that hurts the NHL (marketing-wise) is the lack of recognizable, compelling personalities in the sport. And it's kind of a vicious cycle, too. Right now, though, the NHL really does have any number of guys who are exciting to watch. They play the game very well, and they are personable, too. The NHL has practically been wetting itself over the debut of Crosby and Ovechkin, "the future of hockey", because both are personable, willing to be in the spotlight, aren't jerks, and they are unusually talented and flashy and fun to watch.

These commercials *feel* to me like the first step towards *creating* identifiable personalities within the sport. But unless the commercials are actually getting airplay outside of hockey games... how is it going to do any good?
eregyrn: (Canucks - Ohlund)
AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Tonight is Vancouver's season opener!

AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

State-of-the-team rambling below the cut... )
Yay! Drop puck!
eregyrn: (Default)
... Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] _minxy_!!! Hope it was filled with wonderful things!

and

... Happy birthday to CANADA!


...Which I now appreciate ever so much more after (this week) finishing my TOME OF CANADIAN HISTORY, so that now I know stuff like what Confederation actually *is* and when it actually *happened* and all. Also? I can now name about 3 times as many prime ministers of Canada as I could before. Although now that I think about it... before, I could have named Trudeau, Chretien, and Harper (but I think Harper probably doesn't count, in the sense that he's such recent news that if I couldn't remember him I'd need to have my head examined), and I'm afraid that I don't think I could name 9 now. Hmm.... While I had heard of Lester Pearson, I was not actually aware that he had been PM, per se. And I started watching "due South" only *after* starting the TOME, so no, I wasn't precisely aware that Diefenbaker had been PM, before, either. So!

I personally celebrated by hitting REFRESH eight skillion times on the Canucks board I'm on, while watching the first day of free agency in the NHL 'splode all over the place. (Summary: Jovo signed with the COYOTES? WTF? and Yay! Mitchell!)

To top it off, I think I shall watch some "due South". Yes, that will do nicely.
eregyrn: (Canucks)
Well, my friends (all two or three of you out there who care), that's it. With a loss last night to the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks officially fell out of playoff contention. Yes, for the first time in (I believe) 5 seasons, the Canucks did not make it into the playoffs.

Not being a native Vancouverite and only having been a fan for a few years now, I'm more saddened by this than angry. Or maybe it's because I'm a sentimental sports-fan, and a somewhat forgiving chick. I *feel badly* for them. I'm disappointed in them, and I don't think this came out of nowhere, either. But I can be even-handed enough to look at the big picture, rather than blame it on easy targets (I know *exactly* what's being said all over the Van media right now, and on the messageboards I usually frequent).

This was a team that was, in fact, expected to contend for the Cup this year, not just get in the playoffs. Of course that has been said of them for the past several years. But this year it was The New NHL. The new GM worked hard to keep the team's core together, even though he had to renegotiate contracts under the new salary cap system. He basically said at the start of the season: I'm keeping the core together for one more shot at the Cup. Implicit in that, of course, is: fail, and I am going to retool this team like crazy.

If you listen to fans in Vancouver, this is what you'll hear: the team lacked work-ethic. The big line *sucked*. The coach has lost the team, they're tuning him out. Aaaugh.

Here's what I saw (and I don't really mean these as excuses, I just mean them as possible factors): after a strong start, less than a quarter of the way into the season, the team lost its #1 goalie to a knee injury; he'd never come back. (He had surgery, and might have been back for the playoffs, but...) The team proceeded to ride its #2 goalie, a rookie. He never really had adequate back-up. He performed far, far better than anyone expected -- in 3/4ers of a season he still racked up over 30 wins, but it wasn't *enough*. I would contend that while he was very good, we'll just never know how having to depend on a rookie affected the psychology of the team in front of him.

The team went into the season having lost their 4 and 5 d-men due to cap issues. They muddled through under the cap with AHL call-ups. Then they lost their #1 dman to injury (sports-hernia; he was out for months, just came back 2 games ago, but far too late). Then at the Olympics, they lost their #2 and #3 dmen to injury as well. (One returned earlier than he probably should have, from broken ribs; the other never made it back into the line-up.)

The first line, the former "big line", the West Coast Express... never clicked. Yeah, they sucked. Nobody's really sure why. The team's captain and usual #1 scorer played for 8-12 weeks with a strained groin; thank goodness for the Olympic break that let him heal up. The second line... that's who I really feel for, because the Sedin twins and Anson Carter had a career year this year. The Sedins finally broke out, and Carter, who last season had bounced between injury and 3 different teams, and put up only 11 goals, this year scored over 30. They were Vancouver's top line. It wasn't enough, not with a lack of production either from the first line or from the D or really from the bottom two lines, either.

