what's another loss here or there, NHL?

there are mistakes, and then there are overused-internet-words-like-EPIC-mistakes:

minutes after another lousy Blackhawks game (and I thought they'd win this one! I was headed home on the CTA bus from my Greyhound trip when it started. Patrick Sharp scored the first goal of the game right as I passed Blackhawk Street! fights, hits, energy, etc., then it fell apart) I found this on the NHL.com main page.

tonight the Blackhawks lost their third consecutive game in regulation for the first time all season. they'd had a 3-game winless streak twice, I believe. but only three, not four, NHL! I immediately fired off a polite correction to @NHL on Twitter. (and today when I got home from the trip I noticed @GreyhoundBus is also following me on Twitter, and even sent me a direct tweet. now I'm kind of on edge about complaining about NHL or Greyhound...but also kind of excited and wondering why Amtrak or Megabus or the AHL don't follow me too).

from the bowling capital of the world

...Milwaukee! no, I'm not there now, I'm in Iowa and though I have plenty of material stashed around the Internet so I can theoretically blog from anywhere, it's a pain to do posts with lots of images and videos when I'm not on my own computer. so here is a nice find from the basement (the magazine floor) of Renaissance Books, a colossal 4-story used bookstore in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee used to be the bowling capital of the U.S. (or the world, I don't know) and I was correct in my guess that this magazine was published there. I bought the oldest issue I could find--particularly because I loved the cover. it's got a lot of ads for bowling shirts, shoes, balls, trophies, etc., and many of the dealers used to be in downtown/South Loop Chicago. there's also a now-sadly-amusing feature on tourism in Detroit (the year's big bowling championship was held there). anyway, click on the photo and you'll be able to see the rest of the set I've posted so far.

back to hockey tomorrow or so!

college hockey and a question for you

Friday night, I watched college hockey (via a so-so online feed) for the first time ever. THE FIRST TIME EVER. I couldn't see it online till the NCAA semifinals, and I didn't get to any games in person this season.

I haven't written about college hockey (or any college sports now that I think about it) on this blog yet because, well, I don't have teams I follow yet. I went to an arts and communications college that didn't have sports, so there's no alma mater to root for. in football and basketball I have a nostalgic fondness for the Iowa State Cyclones because they're the team where I grew up (and now, I'll pause for the time it takes to explain to all non-Iowans which school and city is ISU and which is Iowa.
.....................................................................) ISU does have hockey too, but I'm talking about one of the teams in the major hockey conferences (I'm still learning this, bear with me).

it was easy to choose which NHL and AHL teams to follow, since I've got good ones in my city--though alas most Blackhawks fans I know are Rockford IceHogs fans because they're the Hawks affiliate, and not fans of the Wolves, the local team. (that's angst for another time. but I do like/try to follow the IceHogs too.) it was easy to choose favorite Eastern teams too. and in other hockey leagues, I just like seeing whatever games I can (and buying whatever merchandise with amusing logos I can).

but college hockey? if neither the college I went to nor the one I grew up near qualify, and there isn't a major team in the Chicago area, it's a bit more work (but that's exciting!). (I should note, this is more about picking a team to follow NEXT season; not about picking a fave for the Frozen Four).

some thoughts: I know a lot of Boston University fans. (and a Lowell fan--so I know lots of Boston College haters.) Notre Dame and Wisconsin are the closest teams at this level to Chicago. Wisconsin and North Dakota have recent connections to the Blackhawks, so I know Hawks fans following them. I like the idea of rooting for a Rust Belt (Great Lakes/western/upstate New York) college team since I love that part of the country, and I can't be a fan of Detroit or Buffalo in the NHL due to following Chicago and Boston. (I also really like Denver and Minneapolis as cities and can't root for their NHL teams either.) and that's about the extent of my thoughts on this so far. any opinions would be welcome.

as for the first game I saw, Wisconsin defeating Vermont? I wish I'd watched closer, but I was getting ready for the trip I'm on now. right as I was writing the Blackhawks-Blue Jackets recap (where the phrase "a little chippy" was used), the Wisconsin game was described as being..."a little chippy." that seemed like a good omen during my first college game...

