Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind, don't matter, and those who matter, don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss
Girls just wanna have fun ~ Cyndi Lauper
Make some fun, happy time ~ Alex Ovechkin

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Enforcing Checks and Balances (A “Woman's” Perspective)

There has been a lot of discussion on whether or not the Washington Capitals needed an enforcer this season. I understand, I really do. Old school Canadian hockey is full of hard hits, pummeling fists, and bloodied players. There was a time when that was what many people exclusively watched hockey for; the fights. To this day, many still do. I suspect quite a few European players balked at coming to play in the NHL in the past because of the fighting. For the most part, they don’t play that way over there; or didn’t back in the day, maybe that’s changed.

I will admit; watching all in-balls out hockey fights can be difficult for me. I don’t watch boxing, and I don’t like seeing those heavy hitting, blood drawing, face disfiguring fights during a hockey game. Scrums are one thing, all out fisticuffs are another. Maybe I’m being a stereotypical female here, but I don’t get off on the sight of blood. What I do get off on is watching skilled players finesse a clean check to the boards. I can see why some fans enjoy hockey fights, there are times when payback seems to be the only choice. But, do we need players whose sole purpose on the rink is to be an enforcer anymore?

Let’s look at a recent example of a situation where the question of the Caps not having an enforcer once again reared its head. It wasn’t that long ago; Caps vs. Tampa on 1/12/10. After all was said and done, Ovechkin was the one who was criticized for NOT fighting when Matt Bradley jumped in to protect him from Steve Downie. I appreciate what Brads did to protect Ovi during this clusterfuck of a game. He stated afterward: “We have a guy like that going after our best player; obviously we can’t let that happen.” But, you don’t have to be an enforcer to protect your teammates. There are plenty of players who are not enforcers jumping into that role on an as-needed basis. Yes, tempers flair and scrums break out, nasty hits are made and penalties; hopefully; doled out. Teammates do need to look out for each other. You know what they say, there is no “I” in team. (Yeah, yeah, there is a “me”, I know the joke). But the reaction to that incident brought more cries for an enforcer, and more people drooling for hockey fights.

From nhl.fanhouse.com, this quote: “According to the folks at hockeyfights.com, Ovechkin has been involved in one regular season fight in his dominating NHL career. And quite honestly, it wasn't much of a fight. On Tuesday night during Washington's 7-4 loss in Tampa Bay, we were so close to seeing what Ovechkin can do with the gloves off ... until Matt Bradley went and ruined the fun.”
 (Just as an aside, the comments to that posting are as telling as the last sentence of that quote. I have a feeling if Ovi did get into a fight, he would lay someone out. He is bigger, stronger, and more mature than he was back in 2006. As much as I don’t like hockey fights, that is one I would probably watch, but that still doesn’t necessitate having an enforcer. Maybe that's why Brashear was traded to the Rangers, Ovi and the Caps don't need that kind of protection anymore and can fight their own battles.)

The days when hockey only appealed to men are over. You see women fans and people bringing children to games. For all intensive purposes, it looks like the NHL is trying to cultivate this new market of fandom and seems to be responding by cracking down on the types of fights and penalties that the enforcer would be most responsible for. The NHL is also trying to protect players from the disastrous consequences of the type of career ending damage an enforcer can inflict.

I know I’m going against the grain when I say we don’t need an enforcer. North American ice hockey will always have scrums, bad hits, and fights. It is the nature of the beast and one that will not be exterminated easily, if ever. But designate players to be that particular beast? Maybe it’s time to make a line change.

One final note: When we meet up against the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow, I’m sure several Caps players will have targets on their backs. You know who I’m talking about, right? So I may have to invoke my prerogative to change my mind about enforcers. If what could happen actually does happen, I will be screaming along with the rest of you and humbly submitting my apologies, hat in hand, foot in mouth.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Socializing Social Media

What may have started out as quick 140 character tweets describing “What’s happening” has turned into a true social outlet that has expanded our world, our views and our circle of acquaintances. I have had a Facebook account for a couple of years but have been on Twitter for only 11 months. Of the two, Twitter is the site I check first. To me, the kind of social media connection found on Twitter brings new people into your life, whereas Facebook typically seems to keep you connected to a few “friends”, former coworkers, distant relatives or fellow alumni. I add quotes to “friends” because most of the time I find that actual long time friends that I connect with is done in person or by phone, not postings on Facebook. This may not be the case for other social media users, but I think it is pretty typical for the most part.