So, I feel that when you look back at this season -- yeah, you see a top line that didn't do what everyone knew they were capable of doing. You see some questionable coaching choices (playing the goalie into the ground because you don't have confidence in the back-ups, for example). But seriously, when you look at it -- what you see is a team that honestly had a year of grueling injuries chipping away at their defense, their goal production, and it wouldn't surprise me, at their morale. Nobody rewards you if you fail to perform miracles, basically. But in truth, it's probably amazing that the Canucks stayed in contention right up until their second-to-last game.

A word, too, about the Northwest division. One of the effects of The New NHL (tm) was a major change in schedule. It used to be that a team would play 6 times against its divisional opponents; now it's 8 times. The Northwest is a tough division. I would have more respect for Detroit, for example, if I wasn't suspicious that their first-in-the-NHL record wasn't due in part to their having 3 of the *worst* teams in the entire NHL in their division. Yeah, yeah, you look *real* tough, beating up on the Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets and the Blues all the time. The Northwest, meanwhile, stayed remarkably even for most of the year. The Canucks weren't quite .500 against divisional opponents, and that cost them, obviously -- but as I wrote here just a couple of weeks ago, there was a point, with about 10 games to go in the season, where it was *possible* for 4 of the 5 teams in the Northwest to wind up in a 4-way tie for first place in the division. (It didn't actually happen.) That's the kind of division it was.

So, a moment of silence for the 2005-06 Canucks. The expectation everywhere is that the team is going to get blown up during the summer. Some big names are very, very likely to be traded. There are some valuable UFAs to be signed, they might not even be able to retain *those*, some others might retire, and basically, the old core had its chance, now it's time to retool.

I'm a sentimental sports-fan, as I said. I'm pretty bummed at the idea that *these guys*, who are "my guys" because they were The Guys when I got into the team, won't get a shot at the Cup. Even if next year's Canucks are much, much better (and even if they retain some of my favorite players, which in the case of Ohlund at least looks like a guarantee), and even if they contend for and god forbid *win* the Cup next year, I'll still feel a little sad that *this* group of guys couldn't do it together. Ah well.
eregyrn: (Canucks - Ohlund)


Yes, I'm a Canucks fan, but I'm in Boston, so I've never been to a Canucks home game. So there I am, watching my TiVo of Wed's game, and the feed that Center Ice is getting is from the Wild's broadcast. And they do something that I haven't really seen a broadcast do: during the intermission, instead of going away to a studio or interviews and stuff for the whole time, they come back and show what's going on in the stadium as they do voice-overs talking about stuff. I'm FFing through this, but suddenly I spy the above, in motion, tootling around above the perimeter of the rink. "Whoa!" I say. "Back that up..."

I can think of few things that could charm me more than the fact that the Canucks have a life-size orca blimp that flies around inside the rink, dropping swag onto the crowd below (t-shirts and stuff). I am further charmed by the fact that it is wearing a Canucks jersey. (There are other pics where you can see the logo on its belly; these shots show it wearing the old jersey design, but the blimp I saw on TV was painted in what look like the Vintage Jersey colors, although I couldn't get an angle to see the logo, to confirm.) I think I have identified a new Job I Wish I Had: Orca Blimp Wrangler.

Also, of course, I wish *I* had me an orca blimp. My brain starts asking logical questions, such as: do you think an orca blimp would be sufficient to lift the weight of a single person? OMG, how great would THAT be?

For more pics of Obie the Orca in his [sic]* natural habitat, go here: http://norburnrc.com/flyingwhales.htm

(The site refers to Obie as a "he". Um, dude. Look at the dorsal fin. That's clearly a girl orca. All the orcas in the Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment Inc.'s logo are girl orcas. The orca on the Canucks *jersey* is a boy orca.)

Speaking of the Canucks.... all I really need to tell you is that as of yesterday, it was entirely, mathematically possible that as of the end of tonight, there would be a FOUR-WAY TIE for first-place in the Northwest Division. (Games in hand are the tiebreaker, though.) As of today, that's no longer true, since the two top teams are playing each other, which means that after tonight, there could merely be a 3-way tie for second place. Still. Madness.
eregyrn: (Default)
Huh. I haven't updated in a while. Mostly because I haven't really been doing anything update-worthy.

