victory! victory! victory!

I haven't been totally honest here--it's not just that I've been lazy or overwhelmed during the playoffs, it's that I've been oddly superstitious about saying much about playoff series while they're going on (yeah, gonna have to fix that in round two). but now I can say....YESSSSSSSSSS! THE THREE HOCKEY TEAMS I'VE BEEN ROOTING FOR ALL YEAR ALL WON TONIGHT! AND ALL ADVANCE TO ROUND TWO OF THE PLAYOFFS! it was too excruciating to say that before or during the games, but now I can.

at 6 pm Central, the Buffalo Sabres-Boston Bruins game started. Bruins won 4-3!
at 7 pm, the Milwaukee Admirals-Chicago Wolves game started. Wolves won 2-1!
at 8 pm, the Nashville Predators-Chicago Blackhawks game started. Hawks won 5-3!

it was agony to have all three of my teams play the potential series-clinching game the same night, but I managed, and now this frees me up to write my recaps (which I will do, I swear. and my playoff preview becomes more of a round two thing). I've especially been anxious to talk about the AHL games since they don't get a lot of coverage. it's funny (well, except for Nashville fans) to think how the Chicago teams (both division leaders with a 100+-point season) beat the Predators and the Admirals, their AHL affiliate, the same night. honestly, I was the most nervous about the Wolves game because I entirely missed seeing them live in round 1, and this was a game 7. I've got to go to round 2 (the only downside to all this is that unlike regular season games, Blackhawks and Wolves playoffs are often the same night). and the Canadiens forced a game 7 against the Capitals, and Tuesday I've got ECHL, AHL, and NHL games to keep an eye on...

best (goalie-related) moment of the year!

I admit I really, really wish the NHL playoffs would be off for a day or two so I could catch up; every day I've been too distracted by wins or deflated by losses (Friday night EVERY team I was rooting for, ECHL, AHL, or NHL, lost, sometimes terribly. I was neutral about a few games, but every team I actively rooted for lost). I need a little more time to process the huge Blackhawks win vs Predators today (and think about the Marian Hossa hit), so here's the funniest thing I've seen in any hockey game I've seen the entire season...I'd never seen it happen before:

the puck headed towards Chicago's net. no goal, so play was stopped, but...the puck vanished, and Antti Niemi got patted down...then they were even feeling in the back of his pants (poor guy, in front of 22,000, and the NBC audience!). (I could make various saucy remarks about know I like goalies...) no luck, and they wanted to continue play, but the officals in Toronto said they couldn't just get another puck, in case there'd be two pucks on the ice. then Captain Toews magically found it! that's a LOT of padding to not realize where a puck went. the clip is pretty good and has the announcer's references to O'Hare security, and a famous scene in Slap Shot:

Puck Daddy had the video up before the game was even over...and because they didn't put up other stories for a long time, and this was featured prominently on the Yahoo Sports page (and Yahoo front page, maybe?) the comments section is a hideous mess of 1) arguing about the Hossa hit later in the game 2) trolls showing up to bash hockey. huh? CAN'T WE JUST ENJOY THIS?

the WGN radio announcers were even more amused; they really lost it after saying "Niemi's got to reposition his equipment," as did I...

glad I don't have to write sports headlines, #20 in an ongoing series

...first up, I'm retiring that unwieldy name for this series (even if it's a prompt I don't have to type out every time)--I've used it enough. also, hitting item #20 is a nice place to stop numbering them and worrying what counts as an especially bad/silly headline. but of course I'll still post headlines and mistakes. jumping over some other playoff ones from I'll get to, here's tonight's:

it's not that Miro/Hero is all that bad, it's that I think this is also supposed to stand in for the joke they can't make. Miroslav Satan scored the goal against the Sabres 7-plus minutes into double overtime, the first double OT of the 2010 playoffs, and Twitter, and I'd imagine message boards/live-blogs/etc. erupted with "HAIL SATAN" and "Satan worship" and the like. of course it's not pronounced the same way, but it'll never not be amusing in print. since he's joined the Bruins well into the 2009-10 season, Satan has scored some game-winning or otherwise hugely important goals (for his Olympic team, too), and there's a round of "Could it be...Satan?" and "worshipping Satan," etc. every time.

