Friday, December 31, 2010

strike when the iron is hot

Time to get Real Clear on the Avs' season. I had predicted that what we had here was another transitional-type rebuilding year: get the kids some experience, continue to evaluate and improve, make a move towards contention over the next two seasons. This scenario did assume no work stoppage and a CBA bearing a resemblance to the current one, right or wrong.

But this prediction was incorrect. What we actually have is the team's four best players having career years. Stastny, Duchene, Chris Stewart and John-Michael Liles are all playing better than they ever have--Stastny perhaps not as impressive as the others--Milan Hejduk is having an unexpectedly great year for a man of 88, putting up a point a game, and when your four best players are having career years? When you're the highest-scoring team in the league? You're not rebuilding. That's your year.

And yet the team is still in the transition/rebuild portion of the standings, on the playoff bubble. So what gives?

There's two clusters of problems. (1) The defense is still small, though bigger and better than at the beginning of the season. And the team, partly as a result of this, still gives up a lot of shots. And when you give up a lot of shots, you need a goalie who stops a lot of shots.1

That's the problem. (2) Craig Anderson has, after a sterling start last season, shown himself to be less than a franchise goalie. He and Budaj ended with the same save percentage and goals-against average even last year, remember, and nobody was calling for the team to be turned over to Boods at that point. Anderson has been consistently inconsistent: three great months last year, oft-injured and completely out of rhythm all this year.

I'm far from blaming all the team's woes on him--when Stewart and McLeod are on the shelf, the forwards are small and not hard enough to play against2, the team starts slowly, and they're not great at maintaining leads or extending them. None of that is Anderson's fault.

But a save percentage of .900 and a GAA of 3.19 isn't going to help the team capitalize on the epic year the forwards are having. Nor is Budaj's 3.05/.897.

So there's options. The team could stay the course, re-up with both Anderson and Budaj, who are both free agents again after this year, and hope the defense matures and that the goaltending combo puts up more of a 09-10 2.64/.917 than this year's more-than-three/under .900. There's a bit of merit to this plan, I concede, but I don't think it's reasonable--or safe--to assume that this year's level of offensive production is just always going to be there. My plan? Go big. Plug the hole in goal and try for the deep playoff run this year.

True, the last few cup champs have had average goalies and superior defenses, but that's not an option for this club, not this year. This year, what we need is a high-level goalie who can steal some big games, a goalie who can face a lot of rubber and keep that ol' save percentage nice and high. Like say .919 or better the last six seasons.

Greg Sherman, don't waste this year. Go get Thomas Vokoun.

-Collision, staying late after practice to work on his world-historically bad slap shot

Girl hugging horse courtesy of
Fill in the dots horse courtesy of
Thomas Vokoun picture courtesy of the internet.

1You probably think this is stinking obvious, but I assure you that it is a matter of subtle brilliance; it is just that I am a truly superior teacher, capable of making the obscurely difficult transparently simple.
2Last night, the Avs gave up a 3-0 first-period lead and had to win in a shootout against the young, talented, but bottom-of-the-standings Edmonton Oilers. If David Koci--who I actually like and respect--is dressed for any reason at all, that reason is to hospitalize Zack "Huggy Bear" Stortini, get his team fired up, and stanch the goddamned fucking bleeding already. I therefore conclude that coach Joe Sacco is even less interested in heavyweight fighters than I am.

Monday, December 20, 2010

made a dream last night

his face is young
his hands are old
the past is empty
blind & cold
ball of sweat
on his back
grabs the dirt
stains his shirt
push all day
rest at night
do some hobbies
drink to forget

--Minutemen, "plight"

Kind of a weird night last night. In the aftermath of my biggest piece of writing in like forever, I put my head down, put a beer into me, and started rocking out to early Blue Oyster Cult. Blue Oyster Cult: Tyranny and Mutation

Somewhere in the night, I had a goal-judge's-eye view of Greg Mauldin scoring what my dream knew to be a shorthanded game-winner. He got low and ripped it high on the glove side. He was wearing the captain's C, and the strangeness of that plunged me upward through the membrane separating dream from life in mind. Gred Mauldin

I...don't often dream about athletic young men. But Mauldin's a nice story--career AHL guy, former high-school chess team member (as am I!), occupier of Joe Sakic's old locker, and scorer of shorties, saddener of the Minnesota Wild* and fan of the infinitely estimable Mike Grier (and if you aren't, you should be, too). Not sure this is the sort of player/man I'd've guessed would Haunt My Dreams, but I can live with it.

-Collision, day to day w/ dread-tinged malaise

*I wanted to flip this and call them the Mild, but then they'd be Winnesota, and I'm not cool with putting any win into that state.

Mauldin action image yoinked from Yahoo!. Thanks Yahoo!. Album cover image yoinked from Amazon. Thanks Amazon.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

this is just to say

that Cody McLeod's Retirement Tour continues apace, with his earlier goal against Steve Mason and last night's tally against Brian "Calder Cup 2012" Elliott. Go it, Highlander!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gnashing My Teeth at the Goalie Guild

Anybody else read this guy? I want to like him: his heart's in the right place, and he sure tries hard a lot. But he can't pull his head far enough out of his ass to challenge his own assumptions--crucial for a scout--and his weird obsessions with guilds, knights, and other white bullshit just get in the way. (Also his goalie assessment charts don't list height/weight, which strikes me as an unfathomably bizarre omission in a league currently obsessed with goalie size. Why make your consumer go anywhere else for such basic information?) Favorite nuggets of nonsense from this one include:

"Especially in the last 10 months, Evgeni has had to deal with more adversity than any other year in his career. And since emotional and mental adversity only makes a goalie stronger, he has an even wider professional scope of stopping pucks than ever before."

The listed adversity that's made Evgeni Nabokov a better goalie? Getting curb-stomped as the Russian goalie in the Olympics; reamed by the Blackhawks in the playoffs. So...being shitty at stopping pucks is now good for a goalie. Makes them stronger.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The World's Strongest Goalie in the World!

Oddly, Goalie Guild Justin doesn't mention winning 8 of 22 games, or putting up a .888 save percentage in the KHL as adversity, nor getting no-tendered by the Sharks--and then everybody else in the NHL--then having to move to Russia, then, as mentioned, sucking, then quitting his job and relocating his family back to the States. Last I checked, stress at work and moving were hecka stressy.)

Also, what the fuck is a "professional scope of stopping pucks" and by means of what metric is its width measured? Is Lundquist's stoppuck 10 proscopes wider than Pascal Leclaire's? 20? 1,000?

Also also: who says adversity only makes goalies stronger? Nonsensical assumption rooted in a certain essentially magical orientation to the game and to the position. Faugh.

Not only has Tampa Bay experienced tremendous success with another Russian goalie by the name of Nikolai Khabibulin,

Not entirely sure what this has to do with anything. If you could document that the goalie coach was then and is now Russian? Maybe this would matter. Otherwise this makes about as much sense as the Oilers giving Ray Emery a tryout because they once had some success with Grant Fuhr.