I will admit my initial foray into Twitter was because of articles of celebrities using it. I thought it sounded interesting and signed up. I soon found the majority of those accounts were self serving and their tweets were actually boring to read, lacking any connection to real people, so I went exploring. Following my passion for hockey, I found my “real” people and never looked back. These people are my Tweeples, these people are my Tweeps.

Twitter has become my place to interact with people from all walks of life that share my interest in hockey. I have Tweeps from all parts of the US, Canada and even the UK. We use Twitter like an intense chat room during hockey games, and share work day woes to carry us through until the next hockey game comes around. I follow and tweet with fellow hockey fans, sports bloggers, actual athletes, and a few people just getting started on Twitter.

Tweeples, with the exception of the fake celebrity accounts, are real people. Some of us may keep our actual identities under wraps, but our tweets are real. We discuss our lives, our families, our jobs, our pets, our everyday foibles and successes, in addition to hockey. We announce pregnancies and births, new jobs, new cars, and anything else we think may be of interest to other Tweeple we have come to know. We commiserate over job losses and sometimes even try to help them find a new one. We share our sympathy when one of us suffers the personal loss of a friend or family member. We agonize together when our team is defeated and joyously celebrate wins.

Once you have an established core of followers, you’ll find that your Tweeple are ok with it if you root for an opposing team. They don’t care if you prefer rock and roll over country music or drive an SUV or drink or smoke or sing karaoke, for that matter. They don’t judge you if you are married, single or divorced; a parent or grandparent; overweight or underweight; if you may or may not be considered attractive; or even if you are a student or an adult out making their way in the world. You’ll recognize which ones of your Tweeples are likeminded when new followers stop following rather quickly. I often laugh to myself when I look at the tweets of new followers and see they do not share my interests or sense of humor. I am usually not surprised when they are gone in a matter of hours. I know that those that hang in there are doing so for a reason, which makes me appreciate them all the more.

Many of us will never meet in person, but because of our mutual interest, we often make an effort to by participating in “Tweetups” and “Hockey Viewing Parties”. If a Tweep uses an actual photograph of themselves as their avatar, you may recognize them in person, but those of us that don’t could remain a mystery without some way to get together in real life. (At least a mystery in regards to getting the full visual picture of who they are, because our tweets usually give a pretty good indication of our personalities).
Shown in this photo: @MedicChick, @Lil_Knuckler, @Sproing_Buzz,
@lorirusso, @tyynimeri, @danawalker,  @love_the_game, @VaMedic,
@ahwahoo2006, @KellyinDC, @lisamcgrath, @markrussopga, @hockeymomva

These Tweetups and viewing parties are a great way to expand connections we make on Twitter. Sometimes they are large gatherings to watch away games and can last several hours, sometimes they are quick mini parties at a sports arena (like the #caps108 intermission ones). And, in case you were wondering; most, if not all, of these meetings for hockey tweeple include some form of drinking. It gives us an opportunity for getting to meet followers in person, shake their hand or give them a hug, put a real face with the tweep you have been “talking” to for months. We already know each other, because keeping up a false persona on Twitter is hard to do and you would get called out pretty quickly. So no one is really surprised by the tweep we are meeting for the first time, it’s just nice to make their acquaintance face to face. I have actually mapped my route from my seat at Verizon Center to the #caps108 meeting place so I could be sure I had the maximum time to see tweeple in person. It was well worth the effort! My tweeps are a great bunch of people!

There are people who don’t use or understand the concept of Twitter; my husband was one of them. In the beginning, he would laugh and say that these people aren’t real. Now after hearing stories about tweeps, seeing pictures they have posted, my sharing of sports news through bloggers that tweet, and actually meeting some of them at a #caps108, his perception has changed. Will he get on Twitter or Facebook? I doubt it, but that doesn’t sway me from participating in socializing through social media. My world is even larger because of it…Any questions?

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Waddle of Flightless Birds? Bring it!

I am not a hockey expert, I’m just a fan. I’m not even gonna pretend I am an expert by researching/reciting stats or quoting knowledgeable authorities. (You really didn’t expect me to, did you?) This is going to be an “emotional” post, not a “clinical” one. This one comes from the heart. So, here it is; while I eagerly anticipate every Caps game; the game coming up on Thursday against the Penguins is the one I am really looking forward to the most.


In my mind, all the changes to the Capitals that have been made since last season were made for playing against this one team. A team we haven’t played since last spring. Forget the Sharks, forget the Devils, forget the Flyers. Ok, yes, all of them are hard to forget, but my point here is this: I believe the current team roster was built to play the Penguins. Our current SYSTEM was built to beat the Penguins SYSTEM. The Penguins are the adversary that sticks in our collective craw the most.

