Monday, January 31, 2011

Plus/Minus: no Guardian holograms here

So I know everyone hates on the All-Star Game when really they should be directing that hate toward something more deserving, like Two and a Half Men, the show so bad that Charlie Sheen upped his drug intake just to avoid quitting his job.
Uh, I still have the All-Star superskills on tape and have only seen the Fastest Skater so far, so I can't comment on them per se but I can probably just wing it and say that PK Subban and Alexander Ovechkin were great at breakaways.

I cannot take credit for this. It was somewhere on Tumblr. We salute whoever made it.
+ The All-Star mock draft was surprisingly enjoyable. I expected it to be as boring as a regular draft, but it was hockey players in suits having a good time. So... fun.
+ My number one highlight of the All-Star draft was Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche making lame jokes about being one of the last guys picked and laughing at his own jokes. He was so awkward and adorable and exactly like George Michael Bluth.
+ So Ryan White got five minutes of ice time against the Flyers. But he didn't waste them, right?

- I had a bit more faith in this NHL Guardian Project than most people, but I was pretty disappointed by the climactic presentation between periods at the ASG. I waited and waited to see what kind of villain they'd face, and it was a Zurg wannabe named Deven Dark. ("Deven Dark"? Really? Sounds like he should be in some emo band.) There was no actual story - it was just a five-minute commercial for the Guardian Project website.
- Raleigh did a lot of things right over All-Star weekend, but their in-house announcer guy is not an All-Star.
- Kris Letang's hair.
- A rumour erupted on Twitter about Jarome Iginla being traded to the New York Rangers. I can't even think about it, it's just so awful.
- Speaking of Twitter, Dave Stubbs unearthed a hateful, prejudiced tweet from some douche Flyers fan. That guy gets a minus, and if ever I meet him, a slap in the face. (But laurels to Mr. Stubbs for calling him out on it.)

Regular hockey is back tomorrow! And now everyone will talk about the trade deadline, the end-of-season rush, and going to the playoffs, and then the playoffs and then the Stanley Cup. Is the season over already?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Team Rookie and Team Czechtacular keep handing out jerseys

(Those jerseys, by the way, have yet to be designed, but one would probably have a Czech crest on it and the other a cat. Go ahead and guess which is which.)

If you haven't read Part 1, and you certainly had time to during our extended technical difficulties, you should do that now. It'll give you a better idea of who we picked so far and how careful we are not to step on each other's toes. Not. So we're at round 11:

Team Rookie's eleventh pick:
Saku Koivu. His selection is somewhat due to leftover Koivu nostalgia from last week. We miss him.

Team Czechtacular's eleventh pick:
Henrik Lundqvist. Okay, maybe I won't need too much help in goal. Or in the GQ department.

Team Rookie's twelfth pick:
P.K. Subban. Others hate him. We love him. He's fast, enthusiastic, energetic, and flashy. He would rock the skills competition and bring some actual defence to the game. And maybe, by the end of the weekend, everyone else will love him too. And I will say I told you so.

Team Czechtacular's twelfth pick:
Everyone seems to forget about the existence of Brad Richards. That's sort of how I roll, so I believe I will go with the 6th-best scorer in the league, thank you.

Team Rookie's thirteenth pick:
RICK NASH!!!! I'm sorry, that happens every time I mention him. I'm a big fan and we Montrealers rarely get to see him. I looked up his stats and he's having a great season! How are the Blue Jackets not having a better season with a captain like this?

Team Czechtacular's thirteenth pick:
Nick Lidstrom's got a tough job ahead of him in that he's one of the guys doing the picking tonight, so he can take it easy now. [Rookie: dammit! I wish I had picked him]

Team Rookie's fourteenth pick:
Anze Kopitar. He's really good at hockey.

Team Czechtacular's fourteenth pick:
To be the Lidstrom of the forwards, Mark Recchi. Plus 32 points is none too shabby for the oldest guy in the league.

Team Rookie's fifteenth pick:
Brian Gionta. Gotta show the captain some love.

Team Czechtacular's fifteenth pick:
Dan Boyle, because i now have the added knowledge that he can hit even the tiniest of nets.

Team Rookie's sixteenth pick:
Jonathan Ericsson. It turns out I know very little about defencemen, but Ericsson usually catches my attention during the playoffs. While I don't buy into this whole "represent every team" kindergarten bullcrap, I'd feel weird not having a Detroit Red Wing on my team. (Valtteri came close to making Team Rookie but was ultimately cut.)

Team Czechtacular's sixteenth pick:
Adrian Aucoin, for an all-Ottawa blueline. Also because his +18 remains unaffected for the balance of this game.

Team Rookie's seventeenth pick:
Shea Weber. He was given this spot at the last minute, since we reached this round in our draft exactly as he was being picked on TV. He's a Team Canada superstar and a friend of Josh Gorges. He had to be on this team.

Team Czechtacular's seventeenth pick:
Erik Karlsson. Because he, too, was on TV during this round. I want to see him play with Yandle. I think he can yandle it.