Goalie Justin's examples for rock-solid, confident goalies who lift up the spirits of their teams? Well, his examples include 2 entire players, one of whom is Carey Price. Yes, the Carey Price who lost his job last year (and the year before) and who has been outstanding for nearly three whole months in a row as of now.

"one thing that Nabokov brings on a nightly basis is making the right saves at the right time" not something any consistent watcher of San Jose would say. Nor would anybody on an opposing team be likely to say "well, you know, the one thing about Nabby is that we really know we're not going to get one by him in a big moment of a big game".*

"In my opinion, tandems only work when there’s a true veteran in the mix, or both goalies are capable of going on very intense winning streaks."

What the fuck does this even mean? That second part means "tandems work when one guy starts and wins a lot of games", which...well, hard to argue with that, but what in blue hell is a "true veteran"? Are they better at being in tandems than fake veterans? Or do they suck compared to ersatz rookies?

His basic point--Nabby's been a good goalie for 10 years and Tampa Bay doesn't have pro-caliber goaltending right now--is obviously true; dressing it up in all this weird, incoherent pontificating, though, serves that point poorly, like a falsified novice goalie with a skinny, amateur puck-stopping scope.

-Collision, pushing a guy onto his own goalie

*I want to be fair: 40-38 career playoff record, .913, 2.29--these are outstanding numbers, and I believe he's a very good goalie. I just don't believe his "intangibles" are worth anything, and I defy Goalie Guild Justin or anybody else to provide actual examples of these...


Jew Grimson and I had a date to argue through the latest resumption in the hostilities between the currently-out-of-the-playoffs 'Hawks and the currently-tied-for-first Avalanche. Grimson had something come up--probably despair over the prospect of watching Marty Turco--so I had to riff the game essentially solo. Which is part of the reason this post will be half game-notes and half season-so-far. I can't bring myself to bang out notes on most of the games, because I'm already in playoff mode, where every win launches me into a 70/30 relief/yay split and every loss forces me into rageboodespairhate tailspins. I'm really a lot of fun to be around.

Grimson weighed in with a predictably muddled prediction:

5-2 Blackhawks, both Avs goals=Stastny, Toews with 1, Keith with 1, & Stalberg & Skille for the rest

I posted up at a local watering hole a bit early, wetting my whistle and whetting my appetite with a few minutes of Preds/Isles (so you didn't have to). Right as I got the game fired up, the Isles went on the power play, a disturbing, depressing sight.

Isles power play makes me sad, like watching a street kid try--and fail--to run a hustle on a Connecticut senator.
Seriously, the Isles are like a little-kid gang, with Roloson and like 1 other adult telling tales of street fights and honor to children...
The kids fidget & finger their broken bottles, their lengths of pipe & chunks of brick; they dream of spilling blood and earning colors.
Roloson smiles when they talk, but some nights he weeps alone with rage: 'they're just *kids*' he rasps 'and they never got a chance to be'.
He's still man enough to protect them, still fool enough to think it's the right thing to do. Eventually they all embrace doom.
Not entirely sure why I was thinking about Gladiator at Law...

I had a realization recently: I kind of hate the Blackhawks sweater. Sure, I still have my Portland Winterhawks jersey, and I even wear it every once in a while, but this "best logo in sports" nonsense has got to get a sock stuffed into it. The colors are horrible and the design is really really busy. Fuck it and fuck the Blackhawks.

Game started pretty fast, both Turco and Andy hung out to dry over and over again. Hawks were pressing, and the Avs were getting behind them pretty regularly, which ended once Turco got the hook. To gain the zone against the Hawks is pretty difficult, requiring a well-coordinated dump-in. There's no way to just chip in the biscuit, chase it down, win some battles, and start your offense. You either have to lug it in, which good fucking luck already, or dump with your wings already heading hard to that spot. The numbers haven't been kind to the Second City skaters this year, but it's impressive how their depleted D corps still makes simply setting up your offense a degree-of-difficulty move.

Hawks did what the Sharks did a lot in the playoffs last year, gaining the zone mostly with soft cross-ice dump-ins. Not sure exactly why this continues to work, whether it's a personnel issue, a certain Av d-man getting targeted, or a hole in Sacco's scheme, which can be addressed positioning-wise... It's a problem, because it consistently works, and allows the bad guys to start cycling, which inevitably results in the Avs getting nervous, running around, ceding the prime territory in front of the net, yielding uncontested shots, and, on a night when Andy wasn't sharp, goal after goal. Several times the Hawks had such dominance that regular-strength shifts looked like power plays. Big, skilled teams really neutralize the Avalanche speed advantage this way; it's a systemic advantage, whereas the fleet-footed Avs squad has to wait for situational moments of advantage. Better scheming may be necessary.

Fairly mediocre fight by John Scott against David Koci--Scott won, but not a dominant effort by any means. Next Koci sighting was him bellowing down the bench before the third, probably at McLeod, who was busily huffing his smelling salts, waving them around and bugging his eyes. Great, great moment.

Avs power play boasted a boatload of the beauteous passing around the horn that drives fans beserk--I'm issuing a half-pass, because they were missing Stewart's bullish bulk and Hejduk's hands. Without these two triggermen, the Avs are composed mainly of setup types. Also they're still--still!--missing the threat of a slapshot from the point. Mueller may bring this, but with his concussion nightmare, it's probably best to view him as a promising prospect, not as a guy who's terribly likely to come back. So I have no idea where this necessary weapon is going to come from.

As for the end? Well, Dater declared the game another typical not-ready-for-prime-time performance, with maybe 5/6 minutes to go and the Avs down for the first time in the game. I countered, weakly, with little more than nominal hope, a gesture at hope.

Then, as the game logs all recount, Matt Duchene and Tomas "New Kid on the Block" Fleishmann scored a minute apart, and I was stalking around the bar fist-pumping and scaring the shit out of the 3 people still there, all of whom were watching football idly. (Best comments from a young couple were "hey, this is a good-ass hockey game" and, when we were talking about the fight "yeah, I saw that...your boy got his ass lit up." Which, well, look: Koci didn't win that fight, all right, fine, I get it. But I've seen John Scott light up a dude, and Koci didn't get lit up. He said, defensively, for the second time in a single post.)

Bonus conversation after the game w/ Bogdan von Pylon! VP suggested that Turco might hang it up*; I say noway he does anything but hang out, take the high road, act like the classy veteran, and hope desperately that the team carries him to a cup. Is this going to happen? No. Is everything dark and sad for the Blackhawks? Also no! John Scott is a legit bad man who will blacken many an eye, and that will soothe some, and for a coach as quick with the hook as Big Q, I've gotta believe that Turco's hugging pine and wearing a ball cap for the rest of the year. So you got that goin' for ya.

Because there's noplace else to put this, Marek Svatos and Marty Skoula get beat down and Skoula gets hospitalized in this massive brawl and Tyler Arnason is still walking around a free man. Good looking out, universe. Also, way to go after Svatos--that 5-10, 185 menace is a really impressive notch on any bully's belt.

-Collision, having a Koci-like day

View from the other side. Nice work.

Hawks logo stolen from Cool site.