I fell off the wagon with regard to writing up thoughts on SciFi Friday, was too anal to skip the weeks I'd missed and just pick up with where-ever I was at, and now it's over. My little local viewing-group is replacing it with a grab-bag of "Dr. Who", "Deadwood", "Action!" (brilliant, so *of course* FOX cancelled it), and possibly S1 of SG-1, sometimes (we reserve the right to skip the really awful ones).

On my own, I am watching "due South" for the first time. (About midway through S1 right now.) Am finding it interesting, in the sense of, here's this show I've been aware of, and especially aware of tangentially through fandom, but I'd never seen it. I can't say that seeing the "Icebound Stream" vid and the "What's My Age Again?" vid at Escapade had nothing to do with finally pushing me into trying to see it. I'm also kind of on a "Canada is interesting" kick at the moment (evening pick-up reading at present is the new edition of "The Illustrated History of Canada"; it's extremely sobering when you realize that you don't know much that's specific about the history of a country that large and that much your neighbor).

Anyway. due South. "Sweet, and cute" is my assessment so far. I'm enjoying it, if not falling head over heels in fannish love with it. (That's not a slam. That describes my relationship with many beloved shows over the years.) Biggest "surprise" so far: the subtle humor and comedic timing that Paul Gross brings to Fraser. (Second biggest surprise: the number of humongous, boxy cars from the 70s apparently still being driven in "Chicago" in the late 90s.) I have this feeling that [livejournal.com profile] raqs would go for Fraser, although she is dubious about this. I dunno. I can't even quite explain why. I just think so.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to making my way slowly through the series. I'm also interested, on a low level, in the show's fandom's meta, since that's something that's been hovering around the edges of my fannish participation for years, but I didn't have anything to connect it to. I hope somebody gives me the low-down on what I'm *sure* were issues of vital interest to dS's fandom, such as the RayV-RayK switch.

What I'm reading: Rachel Caine's "Weather Warden" series, which I've enjoyed the hell out of. I have the 4th book in hand but have been taking a break (after blowing through the first three in a weekend), both to draw it out, and because I have a baaaaaaaaaad feeling about plot developments on the horizon and I'm trying to work up to it. Also, Cherryh's latest in the Foreigner series, the somewhat misleadingly-titled "Pretender" (in that the titular character never actually *appears*, although I suppose you can argue that the entire book is about disposing of him, so...). Unfortunately, this was a bit of a disappointment to me. I loved loved loved the first two books in the series (what is she on now, the third trilogy?), but have felt "ehn" about the rest, though I still read them to follow the advancing story. My problem, I've concluded, is that I want different things out of the world and the narrator character than Cherryh wants to focus on; she keeps giving me glimpses, but that's it. After the last one, I had hopes of this latest book in terms of action and plot. But it felt very repetitive to me, like it had nothing new to say, and like the actual action in it was all stuff we'd been through before. There were no surprises, and with relation to the narrator, no real sense of *peril* any more (to him, especially; or to those around him), which makes reading about him going through faux-peril kind of irritating. Ah well. Of course I'll still read the next one. But this one, I got from the library, and the next I will too.

I am *poised* to read Naomi Novik's series, too; just *poised*. To my surprise, my local library system has ordered "Temeraire". Yes, you read that right. "Temeraire", not "His Majesty's Dragon". Already, I'm intrigued by that. (For those not in the know: I had understood that "Temeraire" was the title of the first book in Britain, but that it was being released in the US at the end of March under the different title "His Majesty's Dragon". Hmm.)

What else? Renewing my car's registration has been needlessly fraught this year. Let's just say that it involves a parking ticket from *2003* that I hadn't realized I failed to pay, and that I'm scrambling to avoid getting any more $100 citations, and... would it kill them to issue a *warning* first and then give me a short grace period to, like, *deal* with all this stuff, rather than slamming me with a hundred bucks off the bat? Grrr.

Recently acquired the soundtracks to many of the Broadway musicals of my youth (meaning, that my parents owned the LPs of, and that I therefore grew up listening to): the Burton "Camelot"; the Mostel "Fiddler on the Roof"; the Dean Martin "Bells are Ringing"; "Fiorello!"; the movie "West Side Story"; and "Godspell". Ah, they take me back. Am still frustrated by the fact that they do not seem to have ever released ALW's *original* (short) "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". The precise recordings that one grew up on are the *only* ones that sound "right". I don't *want* any of the umpteen expanded stage versions of "Joseph". I want *that one*.

