Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dustin Brown must read this blog!

Yeah, right. But playing a more disciplined game focused on scoring -- as I suggested in the previous post -- resulted in Brown scoring two goals in the Kings 2 to 0 win over Edmonton last night.

And he missed an empty netter by a couple of inches that would have given him a hat trick.

Of course, one dude on the LA Kings Insider blog took exception with my view that Brown should worry less about smearing people on the boards and more about scoring. His point:

I disagree with what you said. DB has drawn countless retaliation penalties on other teams due to his huge hits, those PP chances win games. Checking is what he does, it's in his blood. Would you tell Ovechkin not to check anymore? I don't think so. Brownie is who he is, a 25 goal- 25 assist-50 point checking machine. His checks also inspire his teammates and get them fired up for the game. He's never going to be a 40-40-80 guy, he just doesn't have the great skill like other players. With that being said I think he does a great job with the skill that he has and has been a great leader these past few years with an extremely young hockey team.

My counterview: maybe he could score more if he tried. I don't think he should stop checking, but I think he could expand his game. Why limit yourself to 25-25-50?


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Dustin Brown time

Does the Internet really need yet another blogger/expert/idiot weighing in on Anze Kopitar's injury and how it will impact the Kings' post-season chances?

Did the Internet really need the video of me carving my holiday prime rib? No! But it got it anyway.

So here's my decidedly non-expert take on the Kings: I think the next few weeks will offer a good chance for Kings captain and winger Dustin Brown to transform his game, and for the better.

As many of you know, Brown has earned a reputation for his big-time hits on opponents. Although hits are a meaningless statistic -- and have little to do with actually winning a hockey game -- Brown's checking game has come to define him because big hits are part of the hockey mythology.

The above screen shot from the Kings website neatly sums it up: Dustin Brown smears people. (And sometimes he hits them in the head. The fact that this is being celebrated on the Kings website also might tell you how much individual clubs care about protecting -- or not -- players from head trauma.)

The funny thing about it is that Dustin Brown is also an immensely talented skater, shooter and stickhandler. He hustles. He has heart. He is, by all accounts, a good guy. He didn't end up as team captain by accident.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Notes from the beer leagues

As I've written before, this blog isn't the place for me to delve too deeply into issues concerning my team -- in particular the play of individuals. So I like to write around it and speak generally.

So, generally speaking, a few random thoughts about my team's 4 to 3 loss yesterday in our league semifinals (note: there are only four teams in the league, so everyone qualifies for the playoffs):

•Our opponents had some fast, younger guys with a good first step -- and they deployed them well. It felt like whoever had the puck for our team was often surrounded by a triangle of opponents and that they had even less time than usual to make a good decision.

•It still feels to me that the best way to mitigate for a speedier opponent is to know good positioning inside and out. If there are two or three guys covering whoever has the puck, that leaves two or three opponents covering our other four guys. On the really good teams, players know where everyone should be on the ice so they can pass the puck when they get in trouble or cornered or whatnot. Half my team is fairly new to the game and positioning hasn't become second nature -- like it needs to be.

•The sweetest play of the game for my team was when one of our third-line wingers picked up the puck in the neutral zone, got in trouble and then dumped it into the other team's zone. In a footrace, he out-hustled an opponent to the boards, got the puck back, and wrapped around the post and was able to just nudge the puck in for a goal. It wasn't the prettiest of plays and the other team's goalie came within an inch of stopping it -- but in this case hustle was rewarded.

•As for me, I've been tempted to write another edition of "hockey crimes and misdemeanors," and I probably soon will. But I really don't know what to say; I feel like my individual mistakes have become one big mistake. While I feel like a few of my hockey skills have improved in recent months, you wouldn't know it from this past three-month season. Outside of a few good shifts here and there, I basically did nothing and was a non-factor. At game speed, what limited skills I have are falling apart.

I'm not really sure what to do about it. Well, I know a few things I'd like to do about it -- like grab my stick and bash the crap out of this laptop/a wall/anything that might break. Joking aside, it feels like it's time to reevaluate how to learn to play the game.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hockey helmet-cam

I've seen dudes skiing with helmet-cams so I did a search on YouTube and -- surprise, surprise -- there were a bunch of dudes who used helmet-cams to record their beer league games.