*McLeod has scored on Brodeur and Turco this year--plus somebody else who I forget**--and I think it's pretty likely anybody he scores on this year will and should retire. Highlander Farewell Tour 10-11, MOTHERFUCKERS!

**Looks like that third goal was against Columbus? Which, they have a team and some goalies and stuff, so...neat! Also, as mentioned: farewell.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paul Stastny Is an All-Star (in my Pants)

Couple weeks back, Jew Grimson--the grimy weeper--and I were back-n-forthing about the upcoming All-Star Game. With the new format, we might actually see the 8 best centers in the the game, unencumbered by the limitation of picking the top 4 each from the East and West. So, naturally, the topic of Toews (OH-VER-RATE-ED! boo!) and Stastny (THE WORLD'S...GREATEST...THIRD-LINE CENTER...IN THE WORLD! yay!) came up.

Grimson thinks "Top 5? No way. Top 8 Maybe." I went home and pounded through all my magazines and came up with the following list.

Stastny: 81 games played, 20 goals, 59 assists, +2, 50 PIM, .5 faceoff percentage.

Guys What I Admit Be Better'n Stastny1
Malkin (67, 28-49, -6, 100, .4)
Crosby (81, 51-58)
Backstrom (82, 33-68)
Thornton (79, 20-69, 17, 54, .539)
Kopitar (82, 34-47, 6, 16, .497)
Datsuyk (80, 27-43, 17, 18, .551)

Guys What I Consider 'Bout the Same (Tie Goes to the Guy with His Dad's Name in the Rafters)
Sedin (82, 29-83)
Getzlaf (66, 19-50, 4, 79, .474)
Toews (76, 25-43, 22, 47, .573)
Staal (70, 29-41, 4, 68, .418)
M. Koivu (80, 22-49, -2, 50, .569)
Sharp (82, 25-41, 24, 66, .517)
B. Richards (80, 24-67, -12, 14 .515)
M. Richards (82, 31-31, -2, 79, .507)
Carter (74, 33-28, 2, 38, .524)

No Thanks
Antropov (shockingly high numbers last year) (76, 24-43, 13, 44, .434)
Weiss (80, 28-32, -7, 40, .524)
Plecanec (82, 25-45, 5, 50, .49)
Zajac (82, 25-42, 22, 24, .529)
Tavares (82, 24-30, -15, 22, .475)
Spezza (60, 23-34, 0, 20, .505)

Obviously, I rate faceoffs pretty highly--and note that at the moment, Stastny is taking as many faceoffs as anybody not named Sidney Crosby. I also rate--maybe overrate--durability, and don't have much use for 30-goal scorers who end up a minus on the season.

So...according to my metrics, The World's Best Third-Line Center...IN THE WORLD is no worse than the 7th-best center in the game, essentially the same as Toews: both top-notch two-way centermen who are a notch below Datsuyk in that category.

In case you were wondering.

Now, does that mean he'll be an All-Star? I doubt it. Every name above his on the list is really likely to make it (maybe not Kopitar, still underrated and on a slumping team as I write this), Toews is a lock, based on reputation and last year, and you've got to think the Flyers will contribute at least one center. Which is more or less why I'm writing this: Stastny won't make it, but he deserves a bit more pub than he gets.

-Collision, 1 assist, +2, 7 PIM

1This is mostly based on my sense of how last year's numbers reflect average years they could be expected to have going forward, taking into account Stastny's 5 year, 33 million wing-wang contract.

Image stolen from:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The season starts! Jew Grimson didn't manage to make it down to watch his over-the-cap heroes fight my plucky squad of young'uns, and I didn't manage to find a bar willing to show out-of-town hockey instead of the fucking Giants game--so I hunkered down with my beloved lappy in the coffee shop and hooked into the radio feed.

Grimson chirped at me a few times, and I couldn't really get back at him much, b/c all texts are costing me ducats at the moment, so he definitely won the battle on points. I did manage to throw a couple-three tweets out there, and I could point out that I didn't make it all the way through the game becuz compy's battery died, and that I was ginning up the season preview, but these are all excuses. Grimson won the battle. I can live with that.

(Re: setting up the event)
Grimson: The only thing more loathsome than a bandwagon Giants fan is a diehard Niners fan.

Grimson: Wow, that building is loud, if the audio feed on Vs. is to be trusted
KISS sucks

[Collision: I bet anything it was sweetened with the crowd noise from KISS Alive. I was offline at this point, sitting out the ode to the '96 Avs team. KISS sucks.]

Grimson: 3 goals apiece, Blackhawk SO win.
[Collision: Good call--all the games last year were three-point games, so he's got history on his side...]

Grimson: Why do I think Anderson will let 3 by? He'll be giving my guys the hometown discount. Forgot he was from there.
[Collision: Grimson doesn't know this, but it's likely that, in exchange for this horrifying slander of Saint Mayor Craig Anderson, I will burn his house down. Real talk. I am publically threatening arson.

Grimson: Best thing about the radio? Not having to see all these ads for a Terrel Owens/Ochocinco talkshow. The name? T.Ocho show. Cringe.
[Collision: Anybody remember what it was like back before civilization fell?]

Grimson: Ok, I get the ode to 96 now. Thought you were just talking about inevitable mention of that team by the press, didn't realize they were in the building. Explains the noise.
That penalty was a no-doubter. Anderson looks great. Should have been a shorthand for Stastny. (7.26pm)

Right around here, I began to feel much rage. What kills this Avs team is lack of puck possession--starting with faceoffs, a major problem last year, and moving to Dmen who can skate and move the puck, but who aren't big enough to win battles and get the puck in the first place. (And then there's Hannan and Foote, who are big and strong enough to win battles, but are too slow to get there and can't do anything with the puck once they do get it on their sticks.) What happens is that the bad guys dominate the puck for a long time, the Avs get tired, the Avs get desperate, and the Avs take a penalty. More than anything else, this team shortcoming and the in-game pattern that results from it is what killed them against the Sharks last year, and it'll continue to kill them against teams who win faceoffs and who have big, fast or skilled forwards.
Collision: Great job, Avs. Take a penalty against the Blackhawks. Genius.

Grimson: The Hossa pass was better than the shot. (7.27pm)

Grimson Anderson flipped 20 cent with his stick, but it was after the play, no call. Kane just didn't see the stick. Forget the score, this is fun, fast hockey.
[Collision: there's the tagline for the season! Forget the score! Bring the whole family!]

Collision: Nice timeout, Quennville, you fucking pussy.
[Collision: Ahem. Not real proud of this one.]

Grimson: Duchene grew up a huge Avs/Roy fan & would have been a goalie if his dad would have let him. 4 Roy posters in his room.
[Collision: I knew the Avs part, but the Roy thing was a new one on me. The kid is great, but my favorite person this week--after Stastny--might now be Duchene the Elder.

Grimson: Seabrook got away with one (7.48)
[Collision: Yeah, what are the odds that the defending over-the-cap champs get calls and no-calls against the popular pick to slip out of the playoff picture?]

Grimson: That came from 19 year old Leddy's inability to handle a simple pass & Turco pinching in the net anticipating the pass instead of the shot. Avs are clearly outplaying the Hawks (minus the penalties) (7.50pm)
Flawless. Victory.