My cat has dandruff. I have to figure out what to do about that. I had no idea that cats could have combination skin. This is the cat that gets -- no lie -- chin pimples. And I had *no idea* that cats could have acne, but... apparently so. Now she's got dandruff too. Is this normal, I ask you?

Finally, the Canucks have been *sucking*. Right now they are battling hard just to make it into the playoffs. (*crossing fingers for another win against the Oilers tonight*) This appears to be the most fraught lead-up to the playoffs that anyone can remember recently. There are presently 7 teams within 6 points of each other, all scrabbling for 5 playoff slots. It's madness. And then wacky schedule stuff happens, such as right now, when the Canucks are playing the Oilers 3 games in a row, and 1 point separates them. Yikes. The Canucks won the first of the three, and immediately went from 10th place in the Conference to 7th. (Only the upper 8 go to the playoffs.) Madness, I tell you.
eregyrn: (Canucks)
Canada announced its mens Olympic hockey team today. The two Canucks who were in the running both made it on the team. I have pictures. All I have to say about the pictures is... You're very cute, boys. But you shouldn't make the RPS *that* easy...

Bert & Jovo make the team... )

What is the photographer suggesting here? )

Sure... that works...  )

It's a manly sport. Very, very manly.  )


(And hey! I learned how to use LJ Scrapbook! Yay, me!)
eregyrn: (Canucks)
http://www.raleighstreethockey.com/video/malik.so.wmv

(Hope that works; it should, though I imagine it's getting hammered for downloads.)

Background: this was last night. Marek Malik used to be a defenseman for the Canucks, but he went to the NY Rangers this year. He's 6'6", a
Czech. (Not a bad dman; the Canucks lost him due to his being worth more now than they could afford; the NYR gave him a good contract.)

So anyway -- last night, Rangers versus the Washington Capitals. It goes to a shoot-out. Turns into the longest shoot-out in history (i.e. thus far) -- 15 rounds. At the point at which they send Malik out there, there are only 2 other healthy guys on the bench after him for the Rangers.

(I don't know what happens if you go that far and there's still no decision -- I don't know if THEY know, because obviously, a shoot-out hasn't gotten this far before. Maybe you just start over again, dunno.)

The commentators' take on this is priceless. Pay VERY close attention to what Malik does, although they will give you a couple of slow-mo replays afterwards. (He draws the puck back between his *own* legs, and flips a forehand shot from there.)

Beautiful.
eregyrn: (Canucks)
The "technical glitch" that led to the Canucks/Coyotes game not coming on until 20 minutes after it was supposed to start (and thus almost midway through the first period) was not, in fact, the fault of Center Ice... It was because the game feed was from the Toronto Sports Network, which chose to stay with the Senators/Leafs game, which went into overtime and resulted in the Very First NHL Shootout decision (no more tie games in the NHL -- new rule; the Sens won). This ticked off a lot of western Canadians, who -- not unreasonably, I feel -- would have rather watched the puck-drop for the Canucks game, instead of the shootout. (As it happened, the entire first period of the game was scoreless, so at least the delay in switching to it in the broadcast didn't hurt too much.)

The problem for me was that Center Ice was showing the Sens/Leafs game on a different channel anyway... so there was no way to tell that the reason we were getting a blank screen on channel 2 waiting for the Canucks game was due to the network not having switched over to that game yet. Here's a tip for Center Ice -- if this happens (and there are indeed sometimes double-headers like this on Canadian broadcast networks), it would be nice for your viewers if you put up a little notice about it. That's all I'm saying. It would be a vast improvement over just showing us that day's Center Ice schedule (which taunts you by confirming that yes, indeed, there ought to be a game on that channel right then), and playing the perky Center Ice theme "music" over and over and over and over and OVER again. After the 15th repeat, believe me, that is music to axe-murder by. (Additional note to Center Ice: commission new theme music; at least, commission something that plays for longer than 30 seconds before it loops.)

So finally, we joined the game! Midway through the first period! But whatever!

It was a very good game, from a Canucks fan's viewpoint. The various new NHL rules seemed to be working and seemed to be enforced, with a noticeable improvement in the flow of the game, as intended. I'd say that the boys looked a bit rusty out there, but given it's the first real game in 17 months for many of them, that's to be expected. Rusty or not, they did manage to pull off some outstanding plays. The Canucks won 3-2, no overtime or shootout; and in the "new NHL", that was a somewhat low score. (Thanks to "opening up" the game, games are now apparently averaging 4.9 goals, which is up something like 1.5 from the start of 03-04.) Two of those goals came from the WCE (the Canucks' "big line"), off the stick of Marcus Naslund (team captain), and they were *extremely* pretty and just, really, really good hockey.