anyway, FANTASTIC game, two huge wins in a row at home for the Bruins to take the series lead 3-1. more screenshots, fight videos, etc. when I get a chance. I almost went to an AHL game tonight...if I had I'd have been disappointed by the game itself and then enraged when I learned what I'd missed. (yes, it's one of those nights when watching TV [online] turned out to be better than going out). big AHL update tomorrow, and maybe something about the disappointing team I've been following in the playoffs, too. (I wasn't kidding about computer trouble in previous post, it's been two more nights of it since I wrote that. I might need a trip to the Apple Store Genius Bar...)

oops. playoffs...

aren't the NHL playoffs exciting?!!! (depending on your team.) ...but yeah, I can't get blog posts done during the day, then I can't get them done when I'm trying to run several playoff games and Twitter and whatnot online in the evening (I've had the computer run slow/freeze two agonizing late nights in a row), then the energy to get them done after the games are over for the night...doesn't work so well on a day like today when YOUR TEAM PLAYS HORRIBLY. (again, so glad I'm not a game preview/recap type blog, and I admire the dedication of those who are.) I'll post in a better moment, hopefully tomorrow. for now, here is a pretty photo I took THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SPORTS.

WGN's Blackhawks celebration

so Tuesday from around 11 am -- 3 pm, WGN held this event outside their studios (the Tribune Tower building on Michigan Ave.) I stopped by very briefly at 1, because I was meeting a friend with a couple other people in tow (for the photo adventure noted in the previous post).

there were games:

music: the band was playing a mix of "Werewolves of London" and "Sweet Home Alabama." ???

ice cream! I got a free cup. also got posters of Versteeg, Hossa, Toews, and Kane from another table, and a sample of alcohol-free hand sanitizer (useful after the abandoned silo visit later):

I'm not sure whose attention they were trying to get:

a couple Blackhawks-themed cars:

I didn't see anyone I knew, or have time to hang around and talk to anyone I didn't. I met my friend a few blocks south, and we went to two abandoned grain silo complexes (one in the south suburbs, one in Chicago), both of which I'd visited several times before. I hung out later with the Bay Area photographer with us (my friend had also shown her abandoned buildings in Gary, IN) and her niece, for Thai food and drinks in the South Loop. it was one of the only times I'd talked art since graduating as an art major (from the school next to the hotel/restaurant), and we talked a lot about Chicago and photography and travel and I had plum wine (very good) for the first time. I actually had a non-hockey-related social interaction (yes, I need to get out more). 

a beautiful spring day with free Blackhawks posters, abandoned buildings, talking art, and Thai food--yes, I've been distracted from blogging much this week. but I'm about to go to my first playoff game...for real this time.

about my absence

I would almost be satisfied if this was the only thing I posted on the Internet this week. at the rate I've been going (blogwise, at least), it just might be...but I'll try to get a little up (no previews, no predictions) before the first Blackhawks playoff game tonight. I'm having a strange week in real life (some of it good, involving photo adventures, obviously), and a crummy week on Twitter (that's top-secret code for "god I fucking hate Follow Friday, if I wanted to feel this unpopular and left out week after week I'd go back to high school. oh wait, actually lots of HS classmates are Facebook friends and some comment on my updates, so that's a lousy example"). I'll try to cheer up and get this blog back to form, whatever that means.


uh, I wasn't taking time off before NHL and AHL playoffs, I've just failed spectacularly at getting new content up. no time now because I'm heading to my first-ever in-person game of playoff hockey: Milwaukee Admirals at Chicago Wolves. if all goes well...last time I tried to see a game between these two...well...I wrote that story elsewhere. I've complained about people who seem to have switched to Twitter instead of blogging, and now I'm one of them. or at least with all that's happened in the past week...

a "real" post later--just felt the need to check in.

UPDATE: "if all goes well." no, the special bus to the arena never showed up (or the first one did and I missed it, later ones didn't). so there goes my first playoff game. (I was going to buy a walkup ticket--if I'd had one already I've have taken a cab to the arena.) there'll be another one soon...the first NHL games were pretty exciting but I'll have to write in the morning.