[Collision: Stewart's goal was just taken off life support. Apparently it was incurably ill.]

Special Guest Text!
Bogdan von Pylon
As advertised, the Flames being outplayed by the Oil. Fuck (7.54p)
[Collision: At this point, it was 1-0. It was about to get a whole lot worse.]

Collision:Turco sharp, though, and Hawks will ropeadope young Avs, wait for frustration, then counterattack w/ superior size and puck control. Avs worst faceoff team in the league last year, I think, w/ Hawks at/near the top. It's a worry.

Grimson: Save Scott and Seabrook, Hawks aren't that big, but I do expect good puck control. This Blackhawks team isn't as fast as it used to be and the Avs are.

Grimson: Sharp's a good sport, you could see him asking Anderson if he was ok after that shorthanded charge. (8.28pm)

Collision: Whoa. Avs living dangerously and getting away with it in the second.

Grimson: Winning faceoffs lead to goals. Oh yeah...fuck!
[Collision: We'll come back to this faceoff win and goal by Stastny.]

Collision: Really woulda preferred to avoid giving up that goal to make it 3-2. Fear the Hawks are playing ropeadope.
Hilarious radio moment from the second intermission: the guy was calling highlights and absolutely bellowed AND THAT'S WHEN STASTNY DID WHAT STASTNY DOES...followed by, in a very small voice...score big goals. Like he got halfway through his bit and lost all confidence in it. I loved it. And with my battery dying and my Lady joining me, I went off to eat a huge pile of delicous Thai food.

Grimson: Turco got a piece but not enough. Ouch. Was kinda close in my prediction, at least. Tied at 3, OT, with a minute left and Turco gets a piece, can't find it & the momentum pushes it in. (9.59)

Collision: Well, I think you got robbed by a young team flying on emotion and getting lucky on the PK. Turco mighta been yr best tonight, too.

I was wrong about Turco, for the record. He rang up a raft of flashy saves, but took the pipe on a one and a half soft goals. Save percentage of .902 won't get this Hawks team back to the finals.

So Grimson and von Pylon are bummed, and Bourne argues that they should be, because these starts are superduper important. I half agree with Bourne: for young teams, the buy-in factor is big, and early success leads to increased confidence. And a point he doesn't make is that veteran teams often start off a little slow, and lose points in the early going. But the Oil? Kinda doubt Khabibulin will post 35 wins, 10 shutouts. And the Hawks?

The Hawks lost this game because of Joel Quennville. Stastny was killing the Hawks in the faceoff circle, and Quennville kept trotting out the checking line instead of using the second-best 2-way center in the Central, Toews, against Stastny's line. Toews was curbstomping the Avs in the circle, and would have given Stastny a hell of a fight. Bad coaching non-move, but one I doubt we'll see again in the season.

Anybody but me worried that Stastny has 10% of last season's goals already?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

last-second season preview

(with occasional live-blog MOMENTS OF RAGE as I listen to the Avs take three fucking penalties in the first fucking period against the fucking Blackhawks)

So von Pylon informs me that he hasn't time for clairvoyance. This is fine. I expect I'll be conduiting his rage-fueled despair from time to time this year.

Grimson (formerly Macajew)--take that! Stewart gets one!--claims he'll be bashing something out his own self soon, so please anticipate that one--lord knows I'm looking forward to him explaining how it was a good move, getting an old goalie with a skillset that's incompatible with an existing, and superb, defense.

Idiot-Trudeau offers the following, formatted for readability:
I got Canucks winning division (shocker!)
Flames getting a lower draft pick than the Avs,
[Collision: I think this is lucky Pierre claiming Avs & Flames both miss the playoffs]
Oilers a lower pick than both,
Thrash being the working class hero and barely making or barely missing the playoffs.
Chicago being nothing to write home about, SJ being a top team who loses in the first round, Montreal REALLY wishing they had Halak, St. Louis making the playoffs, Florida AND Toronto sucking, but still being better than Tampa somehow,
[Collision: heh. This is cute. I like the first and last claims, they're controversial and interesting, but everything in the middle is absolute conventional wisdom. Probably correct, but no way to start a fight.]
Ottawa still being a team no one further away from Ottawa than Hull gives a shit about,
Boston - Meh,
Rangers having a great goalie and Gaborik and still being on the bubble,
Flyers a low playoff seed, New Jersey missing the playoffs, Washington's coming out party (and I do mean GAY),
Pittsburgh takes the foot off the gas a bit more, but still good,
And a bunch of teams I don't care about being lame.
Canucks in Western Conf. Finals or seasons a bit of a bust.
Finals Prediction: Canucks - Capitals. Winner unclear.
Everybody got that?

Okay, here's what I got. Jibblescribbits stole my bit, or anyways got it into print before I did, but I have haiku for most of these teams.

1. Canucks
creepy twins produce
while we stockpile bad d-men
and Luongo fails

2. Flames
what's up for the Flames?
prolly the same as last year:
best non-playoff team.

3. Avs
4. Wild
5. Oilers
actually, this is sad.
didn't they used to have a team
play in Edmonton?

1. Pens
2. Flyers
3. Devils
with Kovalchuk signed
and Brodeur's growth unending
Devils golf this June

4. Rangers
only one man can
make Lundquist irrelevant:
his name? Glen Sather.

5. Isles
between the has-beens
and the never-gonna-bes
lurk the Islanders

1. Boston
snatch defeat from wins
or just suck the entire year?
hard choice for Beantown

Extra bonus haiku!
why pick Boston here?
SOMEone has to finish first
they seem to suck least

2. Buffalo
every year the same:
summer finds Sabres fans sad
and stuck with Lindy

3. Toronto
no, seriously, guys:
this year we take steps for sure.
no, seriously. guys.

4. Montreal
5. Ottawa
oh, man, still a team?
break 'em up already, sheesh!
before Alfie dies.

1. Caps
human highlight reels
might make for Sharks East again
but they're fun to watch

2. Carolina
Cam Ward and Best Stall
can drag a team a long way
--even to first round!

3. Tampa Bay
mammoth offense, sure
one more good line than the Flames
but who can they stop?

4. Thrash
steal Blackhawk spare parts
trade Kovalchuk for puck bag
enjoy 2010

5. Panthers
still a team down there!?
"here's to all that gorgeous snatch"
contraction? maybe.

1. Detroit
2. Nashville
3. Chicago
picture your future:
Keith glaring; Turco's 5-hole
gaping. forever.

4. St. Louis
5. Columbus

1. Kings
all signs and portents
point to this squad surging forth
... until the first round

2. Sharks
dear the entire league:
we are better than you are
(until the playoffs)

3. Phoenix
4. Ducks
age and bad players--
"slide farther from relevance"
the coach must urge them

5. Stars

K. Avs now up 3-1, somehow, against the Blackhawks, and my battery is dying and The World's Best Girlfriend in The World is on her way to the coffee shop to get dinner bought for her, so I'm pretty much out.