(ETA: my figures here are off. So far this season, average goals per game is 6.27, as opposed to 5.14 over all of the last season. Not a huge increase, but every little bit helps, etc. And the season is young.)

The other big news of the night was that, in playing the Phoenix Coyotes, we were seeing the debut of Wayne Gretzky as a head coach. This garnered some attention, as you might expect. Yes, Gretz is going the Larry Bird route. Everybody thinks he's nuts. For those not in the know, he is a part-owner of the team, too, but this is his first time taking an active role behind the bench. His attitude appears to be, "Why not?" More to the point -- it allows him to be more involved in the game, and while nobody would make the mistake of thinking that the Great One doesn't care whether he loses or not (oh, he cares), the point seems to be that he isn't so afraid of losing that he isn't willing to take the chance and give it a try.

Looking at his team last night, I'd say he has his work cut out for him. They aren't inept, but they didn't truly look like they were at the Canucks' level, either. So, in his first game as a head coach, Gretz did not get the win. Still, they acquitted themselves well -- it also was not a blow-out. And I tell you what -- there is no bad to having Gretzky behind the bench for games, because that means you get a lot of shots of him, and man, is he easy on the eyes. He would appear to be one of those guys who is ageing insanely well -- I'd say that he looks better now, at 44, than he did 10 years ago. Damn.
eregyrn: (Canucks)
There is something truly, truly hideous in the fact that, with the NHL Center Ice program running its free promotion at the moment... with 10 channels of hockey being shown RIGHT NOW... the ONLY CHANNEL on which something is FUCKED UP is the channel that, right at this moment, is SUPPOSED to be showing Phoenix vs. Vancouver.

*WAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLL*!!!!!!

Yes. Every other single damn channel that is supposed to have a game on it right now... has a game. But not channel 2! Oh, no! 15 minutes after it was supposed to start... we've got SQUAT.

Poop.

poop poop poop poop poop


(Yes, I am pathetic enough to have put a call in to the service's line, to say, "where, please is the game on this channel?" The guy was puzzled. He's "looking into it". But seriously, folks -- what are the cosmic odds? And at this point -- I've already missed the opening intro, anthems, and face-off. NOT FAIR!!!!!)

poop

ETA: they got it on. 20 minutes late, yes (way to make me have confidence in the service you want me to buy, guys!), but it's on.)
eregyrn: (Canucks)
It is incumbent upon me to mention...

The NHL season. Hockey. Starts. Tonight.

whee! Let the sleep-deprivation begin! (My boys aren't playing until 10:30pm EST; good thing I'm a night owl anyway.)
eregyrn: (Canucks)
Yes, yes. The NHL owners and the players' union have an agreement in principle. And I think I speak for hockey fans everywhere when I say: rah.

Although, really -- apparently the ink isn't on paper yet, and given the two sides' track record thus far of screwing things up, perhaps we shouldn't fill the Stanley Cup with champagne just yet. (Speaking of which, where *is* the Cup? Did they let the Lightning players keep it for an extra year, or what?)

http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/articles/2005/07/13/nhl_players_work_to_complete_contract/

Now that they have a deal in hand, I will be shocked if the PA doesn't fire its head/negotiator, Goodenow. Moron. He would appear to be one of the main reasons for putting off the players' caving in the end until long past the last possible moment, in the process managing to sink several possible earlier deals that were far more favorable than what they actually settled for. Though really, it would also be good if the owners all got together the moment the ink was on the contract, and fired Bettman, too. Yes, you could say he finally got them what they wanted. Or, you could say that he was an key part in forcing the loss of an entire season. Surely, in 6 years, when this becomes an issue again, the NHL could do waaaaaaay better than Bettman.

Crud.

Sep. 15th, 2004 02:51 pm
eregyrn: (Canucks)
Last night, I finally clued in enough to watch the ESPN broadcast of the World Cup of Hockey final, between Canada and Finland. (Note: Jeremy Roenick is interesting as a color commentator, and I am wondering whether this is indicative of his edging towards that as a post-pro career.) It was a really, really great game. Canada won, but that wasn't a foregone conclusion. And it was plastered all over with all kinds of bittersweetness because of the impending NHL lock-out, meaning -- would this be the last live hockey at this level that everyone was likely to see, perhaps for a long time?