I watched a little of the St. Cloud-Northern Michigan game on after (but that was a rerun and I'd already heard the result). I seem to get a lot of screenshots of goalies...

brief announcement

I have now been to a hockey game with my parents for the first time. I have now been to a hockey game in the state I grew up in for the first time. I have now been to a junior hockey game for the first time. I have now seen a coach get thrown out of a game for the first time. and people: I HAVE NOW SEEN CENTRAL IOWA PUCK BUNNIES FOR THE FIRST TIME.

more later when I upload the photos, find a news story about what happened during the game, etc. I am blogging this from a guest computer so accessing my images to post takes a bit more work. I note that I missed some big games Saturday (so many more playoff-spot Xs on the NHL standings now!) but I'm glad the one I saw live was so enjoyable.

that was something. Hawks lose 8-3

do I want to talk about last night's Blackhawks game vs the Blue Jackets? no, not especially, but there's a few things worth sharing. just this game; I need to put together a whole "Hawks keep finding different and spectacular ways to lose post-Olympics" post. I actually wanted to go to this game because I had such a good time seeing the Hawks play in Columbus in January. Aubrey of Buckeyes are Deadly Nuts went to the game and The Mel of a fountain of useless information went from Chicago. I'd have been deaf from the cannon that goes off when the Jackets score if I had.

according to the NHL.com recap "The eight goals for the Blue Jackets set a mark for most scored at home and tied the franchise record for most in a game." it was bad when the Jackets scored 32 seconds in, bad when they took a 2-0 lead, bad when they got a 2-goal lead again in the second period with the game at 3-1 (by the end of the game I'd already forgotten it'd been 2-1 and not at all hopeless for a while). they got a goal on a penalty shot, they got their first power play goal in 20 attempts...and so forth. THE SCORE WAS 8-1 FOR A WHILE. 8-1. 5-1 and I still hoped for an epic comeback despite how badly the Hawks were playing. but by 8-1 I could only hope the Hawks wouldn't lose as badly as San Jose did to Dallas last week (8-2).

and they managed to get two more goals. Adam Burish got his first of the season. Jordan Hendry, the one goal-less Blackhawk, scored late in the year, but when Burish came back from injury we had a player with 0 goals again. no longer! oh, and he fought Derek Dorsett early in the first. Burish lost, but at least the fight got a higher-than-usual-for-the-Blackhawks rating on hockeyfights.com.

I'd have preferred the fight be when the Hawks were down, say, 4-1, and had a chance to turn it around, and got motivated... Blackhawks haven't allowed more than 5 goals against all this season (Minnesota won 6-5, but in a shootout). they hadn't lost by more than 4 goals (a 5-1 loss to Vancouver). needless to say, they'd never been down by 7 goals this year. Blackhawks could have hit 100 points (or 101) in this game; San Jose was first to hit that in the West in their game later last night. Hawks at least got the playoff spot clinched because Calgary lost their game.

do I want to talk goaltending, defense, motivation? NO, I want to gripe at what Second City Hockey did for their game preview thread:

okay...I am KofC on the SBN blogs (and nearly all places I comment; I'm kofchicago on some others and on Twitter). it's the short form of the nickname I got from my main Flickr account. not long after establishing myself as KofC I noticed that's what the Knights of Columbus use in their logo. I found a particularly great sign and used it as my icon there, and I make a point of looking for KofC signs in any city I visit--see the tagged photos here. (Cleveland; Elgin, IL; Hamtramck, MI; Quincy & Melrose, MA, among others. I didn't find one IN Columbus yet though!) pretty soon Flickr friends started posting KofC signs for me too. it's just a running joke; I don't endorse the Knights' politics or anything (but I did win a second-place spelling bee trophy from them as a kid). anyway, I know it was just a coincidence but I was weirded out, and having that logo/my screenname attached to the worst loss of the season? AAAAAAARRGHHH.

oh well. two other amusing things, from listening to the WGN 720 radio broadcast. so Cristobal Huet was pulled in the second (after 5 goals against) and Antti Niemi came in (one goal against him). Huet returned at the beginning of the third (2 more goals scored against), but the broadcasters didn't notice until a couple minutes from the end of the game! they referred to him as "Niemi" several times! then finally noticed, and apologized afterwards.

and Nick Boynton, who's played just a few games with the Blackhawks, was the post-game interview. he said "...and the game got a little chippy." now I think I need an "award" for any player or broadcaster who uses that phrase (look, I needed SOMETHING to cheer me up after that game.) perhaps my famous chocolate chip cookies made with bourbon? (in theory--there's no way for me to actually give them cookies).

AHL news & sports card news

so, I noted a while ago that Oklahoma City was going to get an American Hockey League franchise next year, and the Edmonton Oilers would use it as their affiliate, instead of the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons. what would happen to the Falcons? and why didn't the Anaheim Ducks have an AHL franchise? (it's been 29 AHL, 30 NHL teams this year). today: mysteries solved! the Syracuse Crunch will switch their affiliation from Columbus Blue Jackets to Anaheim, and Columbus will switch its affiliation to Springfield. Dark Blue Jacket, a CBJ blog I found rather late in the season and recently blogrolled, posted "Goodbye Syracuse"; and there's now an updated list by Scotty Wazz of the distance between each NHL team and its AHL affiliate.

other AHL news--I forgot to include the following in the previous "congratulations" post. last Friday, 3/19, vs the Rochester Americans, Binghamton Senators goalie Chris Holt became the 10th goaltender in the AHL's 74-year history to be credited with scoring a goal (the last instance was Drew MacIntyre of the Manitoba Moose, and now the Chicago Wolves...scoring against the Wolves)! I love seeing the goalie get patted on the head even before the game is over...