I expected to feel more melancholy about the end of the NHL regular season today, but it's not that bad. obviously a lot of the reason is that both my western and eastern favorites are in the playoffs...but also, I realized today with no small amount of glee that now the highlights and recaps and firsts that I've delayed posting can be neatly organized and posted as "what you missed this year" or "favorite weird screenshots" or best-ofs or whatever. and so I will...of course I have thousands of screenshots from online games and and thousands of my own photos from games to go through. and there's all kinds of statistics, for the Blackhawks and Bruins and the NHL and AHL that I can go through (plus my stats for number of teams and arenas seen and win percentage, etc.). I worry I've done a lousy job on the blog actually following the season...but I think I do okay at making hockey (and occasionally other sports) fun to follow. if any of this makes sense...oh, and I haven't posted all the hockey apparel I bought this year (no, still no jersey)--there'll be a few (more) photos of me, hope no one minds.

that's your NHL and AHL matchups (ECHL already started the Kelly Cup playoffs, and the Toledo Walleye lost in the first round--there goes my dream of seeing them this season. I really wanted to!). a few personal stats: I saw 22 NHL teams this year. of the 8 I didn't see, 4 are in the playoffs. of the teams I didn't see, the two I most wanted to (Nashville, Buffalo) are the ones playing my favorite teams in the quarterfinals! (Preds are the only Western team I've never seen.) I haven't seen any of the 8 Eastern Conference AHL teams that are in the playoffs; I've seen 7 of the 8 Western ones (Rochester didn't play the division the Chicago Wolves are in. Chicago played Lake Erie, and Lake Erie played Rochester, but Rochester didn't play Chicago. the AHL works differently and I haven't figured it all out yet).

I'm planning to go to the first Wolves playoff game this Wednesday, vs Milwaukee Admirals. then they play Friday, but that's the first Nashville-Chicago game, so I guess I'll follow those two online. Wolves in Milwaukee Saturday and Nashville at Chicago Sunday are possibilities. Rockford IceHogs don't have home games vs Texas Stars until April 21 & 23. I think I have an unused Greyhound ticket to Buffalo, still--the American city I most wanted to see an NHL game in this year but didn't. and I wanted to see another Bruins game...hmmm. couldn't make it to the first two games (Thurs. & Sat.), however.

feel-good hit of the year, of course

I missed some afternoon stuff I'd have attended to watch a certain fantastic NHL game (hint: playoffs!) but had to go out last night for a fantastic AHL game, and thus missed the rest of the action except the end of the West Coast games. so I didn't see this live. but I can safely say, since I've gotten really active in the hockey Twitter world, nothing has been talked about and passed around as quickly as this. you presumably know the Matt Cooke-Marc Savard incident (or will Google it if you don't) and know why people were saying "Evander Kane will get a standing ovation next time he plays in Boston" and so forth. Cooke got up after this (the stretcher wasn't needed) so it's not as serious as the image makes it look like...

some people though this might be Evander Kane's (yes, named after Evander Holyfield) first NHL fight, but according to his fight card it's his second. the first was against Deryk Engelland, also playing for Pittsburgh, in early November. according to Engelland's card he had his first NHL fights this year in the preseason. the page for Cooke-Kane should be lively...

at any rate, even if the Atlanta Thrashers couldn't make the playoffs, their last game of the year (which they won at home, 1-0) will be remembered. Thrashers are one of the teams I regret not getting to see this season...I'll definitely try next year (I've also promised to follow them more closely since Chicago Wolves is their affiliate).

Make the Team in Baseball (1960)

don't worry, I haven't turned this into a baseball blog all of a sudden (especially not with the way Chicago teams have been playing). I just wanted to share my excitement at this week finding this book I'd forgotten I owned. bought at a thrift store, obviously (could they NOT write the price in permanent marker on vintage book covers?!):

the team logos on the cover are stickers (they seem like fabric)--it was pointed out to me that some definitely had to be newer than 1960. there are more on the inside front cover:

I love the illustration on the back. there are other books in the series but this is the only one I own.

and a sample illustration from the inside. there are drawings and photos. not as much fun as the hockey instruction book I have from the same era, but I might have more to post from it. (I've also posted these on my secondary Flickr account where I post things like this.)

Cubs win!

finally, three games into the season, Chicago won in Atlanta. I wasn't watching or even following along via radio or boxscore (oops) because of how much hockey went on today, but I thought I'd note this. I've been posting photos on Flickr this week from my last visit to Wrigley Field (and first where I had a lower-level seat, thanks to a friend--same one responsible for my first Fenway Park and first United Center visits), in July. I thought that would be a nice way to start the season or a good luck charm or something...but obviously not right away. clicking this photo will get you to the Wrigley Field set, shots from 2008 and 2009 visits.

believe it or not, this shot is of the only time I've had a beer at Wrigley. the shirt is an unofficial Chicago Transit Authority themed one, from the (wonderful) Chicago Architecture Foundation gift store.

um, back to Blackhawks and NHL playoff news soon, let's hope.

glad I don't have to post stats OR write sports headlines...