Team Rookie's eighteenth pick:
Matt Duchene. I was ecstatic that he was named an All-Star this year, he deserves it, he's had a great season and he's so adorably awkward. I love it when players I pick at random (like I did with Duchene around the time he was drafted) turn out to be good.

Team Czechtacular's eighteenth pick:
Jakub Voracek. To be a friend to Derick Brassard.

Team Rookie's nineteenth pick:
Niklas Hjalmarsson. Some people think it's because I've learned to pronounce his name instead of being scared of it, but he's coming off a stanley cup win, and I googled his numbers and they're good.

Team Czechtacular's nineteenth pick:
Our newest Twitter darling Ryan Jones. He has the duality of being a hard worker and epic commentator in between proceedings, especially in the skills competition. He also has great hockey flow, which is always appreciated in these things. I think PK was proof of that tonight.

Team Rookie's twentieth pick:
My boy, because I met him once, Joe Pavelski: Dynamite in last year's playoffs, keeping a decent pace this season, and I just couldn't not pick him.

Team Czechtacular's twentieth pick:
Teemu Selanne, because he and Saku should be at an All-Star Game together, even if they're on opposing teams.

Team Rookie's twenty-first pick:
So I was looking at defenceman standings, expecting to realize I'd completely forgotten someone on some sun-belt team who's great at defence and who I love very much, and you know who I see is pretty good compared to the rest of the league? James Wisniewski. Yeah.

Team Czechtacular's twenty-first pick:
Am I Kesselling someone? I pick Vladimir Sobotka because he will hit people in an all star game. He's the David Backes of our version.

Just to make the goalies sweat it out a little, we went with an all-goalie last round.

Team Rookie's twenty-second pick:
For my last goalie, I gotta go with my boy Roberto Luongo. Yes, that's right, Luongo is my boy, even moreso than Pavelski. For some reason the Internet doesn't like him, but his save percentage is good and I like him and it's my team.

Team Czechtacular's twenty-second pick:
Ilya Bryzgalov. I picked him first in all my hockey pools this season and wanted to see how much he liked being picked last. Unfortunately, I don't have a car to give him.

If we had any footage of Matt Duchene making awkward jokes while eagerly waiting to be picked, we'd share it, but there's no way we'd even be able to get these guys in a room together.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Team Lidstrom and Team Staal? Scrap 'em.

We're totally sick of NHL All Star mock drafts, but for our pure amusement we bring you another one.

But here's the catch. We've scrapped everything the league picked for us (well, almost) and started over from scratch. It's the fans' game after all, isn't it? And it's a fun exercise if you're not one to call what's about to take place tonight on TSN your cup of tea. Especially if, like me, your favourite players are not necessarily "on the grid."

Tonight, we are these guys. Without the salaries, the trophies, and the Stanley Cup rings
Don't expect this to make total sense, either. Like BizNasty picked Henrik Lundqvist first for his GQMF-ability to have a good time in the Big Apple, not all our reasoning has to do with stats over style. And the order? We're not good with that, either. Clearly.

So who are our All Stars?

Team Rookie's first pick:
Carey Price. You know him, you love him, you know he poses like a boss (I swear I brought it up by accident, but you know it's true). It's only natural he's the first pick of the draft!

Team Czechtacular's first pick:
Carey Price....'s cousin. Yes, Shane Doan is going to lead my club. In addition to a renowned NHL leader and general all-around good egg, the second half of his season has made everyone forget about the first. Unfortunately there are probably only so many injuries the NHL will allow before outright cancelling the thing, so we won't get to see him this weekend.

Team Rookie's second pick:
Mason Raymond. Why? Because if I can't see him at the real ASG even though I voted for him a bunch of times in both 2009 and 2011, I'm putting him on my team.

Team Czechtacular's second pick:
If Jeff Skinner got promoted to the big show in team life, Taylor Hall can in my version.

Team Rookie's third pick:
Steven Stamkos. No-brainer. He scored more goals in the calendar year of 2010 than anyone else in the NHL, including Sidney Crosby, who wasn't eligible for our teams because he's injured, but I wouldn't have picked him third anyway. And he's really nice and sportsmanship is important.

Team Czechtacular's third pick:
Tomas Plekanec. 'Nuff said. Really.

Team Rookie's fourth pick:
Jarome Iginla. Is there a better All-Star than Jarome Iginla? No. There isn't. (In this scenario, obviously, Jarome has the good fortune of not having any sick family members.)

Team Czechtacular's fourth pick:
These are my rules and I can draft my coach if I wanna. Even if he'd probably bagskate the players in each All Star Game intermission for letting in too many goals, Guy Boucher is my coach pick. And if you were wondering, yes, he will participate in my skills' competition.

Team Rookie's fifth pick:
Kirk Muller and Dan Bylsma are Rookie's coach picks. (They're the best one-two punch I can assemble to compete with Guy Boucher.)

Team Czechtacular's fifth pick:
Almost excluded from the actual game (wrongly so) but added on due to injuries (that's better), Keith Yandle. Kid's a day younger than me and leads all NHL defensemen in scoring. That's no random feat.

Team Rookie's sixth pick:
Drew Doughty. Sure, a concussion has slowed him down a little this season, and he's angrier than usual, but he's still Drew Doughty.

