NHL Report: The Quarters

AKA the conference semi-finals, but only the NHL cares THAT much about the Conference Finals. It’s all just window dressing to get hockey fans slobbering about the Stanley Cup Final.

Don’t think I am going to go on about why it’s called “Final” as opposed to “Finals” again. I won’t as it’s too silly to be discussed. Okay? Okay. Great.

As I am writing this, I’ll do a “live” report on the Oilers-Flames series. Right now, it is 0-0 because they’re six minutes away from dropping the puck for period 1.

Now let’s check out The Quarters by taking a deep dive into a frozen pond and scope out the Eastern Conference. As expected, and I predicted – as if it’s that big of a deal it was not hockey magic like an Edmonton goal from someone else besides Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaiti – only the Hurricanes, Panthers and Lightning stand a chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup. The four teams left, those are three. The other is the New York Central Park Rangers who are currently down two games to one versus the Hurricane. The Hurricane are the team I picked to win the Eastern Conference, but they must contend with a scrappy Ranger squad then the Tampa Bay Lightning. The TBL (to shorten it so I don’t have to keep typing their insipid name) are up three games to nil against the Florida Panthers. The cake is baked on that series so all that’s left is the icing.  Man I am hungry. Time to prep dinner – broiled teriyaki salmon with brussels sprouts, garlic and spinach.

Time for the Western Conference. First, we have the Avalanche versus the Blues. On paper this should be a 5 or 6 game series and still might be. The Avs are up two games to one but really got hammered at home 4-1 in game 2. They rallied big time and crushed the Blues 5-2 on St. Louis’ home ice Saturday night though. Tomorrow night is Game 4.

The keys to this series? Keeping the Blues off the power play. They are really good at scoring on the power play. They only team better this year than them are the… yep, you guessed, the Avalanche. As such, each have the same goal so to speak – keep everything 5 on 5 as much as possible. Key 2 is the same as it is on every team left – good goalie play combined with solid defense. One’s goalie can only do so much – we will get to that in a moment. Suffice to say the team that may be in danger are the Blues. They lost their number one(ish) goalie last night, Jordan Binnington when Avs forward Nazem Kadri was going after a loose puck and got shoved into Binnington by Blues player Calle Rosen. Of course, Blues fans – the blind ones – can’t see how Kadri didn’t hit Binnington on purpose but completely fail to see if Binnington had made a clean glove save and not had the puck bounce off him to sit at the front of the net this wouldn’t have happened. And, as it is St. Louis, Kadri is now getting racist death threats. How sweet of the hockey ignorant.

Time Out. I am going to go make dinner now. I’ll be back to report on Game 3 of the Oilers-Flames matchup in a while as well as continue with the Western Conference in general.

Brussels sprouts are roasting, it’s nil-nil 7 minutes into period 1.

Back to the report. I am not done with the whole Kadri brouhaha. Effectively, I just want to go on the record for two items – one, Kadri has been known to mix it up a bit too much and in fact was suspended last year during the playoffs. Two, you Blues fans who are acting like asses, look at the damn play. It clearly was not on purpose and clearly was Kadri going after a loose puck in front of the net. If you all want to really bitch about something, bitch about how your team decided the right time to pull your goalie was way too early. Goal 4 the Avalanche scored via Gabe Landeskog was declared an empty netter but it was kind of comical watching Blues goalie Ville Husso struggle to try and get back to the net to no avail.

oh Landy, you came and you scored without their goalie and it iced the game, oh Landy.

Let it be said the Avs also lost a player yesterday. Speedy defenseman Sam Girard was checked into the boards by the Blues forward Ivan Barbashov. Now if you’re thinking “hey, he sounds like he’s Russian” he certainly is, so let’s just get this out of the way to keep Avs fans frothing “gO BaCk to ruSSiA U coMmiE!” It was a clean check, just a rough one. Girard is out for the rest of the playoffs with a broken sternum. Ouch.