Of the ones that I watched, I liked this one the best, probably because the dude with the camera is actually involved in scoring a goal -- something I haven't witnessed from inside my helmet in a while. Not to unload my baggage on you on a Sunday morning, just sayin'...

The little cameras actually look fairly affordable -- here's a search I did on Amazon. If I was going to buy one, I'd probably buy two because you just know that an elbow/puck/boards/the ice is going to demolish the first one.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is this gross?

The other morning I awoke to find that one of my lazy rescue dogs was too lazy to get up in the middle of the night and wander over to the dining room table leg to take a pee. Instead, he just pissed on his bed and slept in it. Nice.

In a statement that sounded kind of like "good morning," The Domestic Partner ordered me to clean it up. I dutifully took the cover off the bed and tossed it into the washing machine when it occurred to me that this could be a good excuse to also wash some of the more odorous of my hockey equipment.

So a couple of jerseys and socks and such went into the machine. The obvious moral dilemma: yes, my hockey equipment was in contact with unaldulterated dog urine while the machine filled with water. But after water hits soap, it's a clean environment in there, right?

This was my line of reasoning. The opposite line of thinking would be: how was this any different than going out to the yard and using my coveted #42 jersey to pick up a couple of logs of dog crap? Answer: I don't know. I'm not that smart. But I'm wearing ol' #42 in tomorrow's big playoff game and if it gives me any competitive advantage, so be it.

In related nasal news, my Subaru reeks of my hockey equipment even when it's been several days since the hockey gear was in the car. At first, I thought the smell might be attributed to a dead animal or the remains of an egg salad sandwich I found in the backseat (don't ask). But there was no dead animal and after the sandwich was removed (no, I didn't eat the rest of it), the car still reeks. Even with the windows wide open.

Guess I'm not selling the Subaru anytime soon. Well, maybe if I put it up for sale in Canada...


Friday, March 25, 2011

Local hockey needs Kings and Ducks in the playoffs

The Kings had a nice win over San Jose last night in a shootout, although they should have beat them in regulation -- instead, in typical Kings fashion, they gave up a goal in the last few seconds of the game and ended up giving the Sharks an unnecessary point in the standings.

Still, as of this morning, the Kings and Ducks are both in position to qualify for the playoffs with eight games apiece to go. Rather amazingly, both teams have never made the playoffs in the same season, despite the fact that more than half the teams in the NHL make the playoffs.

I'd love to see it happen. Having both teams in the post-season would likely attract some people to the sport and perhaps they'll notice that pro hockey is about 1,000 times more exciting than anything the NBA, NFL or MLB can cough up. It would be even better if the Kings and Ducks would somehow play eachother in the playoffs, but at this point that's (extremely) unlikely to happen unless both teams reach the second or third round.

Nonetheless, it would be equally great if both teams use the visibility that comes with the playoffs to promote local adult hockey -- specifically get more adults involved in the game. That would mean finding the few programs around town that cater to adult novices and then emphasizing to audiences that they are nothing like the NHL: nearly all beginner leagues that I'm aware of prohibit checking and fighting is minimal. It's fun to watch the pros do it, but I also think it probably scares many people from the sport unnecessarily.

It would also help if both the Kings and Ducks got more involved in adult programs. I know the Kings are doing okay at the gate this year, but the more people playing the sport could only help build their fan base. The Kings have the perch to take the lead on this locally and help, at the least, get more people playing the game. 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Super sweet game-ending goal

I managed to wrestle the remote away from the Domestic Partner the other night to avoid watching another episode of "House Hunters" on HGTV. So instead of watching house porn -- and feeling even worse than I do about the decrepit state of my slob-pit domicile -- I caught the excellent overtime between Denver and the University of North Dakota.

The awesome goal above by Matt Frittin ended the game. Watch what he does, hockey enthusiasts: picks up the puck at his own end of the ice, curls around to pick up speed, skates through four defenders and hangs onto the puck, passes it back to his D, who then passes it to a guy camped by the crease. S-W-E-E-T!