Wednesday I had a little adventure in Northwest Indiana with a couple friends (it was supposed to be all the way to Gary, but we lost an hour when the muffler fell off the car and we had to get it looked at). industrial sites, toxic fumes, beautiful decaying architecture, abandoned houses (which may have had cool stuff in them we stole rescued), cheap diner food, low sales tax--that's the Calumet Region for you! we had a nice walk through quaint downtown Whiting, known for its Pierogi Fest in July. I was disappointed the dollar store had every type of sports card except hockey cards...then I noticed a whole sports card shop (I'd seen this at Pierogi Fest but didn't go in because I wasn't paying attention to sports memorabilia at the time). Cheap Seats Sports Cards--it's 1504 119th St. in Whiting, but looks to be closing at the end of March and presumably staying online only (cheapseatscards.com). I got a bunch of cards from 2000-01, 2005-06, and 2006-07 and some photos from the late 1990s or so (game snapshots they'd made multiple prints of). of course I'll share some of the finds.

I don't know a great deal about sports cards as a business, so I'd like to read the new book by Dave Jamieson, Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession. it was excerpted on Slate on Wednesday. thanks to @Marcusist on Twitter for alerting me to this!

other news on Thursday, combining every topic of this post--a special (and pricey) collection of hockey cards featuring all the AHL goalies and famous AHL goalies of the past! (you can find this on the AHL's website)

oh, one other piece of news (which should be tagged "self-congratulatory nonsense") (and where's all the news about, oh, I don't know, the BLACKHAWKS, you might be wondering?). re: things I said at the end of the previous post. I came home Thurs. afternoon to this:

and laughed, yes, out loud, for quite some time. this made my day! until the Hawks game ruined it. but then I thought about it again and it's still cool. and congrats to DGB for getting in the New York Times hockey blog this week!

well-deserved congratulations

I've posted first NHL career fights before, but hadn't even thought to track first NHL career goals. well, that changes now. although I don't know if a better one in the regular season is possible than the following on 3/20, from Jamie McBain, 22-year-old defenseman, of the Carolina Hurricanes, previously of the Albany River Rats (AHL) and University of Wisconsin. it's a painful one for Penguins fans, as he beat the Pens, in Pittsburgh, with this. McBain's first? the winning goal against the defending Stanley Cup Champions with 0.9 seconds left in overtime .

now, a fight. (I know there was another first NHL fight this month but didn't note what it was, sorry.) here Brett Sutter, of the AHL's Abbotsford Heat, called up again to the Calgary Flames, got his first NHL fight against Brett Festerling, Anaheim Ducks, 3/23. I saw Sutter play just three nights earlier vs the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland (and because I was at that game, I wasn't able to watch the Carolina-Pittsburgh game above). a mere two minutes into the game (which Calgary won 3-1), this was a definitive win for Sutter (the 8th member of the famous Sutter family to play in the NHL) according to the hockeyfights.com page:

also, tonight I noticed that the hockeyfights fan page on Facebook was at exactly 15,000 fans (I joined in the old days when it wasn't even 5000). as a fan of round numbers I had to capture it:

 I mentioned it on Twitter, and almost immediately:

happened a few days after:

and earlier this month I woke up to:

hey, in all three cases the account has far more "followers" than "following" so it's kind of exciting. (the official NHL account was only following 5500 people with about 340,000 followers when I got added. around trade deadline time, because I'd been using the #nhltrade tag, though not much.) although I think the most exciting, hockey-wise on Twitter, would be to get followed by @DownGoesBrown, or @dellis39...


I'm not a superstitious person (about sports or anything else), but I'll say that, and then tell you one thing I quickly learned as a hockey fan--DON'T say (or type) the word "shutout" when your hockey team is winning and the other team hasn't scored. I've seen games jinxed. even thinking too hard about a shutout, like in the Blackhawks' 5-1 win over the Devils (who didn't score till the very end), could ruin it. I believe the WGN radio Hawks announcers are observant of this superstition, but various TV hockey announcers have been known to blow it.

so as I sat there at the United Center tonight watching the Blackhawks play the Phoenix Coyotes in their last regular-season match, a team they have lost to in the other 3 season meetings; a game that was going to decide the #1 spot in the Western Conference...and I kept my eye on the other NHL scores, checking in on Boston visiting the Atlanta Thrashers, a game that was going to decide the #8 spot in the Eastern Conference...I watched the Coyotes and Thrashers at "0" and said nothing (and I had @chiblackhawks' extra Hawks ticket, so this time I actually had a person there I could say things to). then I saw the "F" next to the Bruins-Thrashers game, 4-0 and mentioned it. and the Hawks beat the Yotes, 2-0, and I yelled "SHUTOUT!" a couple times.

two huge wins against conference rivals. two shutouts by the Finnish goalies (Tuukka Rask, his 4th this season; Antti Niemi, his 6th) who started the season as backups but have been used as #1 goalies a lot in 2010. when I got home, I checked; yes, it's the first time in the 2009-2010 season that both teams I follow got shutouts on the same night!