Today’s Caps team has taken a while to build; with many adjustments along the way. We can’t develop the team to suit all styles, we have to focus on what we think is going to be needed for the big picture. The Caps are looking towards getting through the playoffs and ultimately on to the Stanley Cup. That most likely may include playing the Penguins, so maybe the focus is there. Don’t think we need to worry about meeting them post season? I hope you are right, but I’m not taking any bets on it right now. The Penguins don’t look like they are going to crumble and fall apart any time soon, as much as I would like to hope otherwise.

Consider all the changes the Caps have made since the last season. New acquisitions, trades and players coming up from Hershey, coaching changes, line changes, the whole 9 yards, (or should I say 200 ft?). Don’t kid yourself, our guys are not resting on their laurels. We’ve said buh bye to Johnny, Clark, Juice, and at long last; buh bye to Nyls. We said a hearty hello to Knuble, B-Mo and Chimera. Our team’s coaching staff welcomed Bob Woods and Arturs Irbe into the fold. We’ve had players switch between offense and defense, and from wing to center. Bruce is constantly making line combination changes, often from shift to shift. We’ve seen Varly take over from Theo, and Neuvy take over for Varly. I could go on and on about what has changed with this team, but hopefully you get my point.

The Capitals have developed a certain style of play (for the most part), a style that is not always competitively compatible with other teams. But, there are some teams that fall apart against our run and gun game. It is this basic style of game with this current base roster of players that has been getting tweaked for months now. And, the Caps may not be done yet. The trade deadline is not over and we may now have enough breathing room if a player that suits our needs and fits our style becomes available.

Yes, we all want to win against every team, but that is not possible and not realistic. You might be thinking that Ovi needs to score more. As far as I’m concerned, as long as Ovi scores enough to get us to the post season and then scores big time when we get there, I’m ok with him not making 50 in 50 or winning another Hart. He’s probably ok with that too if it means he finally gets his hands on the Stanley Cup. We also need Varly to get better and get back on the ice. (And it wouldn’t hurt if Theo kept his head on straight and played consistently. Let’s face it, he’s no Kolzig, or even Huet for that matter, but, we have seen the times when he is out there putting everything he has into the game for a win. It actually can be done.) We need players drawing penalties and making power play goals, not sitting in the sin bin cooling their heels. We need the defense protecting our net, we need the offense crashing their net. We need to scrap pretty displays of passing that don’t result in goals. But, we are getting there. When the stars align and the system works, our team and its victories are a joy to behold.


Never forget that winning the Stanley Cup is THE objective for our team. It is also THE objective for EVERY NHL team, so don’t think the Penguins aren’t looking for a repeat of last year. Who did they have to get past to get there? Who will we probably have to get past to get there? So is the upcoming game against the Penguins really all that I think it’s going to be? I’m counting on it! Win or lose, it should be exciting, entertaining, and one we may watch holding our breath until we turn blue red.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

All Aboard the RU Serious?

Guess you can tell that this blog has not turned into a serious discourse on hockey, or even sports for that matter. Maybe because I follow hockey and am so interested in it, you would think I have something serious to say on that.


I am not an extremely serious person; life is too short to not enjoy yourself. I want to have fun, I love to laugh. And, I get distracted by life too easily to make even a feeble attempt at a serious blog about hockey. What can I sincerely add to the blogosphere that could in any way compete with the fine people listed on the right hand side of this page? --------------------->
You want serious hockey stats, commentary, and knowledge? Click any one of those links and your wish will be granted. I read them all the time.

So, I’m not so sure what direction I want to take. This blog is a hodge-podge of entries. If you have read anything on my way back machine, you will see I do tend to climb up on my soapbox occasionally and vent. Things piss me off and I can’t hold back. That was one of the reasons I started my original but now extinct blog in the first place. Couldn’t expect my husband to take on my rants without him asking for a divorce at some point. He’s a good guy, but that would be more than a spouse should have to endure. Also, I’m not big into punching walls like a guy might; after all, I could break a nail!

I was thinking I might continue my little foray into hockey for blondes. When I first started getting interested in hockey, I didn’t understand a thing. It wasn’t until my first live game that I actually even enjoyed the sport to its fullest. And, man, did I pepper my husband with questions. Being the hockey fan that he is; he was more than willing to share his extensive knowledge with me. He laughed at me at first, but because I was willing to risk looking like a dumb blonde, we can now have lengthy discussions and true give & take on any aspect of a game.