Go Avs Go!
-Collision, getting rubbed off the puck

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Avs season ends before it begins

According to Dater, Meuller's got another concussion and is out "indefinitely".

As I've been saying all along, Peter Mueller is a terrible hockey player whose history of injuries suggests that we shouldn't sign him at ALL. Wait. Actually I said something more like "I really hope he comes back and think he's good for 20-some goals next year". Well, fuck.

Head injuries: nothing sexy about those. I hope he heals up well and never hits his head again.

Collision, who's had his bell rung one too many times himself

Friday, September 10, 2010

sorry about yesterday, everybody

Turns out too much coffee can fuck you up. Anyhow, two things popped up today.

First, the Avs signed Mueller. I feel relief. Think he's a legit 20-30-50 guy on this team, and he definitely doesn't hurt the PP. So we got that goin' for us.

Second, and I'm very, very sorry for reading Deadspin--they're shitty writers who cater to the date-rape-and-AIDS-joke set and never even really talk about sports anymore--but this is awesome:

Gretzky punking Jordan about being cheap with a cocktail waitress? This is the stuff dreams are made of.

-Collision, getting ready for training camp

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Clear the Crease Season Preview Preview

Here at Clear the Crease, we believe our numberless fans look forward to this time of year like a drowning man looks forward to his lungs finally rupturing against the relentless onslaught of river water, the way a Bruins fan looks forward to next year's Toronto first-rounder. Like Kansas City waiting to get the Isles, then not renaming them. Like a Blackhead fan looking forward to the Canucks in the second round--that's how our fans look forward to this time of year, because they know our Limitless Hockey Acumen invariably gets harnessed to the the service of channeling Insights You Won't Get Anywhere Else.

(Your Humble Editor, Chris Collision, in Axl drag, generating insights.)

Consider this a taster, a tiny introduction to the Clear the Crease Month of Season Previews. Over the month, we'll break down every player on every team in the NHL; we'll supplement that fact-flood with special analytic breakdowns on the teams we most crave and devour, the ones we wallow in and adore. Below, you will find excerpts pried angrily from our fever'd scribes. We throw them to you, the reader, like we throw babies out 'pon the frigid steppes. Please to treating them rightly!

jefcanuk on the Vancouver Canucks

The Sedins finally broke through! No longer the pedestrian point-a-game men--scarcely better than a Stastny--they'd been for some years, Henrik surged forth and deposited his pucks in every net he could find. When Daniel could bring himself to strap on the skates, he actually performed similarly to his newly-anointed HoF bro, on a point-per-game basis.

[Editor's Note:
But they're still creepy as hell.1]

Best way to look at this team is all like The Fantastic Four. Not only do they have the amazing Sedin brothers, who are absolutely guaranteed not to revert to the mean and end up next year as point-per-game men, scarcely better than a Stastny, they have Ryan Kesler, who's practically as good as an American Gary Roberts! Except without the playoff heroics.Kesler's dance

[Editor's Note:
And the mother-krunker cuts a mean fucking rug!
I would totally get a Kesler Rules My Universe tattoo on my neck if he signed with the Avs. Just sayin.3 Just sayin that until he does that, he's history's greatest monster.]Kesler's terrifying rhythms

Rounding out the Canucks' Fantastic Four is Sweet Bobby Lou--as he is universally known in Gastown's better bars. Last year, he was his usual self--exceptional three games, then abysmal the fourth. Luckily, Vancouver Genius Manager Mike Gillis has the league's best backup goaltender, meaning Luongo is absolutely positively not going to get overworked this year either.

So with four good players and an unprecedentedly enormous collection of second-pairing D-men--or anyway, the largest such collection west of Toronto--the Canucks are well equipped to run roughshod over the Northwest Division and just in general look like world-beaters.

Until they end up in the playoffs and have to play against a squad with actual number-one defensemen and some team speed and maybe a goalie with a little bit higher panic point than the Sweet Bobby Lou Cavalcade of Whimsey.

So while they may be The Fantastic Four, it's impossible to believe that they'll be going four rounds deep in the playoffs. I do suspect they'll snare exactly four road wins in the playoffs, however.

Oh yeah, and they fired their franchise goalie's goalie coach without talking to him and are gonna strip him of his captaincy and he absolutely positively won't get off to a slow start because of the disses and distractions.

Bogdan Von Pylon as the prize--Calgary Flames and Atlanta Thrashers as the combatants!
Two Awful Teams Beg for One Man's Loyalties: A Play in One Act

Calgary: You know you don't wanna root for the Thrash this year.

Atlanta: But Waddell's not doing his The Wadd shit this year! He's making shrewd moves, completely out of character. It's like Face/Off all over again.

Calgary: Shrewd moves? Like stocking up on depth forwards? Depth forwards who're overrated by virtue of a single Cup run?

Atlanta: ...

Calgary: Or did you mean trading Kovalchuk for a musty puck bag?

Atlanta: Johnny Oduya is not musty. He ... does tend toward the moist, however. We are going to be a lot better this year.

Calgary: Yes, losing all your scoring and not replacing it is usually considered a sure-fire recipe for success.

Atlanta: At least we didn't identify two locker-room cancers, trade them each away for pennies on the dollar, and then bring one of them back.

Calgary: At least we have a goalie.

Atlanta: You sure do. And there's a man you can pencil in for 40 wins ... as long as you start him 75 times. When are you gonna trade Iginla and start rebuilding?

Calgary: Never.

Atlanta: When are you going to get him a center?

Calgary: Also never.

Bogdan Von Pylon: May I pick a new team to follow?

YHWH: You may pick either the Dallas Stars or the Kansas City Czars New York Islanders.

Bogdan Von Pylon: Fuck me.

YHWH: Just did, thanks.

Bob Macajew on the Chicago Blackhawks

[Editor's Note:
Okay, sorry: I got so excited learning how easy it was to screencap Guns N' Roses videos that I crashed my computer and lost Macajew's season preview excerpt. What follows is my attempt to reconstruct same, using a blend of the memories of his work stored in my giant human brain and some text messages he sent me this summer. First the one; then the other.]

Blah blah blah bad joke bad joke defensiveness ill-chosen image bad joke bandwagon bliss blah panic over losing Fatty McCampsinthecrease bad joke actually claiming trading Neimi for Turco was a good and deliberate move Kool-Aid drinking blah blah hoist the Cup

I'd put a pint on Lebron [sic] wearin #6 for Chicago & I'd put 6 beers on Bears winning the NFC North this year and doing at least 2nd round, either by victory or 1st round bye.
Cubs are things that die
I don't know what team we're putting on the ice and beginning the season 0-1 is a real fear. Some sane people are saying Byfuglien may be gone in a "sell high" move [Editor's Note: fuckin' A]
& his crease presence isn't something that's easily replaced. Hossa is a much better player. No Hossa, there's still a Cup in Chicago; without Byfuglien, no Cup.4
I don't mind losing Sopel, but Buffy the Shark Slayer5 and Ben fuckin' Eager? We just went from Stanley Cup champs to the Chicago Tinkerbells.
Want Probert to un-retire6--as it stands, this team is Kleenex. Need size and toughness or Keith ain't gonna be the only one missing teeth.
The head tells me this is a smart move, but the heart is involved. Eager & Byfuglien were easy guys to root for & my favorite players next to Toews.
Sopel is also a great human being, if sometimes an absent-minded defenseman: adopted four kids after their parents died, is marching with the Cup in the Gay Pride parade.
[Editor's Note:
Fuckin' A. Speaking for everybody at Clear the Crease, good on ya, Sopel. We applaud your stand and will applaud every player who stands with you on this one.]
Still not sold on the Byfuglien disappearing act post-Cup, though I've seen him disappear in the regular season.7

