Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Round What?!

I thought I could do it. I thought I could come back after the lock out, after my own small boycott, and enjoy the game. I thought I could enter into the playoffs with some level of enthusiasm. I thought I could. And maybe it would have been different had my team made the playoffs. Maybe then I could have. Or maybe if my sweet husband's team had played more than four slightly better than dismal games I could have. But I can't. I can't enjoy the game this year. It's surprising and sad and I hope it doesn't last but the truth is, I just don't care this year.

The sun is shining, the grass is finally getting green and, to be honest, when I'm working four nights a week, the last thing I want to do on the other three is stay inside and watch big business. I want to play. I want to garden. I want to ride my bike and read books on the back deck and drink beer and bbq and go to yoga...and I just don't want to watch hockey this year. It's weird. I don't actually like it a lot but I'm going to run with it.

So I can't, in good conscience, write playoff post. There's some good match ups and some teams I really dislike going head to head but this is the best I've got. Conference finals...Pittsburgh from the East. The west is a little harder. I've gone back and forth between Chicago and LA. LA is proving that it wasn't all a magic run last year. Chicago had that stellar season. LA or Chicago? Chicago or LA? I think LA and Pittsburgh would be an interesting Stanley Cup final so let's say L.A.

As for the cup, well, we'll see how I feel when we get there.

Until then, time to enjoy the great outdoors and the wonderful things that summer has to offer...

Friday, May 03, 2013

Quoted :: Henri Nouwen

When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, ‘I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,’ we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness. It is important to think about the Church not as ‘over there’ but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.
Henri Nouwen, "Forgiving the Church," Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, Harperone; Reprint edition (Jun 1, 2005)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Current Read :: May 2, 2013

Order in Chaos, Jack Whyte
This is the third in the templar saga. I think I'll miss these once they're over. I'm especially excited about this one as it takes us into Scotland in the era of Robert the Bruce. Betrayal, history, knights, kings, queens and politics...just what the doctor ordered.

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job, Jon Acuff
I've just started this one via audiobook and am enjoying it so far. Acuff shares, in conversational style, some of the things he's learned about following and finding your dreams and transitioning well into your dream job, without quitting the day job too soon. So far so good.

The Winter Ghosts, Kate Mosse
 This was not what I was expecting. I have read Mosse's two previous novels and found myself thoroughly lost in both. This one was a different genre entirely. A ghost story of a different type. There was no mystery, no intrigue, no crime to solve, no puzzle and no chase. It was more of a classic ghost story. A slow ghost story. I don't think I enjoy slow ghost stories.

The Sanctuary, Raymond Khoury
This is another of Khoury's stand alone novels and, like the last one I read, it was okay. Tying together the intrigue of kidnapping, the mysticism of the search for eternal life that spans centuries and the science of medicine used in all the wrong ways. It was a nice break from the real world but I would probably say it was simply "okay."

World Without End, Ken Follett
I think the most fun part of this one was that it's the first book ever recommended to me by my dad. Ever. I read Pillars of the Earth over the holiday and was able to have a fun chat with him over that one. He then proceeded to give me a preview and I just couldn't wait to dive in. And he was right. I loved it.  Characters tied in from hundreds of years prior, and more of the lords, ladies and historical tales from Pillars. I think I actually enjoyed it more than Pillars, to be honest.

Lexicon Project :: Guidance

So here I am, trying to teach myself cables, and not just any cables, Celtic cables at that, with only this chart for guidance (have I mentioned I haven't knit by a chart before either?). I'm so pleased with how the pattern is coming out.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

NHL Playoffs 2013 Round 1

I admit it. I'm still feeling a bit of a post strike hangover so writing about the playoffs seems a little bit ridiculous but, the truth it seems, is that once a hockey fan, always a hockey fan so here I am. The other truth I should probably confess is that I probably only watched about half of the hockey games that I normally would in a season (and that's not a reflection of the shortened season). Sure, I caught all the games that my Oil played that I could (pesky work schedule got in the way of a few) and most of the Canucks games (I'm a good wife, after all...or trying) with the exception of our early season fast (read protest/boycott) but those Eastern Conference games...did they happen? With the exception of whichever Montreal, Toronto or Ottawa game got the early slot on Hockey Night in Canada, it was as if a lot of those games didn't exist for the viewership in this house.

But now it's playoffs.

Now the fun begins.

Now it matters.

So, as has been my tradition over the last few years, here's my picks for this round.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh (1) vs NY Islanders (8)
Even without the injury ridden Crosby in the lineup, the Pittsburgh bench goes deep. There's tons of playoff experience and hockey smarts on this year's team. The Islanders just haven't seemed to be able to score this season and, well, the Penguins just happen to be the top scoring team in the league. Either the Islanders need to put up a defensive wall or they'll need to find offense they haven't had all season. Either way, I think it's a long shot.

Pittsburgh in 5.

Montreal (2) vs Ottawa (7)
It seems that both of these teams have had a bit of a roller coaster season. Montreal didn't fare so well at the end of their season, piling up the losses. Curious what that does to a team to have a slide like that just prior to the playoffs. That said, if they could come through the personnel chaos at the beginning of the season they way they did - P.K Subban? Just sayin.' - maybe they are mentally tough enough to get through this too. They were second in the East, after all. They've got rookies, they've got some new muscle this season, they've got some great scoring stats and stellar special teams and they've got a goalie who's willing to pay the price...but you've got to know that a good Canadian match up like this will be full of life. Ottawa has it's strength. They've got veterans like Karlsson and Alfredson who are hungry for the cup, one of the best penalty kills in the league this year, some muscle of their own and a goalie who, if he really is healed from the injury that sidelined him for almost half of the regular season, could be the answer to Montreal's offense. I like Ottawa for this one. This is the team that last year shocked everyone, giving the Rangers a good scare. They're good for the upset.

Ottawa in 7.

Washington (3) vs NY Rangers (6)
Two teams with nearly identical regular season records coming out of the East. Oh joy. It would probably be fair to say that the first half (or more) of both teams' regular season were lackluster at best BUT both teams have turned it on to finish and captured play off spots in their own right. So here we are. We have Washington with Ovechkin - who just wasn't enough to do it last year - and a Ranger squad - changed very little from last year - boasting the fire power of Rick Nash and backstopped by Lundquist. They're two teams that don't like each other much so it will probably be feisty hockey and close games but I'm not convinced that the Capitals have what it takes. Playoff hockey history hasn't been kind to the Capitals.

Rangers in 6.
I saw this on facebook the other night and had to grab it to share.

Boston (4) vs Toronto (5) 
I wish that I could say that I write this with no personal bias but that would be a lie. Toronto bugs me. The fact that they haven't seen playoff ice since 2004 makes me happy. Stephen Harper's mocking tweet prior to the series - "I hope MapleLeafs fans enjoy their 1st playoff game in HD this evening," - gave me a good chuckle. That Toronto is in the playoffs when Edmonton isn't, ticks me off.

So here we are. Two more teams facing off that come into the playoffs with nearly identical stats. I wish I could hold the fact that they haven't been in the playoffs in years and that 15 players on the Leaf's roster have never played in a playoff game against them but I can't. Boston won in 2011 and, barely changing the roster, were out in the first round in 2012. I don't think playoff experience is going to be the factor in this round...unless you want to say that last year's loss makes the Bruins more aware. There's enough muscle to make this series nasty - hello, Chara's a monster - and enough offense to make it fun - Kessel, Seguin, Horton, and Redden to name a few. The difference will be the strength and longevity of the defense. If Rask can hold it together, he could be the game changer.

Boston in 5.

Western Conference

Chicago (1) vs Minnesota (8) 
If Toronto makes me grumpy, it's fair to say I hate Chicago. Hate Kane and Bickell and Oduya and Hossa. I do. But you don't post a season like this one for nothing. Sorry Minnesota.

Chicago in 5.

Anaheim (2) vs Detroit (7)
I feel like this is the same Anaheim team I was watching in high school...or maybe that's just Teemu Selanne that makes it feel that way. That's guy's a veteran leading a team that wants to win and knows they can. They broke all sorts of franchise records this year. They have special teams, penalty kill and goal tending in order. The starting lineup of Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry is impressive and more than capable.  And then there's Detroit. The third team in the NHL that is essentially dead to me. They have experience. They have stars. They have the will to win. They beat Aneheim three out of the four times they played this season. And they're on a roll coming into the playoffs. If you're going to pick a time to "get hot" this is it. I figure this will be one of the hardest fought series this round with more than a few one goal decisions and over time wins. While LA showed last year that a number 8 seed can take it all the way, this Anaheim team has something good going on.

Anaheim in 7.

Vancouver (3) vs San Jose (6)
While not hailed as the hands down favorite this year, it's not as if Vancouver is out of the running. Their playoff hopes are alive and well. Come on, when your backup goalie is Luongo, you're not doing half bad (all haters keep your opinions to yourself. you know you'd want him on your team). I'm not convinced that the Schneider/Luongo question is actually that big of an issue. You've got the Sedins, Burrows, Bieksa, Kessler (if he can stay healthy), Edler, newly aquired Roy, and Ballard. Guys that can win. They're season started a bit shaky but if the end of the season - and games like their last meeting with Chicago are any indication - this Vancouver team is picking it up at the right time. Meanwhile, the Sharks are still boasting a strong veteran core albeit less so after the pre-trade deadline deals that saw some of their depth (like Clowe) finding new homes. Even so, they're coming in on a winning streak that not only propelled them into the playoffs but into the 6th spot. The difference between these two teams is going to come down to offense. I know, I know...the team with most goals wins. I get it. But here's the deal. As they go into game one, these two teams are, on paper fairly evenly matched so the team that can find the offensive solution (and yes, score the most goals) wins. 5 on 5 goal scoring and the power play. If Vancouver can find the power play prowess of seasons past, this could be short lived. Regardless, it's going to be fun.

Vancouver in 7 (and not just because my hot husband wants them to win).

St.Louis (4) vs LA (5)
LA's 2012 run from eighth spot to the cup was, well, magical. Is the magic alive and well for 2013? This is yet another match up of evenly matched teams. Similar in goals for and against and almost equal power play and penalty kill percentages.  LA may have won all 3 games of the season series between the two teams but St. Louis won 12 of their last 15 games of the season, goal tending being the key to those wins with Elliot putting up some stellar stats. Then again, Quick isn't half bad either. These are going to be low scoring, grinding, hard fought games but, in the end, I don't ascribe to the theory that says the magic is gone...or that 2012 was simply a magical anomaly for the Kings. They're a solid team that has tasted the win...and liked it.

LA in 7.

So that's all I've got for now. We'll see how it goes.

Now I'm going to go knit until I'm allowed to watch the game currently recording. What did we do before PVR's?