Team Czechtacular's sixth pick:
Third in league save percentage and first in general Czech goalie badassery, Ondrej Pavelec.

Team Rookie's seventh pick:
This would have been Ondrej Pavelec. Czechtacular acted just in time. So I take Alexander Ovechkin. 'Cause he's still available, might as well. (Right, Doaner?)

Team Czechtacular's seventh pick:
Alexander Semin is injured, so Marty Havlat takes his place.

Team Rookie's eighth pick:
Jonathan Toews. Clearly I'm no better than Patrick Kane, and I feel really bad for making Captain Serious sweat it out for so long. But he's a great player overall, and a great sport, and I barely knew who he was before the last All-Star Game, so things are coming full circle.

Team Czechtacular's eighth pick:
Derick Brassard. The Mr. Assist to Mr. Nash in Columbus.

Team Rookie's ninth pick:
Joe Thornton. He is Canada.

Team Czechtacular's ninth pick:
David Krejci. Given the way Bruins fans had a collective heart attack last week when he was almost badly injured, it shows how much he's needed on any team because he's that good.

Team Rookie's tenth pick:
Jonathan Quick. A 52-save shutout against the Detroit Red Wings? Yeah. He's an All-Star.

Team Czechtacular's tenth pick:
I'm a little short on D, so Zbynek Michalek. Because my goalie pick is injured and whoever I pick as his replacement is probably going to need a lot of help blocking shots up front. Yes, my All Stars are all about the serious business.

Stay tuned for Part 2, because these drafts take a really long time and we're not even cutting to Pierre McGuire and a panel analyzing every move we make.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Plus/Minus: we need this ASG you have no idea

This was a pretty crazy week for the Hab It Her Way girls. The Flames came to town and we weren't there and, well, you saw the game and we didn't know what to do with ourselves. (Other than, you know, drink.) Then the Habs played the Sabres and Ryan Miller became the least of my worries. Then someone or other was called up. Then there were lots of goals. Then there was Saku and at the last minute, Czechtacular found herself at the Bell Centre for Saku. Also, I once again broke my "no crying in hockey" rule. So a few days off from the regular insanity that the NHL's been giving us would be nice. The All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time.

Also, for some reason this week I kept coming up with reasons to say "peanut butter jelly time."

+ Obviously, the biggest plus has to go to Saku Koivu. You may have read our tribute to him over at All Habs, whose Saku coverage was unrivaled. As expected, I got a bit emotional just seeing him on my TV again. Dave Stubbs had this to say on Twitter about the way his return was handled:
Upon reflection, I'm very disappointed in how #Habs handled it... Habs usually shine in these tribute things, but they totally fumbled Koivu's return... Beyond offering a room for Friday media talk & showing him on scoreboard, Habs virtually ignored Koivu's return... Surely a Koivu video tribute at some point? Surely a Habs sponsor would have given a scoreboard ad spot or two? Fans were tremendous. Koivu leaves Montreal feeling huge love and respect of Habs fans... Koivu, simply, is not merely another returning player. He was heart & soul of Habs for a decade... Anyway, that's how I feel. Wish they'd done a little more to recognize a man who was part of Montreal's fabric.
In a way, I agree with him. I would have loved for this to be treated like the big deal that it was, but I'm just glad Saku came back. Maybe it would have been out of character to suddenly treat Koivu like a saint, two years after this same organization neither offered him a contract renewal nor dealt with whichever media outlets tried to undermine his importance in this city. The Habs organization didn't try to create anything: they let the fans send the message. They simply altered their O Canada video: instead of showing only the vast landscapes, snowy peaks, and busy cities that make Canada great, they flashed back to Saku's return from cancer. And what more is there to say. (Lots, actually, but I have no idea how to put it into words. The good people at Kleenex should have sponsored this game.)
+ Max Pacioretty must have gone to the Josh Gorges School Of Playing Injured. I just hope he's actually okay to play, and not just letting his pride get the best of him.
+ That was a whole lot of goals against Ottawa. And not a whole lot of goals let in against the Sabres.
+ Ryan White was called up! I can't believe I didn't write a post about it, filled with complete nonsense and published so quickly I didn't even think of proofreading. I can't even tell you how excited I am to see him face the Flyers. (Provided, that is, that no one in Flyers management notices him. Don't even think about it, Philadelphia. I will take away all of your beer and cheese and friendly airport employees if you even consider taking Ryan White away. Don't test me.)

What happened to me?
- Mike Komisarek punched a woman? (A Plus goes to the Leafs for taking him out of Montreal so we  wouldn't have to deal with this.)
- What is wrong with the Buffalo Sabres? Were they all possessed by the injury fairy?
- Curtis McElhinney, former backup to Miikka Kiprusoff, former impenetrable goalie, just became a father. What could be wrong with that, you ask? His daughter's name is Jaxen.
- Never thought I'd be giving a Minus to a class act like Nicklas Lidstrom, but what would possess him to name Patrick Kane as assistant captain of anything, unless he lost a bet?
- I'm a little sad that Jarome Iginla won't be playing in the All-Star Game, but really who can blame him? I hope he spends as much time with his family right now as he possibly can.
- Two soccer commentators in the UK made the stupidest comments about a female game official. I don't know if they think all linesmen are idiots or not, but by now they should at least be aware that women know about more than bearing children and cooking pot roasts. I hope these idiots get fired. (And this is me being nice about it.)