As of 2:30 this afternoon, when much-loathed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman held his press conference, the answer is: yes. The lock-out is on. Meaning: the old collective bargaining agreement between the Players Association and the NHL/owners expires at midnight tonight. The negotiations are deadlocked. Let's be clear: the players are not striking. The owners are locking the players out. The upshot of this is *STILL* no pro ice hockey for the foreseeable future. (Will we get a half-season, if they wrap things up by January? Will we lose an entire year? Who knows?)

Everybody saw this coming, of course. It's not a real shocker, if you've been paying attention. But it still makes us sad. There's not a hell of a lot of goodwill towards either side, on the part of the fans, in this. There was a lock-out in 1994/95, too, the last time this came up; that resulted in a half-season. So, like MLB around the same time, the NHL used up their reserves of fan goodwill. It seems pretty stupid to have a repeat at this time, especially since it sounds like both sides are only more entrenched in their positions now (i.e. the owners feel that they allowed themselves to be scared into capitulating last time, and they've had to deal with 10 years' worth of economic hardship because of it, so they're bound and determined not to give in this time, blah blah, yadda yadda). (For the record: I can see the points that both sides have; I'm a teeny bit more on the players' side than on the owners'; and I think Gary Bettman should burn in hell.)

So now I'm sitting here, eyeing the Harvard Crimson schedule (season starts 10/23; ticket prices haven't been posted yet). And it'll be kind of cool to go to some of those games, yes -- and loads cheaper than figuring out what's enough within striking distance for me to travel to in order to see the Canucks (Boston; Long Island; NYC; maybe Columbus). But the thing is that while I'll get out to some games, I like bringing hockey into my own living room. Gotta figure out what, if anything, the sports channels will broadcast in place of NHL hockey, for the foreseeable future.
eregyrn: (Default)
So I DID go out kayaking again today, because it was just too nice a day not to take advantage of it, and of the fact that I have tomorrow off too. Decided to go out on the lower Charles, down around Harvard and downtown. Did about 7.5 miles in total, from Eliot Bridge down to Harvard Bridge (the really really long one that goes across at MIT). Arms are now like limp spaghetti, because the outward paddle was all against a stiff headwind.

Saw not one but *TWO* grey squirrels, though. SWIMMING across the river. At the wide parts, too. And yes, they were squirrels, not rats, because I could see their fluffy tails, which were floating on the surface rather than waterlogged and slicked-down. And I said, "Go, little dudes", because they were certainly paddling industriously, but -- I had no idea that squirrels were swimmers. Like, at ALL.

Huh.

In other news, I am so desperately missing hockey that I TiVo'ed an ESPN Classic broadcast of the 2001 Stanley Cup game seven, in which the Avs beat the Devils, resulting in former Bruin Ray Borque winning his first Cup in his 22-year NHL career. It was very emotional, and I am not ashamed to say that I cried, even at a game that is more than 3 years old. I really, really want hockey to start up again, clearly. And the thing is, we still don't know if there's going to *BE* a season, or when it's going to start, or what. *whimper*
eregyrn: (Default)
...at least, not for the half of the protagonists that you care about.

It is with a heavy, heavy heart (and equally heavy eyelids) that I must report that, although it went down to the very wire, last night the Canucks lost the quarter-finals in the playoffs to the Calgary Flames.

After the hectic ups and Stygian troughs of downs that the team went through in the last month of the season, they really managed to put together an extraordinary comeback to win their Division. They started off the playoffs well, too, against Calgary -- a scrappy, determined team that was itself outperforming expectations, and had managed to fight their way into seventh place in the Conference for their first shot in the playoffs in 10 years. Although Vancouver was heavily favored (by, it seemed, just about everyone except wary Vancouver fans), the Flames weren't going down without a fight.

Things took a turn for the sucky for the Canucks when their starting goaltender went down badly in game 3. Nobody's fault, except perhaps the guys who do the ice conditioning at Calgary's Saddledome, but Cloutier's leg got turned under his body awkwardly at one point (and he still managed to get back in his net and make two more saves, even though he couldn't stand on that leg). Originally it looked like a deeply screwed-up knee; it was later announced as a sprained ankle. No matter, Cloutier was out for the series, and possibly the entire playoffs. His #1 backup was, to be fair, a guy who'd had playoff success in the past (with the Penguins, of all teams), but although he came in and played out the remainder of that first game well, Hedberg dropped the next one pretty badly (I think that was the 4-0 loss), and clearly the coach lost confidence in him, because from then on out, the Canucks were playing with their THIRD-string goalie, Alex Auld.