Chris Collision on the Colorado Avalanche

I already told you how it's gonna go for the Avs in 2010-11. But I'll save you having to click the link:

[N]ext year, the team is almost certain to revert to the mean. What does that mean? 38 wins is what that means. You know how Cody McLeod went from 15 goals to 7 over the last 2 seasons? Well, it says here that:
  • Saint Mayor Craig Anderson isn't playing 71 games next year
  • Duchene and Stewart are gonna score 15 apiece, not 20 and 28
  • Stastny will continue to be the world's greatest third-line center
  • Our defense will continue to look horrifyingly inept against teams that are strong, fast, or skilled, because they are, as a group, weak/small, slow, and not great at moving the puck
  • David Jones will be mediocre for a full, injury-free season, instead of a world-beater for a quarter of one
  • Peter Mueller will play like a Coyote instead of a number-eight draft choice.8
Odds are that David Koci will have two beatings-received-of-the-year candidates again this year, just like last year, however.
But at least we won't be the parade-planning second-round specialists of Vancouver, the one-good-line (well, except at center) Calgary brain surgeons, a bunch of people in Edmonton who couldn't outfight or outskate Pat Quinn even if he put his cigar down, or the forgettable scrubs in St. Paul. Or whereever they put their dozens of remaining fans to sleep 41 nights a year. (I do applaud their decision not to bore them in the playoffs anymore, however.)
The simple fact is this: it's gonna be a long, hard season for the Avs next year. If you don't think so, you're arguing not so much with me as with history and science. Damn' near every forward overachieved last year, and Andy was absolutely revelatory. Don't bet on it happening again.

I basically stand by that. Thinking now maybe not so many as 38 wins, maybe fewer than 35. Look: what I wanted last year was a likeable squad who fought hard and with dignity on their way to a nice lottery pick. What I got was a likeable squad who fought hard and with dignity on their way to a perfectly honorable first-round loss to a much better team. This year, so long as I get the L.T.W.F.W.D., I'll take what comes. That said, another lottery pick or two will do us no harm in the long run.

-Collision, holding out for that guaranteed money

1The other weekend, killing it and chilling it on the beach, I told The Best Girlfriend Ever "the Sedins're twins. they married twins. they had a twin wedding." and she actually snapped her head on around toward me and was all like "WHAT. THAT'S CREEPY."2

2When she's worked up, she speaks in all caps. I dig it. Like, a lot.

3It would look tits on the side of my neck that doesn't say

Lose Yr Illusions
Love, Axl '93

4Yeah. He really said that. That's not a reconstruction: that's something he believed, or anyway said out loud in public.

5I am never giving another player a nickname. Jesus.

6This was written well before his death. R.I.P., Probie, no joke.

7This isn't true: you've never seen Buffy appear in the regular season! Zing!

8Note that as of this writing, Mueller isn't even signed. I want him signed: though he's not gonna put up 9 goals every 15 games, nor is he gonna continue to shoot 25%, he's a real talent who has looked good in Avs maroon and I'd love to watch him next to Stastny or Duchene for a full year, whacking slappers from the point on the PP.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

doldrums: the linkdumpening

I dunno exactly how long it'll be before the hockey season actually starts. I think it's on the order of 10,000 years, where every year you have 100 not-going-to-grad-school conversations with your mother, 100 yes-I-still-have-that-shit-job conversations with your father and zero conversations with your girlfriend because you don't have one because you sit around reading ancient blog posts about hockey instead of doing pushups and making sure your fingernails are clean.

That said. A couple gems plucked from the twitter feed of Wysh. Something to fill the endless swaths of dread-steeped time otherwise spent despairing over the probability that the Avs will be dead fucking last in the West this year while the pig-frigging Canucks run roughshod over all in their paths.
  • Seriously?
    Anybody have the stones to call their fantasy team the Edmonton Swastikas this year?
  • I always liked Khabibulin.
    Another gem. This is great. Just sprays bile over everybody involved in the situation. It's always great watching a fan's mind splinter into madness, and this guy reminds me strongly of the bit in Aliens where Hudson's getting dragged to his doom, screaming "you want some? here's some for you! oh, you want some too?"
    I don't want to oversell it, but everybody from Ford to Molson to Oilers GM Steve "overmatched and underfunded" Tambellini comes in for some abuse.
  • Legacy piece here.
    Never a bad read when you're dealing with goalie fights, and this harks back to those halcyon days when Deadspin writers actually...talked about sports every once in a while, instead of descending to the fratboy date-rape-and-AIDS-jokes level of their commentariat.
  • And one killer chart I got off of Jibblescribbits.
    I have made the argument in the past that my favorite player of all time is Eric Lindros, because of what he did for my Avs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

rodent redux

Absolutely fascinating, this approach to determining to what extent one should give bigtime dollars to aging players. While I'm not completely sold on the details, because these names are all from what now seems a bygone era, there's super food for thought here. And I muchly applaud the qualitative and comparative approach used by the rodent. While there's much to update, the information he extracts and highlights is infinitely preferable to the anecdotal nonsense that most of us, as fans, gravitate towards.

Except for the anecdote about how Sutter had a shitty overpaid Jokinen, banished him to Gotham, and then brought the fucker back completely on purpose. That anecdote is acceptable. Also acceptable? The one about how the Canucks gave Demitra a shit-ton of money for more or less zero production and are probably gonna do it again. It's funny every single time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

goddamnit you're just making it worse

Because I grew up in Colorado, and because I can recognize good things, I am an Avs fan. Because I lived through the 90s, and because I am friends with Macajew, I hate Chicago as a city and every franchise involved with it.* Which is why Jibblescribbits' latest opus is flat-out fucking terrifying.

His main objective is to demonstrate again that the Avs could fit Kovalchuk in under the cap without giving anything substantial up. I was convinced the first time that it could happen, and I was convinced the first time that it should happen: it comes down to a couple very, very simple questions.
  • Do you think that you've got anybody in the system who's going to be a better winger than Kovalchuk?
    This one is pretty easy to answer.
  • Do you think your team could use 15 PP goals a year for the next 6/8/10 years?
    Even if you think of Kovy as an overrated, soft, defensive liability power play specialist, he's easily good for that many PPG a year. And, for the record, last year he put up 1.29 points/game against the west, versus 1.06 against the east. This isn't conclusive, but it's at least somewhat reassuring.