Well, at least I know this week won't be as eventful as last week. Right? Please say yes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dear injury fairy: you're a bitch

The injury fairy is angry. She's very angry. She's been messing with us big-time in the last couple of days. Maybe she just wanted to see how far she could go with the Canadiens. She's got a lot of bravado now that she managed to fell Sidney Crosby with a concussion. That was a pretty big get. Usually when she goes after the league's most important player, she makes him pull a muscle when he folds his own laundry, or something.

In case you're not up to speed, here's what happened during last night's game against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena: most of the Habs got injured and Patrick Kaleta is evil. Here, let a few of my Twitter friends fill in the blanks (I'm a little worried that Laura might sic the injury fairy on me, as she's the boss when it comes to Twitter screencaps):

I, of course, had a case of the maybes and tried to figure out why the injury fairy would do this to us, and what karma the Habs could have brought upon themselves. Karma's been especially mean to poor Max Pacioretty, who was sick, then got whaled on by Psycho Henrik Lundqvist, and now has suffered some damage to his ribs. Someone please keep an eye on him, to make sure he doesn't slip on the sidewalk or get a paper cut. Time to confess, Montreal Canadiens: What did you do?
Double-park somewhere?
Claim that Toronto or New York has better bagels than Montreal?
Tell Jacques Martin that his hair looked okay?
Watch Jay Leno at some point in the last year?
Go out into the Montreal cold without hats, scarves, or boots? Oh, wait...

...was it the "excessive" postgoal celebrations?

Well, whatever it was, the injury fairy decided to give the Habs an extra helping of hurt. And in doing so, she hurt my feelings. And the Kings lost, too. And I didn't win an Anze Kopitar autographed puck on Facebook. And then Jarome Iginla pulled out of the All-Star Game and was replaced by Daniel Briere.

Getting a little personal there, injury fairy. Maybe I'm the one who caused this. Are we cool now?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Plus/Minus gets chatty again

All-Stars, superheroes, surgeries, spin-o-ramas, and goalies doing gangsta poses. Did I write a hockey soap opera, or is this real life?

+ Benoit Pouliot was good at hockey this week.
+ Carey Price is an All-Star! It made me so happy that at first I didn't even realize that Norris Trophy nominee Drew Doughty is not an All-Star. Quite a few All-Star guys that I'll be very happy to see on the ice together in two weeks. (I keep trying to choose my ideal winger for the Sedin twins, and can't decide!)
+ Alex Auld is pretty great against the Rangers. It's not just luck.
+ Dwayne Roloson's new mask (you know, for his Tampa Bay Lightning job that he unfortunately stole from Cédrick) is one of the nicest goalie masks in the NHL.
+ I think my New York Jets may just have won a playoff game. I might be imagining it, though.
+ Despite the fact that I'm not his biggest fan, I'm giving Aaron Sorkin a Plus for giving me a new catchphrase at the Golden Globes: "Smart girls have more fun."

You guys should follow @kuyaz on Twitter just because he makes things like this sometimes.
- No, Marc-Andre Fleury, I didn't think your little pose was playful and fun. I might have thought that if you weren't such a massive douchetard, but them's the breaks.
- Gotta admit, I'm kind of squeamish, so I'm not always in the mood to see injuries and scars and stuff. I tried to avoid seeing pictures of the surgery scar on Andrei Markov's knee, but it was right there on the Habs Inside/Out homepage. Not cool, guys. It hurts me enough to remember that my favourite Hab is injured.
- I'm pretty sure I've made some variation on this rant at least once already this season: who let Mike Cammalleri get sick? You're telling me that one of the NHL's most profitable teams doesn't have money for Purell or to pay people to walk around holding up sneezeguards in front of players?
- Is there anyone left in this universe who still likes PK Subban? Poor rookie has haters all over the place. You'd think Matt Cooke started sending out blank cheques. (PS: This week I found out what a slew foot is... and seriously, THAT'S one of the dirtiest moves in hockey? Whose grandparents decided this? Was PK's slew foot on Dubinsky just a weak example, or was I not watching closely enough? Because I've seen way worse, both from NHL players and from girls at weddings trying to catch the bouquet.)
- Dear every player in the NHL: Maybe you didn't get my last memo, but there's a limit to corporate sponsorships and endorsement deals, ok? I know some of you don't listen to me, but it's one thing to endorse a company whose products you believe in and they send you free stuff, but it's another to have logos and company names splashed across your clothes or to show up in every other commercial I see. And yes, I'll keep telling you this until I get what I want. Okay? Okay. Thanks. Sincerely, Rookie.
- Henrik Lundqvist: You know what you did.

Spin-o-ramas during shootouts. A skater should be allowed to do whatever he wants as he skates up to the net, because, after all, shootouts are there for our entertainment. (If they weren't, there would still be more than five minutes of overtime.) There's a limit, though, and as much as I love Mason Raymond he showed me what that limit is this week. I'm sorry, MayRay, but you shouldn't commit goalie interference with your butt.

This is a shameless plug, because I never know what I'll say on the radio but I sometimes know what I'll be writing about, so I might as well promote what I can control. A Plus to this week's SNL Digital Short, which I'll write about soon for, and a Minus to our NHL Guardian, the Canadien, which I'll snark on soon for

In Which I Dethrone King Henrik

I missed last night's game against the Rangers, and only saw a few tweets about the game so I didn't know much about what went on. Basically all I knew was that the Habs won and that Henrik Lundqvist got booed. Not much of a surprise there, right? The Canadiens are perfectly capable of winning a game against the Rangers, and Montreal fans love booing goalies. (There was no such treatment of Marc-André Fleury this week, and that's a mystery I'll need help solving.)

Clearly, I didn't know what had gone down. (No pun intended.)

This isn't something I normally would have admitted to, but for some reason I sorta liked Lundqvist. He's a pretty good goaltender, and on many occasions I've found myself biting my tongue when I see his highlights. I wouldn't have wanted anyone to know that I'd probably admit to actually liking him as a goalie if he didn't play for the Rangers, one of the teams I hate the most.
Two years ago, I put him on my All-Star ballot a few times just because I wanted to be able to see him play without having to see the rest of his team on the ice. Best of both worlds, right?
When I saw the Rangers play the Tampa Bay Lightning on New Year's Day, I thanked the hockey gods that Cédrick Desjardins was in net for Tampa. It wouldn't have made sense if the team I was booing was backed up by a goalie I liked, and the team I wanted to win had Dan Ellis in net. (In case you didn't know, I'm not a fan of Dan Ellis. Some people say I was one of the people who scared him off Twitter, but that's not really true.)
It wasn't even because at first I wasn't sure if you pronounce the letter V in his name or not, which would have made it hard to boo him.

So, I guess I should thank Lundqvist for proving he's completely batshit insane. Max Pacioretty crashed into him, yes. Did he do it on purpose? Didn't look that way to me. Sure, no one wants another player to wipe out in front of them, but I'm sure this same thing has happened - many times - to every goalie in the NHL. Usually, though, the goalie doesn't pick himself back up and go after the guy who wiped out. People went to the Bell Centre for a hockey game last night, and a bear attack broke out. I can understand that being a goalie is mentally difficult and you don't want anyone to mess with you or what you're doing. The only excuse Lundqvist could have had is that Pacioretty's skate blade came a little too close for comfort, especially if it reached his calf, but no one's said anything about that happening. So as of right now, it appears that either Pacioretty is an awful human being or Lundqvist is crazy and maybe can't control his anger. I think the latter is more likely.

Boo all you want, Habs fans. I'll join in. Henrik Lundqvist is dead to me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NHL Goalies, or Cartoon Heroes?

Since the game ended yesterday, way too many people have discussed the impending pose-off between Carey Price and Marc-André Fleury. It's one of those hot-button topics that doesn't actually need to be discussed, but infuriates people to the point that they just can't help but talk about it. I've been trying to plan the next step in The Great NHL Pose-Off of 2011.

In all honesty, I want it to be a dance-off. But that's wishful thinking.

So. This all started when Carey Price celebrated his win by crossing his arms in a pose that I originally referred to as "the Kazaam"...
...but references to "Like A Boss" and a b-boy stance were also acceptable. Until I realized, maybe from superhero overload, that it's also a Superman pose:
As such, I've done a little googling and I think I've got a few more superhero-inspired poses for Carey to try out. Maybe some of his jerkier rivals will like them too:

Ever since the Wolverine movie I can't think of Gambit without thinking of Taylor Kitsch. As a result, it took a bit longer to publish this post than it should have.

Bat-Accessories required for this one, but a goalie stick might also be acceptable
Hockey players are kind of like real-life superheroes, so I think this works.
But in case Carey needs a little more help, I'll start compiling some old-school b-boy stances.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The 2011 Mostly-Stars Game!

Uh, this is the roster? Really? Usually I really like the All-Star Game. This year, I'm not sure.

What's a Michael Grabner? And why is he one of many roster selections that left me asking that ageless question: "Who's DIS guy?"
Yup, just when I thought I had maybe learned a few things, the All-Star Game comes along and leaves me just as confused as ever.

WHO'S DIS GUY: Defencemen
I mean, by now I've figured out that Duncan Keith is probably not a singer. He won lots of things last year, so it makes sense that he'd be voted in to the ASG.

Brent Burns?

I thought I had watched a couple of Thrashers games this year, but I seriously have no idea where Tobias Enstrom came from. So far I have learned that his name is Tobias and he plays defence in Atlanta.

I've heard Erik Karlsson's name a bunch of times before, but this is the first time I find out he's actually good for something. (Also, I guess, because someone fell off their chair laughing when someone suggested Kovalev should be at the ASG this year.)

WHO'S DIS GUY: Forwards
David Backes was at the Olympics. Uh, clearly I know very little about St. Louis because I thought he played for the Devils.

Who's Patrik Elias? No, I'm serious. Is his name Czech for "everyone on my team is having a godawful season"?

Will I finally find out what Loui Eriksson actually does, other than be a hockey player in Dallas, and make me wonder whether people meant to talk about Jonathan Ericsson?

I think I've finally learned that Ales Hemsky is a person, not a font or a fine brandy. But... Ales Hemsky? Somehow I think that (for once) there are other Oilers who are generating more buzz than he is. Oh, look at that, they've been herded into the rookie ghetto. Okay, cool.

I know I'm supposed to care about Corey Perry, but if someone feels like making a sales pitch that's cool.

No selection here that really confuses me, which makes all the omissions even more frustrating.

WHO'S DIS GUY: Rookies
The good news about the rookies is that I probably get a pass if I don't know everything about them.

Which is good, because what's a Michael Grabner? Is Evgeny Dadonov real? Is Jeff Skinner old enough to be in the NHL? Because he looks about 9 years old.

Oh, and by the way, this year's All-Star jerseys look like this and we won't know who wears which one until the last minute:
Picture yoinked from Puck Daddy, who has yet to answer my eternal question: "Has there ever been a nice All-Star jersey?"
Mystery players who come out of the woodwork. Jerseys that could probably have been better-designed. Whatever. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that Carey Price earned his spot on the All-Star roster, right?

Monday, January 10, 2011

What a game. (Plus/Minus in disguise.)

It's a Plus/Minus, a "happy new year," and a "what I did on vacation" all rolled into one. That's just how I do.
I'd like to thank Czechtacular again for writing Plus/Minus last week. You all didn't even have a chance to miss me!

+ The Outback Bowl was my first live football game ever. Ever. What a game. I've never seen so much team merchandise in my life. There were literally three people in all of Raymond James Stadium who were not dressed for the occasion. Everyone else was decked out in team colours, a sea of navy-and-white and blue-and-orange split right down the middle. I've never seen such intense fan loyalty to a coach. I've never seen marching bands like that. I want every sport to have marching bands.
+ I had to play catch-up and watch the Winter Classic on DVR. What a game. Playing in primetime, under the lights, was amazing. It looked so dramatic. It proved that sports aren't about individual players, but rather teams. I can see a Penguins-Capitals rivalry stemming from this, rather than the team's captains having fought it out for a Rookie of the Year title five years ago. And Dan Bylsma's old-school fedora and stadium jacket will probably stand as my favourite coach outfit of the year... or maybe the decade. Go ahead, Jacques Martin, try to outdress him.
+ Cédrick Desjardins almost had a shutout in his second NHL game, and I got to witness it. He was great. What a game. My favourite part of it was booing the New York Rangers. (My second-favourite part was seeing how Guy Boucher coaches his team. Czechtacular can attest to what he did in the Q. We've all seen the results of his one season in the AHL. He's still got that fire as an NHL coach. The Bolts have incredible work ethic and discipline.)
+ I also went to my first-ever basketball game, and a great team effort buoyed the Orlando Magic to a win over the Golden State Warriors (yeah, I didn't know they existed either). What a game. I know Montreal will never be an NBA city, but I kind of wish it were. I like live sporting events in general, but I enjoyed live basketball so much more than I thought I would!
I made the same face at the exact same time
+ How about that eleventh-hour comeback against the Bruins on Saturday? I say it again: What a game. I can't remember the last time I screamed so loud. (Then the Jets won their playoff game, literally at the last second. It took so much out of me that I didn't even make it to the end of the LA Kings game or Saturday Night Live.)
+ Um, so it turns out that we really like James Wisniewski. I left for five days, and he was a superstar by the time my plane landed in Montreal. My confusion didn't last long: the guy's a great addition to the team, and he seems to love being a Canadien.
+ Jack Johnson is going to be a Los Angeles King forever! I don't usually play armchair GM but locking him down mid-season was a good idea.

- Have I already mentioned that I'm too sad to talk about Josh Gorges?
- Steven Stamkos didn't score a goal for me on New Year's Day. And he hasn't scored since. He's goalless in 2011, which might actually be worse news than the fact that the entire city of Tampa is sold out of Stamkos T-shirts.
- Carrie Underwood says she'll never come back to Montreal after her car was broken into when she came here. So many things wrong with that: Cars get broken into everywhere. Her husband comes here sometimes for work, and it's the closest awesome metropolis that Ottawa has. Everyone was all whiny and said they didn't want her in Montreal anyway if she said something like that. Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder when was she in town and why didn't I know about this? Carrie Underwood kicks ass, you guys. I mean, uh, whatever, who cares, Taylor Swift is so much better.
- Mike Cammalleri might be sick. That's not cool, you guys. Here's hoping he comes back rarin' to go.

- Tom Kostopoulos, shouldn't you know better by now than to hit a dude out of nowhere? No? Okay, that's what I thought. We still love you, though. Don't ever change. (Except, like, try not to break a dude's jaw next time.)
- Thoughts and prayers to the family of NHL and AHL player Tom Cavanagh, whose death was tragic and unexpected.

Did I miss something? I probably did. The first ten days of 2011 have been pretty eventful.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Things That Are Worse Than Josh Gorges' Injury

I made this list in a misguided attempt to cheer myself up, because I still can't quite talk about it:

Jarome Iginla, New York Ranger.

The cancellation of my favourite TV show. (It's been almost five years since Arrested Development ended, and the wounds have finally started healing.)

Getting dumped on your birthday. For your nemesis.

Realizing that American Idol will be back on TV soon.

Movies with talking animals.

Dental work.

Being Eric Bélanger and performing your own dental work.

Many of 2010's biggest pop songs.

Being Carey Price when he heard the Josh Gorges injury news.

Twilight fans.

Justin Bieber fans.

The thought of Jacques Martin in a dress. Like, say, this one:

Having basically no ACL in my own right knee. (My threshold for pain is much, much lower than any athlete's.)

Zach Parise's injury.

Josh Gorges requesting a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
(Actually, that last one might hurt less. I'd pretend to hate him for a few weeks, and then I'd actually hate him.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Don't wanna think about it

I'm really happy that the Habs won, and not just because they've been a little slumpy lately, and I missed a few games, and there was no new 30 Rock tonight so I couldn't change the channel. There's another reason, and it was pretty big news today, so I don't need to spell it out for you.

In a season where Andrei Markov was only healthy for about three minutes, something happened to Josh Gorges. He didn't say anything about it. He didn't complain. He didn't look like he needed to miss the next game. He just took a therapy day. Then another, and another, and then finally he had to swallow his pride and admit that he was hurt, and I tried to avoid going into fits of rage and yelling about how much I hate his Black Knight act. It just keeps going downhill.
Today was a good day for a Canadiens win for a few reasons. I went to Florida for a few days and home teams were 3-for-3 at sporting events I attended (3 games, 3 sports, 3 days... I'm as shocked as you are). If I couldn't come home to the win that matters most to me, I would have hopped a plane back to the Sunshine State.
Okay, that's not true, but it might have been true if I didn't hate flying.
I was heartbroken, confused, and a million other things after the World Juniors gold medal game. Not even the thought of a gold medal win five years ago could cheer me up.

Then there was news about Josh. And it wasn't good news. I didn't know how to react, so I just didn't do anything. I didn't talk about it, I didn't think about it, I didn't throw anything. I just listened to some sad songs and resisted the urge to shut down. If the Habs didn't win, someone would probably have found me tomorrow evening, sobbing, mascara running down my cheeks (even though I haven't worn makeup in days), begging my cat to go get a tub of ice cream (even though we're both lactose intolerant). And that was before the ticker on TSN misspelled his name, and literally added insult to injury.

But the puck dropped, and I was able to see (most of) my Canadiens again. It wasn't an easy win, and there have been more enjoyable games this season, but all that matters in the end are those two points they earned. This is what the second half of the season might look like: it won't be easy, and it won't be pretty, but maybe things will end the way we want them to end. It wouldn't be hockey without a few surprises and a bit of heartbreak. We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Czechtacular attempts Plus/Minus

Happy New Year for reals, now. Don't do anything I wouldn't do in 2011. Also note that I haven't as of yet figured out what I am doing in 2011.

So how does this work? Is this thing even on? Time for me to tap at the microphone here.


+ A win to end the year. And what's that thing they always say? Something about how you end the year is how you'll be spending the next one...? Lots of hope for that.
+ James Wisniewski and the fact that if he continues playing like he has since he was acquired, less people will have to Google how his name is actually spelled.
+ David Desharnais is here! So what if it's a mini-plus? He led the AHL in points when he was called up. Post-its for everyone! (If you don't know what that means, clearly you don't have a repertoire of ingenious sign ideas for Hamilton games.)
+ A hard-fought game to kick off 2011. Overtime bites, it really does. Hell, I'm still shaking my fist at Dustin Penner. But despite running head-first into a hot goalie in Ondrej Pavelec the Habs did throw the kitchen sink at him. Just ask...
+ Brian Gionta, who took nine shots on goal and got the goal that sent the game into extra time in the first place.
+ Carey Price wins the Molson Cup! Again!
+2 Team Canada moves on to face the USA in the WJC semi-finals. Louis Leblanc scored in Sunday's 4-1 victory over Switzerland.


This just about sums it all up.

- In four games played this week the Habs scored six goals.
-2 Josh Gorges on the IR.
- Habs' fans were treated to a litany of missed chances and the accompanyment of bruised vocal chords that came with each and every single one.
- Overtime bites, it really does.
- Another late-period goal was scored by Atlanta yesterday afternoon. Those are like nails on a chalkboard.
-3 No wins and certainly no tans were acquired over the Florida roadie. Also, Cedrick Desjardins is back in the AHL now, but that first win was against the team that dealt him, wasn't it?
-4 The Winter Classic was late, not great, was thought to be presided over by The Weather Network rather than sports' channels, and those stuck watching NBC and their odd camera angles were heading to their barf bags more than usual the day after New Year's Eve.
- @StevenHindle pointing out "Although no longer with the team, Georges Laraque still collects $2,688 from the #Habs every single day of the 2010 regular season. #ezmoney"
- The other Team Canada lost the Spengler Cup to SKA St. Petersburg.


? Lapierre moves on. It probably didn't take rocket science to figure out some move was coming, but here's hoping that a change of scenery will allow him to grow into a different kind of role, maybe one that involves less muck and sandpaper (even if we all know that character did wonders for him these past playoffs).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Things I Learned In 2010

Every milestone in my blogging impresses me. First, Hab It Her Way made it through a full season. Then we made it to a one-year anniversary. Now, we've blogged a full calendar year, from one Winter Classic to another. (I'm out of town, and there is less hockey than usual, but I know that all of this year's Classic goals were scored by Capitals or Evgeni Malkin, so I think I'll enjoy firing up the DVR when I get back.)
I've learned a lot this year, thanks to the great people around me (which may include you!). Also a result of taking notes during SportsCentre and stuff.

Sean Avery isn't the only jerkstore in the NHL. He's still very high in the standings, but this year I found out - in the worst way possible - that Matt Cooke exists. Thank heavens for Evander Kane punching his lights out, as a sort of preemptive punishment.

I like the Los Angeles Kings. I started 2010 trying to figure out why some of these West Coast defencemen made Team Canada instead of Mike Green. (Yeah. I know. They call me Rookie for a reason.) I didn't know exactly what I'd been missing out on all this time with Drew Doughty. Then the Olympics happened. Then a week later I watched my Canadiens play the Kings, who I swear weren't even worth talking about when I started watching hockey. Turns out that now, they're worth talking about, and not just Doughty. I'm not sure when I decided that I actually liked the Kings. It just kind of happened.

The Oilers are good too. Again, when I started watching hockey, they sucked. At least I think they sucked. I mean, who even heard of the Edmonton Oilers after Gretzky stopped playing for them? Then, after a few years of sucking and scooping up some prime draft picks, the oil change is on. This team is now interesting. Six Oilers have scored their first NHL goal this season. I'm not going to call myself an Oilers fan, because I can't hurt the Calgary Flames like that (as much as they've tried to hurt me) but the Oilers don't suck. They, along with the Kings and the Thrashers, are going through an awesome renaissance and we get to watch it happen.

Boys love the name "Logan Couture." It helps that he's leading the San Jose Sharks in goals and is in the top 10 league-wide, but boys aren't talking about his stats. Just his name. I've heard a bunch of boys (but no girls) say his name over and over, just because they like the sound of it. It wasn't until Puck Daddy linked to an explanation that I started to understand: "Maybe it's because I associate the name Logan with Wolverine. Maybe it's because I associate the name Couture with MMA fighter Randy Couture. Put them together and you have a badass name. Sounds like an international man of mystery."
Is that it, gentlemen? Mystery solved?

I'm not that superstitious. I try not to say "hat trick" out loud because I tend to jinx players, and I've eaten my fair share of certain desserts because the Habs win when I eat them. But during the playoffs I read about people who only eat certain things on gamedays - fans, not players, who restrict their diets for their teams. People who have to sit in the same chair every game. People who change their socks at puck drop. People who don't wash their lucky T-shirts (but only wear them during games, because that's gross). By comparison, my cupcake baking looks like child's play.

How to spell "Valtteri Filppula." No, not really. I just guess every time. I did, however, learn he has a brother, Ilari, who also belongs to the Red Wings and looks just like him. (Also, I didn't have to google that his name is Ilari. I just magically remembered.)

Don't mess with Bob Gainey. Throughout his career with the Canadiens, Gainey did everything he could to make the Canadiens the best they could be. You could see it in the way he played. You could see it in the way he ran the team. You could see it in the way he fired a colleague when the team needed a change in coaching, and in the way he completely made the team over in the summer of 2009. Then, ultimately, he realized that he'd gone as far as he could go, and ultimately decided that stepping down from his position as general manager was the best thing he could do for the Canadiens. That's dedication.

Hockey can be heartbreaking. I'll always say that I love all my Habs, and I always tried to be level-headed when a trade happened. Lately, though, I've found myself getting a little sad when I lose a Hab I like, regardless of the trade's benefits. I love the Canadiens just the way they are right now, but I think about certain guys who aren't part of the organization any more (Matt D'Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn, Glen Metropolit, Greg Stewart, Shawn Belle, Ryan O'Byrne, and especially Guy Boucher) and it makes me a little sad that the Habs let them go. More heartbreak? The playoffs, where the Habs were sent home by the only opponent I desperately wanted them to beat. I usually say that there's no crying in hockey, but I might have to recant that eventually.

I learned a lot this year. I also laughed and wrote a lot, made some great contacts, and accomplished more as a sports fan than I thought I would. Plus, I sat in the best seats I've ever had for hockey games (8th row at Staples Center, 2nd row for the Bulldogs at the Bell Centre, and back of the reds for Habs vs Canucks). Not sure what more I could ask for. 2011 is shaping up to be a whole new learning experience, so let's see what the new year brings.