Frittin, by the way, is Canadian-born. He's a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick


Friday, March 18, 2011

Mammoth pics

Chair 23, Mammoth Mountain.

Solo on Solitude run on Thursday. Great windblown powder.


Photos copyright Steve Hymon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Have cajones?

St. Patricks Day at Mammoth. BTW, temps were in 20s with wind today--cold beer, cold balls (I assume).


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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hello, Mammoth Lakes

No hockey clinic tonight: going skiing tomorrow. Just read the turdlings who run Mammoth never opened the town's ice rink this year. P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C!!!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A picture is worth...

I pilfered this from the Pasadena rink's website. It's from the fall season title game in December; I'm the guy in red on my ass -- not an uncommon position for yours truly -- either trying to score or trip anyone in the vicinity of the other team's goal.

We lost, 3 to 0. Hmm.


Tryouts for Pasadena spring league next week

Just a heads up: the current lower division league at the Pasadena rink is is trying to expand from four teams to six for the spring season that begins April 10 and runs through mid-July.

Tryouts for both the rink's upper and lower division leagues are Wednesday night, March 30, at 9 p.m. Here's the website.

It should hopefully be the final season on the 150-foot rink at the current facility; the fall season should be played on a new NHL-size rink to be built next door to the current facility on the Pasadena Convention Center grounds.

The lower division is basically for beginner through intermediate skilled players and it's coed, although there are only a handful of women in the league currently. It's not really a novice league -- although some novices with some get-go may like it -- and is best suited these days for someone with a little hockey experience, although you certainly don't have to be very good (I'm not). 

The idea of the tryouts is to determine if players should be in the upper or lower division and to try to place them on one of the teams. I'm captain of one of the teams and as leagues go, it's fun and pretty mellow. If you're on the fence, at least come out and skate in the tryout.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A few quick hit hockey thoughts before retiring for the evening

•I stuck around for pickup at the Pasadena rink on Monday night. There's always some very good players but there was one dude who I hadn't seen before that was literally skating circles around almost everyone. With that kind of speed and stick handling, I've spent most of today trying to figure out why he was playing pickup on a Monday night at the crappy Pasadena rink. I mean if he's not good enough to play minor league hockey, how good must those guys be?

•My lower division team clinched at least a .500 regular season record in our third season this past Sunday. We went 0-9-1 last spring (and 1-1 in playoffs), 6-3-1 in the fall (1-1 playoffs) and are now 5-4. It's mostly the same bunch of playes that suffered through the winless season although there have been a few key upgrades. We're usually competitive each week, although still perfectly capable of getting our ass kicked at any time. :)

•Listening to the NHL debate over what to do about head shots is kind of vomitous. The easy answer: get rid of them and crack down on fighting. The NHL has made some fixes this past week, but I think the NHL is loathe to do anything substantial that might suggest to the ticket-buying public that violence in games will be dampened.

The smartest thing I've read is this blog post about "finishing the check." I didn't know this, but you don't necessarily have to have possession of the puck in order to be checked in the NHL -- if you were the last guy to touch it, you are in many cases eligible to be checked. That is, creamed, rubbed out, demolished, etc. This blogger opines that maybe that's not such a great idea -- if, that is, the idea is to keep players' brains intact.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Great hockey pics of pond hockey championships

The New York Times has a very short feature on the recent Pond Hockey National Championships held in Wisconsin. Click here to see a truly awesome pic of the event. The above photo is from Flickr and was taken by Kent Landerholm.

Here's an idea for the smart marketing people in California mountain towns: find a lake near a road and hold a state-oriented event. A lot of the guys on my beer league team -- including me -- have never had a chance to play outdoors and would be willing to travel many miles and spend many dollars to do so.

I'm talking to you, Mammoth Lakes. I'm pretty sure that Twin Lakes along Lake Mary Road freezes in the winter. I know I've seen pics of people playing hockey there. If not there, hold a tournament at your financially beleaguered outdoor rink in town -- the scenery is still pretty great and I bet you can get enough teams to pay a decent enough entry free to cover your nut.