As for the Oilers-Flames matchup AKA “The Battle of Alberta”, you may scroll up to take notice to see how I wrote “one’s goalie can only do so much.” That particular goalie for the first tow games has been starting Oiler goalie Mike Smith. The Oilers lost Game one 9 to 6. Granted it wasn’t all his fault. He was pummeled with 10 shots in the first 6 minutes and let 3 of them into the net. As such he was pulled.

Now it’s still nil-nil at the end of Period 1, but the Oilers are the aggressors outshooting the Flames 21 to 7 at this point. Brussels Sprouts are done, the salmon is broiling, and the Oilers look like they may be cooking the Flames. There’s something poetic about that last part.

For game 2 the Oilers stuck with Smith and they won 5-3 as he stopped 37 out of 40 shots. The Calgary Flames are not going to take it easy on him whatsoever or any Oiler goalie for that matter. For Game 1 they had 42 shots. It may be tied at 1 game each right now but I cannot see how the Oilers are going to win a series when their goalie(s) have to withstand that much pressure. The Oilers can fire away too, but they are “down” 82 shots vs 68 shots through the first two games.

Food is done and delish! FYI, listening to the Flames radio broadcast via the web is pretty hilarious. Lots of “oh-ffense” and many “a-boots” plus for the first intermission you get “Flames history on this date” which was nothing but talking about the move from Atlanta 42 years ago and three coach firings. So weird.

GOOOOOOAAAAALLLL! Not sure why I am so excited. I don’t care about either team, but the Oiler Zach Hyman (AKA The Virgin) just scored for the Oilers. Maybe it’s the whole “Battle of Alberta” deal. Calgary and Edmonton are a mere 3 hours AKA a case of Labatt’s (for the passenger c’mon now) apart, don’t cha know.

Just went through the Flames playoff history. The Oilers had Gretzky so we know they won Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup. The Flames have hoisted the Stanley Cup once in 1989 with co-captain and legend Lanny McDonald.

Opah! Another GOOOOOOOAAAALLLL! The Oilers are working very hard to prove me wrong. I used OPAH because I just heard their commercial on Alberta Flames radio. It’s the largest Greek Mediterranean franchise in Canada, don’t cha know. And the Oilers just scored again, Evander Kane for the second time. It’s 3-0. I’m done with this game. OPAH! It’s now 4-0 and Kane has a flippin’ hat trick in one period. Now I have to take back my snarky comment about just McDavid and Draisaiti scoring for the Oilers. I’m also REALLY done with this game.

What else don’t cha know? My original prediction is still gold – I have the Hurricanes versus the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final. The Hurricane are good, but not good enough. Avalanche takes them in 7.

See you for the Stanley Cup Semis, AKA the Conference Finals.

Opening Day: Reporting on the other 98%

Opening Day – FINALLY – is upon us. The MLB and MLBPA did their darndest over the winter to dangle us like stale cotton candy stuck on a wad of freshly chawed chew to delay Opening Day via what seemed to be endless negotiations, but they merely delayed it by a week. Spring training was shortened so we may see some crazy-ass baseball for a few weeks, but it ought to be fun.

It will be full regardless how much the Cubs will suck and they will suck. Photo courtesy of me – yeah I shot it.

I took a swing at the teams and thought about writing a prediction – who will suck, who won’t, who will make the playoffs despite their roster or manager or owner – but said to myself, “no, let’s not do that. Let’s talk about the MLB farm system. – the other 98%,”
Personnel volume-wise, it is not 98%, but by player salaries it has to be close. The baseball farm system, in case you do not know, is a place where you get what you want to make everything better for yourself on the cheap. This is also known as MLB owners collectively stating, “we’re going to drag your sorry asses all over the place via bus just for you to get a chance to get to The Show.”