That being said, there were still times I found an answer to a hockey question that really didn’t break it down into brain-manageable data. So, I thought, here’s a blog idea; got a hockey question you’re too embarrassed to ask? I’m your girl. I’ll ask anyone just about anything and I don’t really care about looking stupid. Gotten an answer you just don’t understand, I’ll convert it to blondespeak for you. Don’t think of it as dumbing it down; think of it as cutting through the bullshit.

I am concerned I would be viewed as attempting to compete with sites such as Scarlet Caps, although I would naturally add my own quirky sense of humor to it. But, not everyone gets me, so, it’s on the map quest of directions I might go.

I did receive excellent advice from a fellow blogger to add my photographs to my blog, which I did try. Photography is a major passion for me, but, once again, do I want look like I am trying to compete with other sites that have photographs on them? After all, just how many ways CAN you shoot Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, or my favorites; our Capitals goalies when you have limited access?

(Insert photo here)

Finally, do I want to even try to enter the blogosphere competition? Not to discredit the people who have read and commented on this blog, especially those that actually took it a step further and signed on as followers, your support and comments are greatly appreciated, but how far do I want to go to get the readership I know I would end up craving? I can be very competitive, as much as I hate to admit it. Just ask the people I pushed outta the way during the Victoria’s Secret Semi-annual sale.

So, while I try to figure out where I’m going, I’ll leave you with just one final, yet serious, question…Any answers?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hockey in BlondeSpeak - Penalty Shots

(Semi-serious hockey post… yeah, right! Before I begin, anyone with any hockey knowledge who reads this and would like to point out any errors, please bash away, comments always welcome! But, I do not profess to be an expert, so please don’t expect 100% accuracy.)

I have questions, I want answers. What, exactly, constitutes when a penalty shot is called?

Let’s break this down, the blonde way. (Don’t get insulted, all you blondes. I am one of you).

So, the whistle blows and the zebra crosses his fists above his head. The crowd moans and the opposing team gets a penalty shot. Why, you ask?






 
 
 
 


Here is what the NHL says:

Rule 25 - Penalty Shot

25.1 Penalty Shot – A penalty shot is designed to restore a scoring opportunity which was lost as a result of a foul being committed by the offending team, based on the parameters set out in these rules.

And, 25.8 Infractions – Refer to the Reference Tables – Table 13 – Summary of Penalty Shots for a list of the infractions that shall result in a penalty shot being awarded (see specific rule numbers for complete descriptions).

There are four (4) specific conditions that must be met in order for the Referee to award a penalty shot for a player being fouled from behind. They are:

(i) The infraction must have taken place in the neutral zone or attacking zone, (i.e. over the puck carrier’s own blue line);



(ii) The infraction must have been committed from behind;



(iii) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have been denied a reasonable chance to score (the fact that he got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and he was denied a “more” reasonable scoring opportunity due to the foul, then the penalty shot should be awarded);



(iv) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have had no opposing player between himself and the goalkeeper.


A penalty shot is awarded to a player who is deemed to have lost a clear scoring chance on a breakaway by way of a penalty infraction by an opposing player. A breakaway, in this case, means that there are no other players between the would-be shooter and the goaltender of the defending team. Generally, the penalty shot is awarded in lieu of what would normally be a minor penalty, so the fouled team will not get both a penalty shot and a power play from a single infraction.

According to NHL rules, various infractions during a breakaway that can lead to a penalty shot being awarded include: a goaltender deliberately dislodging a goal-post (delay of game), a defending player using a stick or any other part of his body to interfere with the attacking player, a goaltender or other player throwing his stick to distract or hinder the attacking player, or any other foul committed against the attacking player from behind. In addition to this, a penalty shot is awarded to the opposing team if a non-goalie player intentionally covers the puck in his own team's goal crease.

Here is what the Blonde Girl says:

BlondeSpeak: If an opponent, with no other player between him and the goalie, is denied an attempt to shoot and possibly score a goal due to a penalty on him from behind, he can be awarded a penalty shot by the ref.

Forget all the other conditions and requirements. Basically, if you see a player being given a penalty shot, the above in BlondeSpeak is basically how it happened and is probably all you really need to know. Whether we agree with the refs or not, they make the call.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? I mean, there was no guarantee that the player was actually going to score! But, now he gets a chance to make another attempt, one on one, like a shoot out? Yeah, I don’t like it either. I especially don’t like it when it happens TWICE against our baby Bear goalie.

Penalty shots, like shoot outs, will give you a heart attack. They suck…Any questions?