So, to me, it's a no-brainer. You've got a team that was sixth in the league in scoring last year, but that probably can't repeat their very high shooting percentage. You've got a truly world-class goal scorer on the market. Maybe he doesn't make his teammates better--I don't really know how to quantify that**--but I absolutely guarantee his linemates spend more time not getting doubleteamed than most other guys' linemates do.

However, the way Jibblescribbits lays it out makes a superb case that the Avs are going cheap in all the wrong ways. He acknowledges, and I agree, that there is a hockey-based case for not going after Kovalchuk. Fine. I think this case is spurious, but I'm not the expert here.

But with his Colorado-based vantage point, he's able to sketch out all the ways the team's doing everything on the cheap. And that scares the hell out of me. I'm spoiled by years of big budgets, poaching veterans, and more national media attention than is warranted; I'm used to thinking my team is first-class and first-rate, even if we're not legitimate Cup contenders. So whether or not we get Kovy (we won't), I'm a little depressed***.

--Collision, clearing waivers

*The. Stupidest. Thing you will ever read about Chicago fandom is about the agony of rooting for franchises that just don't win, about how Chicago fans have some kind of championship drought. Most of these drooling, incoherent whiners are around my age, 35. Which means their sports memories probably start inthe middle 80s. Which means that they have the Bears in 86, 6 expansion-era Bulls rings in the 90s, a steroid-fueled 05 Sox team and now this 'Hawks 4-million-over-the-cap Cup win.

Where does this patently absurd drought notion come from? At this point, I think it's just cashing in on Simmons' once-interesting positions--this is why it's interesting that all these "long-suffering" poltroons are sub-40.

**Short of being pretty sure Joe Thornton gets his wingers well and truly paid, son. And I can't remember where I read it, but I recently read somebody decrying Foppa as overrated, b/c he "only put up assists and didn't score enough goals". Riiight. Because without him, Hejduk's putting up 50 goals like every single year.

***I'm also a little depressed we're not bringing Stephane Yelle and Darcy Tucker back. Low-cost veterans who are good in the room and who bring a little bit to the ice--Yelle defensively, and in the face-off circle, Tucker by driving Duchene to work--are okay to have around, and would, I think, have helped this young team fight through what I predict is gonna be a brutal opening to the season.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the best bit of hockey blogging I've read today

I don't really care much about the Rangers, beyond the obvious: as a fan of hockey, I want the New York and Los Angeles franchises to be high-quality, because that raises the profile of the sport, thus easing my access to same. (Also Richter/Leetch are American heroes who held off the Canucks and therefore drink for free on me if I ever meet them.)

But one thing I do really like about the Rangers is the Hockey Rodent. He breaks down damn near every game, and always keeps a weather eye on strength of schedule effects, which is refreshing. This recent bit, where he creates a metric for risk and reward with respect to cheating, is everything I want to read: thinky, just right enough to be attractive, just wrong enough to provoke further development and well-written enough to be a hell of a lot of fun to read.

Also he calls guys pussies all the time, which is a never-fail source of hilarity.

One of these days, I'm gonna want to use his military metaphor for hockey, using the notions of strategic, tactical and operational capacities to analyze teams. But today, it's a lovely day and I'm nearly two hours late to my friend's birthday festivities. (Oh, quick note: I love that the Devils are getting the band back together. I can only hope they sign Danyko and give Claude Lemieux his 45th opportunity to sully the sport further. By biographical rights, I should love this team--they started in KC and spent some time in Denver, as I did--but until Lou Lamorillo joins Bill Wirtz in the fires of hell, they will remain possibly my most loathed franchise. So I love love love the idea of them searching for 2010 success by stockpiling contributors from 2000.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

planet's lone superpower rallies for thrilling tie against third-world nation

Avs address T.J. pipeline glut and Habs gamble terrifyingly

Probably my favorite meme of the Olympics was summed up by Canadian genius Down Goes Brown as "It's official. Canadian hockey simply isn't developing enough Ryans." (Forgive me if that's a misquote: it's from memory.)

Similarly, the Avalanche have been heavy with T.J.s, frankly laden with them. At long, long last Greg Sherman has addressed this savage and unsustainable state of affairs with the kind of big-ticket move that completely gives the boot to the asinine claim that the Avs are going to sit out this season's seriously amazing crop of free agents. Yes, the Avs have added Julian Talbot, who apparently isn't a Bond villain, an antiques dealer specializing in pre-Raphaelite tapestries, or a bad scientist in a straight-to-SciFi movie whose name is just tough enough that you know he'll die heroically, buying some time for the main characters.

Apparently he's a forward who in addition to playing in Peoria for the last three years solid last year scored more than a third what T.J. Hensick did. In 18 more games.

Also he's a year older than Hensick. But hey, at 5-11, 181, at least he's got the size you want in a center! And he absolutely crushes Hensick in the all-important not-having-major-hairlines-issues department.

In news people actually care about, the Halak move kinda baffles me. Trading for an RFA is a terrifying prospect: any team that wants to handcuff the Blues can now make the guy a ridiculous offer and force the Blues to overpay the guy. All that said, I think he's a fabulous goalie, capable of handling a lot of shots, whether behind a ridiculously committed shot-blocking defense like Montreal's or behind a somewhat overmatched defense like Slovakia's this past Olympics. (This is my number-one desired trait in a goalie, and why I ride and die with Brodeur is a Fraud.) So IF they're sure they can sign him quickly and conveniently, I like adding a reasonably proven number-one goalie without giving up current contributors.

Plus, as the Blues note, if there's anything this year's free agents are good for, it's finding a washed-up veteran netminder to hold the clipboard wear your team's cap soak up losses in back-to-back games mentor a young-un' facing his first full season as the number-one starter.

Which I guess is what the Habs are thinking. Price is a little younger, has a little more NHL experience...I'm floundering here. He's definitely more Canadian. He's bigger, which some people are obsessed with. I dunno: I think Price won't ever be great in Montreal--I think he's tailor-made for a change of scenery--but I guess we'll see. But just as Halak's an RFA, Price is, which is why it's so odd that the suddenly penny-wise Habs are handing him the reins before getting him inked. Biggest take-home might be not to go into an offseason with two RFA goalies who both want to be the number-one. Which boils down to: go into the offseason not unlucky.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fed up with your Bad Goaltending Problem? Our pills can help sizmy g8

At this point in my life, I'm much more of a Trek guy than a Wars guy, at least when it comes to Stars. However, as a wee tiny little Collision, my pop, ol' Charlie Collision, ran movie theatres. I had no babysitters as a kid: I went to the movies. Summers, I'd just hang around the theatre all day long, watching the same thing over and over and over again. This is why I've seen Empire Strikes Back more times on the bigscreen than anybody you'll ever meet.

I don't know what Bogdan Von Pylon's excuse is. But every upset that comes down the pike is greeted with "the Death Star just blew up". In this context, Robert Green's epic gaffe taking the pipe Buckner wholly explicable, happens-to-every-'tender-sometimes-this-does, pulling a Leighton unfortunate misplaying frankly and fairly called out for the following.