The MLB, Major League Baseball for those who do not know, has consolidated their minor league ranks into the MiLB, or “Minor League Baseball.” The reason why they consolidated is the reason why owners of teams do everything, to save some money. Yeah, you’ll still see minor leagues unaffiliated with MLB, but those players are seriously toast. They are done, have been done for a few seasons, and are just there to tip their hat, strike out or throw a hammy, then limp back to the dugout. That’s more of a sideshow circus than baseball IMO, but people still go to see it. The Schaumburg Boomers, part of the Frontier League which I believe is an MLB “Partner” league (AKA you don’t really exist in their eyes, but it is baseball so whatever now pay us), would be one of those teams.

Okay, let’s check out the MiLB right… now.

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The NHL Report at the All-Star Break

The NHL in the first ‘half’ (we are beyond the halfway point but the All-Star Break is a reasonable spot to be considered halfway), we saw the league do some good things. One, they pulled their players from participating in the Olympics. Frankly, just preventing the players from being exhausted for the stretch run it would have made sense. Protecting them from possibly being more exposed than they already are to COVID is another. Two, COVID protocols have seemed to work. There have been times when teams have had to take time off because their ranks have been decimated by the virus, but that lay-off doesn’t really seem to affect good teams. And bad teams are, by definition, bad so who fucking cares.

Regarding good teams, let’s slip on some skates and glide around with my favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche. They played Trashville on December 16th and got their ass handed to them, losing 5-2. Due to COVID, they didn’t play again until January 2nd. Basically, they got a public-school Christmas Break. A long layoff ought to make a team pretty rusty, right? Umm, large no on that one. They won their return game, roasting the Ducks 4-2, then proceeded to go 14-1 for January, vaulting themselves into first place in the Western Conference. They’re 8 points above the Trashville Sabre Cats (Yes I know they are the Nashville Predators, but look at their dumb-ass logo) with two games in hand.

Nazem Kadri of the Avalanche is having a hell of a season. Here’s hoping he keeps his head on straight and doesn’t do anything stupid to get suspended like her did for the playoffs last year. Photo via The Hockey News shot by Jeff Curry – USA Today Sports

What does two games in hand mean? I’ll get to that. Tighten the laces on your skates and let’s continue.

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Bob Saget had more than a Solid 7

I had a solid 15-hour workday today – minus a half hour taken for lunch, half hour for dinner and the 90-minute break I took to go to the gym. But Bob Saget? He’s got more than a solid 7. A solid 7 minutes of fame? You could look at it that way. He did a lot. But that’s not it. Now kick back your feet and relax a bit as I wind my way to his ‘more than a solid 7.”

So today as I kept working I felt like I was being someone I really am not – someone who keeps working. I like my job, but criminy that’s a lot of time you know? But it got me to thinking. Generally, when someone starts any sentence off with “it got me to thinking” right after that something will spill out of their mouths possibly a tad daft. Strap it down people and slam open your thought cavity because here it comes.

What does one do when they are acting like someone they clearly are not?

Bob Saget doing his best work – you’ll understand what I mean in a moment.
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The Great Gridiron in the Sky is Gifted a Legend

BOOM! With crazy-ass Al Davis, getting a great coach and keeping them is pure luck. He rolled 7’s to get John Madden. Madden was first hired as the Raiders Linebacker Coach then two years later moved up to the head coaching position to become – at the time – the youngest head coach ever at 32. He lasted 9 seasons with Al Davis, and took the Raiders to a Super Bowl, winning Super Bowl XI against the hapless Vikings 32-14 (yes the Vikings are hapless. They are the Bills of the NFC: 4 trips and 0 trophies).

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The Hot Stove League is Cold

Generally during this time of year Major League Baseball fans such as I mull over their favorite team’s impending moves for the upcoming season. We’ll sit around the metaphorical stove and keep ourselves warm with loads of firewood, black coffee and baseball chatter. But right now, it’s quiet… too quiet.

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The Last Frontier Needs Direction

What Alaska lacks is certainly not scenery. You can’t swing an Ulu knife around your head without seeing some sort of spectacular scenery. What it needs is direction, as in signage.