All due respect to Auld -- with a few exceptions, he played amazingly well for a guy who had never played in the pressure-cooker of the NHL playoffs before. Including the unbelievably nail-biting sixth game -- in Calgary, with the Flames leading the series 3-2. The Flames could have won it then. Vancouver went up on them 4-0 in the 2nd...and then pissed away their lead and allowed the Flames to TIE it, for gods sake. The two teams had to go into TRIPLE OVERTIME (42 extra minutes of hockey, on top of the 60 they'd just played) before the punchy Flames made the first mistake and Vancouver put together a good rush and scored. Jubilation. A forced Game 7, back in Vancouver.

Sadly, if you have been following the team, you would know that Vancouver generally doesn't play as well at home as on the road. No, nobody understands why, it's just a fact.

Last night was do-or-die for both teams. Appropriately, the action see-sawed back and forth. Calgary went up by one, then Vancouver came back. No sooner was everyone breathing a sigh of relief, than the Canucks took a penalty, and Calgary scored. Then, with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, Calgary took a penalty, putting the desperate Canucks on the powerplay. With their goalie pulled for the extra attacker, the Canucks then took a penalty with 20 seconds to go. Calgary's captain (the estimable Jarome Iginla, their highest scorer) then missed the empty Canucks' net by *INCHES*. And the Canucks' captain, Naslund, swept down the length of the ice, battled the puck off the boards to the front of the net, and his linemate Matt Cooke batted it in for the tying goal with 5.7 seconds left on the clock.

After a story like that, you'd think the only dramatic outcome would have to be a triumphant Canucks victory, in front of their standing, screaming home crowd. But -- oh god -- no. They started OT with their player still in the penalty box for another 1:33. And the Flames managed to score at 1:25.

I've been saying all along that watching sports, for me, is all about the stories that give it depth. Once you learn the stories, that's why you care, even if you may also enjoy the game for other reasons.

To be fair, Calgary was putting together their own great storyline all throughout this series -- one, obviously, at odds with the one that the Canucks wished to fulfill. Calgary hadn't been in a playoffs series since 1994 -- when, coincidentally, they were eliminated by the Canucks (on Vancouver's way to their last appearence in the Stanley Cup finals). The Flames hadn't *won* any playoffs series since 1989 (when, again, if I'm not mistaken, they beat the Canucks in the first round). Calgary had a somewhat uneven season this year, so their getting into the playoffs at all took a great deal of effort, for which they are to be commended. They don't play boring hockey -- they're not one of those teams (like, sadly, the Wild; or last year's Cup champions, the New Jersey Devils -- who have already been eliminated this year, too) who have decided to ride a smothering defensive style to success. I respect Calgary, I respect most of their guys, especially their captain. I respect what they did to get into the playoffs, and what they did to win. This series was, at all times, great to watch -- dramatic, exciting, balanced.

If the Canucks had to lose (and I still wish they hadn't, of course), I feel a tiny bit consoled that their loss allows Calgary to advance. It's not one of those cases where not only do you want your team to win, but you desperately wish the other team to lose. All I can say now is, if Calgary had to oust the Canucks, then let them make it count. I hope they ride this wave of success for a long way. That would make me feel better.

But meanwhile, my guys are out. I'm not the kind of fan who can get angry at a team that has disappointed its fans (and in Vancouver, the Canucks lately are regarded similarly to the way Boston regards the Red Sox -- a very good team who will achieve just so much success, and then fail in the clutch). I'm too busy feeling badly *for* them. I spent almost 80 games getting to know these guys -- their stories and their personalities. The camera panned down the bench right after the final goal last night, and those poor men just looked stunned. For a fan, it's a feeling of terrible finality -- how much worse must it be for the players (who had expectations of themselves, and who knew exactly how high their fans' expectations of them were)? No more second chances, until next year (if there *is* a Next Year, next year -- what with a possible work-stoppage looming.)

I've remarked to people throughout the year that this has been like watching an 82-episode dramatic series, for which it is absolutely impossible to obtain any spoilers for how it will all come out. Now it feels as if the show has been cancelled, abrubtly, without a satisfying resolution -- not even on a cliffhanger.