Why Von Pylon--motto: "Kinda like the Iron Sheik, only drunker and less stable"--felt he needed to keep going and savage Jose Theodore--correction: Masterton trophy winner Jose Theodore--is a question best left to posterity.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Team Could Be Your Life: YSCCCB


I was going to try to be somewhat cool about this; that was my initial intention. However, after the senseless and unfounded character assassination that I have had to endure, my helmet is off and my gloves are on the ice.

“...among the most insufferable of hockey fans”...what the hell is that shit? I am second to none in drunken obnoxiousness, unyielding smugness and general asshatery. These things are mere infractions – two minute minors that are killed off with little effort. No, the most pernicious aspect of my fandom, the thing that makes me the Krissy Pronger/Bob Probert/Stu Grimson goon/irritant and intolerable twat of sports viewing is the bifurcated, Daydream Nation-esque1 attack of: 19) there are a great number of people out there who know more about hockey than me and 88) my team wins and I won’t shut the fuck up about it. That about makes me the Adolph Hitler/Ronald Reagan of hockey fans. But you may say while that may be pretty bad, you need more compelling proof before you hand me the Bro-d crown of baggery.

How about this: I don’t fuck around with all that prancing and preening you mention. Nope. Instead, I cut right to the cruelest form of taunting, as you put it: the endlessly patronizing pseudo-consoling of the bested. Do I stop there? Not at all. In mid-sentence, e.g., “You know, you’ve a young team with a...” I will suddenly interrupt myself with the grace and volume of a tourette’s outburst by screaming the chorus to “Chelsea Dagger” at the top of my lungs, before returning to finish the sentence, “very bright future, and (heh) Pennywise is a pretty bitchin’ band, so...there’s that goin’ for ya!” Do I leave it off there? No chance in hell; not only will I use obnoxious nicknames that others have come up with (e.g. “Soupy”, “Yoda” "Coward/Kesler Bitch Maker" ) but I’ll even make up my own, e.g., “Buffy the Flyer Slayer”, "Double Minors on the Dime" and “YSCCCB”, which you’ll never hear the end of. Ever.

The best revenge is living well.

So let’s get to the meat: you claim that Pronger is funnier than myself; that may very well be the case. You may also complain of my timing in responding to this, seeing as I’m writing this after game 6; i.e., after YSCCCBs have hoisted the cup. My rebuttal takes both of these things into consideration.

The Socialist in me is very loathe to make the “the market will decide” claim, unless we are talking about the marketplace of ideas, and theorists from the esoteric to the popular have pointed out the seemingly infinite array of biases and filters which prevent a true marketplace, be it fiscal or intellectual, from ever truly being free. That said, we live in our times and must earn our living through whatever means we have at our disposal.

To cut to the chase, I’ve caught a pay check for “being funny” whereas Krissy Puckstealer gets his by being an that is admittedly good at hockey and cheating, but still an asshole; just some English pig with no brains, you know.

So Pronger can laugh at himself: big deal. This is news to a, exactly? Don’t forget, we’re the people that invented self-loathing, and very shortly thereafter, use of said to comic effect.

I’m not amazed that Pronger has a sense of humor. That’s just what a certain stripe of old vet becomes . They’ve had the microphone in front of their face for so long, most of the petulant rage of youthful loss has been sapped out & they have to try to be funny to make it interesting for themselves, for the most part. 35 years of age with a Stanley Cup, and a couple of Cup losses2 will make a person world-weary, and experience provides wit where ability would otherwise render the experience dry. Or as Juvenal might put it: where talent is lacking, anger will write poetry...or shtick, as the case may be.

You see it in vets of all sports: Kevin Millar, Mark Grace, Tony Siragusa, J.R., Barkley etc. What else do all these vets have in common? They are all announcers; that’s right – you heard it here first: when Pronger retires (as we say in Chicago, “in a coupla years, two, tree”), he’ll be involved in broadcasting in some capacity. Thing is, he won’t be as funny as he is now, because the situation is what allows him to be great. It’s the moments of great duress that allow most for humor, and grant belly laughs to what otherwise might garner a mere smirk. That headline of “Day to Day with Hurt Feelings” is a smile on “The Onion”, but a belly laugh out of Pronger’s mouth, considering the situation and what’s expected of him. How funny will he be when he is merely recounting the exploits of others? I’m guessing funnier than the Goose, but not as funny as Gracie, and neither bar is set very high; though Grace does get points for the funny/offensive slumpbuster.

But I still haven’t got to what’s taken so long to craft my response: the morning of game 6, I was actually working on a comedy script that I’m getting paid money for, instead of completing a timely rebuttal. Pronger makes a shitload more money a year than I ever will in my lifetime, but my point is: I don’t think anyone ever paid him to be funny.

"Uh, me name am uh Krissy Pronger. Me go uh Philly cause me wife am Orange! Looka me acts wacky!" This is what passes for wit?

There is no doubt that Collision and the ‘Nuk are both more inventive with their jokes and funnier than myself. At the very least, my LMJO (Laughter at My Jokes by Others) success rate is more like a great MLB hitter (.300+) who still sometimes swings stupidly

at some very bad pitches;theirs is more like an average NHL goalie (.900+) who doesn’t win a Vezina, but never has a truly horrendous night and shames the sport by shitting the bed like this guy does:

but occasionally has a truly magnificent performance:

Anyway, 90% is better than 30% any way you want to cut it. I also don’t deny that the aforementioned co-conspirators on this blog are considerably more knowledgeable hockey fans than me. They are probably generally smarter than, and are definitely better people than I am. Yet, I’m the one who has the team with the Cup this year. This is truly what makes me the most detestable fan on the planet: my dumb luck has trumped the greater talent.

So how do I live with myself? I go to the box. I spend two minutes, by myself, and I feel shame, you know. And then I get free. And drink from the Cup.

Robert MacaJew – 10 PIM, Fighting (2), -5

1 Toews/Kane line, due to the album’s 19 88 release date. I know how much Collision loves nicknames...and look at that damn space between the 19 and the fucking condescending is that? It’s just hanging out, saying “Yeah, you might not be hip to this particular nuance, but dig: 19 is the jersey number for Toews and Kane’s number is 88...put that shit together and you get the year 1988! I know, wild, isn’t it? Thing is, you might not get it if that space wasn’t there." It's like that space is a sippy cup to prevent a toddler's spill, or is the tried but artificially patient tone of voice of a teacher that is explaining for the HUNDREDTH time that we don’t stab Billy with a #2 pencil to make sure that he’s not a vampire. Damn, see how insufferably condescending that is? I mean, I want to beat me up now.

2 which incidentally disproves Collision’s point about Pronger not being a loser: if Championships are the measure of an athlete – and I’m not saying they are – then Hossa is already superior, for having done the same and at an earlier age. This flawed logic also makes John Madden vastly better than both.


One last thing: after seeing J.R. break down seeing the Blackhawks hoist the Cup, I lost my cool for the 2nd time that night, because when Towes hoisted the cup, and then handed it to Hossa, I lost it. J.R. didn’t just feel the way I felt, but a hundred times more so. He was a Flyer, but he IS and always will be a Blackhawk, and I didn’t understand it until that moment. Henceforward, I shall never utter an unkind word about Jeremy Roenick, even though he may deserve it.