Sign Issue #1 – Directional Signage

Anchorage AK (pronounced by locals as “InkRidge”) is effectively Rockford IL (pronounced by locals as “Rockford”). Rockford has its special places, but so does Anchorage. However, Rockford has highways that actually connect to one another without the ‘aid’ of stoplights and has signage announcing said departure from one highway to another. Anchorage? A single highway rolls into another single highway, both running north-south. Does it make sense? Well, no. AK 1 aka “The Seward Highway” runs from Seward north to Anchorage. It goes from a two-lane 55 MPH road (it’s a coastal highway in an area where earthquakes are a given so this makes sense) to a 6-lane 65 MPH highway to a 4-lane “highway” with stoplights. The “C-word” (they do pronounce it Sue-word but I was calling it C-word because I’m a self-entertaining idiot) then runs its course by veering west to the Glenn Highway. There’s a sign indicating the Glenn Highway is coming up but it’s just labeled as “Glenn Highway” not “Glenn Highway next right” – which it wouldn’t be the next one – or “Glenn Highway exit 6th Avenue” – which in Anchorage it is 6th Avenue, then turns into the Glenn Highway once north of Anchorage.
Does this make any sense? No.

No kidding, this was a sign on a trail
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The MLB 2021 Season – A Pre Wrap-Up

A while back, toward the beginning of the baseball season when every team except the Pirates, Rockies, and Orioles thought they might have a chance to make it to the playoffs, I wrote two articles.

Article Uno was the before the season really got underway and I explained how this year might – note the word might – be one of the easiest on record to predict regarding who will make it to the World Series. I said the Yankees and the Dodgers. The Dodgers, were 5 games back as of last week and are now one-and-a-half games back, and are still the NL favorite as well as the only team sitting at a whopping 23% chance to win the whole she-bang. Oh, gross.

Let’s take a long look at that – in spite of the surprising Giants, the Dodgers are catching up quickly. Mostly it’s a strength-of-schedule issue. The Giants simply have a harder schedule down the stretch. The Giants have the desperate Padres 7x in the next month. The Padres have completely drained their ‘sure bet’ playoff appearance by completely sucking in July and August. July they went 11-14 and for August they are sitting at 8-10 with three games against the Dodgers coming up this week.  I hope they pound the Dodgers but odds aren’t good. Plus, they have 3 more versus the Dodgers in September and a whopping 7 against the Giants.

They are so bad they picked up Jake Arrieta. That’s a sign things won’t be going well for them for the next 5 weeks. Naturally, Arrieta’s first game may be his only one. We all knew he’d suck, he did, and suddenly got a hamstring issue. I fixed the headline for MLB.

Of course MLB did their best to ignore my ‘fix’
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Good Girl

In Loveland, Colorado on July 7, 2021, it ranged from the mid 60’s to the high 80’s with a blue sky sporadically dotted with white clouds. It was a perfectly beautiful day, but not an ordinary one.

Honey my Foxfire Red Lab and I walked that day – a lot. She didn’t want to go back inside. 5AM-5:30AM we saw more than I’d expect from the wild and domesticated kingdom. Baby bunnies played in the grass in front of us. A large raccoon came out of the bushes, sat down and watch us walk. Her current best buddy, Jaxson the cinnamon lab, came strolling by with his human pal Bridgette and did a quick nuzzle. The birds, most of them, came out in force. A great horned owl swooped down right in front of her followed by a white pelican. Mallards swam toward her. Swallows dove in and out, and a lone cardinal played its song.

No geese though. Very unusual for a typical morning, but not so unusual for they knew – she hated geese. What else did she hate? Fireworks but only if she saw them as she seemed to think we were under attack. Cats, but cats hate pretty much everything. People moving without moving their feet – like kids on scooters or skateboards and people coasting on their bikes. She once took a kid right off his scooter. Didn’t hurt him, just knocked him off like a safety taking a wide receiver out from under his feet.

This photo is tattooed onto my right shoulder.
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