apologies for lack of "real" blogging so far this week--getting apartment stuff done (I need a roommate!), $ issues, figuring out travel plans, etc.  I'll have less of a phoning-it-in post later today, though it'll be hard to post when I'm keeping an eye on the Frozen Four semifinals, important east & west NHL games, the last regular-season game in Mellon Arena...
I don't check league leaders on nearly as often as I check league standings (unlike some Bruins fans I know who keep looking to make sure Rask is #1), but a recent tweet from @stlblueschica wondering why Knuble was shown as the goal leader made me look. yeah, I don't think Brunette, Knuble, and Pronger are leading the league right now... (screenshot shows Brodeur w/9 shutouts so you know I took this recently):

now, #19 (I think?) in the headline puns category, the Rangers' 5-1 win against the Maple Leafs last night:

this got me because although I've heard "be-leaf" puns many times, it's always been from Toronto fans and in relation to Toronto WINS.

glad I don't have to write sports headlines, #17 & 18 in an ongoing series

a lot of weekend hockey excitement (and baseball!) but I've been working on getting non-computer stuff done so a quick one for now, after the hugely important Bruins @ Capitals game tonight:

that was the late-night version, and this was the immediately post-game version. I've heard "I Laich it a lot" used on blogs/Twitter or getting inspiration from jokes out there, or vice versa?

anyway...I didn't like that the Caps' first goal was a questionable one. and that the refs missed an obvious high-sticking double-minor against DC (I was in the kitchen briefly, came back and saw blood on the ice onscreen, found out it was Zdeno Chara's). at least the Bruins tied it 1-1 with 1.6 seconds left in the first, and got the point for going to overtime 2-2. could have been worse.

bonus from the front page:

Opening Day

we interrupt this (lack of blogging about) very important hockey news, for this: baseball opening day with Yankees vs Red Sox, starting right at the same time as Sharks vs Avalanche game (with playoff implications)! it's fun to watch two sports at once online!

I was all excited thinking this was the first time I'd watched baseball online (I never tried to find it until I had to start watching hockey that way), then I remembered I did watch some of the World Series online...

home opener for the White Sox is tomorrow, with Blackhawks players making a special appearance. I wish I could go (despite being a Cubs fan)...

Blackhawks @ Devils: that was SOMETHING

and this time, something GOOD. I don't know why Chicago had a "series" (2 games is a series?) with New Jersey, but they did; one home and one away game. (so every team plays every team from the other conference at least once, and three of those teams twice? how does the NHL decide who they play twice?) Blackhawks had a fantastic 5-1 New Year's Eve win over Devils at the United Center; this game was much more in doubt.

NJD took an early lead with Ilya Kovalchuk's 40th goal of the season. I didn't watch the game as closely as I should have because the WGN radio commentators made it sound a bit...boring. but they were entertaining as always...suggesting late in the game that the Hawks maybe mix it up a bit with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond ("I said I'd only say his whole name once in the broadcast") and get roughing minors to play 4-on-4. also, Burger King gives a free Icee the next day if the Blackhawks win, and I swear they said "a free icing."

I tried to stay optimistic. down 1-0 near the end, Blackhawks went with 6 attackers. I was about to comment "why can't the Hawks ever have one of those dramatic last-second winning or tying goals?" when BOOM, Versteeg tied it with 26 seconds left. the many, many game thread and Twitter comments to jinx Martin Brodeur getting his 109th shutout--even the official Blackhawks Twitter joined in, and so many people in Chicago did it that "shutout" and "Brodeur" were trending topics--hey, that worked!

nothing in overtime, so it went to shootout, where Toews scored and Kovalchuk (his first SO try with the Devils) didn't, and the Hawks won! a great game from Antti Niemi, good enough that both the Blackhawks site and main NHL page used "Antti-dote" (which I may have complained about the first time anyone used it, but I don't mind...)

THAT is a great Toews-face. I may be the only Blackhawks fan blog neglecting the Toews-face (Seabrook has some funny ones too) this

I'm with the WGN guy in not understanding why the losing team gets 2 of the 3 stars of the game...and though Brodeur made some great saves, Niemi made more and won the shootout, you know...

a few notable things about this game: it was the first game John Madden, longtime Devil, played in New Jersey since joining the Blackhawks. the Devils website had a story about him. Patrick Kane is now 4 games without a point; he'd only gone 3 games without a point this season, and that was early October. this was one of the only games Devils lost this year while leading after two periods. this was the Blackhawks' first win in NJ since Dec. 1997. and as alluded earlier, there were few penalties. actually, no penalties in the entire 65 minutes of play. (which isn't to say there weren't actions that might have been called as penalties...) Blackhawks had one game without taking penalties this season (the awful loss to the Islanders), but this is the first NHL game with NO penalties since 2001. LOOK AT THIS BOXSCORE!