I haven't looked at my warmup/game photos yet, or watched any of the Bruins highlights (they do seem to have a knack for winning games I'm not able to watch live), just wanted to immediately share my excitement. here's a list of each team's shutouts for the season (sorry I don't have it broken down by goalie; obviously Cristobal Huet and Tim Thomas got some too):

Blackhawks shutouts:
vs Panthers 10/3 * vs Nashville 10/24 * vs Vancouver 11/22 * vs Tampa Bay 12/13 * vs St Louis 12/16 * vs Detroit 12/20 * vs Detroit 12/23 * vs Columbus 1/14 * vs Los Angeles 3/18 * vs Phoenix 3/23

Bruins shutouts:
vs Dallas 10/16 * vs Edmonton 10/31 * vs Pittsburgh 11/10 * vs Ottawa 12/21 * vs Atlanta 12/30 * vs Montreal 2/7 * vs Atlanta 3/23

oops, I didn't note the scores. but Chicago has shut out Detroit 3-0 twice, and Boston shut out Atlanta 4-0 twice. each team has gotten two shutouts of teams from the other conference.

fighting goalie time!

if I haven't said this already, the three most beautiful words in hockey are "Stanley Cup Winners." and the two most beautiful are "goalie fight." I posted a good junior hockey one recently, where the goalies fought, along with everyone else, in a line brawl.

then at Puck Daddy today, a fight was posted of goaltenders Steve Summerhays of the Green Bay Gamblers and Nick Pisellini of the Chicago Steel (USHL, American junior hockey). they got penalties and game ejections (and have since received multi-game suspensions). what makes this unusual is that it happened just before the shootout, so their backups had to take over. (if only fans could fight to get out of seeing a shootout...) yes, I'd call it a staged fight, based on the fact that these two have battled before, and are friends off the ice. so this brought out complaints from both hockey fans and trolls in the comments that it makes hockey look bad or whatever. but still, worth a look. warning: shirtless goalie footage!

and last night, in the much-hyped SCF rematch Penguins @ Red Wings game (which I was very tempted to go to, since I could easily find seats for under $50. it's been a long, long time since you could get seats that cheap for the Blackhawks vs the lowliest opponents), right after the Wings won 3-1 and some kind of unpleasantries were going on (I didn't watch this closely enough to judge who's right and wrong here. surely you can find it being argued in agonizing detail at Kukla's Korner, Puck Daddy, etc.), Wings goalie Jimmy Howard got feisty (mercifully, the YouTube link disabled commenting):

ha: "in a city that traditionally has liked fighting goaltenders, Jimmy Howard has joined the list." screenshots from when I watched live:

and of course, now there's this. I didn't join but a FB friend did. I'm not anti-Crosby, just pro-goalies punching people (if provoked).

obsessive minutiae: StubHub NHL team descriptions edition

(this is a new "ongoing series" though I don't know what'll be next in it). so, I've only had to buy a hockey ticket from StubHub once, when I couldn't get a TicketExchange one for a Blackhawks game that happened to be the one-year anniversary (within a day) of my first hockey/Blackhawks game ever. I had to go to a separate pickup location before the game on a brutal January day, and pay more fees than Exchange. but I do check there often just in case, not just for Hawks but for other cities I'd wanted to see hockey in.

I was amused by the Blackhawks description, something like "Come see Toews and Kane lead the team to victory!" ...but then they dumped it for a more generic one. and I noticed the Buffalo Sabres one was kind of bad, too. then...I started looking at many more of them just for fun. for the most part these are so awful they're funny (at least to me). I pity whoever had to write these...but they're not even trying. if you're going to mention player names (Capitals does, but, get this, Penguins doesn't) why not spice it up a little with "Come see Daniel Carcillo get a well-deserved beating!" or for bottom-dwelling teams "Uh, well technically it's a hockey team, and uh, you like hockey, right?" anyway, I checked them all. I know I really only have to post a few for you to get the idea, but for the full deadening effect, here are ALL 30 listings (alphabetical by team name, not city name), each in more or less the appropriate team colors:

okay, the Hurricanes, Lightning, and Stars ones amused me the most, as did the egregious misspelling you may have seen twice, and the Wild's description, which sounds like it's really selling the chance to see the opposing teams!

(the Sabres one looks different because their ticket site through NHL.com isn't TicketMaster and TicketExchange--I have no idea why they use a different company.)