Am very, very sad. And now, the Bruins are out of it, too. I'll still keep an eye on the playoffs, and of course watch the finals, but.... Bummer.
eregyrn: (Default)
While this will mean almost nothing to most of my readers, I feel the need to share: minutes ago, the Vancouver Canucks won their sixth game in a row, and the last game of their regular season, to seal up the Northwest Division Championship.



To put this achievement in context -- this is the first time in 10 years they have managed to do so. Who has won that title for the last nine years in a row? Why, the Colorado Avalanche, that's who. Last season, who passed the Division-leading Canucks in the very last game of the season to take the Division title, again? That would be the Avalanche. Who's been dogging the Canucks' heels since January? You guessed it. Who obliterated the Canucks 9-2 in an ugly game in March that sparked an even uglier incident between one of the Canucks' star players and an Avalanche player, that wound up with the Avs player in the hospital and the Canucks player suspended for the rest of the season and the entirety of the playoffs? (That question pretty much answers itself.) After the suspension of Bertuzzi, who counted the Canucks out of contention for the Division, let alone for the Stanley Cup? Just about everybody.

So tonight, who did the Canucks just edge past in points, with their win, to secure the Division? Yes, that's right, the Avalanche, who play their last game tomorrow, but it's all a done deal.

Anyone who read about my goaltending dream not long ago might remember that at the time I described them as a sad little demoralized hockey club, in a pretty terrible slump. In only six games they turned that around, and looked like a completely different team. What a wave they've got to ride into the playoffs. Here's hoping!
eregyrn: (Default)
I had a vivid dream this morning that I was the back-up goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks. By which I mean, I did not dream that I was Johann Hedberg or Alex Auld (the actual back-up goalies), or even some other random guy, but rather that I, personally, was filling in as the back-up.

Now, I grant you -- a certain snarky type of fan would at this point say, "a 35-year-old woman from Boston with no skating experience could hardly be worse than the Canucks' two regular goalies have been this month". But I'm actually not the kind of fan who rags on the goalies alone when the team is in a slump. Yes, the goalies have been atrocious, and apparently they could not stop a beach-ball, let alone the puck; but the abysmal D bears some of the blame for letting the good scoring chances get through, and if the offense was actually able to score, then the games might still be saved. But the upshot is that the Canucks are a sad little demoralized hockey club as we hit the final stretch before the play-offs.

However (and how's this for ironic?), I also was not very good as a goalie. Which is to be expected, I think. In that way of dreams, we were playing on an open, grassy field. I think it was actually a soccer field, because the net behind me certainly felt as big as a soccer net. And yet I was moving around on skates, as if on ice (and thinking to myself, hey, I'm not doing too badly at this, considering the last time I was on ice-skate was when I was about 11; and the last and only time I was on rollerblades, I broke my damned arm). Dream, right, check.

Despite the fact that there was a game going on, there were a lot of other people who felt free to wander around the field and do their own thing. I had taken over for Hedberg (he's #1 at the moment because the actual #1 is out with a day-to-day injury), who was still lurking around for some reason. And I almost immediately let a puck dribble past me. I swear to god, I turned around and just sort of watched as it arced past, knowing even at the time that it was a save that even I should have easily made. And the first thing to pop into my head was, "Well, there goes my shut-out."

At the end of the first period, I called everyone on the field over and announced that I was very sorry, but for the rest of the game I was going to have to enforce the rule that nobody should be in my goal-crease, because clearly I needed less distraction. The goal-crease was as big as a typical soccer crease, and there were people wandering around and picnicking in it. I stressed, though, that it wasn't that I was blaming the first goal on their distracting me -- I admitted it was simply an awful collapse on my part. But I was thinking ahead to trying to prevent any goals from being scored in the second and third periods, and I'd realized I was going to need all the help I could get.

I never did find out how it all turned out. I woke up while we were still between periods, and it had started to rain, and I was wondering how that was going to affect the game. I'm not even sure who we were playing. And isn't it sad that a fan of a team that is in a slump, who is obviously concerned about the way the team is playing, can't do any better than to dream up something that even in the dream doesn't do the team any good? Wouldn't it make more sense for me to dream about being some awesome star goalie? (Actually, even in the dream, I remember thinking to myself, "Why do I want to be a goalie? I don't want to be a goalie! Who in their right mind would want to be a goalie?")

Final note: for all those of you who have suffered through two essay-length posts from me in the past two days, I apologize. What you need to do is email me and tell me how I can do that thing where you write a single line on the main entries page and it links to a longer essay on the comments page. And while you're at it, help me figure out how to create links out of words within the text of a post.

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