if it hadn't gone to shootout, the entire boxscore would have been quite minimal, since there were only the two goals. the recap didn't say how long it'd been with a penalty-free game, but this Star-Ledger piece (linked on Puck Daddy) said it was "the first penalty-free game in Devils history and the first in the NHL since the Bruins and Maple Leafs met in Toronto on March 3, 2001." (a Bruins-Leafs game was penalty-free?! Bruins won it 3-0.) were they being a little too nice for Good Friday or something?  not at all in the spirit of the 1984 Good Friday brawl between the Quebec Nordiques and Montreal Canadiens...and by the way, I'm amused that my prior post had possibly the longest penalty list in a hockey game this season!

more SPHL mayhem: Fayetteville @ Knoxville

last Saturday night I was at my first junior hockey (USHL) game and it was my first time seeing a coach thrown out of a game. the same night in the AHL, Abbotsford Heat's coach, Jim Playfair, was thrown out of his game for what the Vancouver Sun called "one of the greatest sports tantrums of all time."  (a short video version here; yes, definitely more dramatic than what happened in the USHL game.) and I learned of the ridiculous Fayetteville FireAntz at Knoxville Ice Bears game in the SPHL. (you may recall I blogged another SPHL game this year, Louisiana IceGators vs Knoxville, which also wracked up huge penalty minutes and resulted in a coach thrown out. I confess I'm disappointed I won't get to see any games in this league this season.) this has been popular on YouTube:

I'm trying to figure it out from the boxscore but not entirely succeeding.

some penalties in the first, and the game was tied 2-2. then by the end of the second, when the brawl happened, Knoxville was up 5-3.

more trouble in the third...

and then...

final score 9-4. a few days later, 7 players and 2 coaches were suspended. tonight, these teams will face each other again...with a slightly different roster.

glad I don't have to write sports headlines, #16 in an ongoing series

are the headlines for the west coast games written by severely sleep-deprived east coast writers? I don't know, but this seemed like a goofy one, highlighting L.A.'s Dustin Brown's second career hat trick, in a 8-3 drubbing of Vancouver. (two of the Canucks goals were Kyle Wellwood's; I kind of hoped he'd get the hat trick too.)
replaced by a duller headline later:


congrats to Brown! though as a Blackhawks fan it's less about the Kings having a big win than the Canucks having a huge loss. I enjoyed this one so much (was on the phone at the start of the game; tuned in in the second when Kings were up 4-0) that I put both the Kings AND Canucks feeds on online (well, and it was the only game on by that point).


although the Hawks lost to the Blue Jackets last week by as bad a score, at least in that game "only" 7 of the goals were when Huet was playing, and one during Niemi's shift. I wonder if this is the most goals allowed by one goalie this season...

not April Fools

edited to add: 1) I saw a man on a CTA bus today wearing a White Sox hat and a baseball shirt reading Cubby Bear on the front/Wrigleyville on the back (Cubby Bear being a popular bar in Wrigleyville)--was that April Fools'? I honestly don't know, given all the odd things I see on the CTA.
2) even long after I wrote this, I still managed to fall for a 4/1 piece on the Chicago Wolves' website (about a bunch of players supposedly not available for the rest of the year. scared me!)
3) I remembered it was the birthday of the friend who first took me to a hockey game and called him tonight. I wonder if anyone does anything special for an April Fools' birthday...

I've had a lot of long bus rides recently in which I could have come up with an April Fool's post, but didn't. (as a colossal nerd, my favorite April Fools' every year is wondering what NPR will come up with--and this year it was a piece on "a box set of NPR's entire history of funding credits.") I'd rather get a joke to spread on Twitter anyway, since it's quite easy to do so (such as, RIP for celebrities who haven't actually died, a hoax about the anonymous questions site formspring being a hoax), but it's easier to do so on a day when "April Fools" and "Fooled" and such aren't trending topics.

I'm considering the previous post with the NHL mistake (they never responded, and I don't know if they corrected it) to be a joke. or at least it worked nicely as a reverse-jinx, and the Blackhawks DIDN'T lose four straight--hell, they won with a shutout last night! and I was there! because I was there I missed getting to watch a bunch of games online, so I missed this...not a joke: