Yearly Archives: 2007

Second Round Playoff Predictions

Two for Elbowing: Playoff Predictions:

Here in the west, there are no underdogs, there can be no cinderella, no upsets. the teams are too closely matched. Of course, having said that, we’re going to lose at least two teams in the first round that will consider that a season failure. that’s how strong the west is.

My cut on the matchups:

First, a look at how I did in the first round…

Detroit/Calgary: I chose Calgary in 7.

I’m a little surprised Calgary didn’t do better. Veteran motivation beat out younger legs; Calgary just didn’t seem able to compete; too defensive, not enough offense. Too much of the Sutter thing, perhaps, without Sutter behind the bench forcing it to work through force of will. Not that I’m blaming Playfair — this team merely didn’t over-achieve like a Sutter coached team does.

Anaheim/Minnesota: Anaheim in 5

Minnesota simply couldn’t trap Anaheim to death.

Vancouver/Dallas: Vancouver in 5

We can stop wondering if Turco can get it done in the playoffs. Even in a loss, he was the only thing between Dallas and disaster. The only way he could have helped the team more was skating up to Luogo and breaking his arm… It’s time for Modano and Lindros to ride into the sunset — to standing ovations.

Nashville/San Jose:

Nashville was a better team than last year. the Sharks were a MUCH better team, once the kids got their playoff sea-legs. I think the big risk for sna jose going into the playoffs was whether the younger players could handle the pressure. They exit this series bloodied and battle hardened, and the rest of the west is not going to send the Preds flowers for doing this. It makes the Sharks scary tough, as long as they stay focussed and healthy. Nashville’s main fault was a lack of discipline — or perhaps it wasn’t doing a good enough job of making sure the players they whacked stayed whacked. Either way, the team needs some tweaking, but not major retooling. they’re ALMOSt there.

3-4. Not bad.

East:

Buffalo/NY Islanders, Buffalo in 5.

The Islanders played much better than expected to me, and turned themselves into a team that we didn’t expect to serously compete into one that looked like it snatched defeat from the hands of victory. And for once, that’s a compliment.

New Jersey/Tampa: Devils in 5

Tampa simply doesn’t have the depth, and gassed out. can’t win a 500 mile race by driving real fast for 490 miles. Tampa needs to re-think how it pays players so it can add depth. New Jersey was beatable, and then Brodeur realized it was the playoffs and woke up, and it was all over.

Atlanta/Rangers: Atlanta in 76

And Atlanta proves that it’s different in the playoffs, and the pressure can get to people who aren’t used to it. They’ll be back, but I’m not sure they have the right mix of players.

Ottawa/Pittsburgh. Ottawa in 6.

The penguins pushed the senators harder than I expected, but the better team won. But pittsburgh is close.

3-4

so I’m 6 of 8 in the first round. Not bad at all.

2nd round:

Detroit/San Jose: San Jose in 6.

Going to be a fun series, but I think San jose is better. but Detroit worries me if the Sharks falter a bit, and Hasek is, well, Hasek.

Anaheim/Vancouver: Anaheim in 7.

I’m tempted to pick Vancouver; I think Luongo is the better goaltender — but I also think Anaheim has enough to overtake that different. But I think it’ll be close.

Buffalo/Rangers: Buffalo in 6.

honestly? the rangers are playing better than I expected. but I don’t think it’ll be enough, but it’ll be a series, and one worth watching.

New Jersey/Ottawa: Ottawa in 6

well, Brodeur is awake and making folks crazy. But Ottawa should win out. I won’t be surprised if they don’t, though, not much. Probably the closest series in the 2nd round.

Sharks Eliminate the Predators in 5.

We got together tonight with a friend to watch the game.

In a move that will put a grin on the faces of members of our former San Jose Sharks mailing list, earlier in the week I was up in the city visiting a client I’ve been working with, and had the opportunity to pop by the Ferry Building. If you haven’t been there since the re-did it, you must: it is a wonderful place of small restaurants and high-end foodie shops now, as well as the ferries coming in from Alameda and the North Bay. One of those shops is Cowgirl Creamery. I came home with a nice selection of artisanal cheeses.

To the cheeses, we added a selection of crackers, and we opened up a bottle of 2000 Argyle Willamette Valley sparkling (A pinot an Chardonnay blend), which was perfect with the cheeses and quite tasty on its own. AFter, when the Sharks had won out, I pulled out of my special cache a 2005 Paradise Ranch (Okanagan Valley) Ice Wine made from Pinot Noir grapes, and there was much rejoicing. I’m starting to run a bit short of B.C. Ice Wine, so I’m going to have to finagle a trip north so I can sneak over the border… (fortunately, I now have a reliable supplier that has Oregon and Washington Ice Wines, and that’s not bad, either).

A good time was had by all. Among the cheeses sampled tonight — the Cowgirl triple creme and red hawk, an young italian Peccorino that had been washed in balsamic with infused juniper berries, a Point Reyes real blue cheese, a pug’s leap (Healdsburg) soft and rinded goat’s cheese and one other triple creme who’s attribution was unreadable, but was from the north bay somewhere.

Of them, my favorites by far were the Cowgirl triple creme, the Point Reyes Blue (very tangy, very sharp, truly awesome) and the Pugs Leap. The Cowgirl Red Hawk, which had an interesting red rind caused by bring washed in a brine that changed the bacteria on the surface, was very complex and nutty, but just didn’t hold up to the others. The Pecorino was also a lot of fun and interesting.

Damn, I wish Cow Girl had a closer outlet…. Although not inexpensive, it’s nice having access to what the local and regional cheese makers are doing now, and there’s some amazing stuff.

Oh, yeah. Hockey. This pretty much summed it up:

From Behind the Mask: Put a fork in the Preds – I heard Mark Smith and the Fat Lady singing Pura Vida:

Is Scott Nichol retarded? If you are the Preds, how can you bring this guy back next season? What a selfish bonehead move in an elimination game.

That, in a summary, was the series. The Predators were undisciplined and it cost them penalties, players and games. The Sharks avoided falling into the retribution trap, and while the power play wasn’t exceptional, the Preds kept digging holes and the Sharks kept saying thank you. The two teams otherwise were exceptionally close in talent and execution, although Kariya as a key guy simply didn’t get the job done well, and the Sharks key guys did. And Mike Grier to me is an early candidate for the Conn Smythe, if the Sharks make it that far and he keeps it up. Amazing play.

To me, the Predators started the game in “I don’t want to get hurt going into the summer mode” — the absolute sell-out intensity of play was missing. That turned after a really good scoring chance by Kariya that didn’t go in, and they started to play with more urgency — but then they started doing stupid things and taking stupid penalties. And that (again) included Peter Forsberg, who (again) took really obvious penalties, and complained to the refs about them being called all the way to the box. (“hey, do you know who I am? That rule doesn’t count for me!” Rob Shick: “tonight it does, dude!”)

I’m not sure who to blame for the lack of discipline. The coach? The players? everyone? What’s should be disconcerting to Predator brass is that after they got it under control after the first two games, it leaked out again tonight and pretty much sealed their fate, after they woke up and fought to a lead.

So, the Sharks get a few days off, and onward, to… well, someone. My guess: Detroit, while Anaheim gets Vancouver. Anything that helps beat the crap out fo Anaheim before the Sharks have to play them, I’m for. Detroit is very beatable. In fact, with back to back games saturday and sunday, it’s not a foregone conclusion it’ll BE detroit. Now, as long as they don’t start early enough for game 3 to happen next week, I’m good.

And now, back to Peterborough Pete, for your enjoyment…

I feel bad for Peter Forsberg, I hope that was not his last game in the NHL.

You know? I don’t. Talent or no, he was part of the problem, taking bad penalties, whining about them, and playing fairly dirty at times and at other times diving. Sorry, if nothign else, he set a bad example that this team followed into stupidity and suspensions and game misconducts…

Sean Hill was caught using a performance enhancing substance. Have any of you seen Sean Hill play? Somebody whisper to him, whatever he was taking wasn’t working. He and Bryan Berard are free agents…they would be perfect d partners for each other. I’m thinking Chicago or Columbus is dumb enough to take them as a package.

(line of the night. Wish I’d thought of it…)

Is the NHL retarded? Who the hell schedules back to back home and away playoff games between Calgary and Detroit? Obviously someone who has never flown before. What’s up with that?

Why? Because Detroit hosed the series with other committments in the building. Don’t blame the league here, blame the teams for stuffing things into the building knowing they might need them for hockey.

How about the NHL not committing to a game time for Tampa’s home game on Sunday due to TV schedules (wanting the Pens on in prime time if they had won) until after the Ottawa – Pens game last night? But Tampa was forced to sell tickets to the game earlier this week with a day set but no time slot? What kind of mickey mouse league does that and rude is that to the hockey fans in Tampa?

That’s normal. The Sharks game 7 this round was the same way.

There are two reasons to do this. One is because TV might want to change the teim. The other is that there’s another event going on that you might need to change the time of, and you don’t want to have to change that time until you have to. In San Jose, for instance, that’d be the Lacrosse team, the Stealth, that might have an evening slot, but if the Sharks need it, get moved to a day game at the last minute. But you don’t want to announce that kind of schedule change until you have to….

Again, not the league. It’s the team…

Fraser Speirs – Making a living with the camera

Fraser Speirs – Making a living with the camera:

After hearing various people talk today and various discussions, I made a decision: I shoot photographs for pleasure, write programs for money and don’t want to make my ‘other’ hobby into another job.

It was only ever a fantasy world, since I’m far from certain that I’m anything like good enough to sell my work, but here’s the rule: the programs pay for the camera toys and the camera toys don’t have to justify themselves. Easier and more fun that way, I think.

Fraser’s made a very important discovery. Sometimes, taking something you really enjoy doing and turning it into a job merely removes the fun from doing it. Be careful with your hobbies — because you always need something that lets you get away from work.

Way back when, when I was publishing OtherRealms and writing book reviews for Amazing Stories, even though I was a life-long, hard-core reader, I came to realize there was no bigger hell than a deadline tuesday, a stack of books, and a sad realization they were all crap. I finally stopped writing to deadline, and instead went back to writing for fun (I have this stack, maybe 4′ high, of books waiting to be reviewed — seriously — but with all the other stuff I’ve been trying to catch up on, it hasn’t happened yet.)

Worse (or maybe “changed”) — between my fiction writing and my reviewing, I started reading everything with a more critical eye — it became very hard to just sit down and read a book to relax and enjoy, because the writer in me started taring it apart and studying it. For a while, I pretty much stopped reading fiction, because all fiction became “work”. I’m not nearly that bad these days, but I still have a strong preference for non-fiction, because it doesn’t trigger the critic in me (as often….).

Fortunately, I’ve come to love reading history and military history — because much to my surprise, unlike my belief in high school and college, history is not boring; how history is taught to students is, unless you get really, really lucky.

When I was doing the sci-fi circuit, the most common question I got about the reviewing was “you got paid to read books?’

and the answer is no, I didn’t. I got paid (not a lot) to write intelligently about books I’d read. A much different reality, and not nearly as much fun…

Be wary of turning your hobby into your job; you may find out it’s no long fun, just work, and that you merely lost a hobby. Not always a good tradeoff.

Playoff Predictions

And now the second season begins, and it should be a classic. Two months of — what we wish the rest of the season was like (although, to be honest, the last couple of weeks were pretty good, too).

Here in the west, there are no underdogs, there can be no cinderella, no upsets. the teams are too closely matched. Of course, having said that, we’re going to lose at least two teams in the first round that will consider that a season failure. that’s how strong the west is.

My cut on the matchups:

Detroit(1) vs Calgary: For a team that “snuck” into the playoffs and eliminated Colorado at the last minute, the Flames are a dangerous team. This series comes down to whether Kiprusoff can outplay Hasek, and whether Hasek can stay healthy through the grind of the series. Detroit has more offense, but Calgary has younger legs. It can go either way, honestly, but I’ll pick Calgary in 7. Why? Mostly a hunch, honestly. I just think the young legs will win ot.

Anaheim(2) vs. Minnesota(7): this one could be interesting, in the way a good pitcher’s duel is in baseball — it could go 7 games, each one 1-0 in overtime. But I think the goaltending in Anaheim, plus the Selanne-Penner-Pronger-Neidermeyer talents, will win out. I’ll take Anaheim in 5, but toughly fought. Anaheim was the ONE team I didn’t want to see San Jose play in the first round, mainly because while they handled Selanne pretty well, it seemed Penner gave them fits and he was a key factor in the season series.

Vancouver(3) vs. Dallas (6): Is Turco up to the task of taking Dallas deep into the playoffs? Maybe. But playing against Luongo, does it matter? I’m not so sure. I really like the canucks, and I really like how they match up against Dallas. I’ll take Vancouver in 5.

Nashville (4) vs San Jose (5): flip a coin. It’s hard to quantify advantages here. I could give a slight edge to San Jose goaltending, but it’s very slight. I think San jose is a little faster, a little bigger, a little more physical, but Vokoun and Kariya and Peter Forsberg have even more to prove than Joe Thornton does. I just hope there’s enough left of the winner to go deep, but these two teams could take each other apart such that the winner can’t survive round two. I’ll take six games, and flip a coin (San Jose, heads. please). And, of course, whoever wins out probably sees Anaheim in round too. Joy.

My choice out of the west: San jose, followed by Anaheim, followed by Vancouver, followed by Nashville. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the eight get on a roll and come out of the west.

Eastern Conference: Not so tight, and without the strength in goal across the board. But still some interesting match ups.

Buffalo (1) vs. Islanders(8): the Islanders made the playoffs — good for them. Now, will they win a game? I hope so. But Buffalo in 5.

New Jersey (2) vs. Tampa (7): As long as Brodeur stays healthy, it’s no real contest. New Jersey in 5.

Atlanta(3) vs. New York Rangers (6): Congrats to the thrashers for making the playoffs. Good luck to them, because I think they can take the Rangers, but this will be the closest matchup in the east. Rangers could well win this, but I’ll go Atlanta in 6.

Ottawa(4) vs. Pittsburgh(5): and let’s not forget how amazing it is that the Penguins are playing in the playoffs at all. In theory, Ottawa should win this fairly easily, but the Penguins are playing with someone else’s money (so to speak), and have nothing to lose, and that’s scary for the opposition. If they get on a roll, watch out. But I’ll go for Ottawa in 6, if only because I’m planning on betting with my senators-fan friend if they go deep, so I hope they do.

My choice out of the east: it’s buffalo’s to hand back. I don’t think they will. If they do, I’d bet on Ottawa, with Atlanta an interesting dark horse.

Go for the Win

Kuklas Korner:

Gary Thorne: Third periods should be all-out attempts to win close games, not attempts not to lose. The pressure is there for teams that need points to shut down the offense in tied third periods, especially if they have the personnel to win the shootout.

I keep thinking that the answer is to downplay the shootout, but not do away with it. How’s this sound?

Extend overtime to 10 minutes. There’s a very good chance of a goal within ten minutes. Winner gets two points, loser gets zero.

Then go to a shootout. Only — winner gets ONE point, loser gets zero. Not three points for the game, one. Strong encouragment for finishing before a shootout.

Then, add two tie-breakers to playoff seeding:

fewest overtime games: the team with the fewest overtime games wins the FIRST tie-breaker.

fewest shootout losses: the team with the fewest shootout losses wins the SECOND tie-breaker.

the third tie-breaker would then be total wins.

Instead of awarding an extra point for surviving into overtime, we remove a point for failing to win prior to the shutout. But we also make the shootout and overtime potential deal-breakers over playoff seeding. That should encourage teams to go for it (because the best way to win those first two tie-breakers is to have no overtime, much less no shootouts). And by adding five minutes to overtime and going for ten, we make the shootout fairly rare, but don’t eliminate it and go back to having ties.

Right now, we reward ties. I’m suggesting we shift to penalizing “not winning”.