Two Points At A Time

With the Dallas Stars OT loss to Phoenix last night, they are seven points back from the eighth seed with six games to play.  They are done.  Unfortunately the team directly above them in the standings is the Minnesota Wild.  So now it’s time to start stringing some wins together.

There are six teams in the Western Conference competing for the 6-8 spots (Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota).  All of them have six games remaining.  Of those 36 games, six of them are against each other, so only 30 games remain to determine the Wild’s season.  Unfortunately, with hockey’s multifaceted standings points system that still means there are over 282 trillion possible combinations of outcomes.  It’s not really worth it to run an exhaustive calculation of all those scenarios, so I’ll pick one to give an example of what it’s going to take.

From here on out if all six teams win all their home games, but lose all their away games the final standings will look like this (no overtime losses – just to divorce this example even further from reality)

Columbus – 92 pts
Edmonton – 91 pts
Minnesota – 88 pts
—————–
Nashville – 88 pts
Anaheim – 86 pts
St. Louis – 85 pts

In this case, the Wild win the tiebreak on goal differential with Nashville to get into the playoffs by the slimmest of margins.

So there’s one option, cheer like mad for the home teams from here on out.  And no 3-point overtime games for the other guys (especially in games like Edmonton-Anaheim and Columbus-Nashville tonight).

Most importantly of course the Wild have got to take care of business.  Vancouver’s been on fire trying to chase down Calgary for the division crown.  If they beat both teams this week, then the Wild can’t be accused of playing favorites, so that’s probably the best option.

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Pick Me, Pick Me, Everyone Is Waiting

New Music

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – The Century Of Self – Somehow I’ve managed to acquire a lot of Trail of Dead albums without really trying.  There are some good songs on this one, I like “Bells Of Creation” and “Insatiable” so far.

Because you asked – Groups with the most albums on my iPod

Nine Inch Nails (11), Led Zeppelin (8), Nirvana (8), Offspring (8), Trail of Dead (7), Foo Fighters (7), Tool (6)

Random 10

Mars Volta – Eriatarka (Deloused in the Comatorium)
Nirvana – Big Cheese (Bleach)
Onesidezero – Never Ending (Is This Room Getting Smaller?) – Drum Solo!
Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun (Superunknown)
Rolling Stones – Live With Me (Let It Bleed)
Nirvana – Dive (Incesticide)
Everclear – Heroin Girl (Sparkle and Fade)
Aphex Twin – Lornaderek (Drukqs)
Butthole Surfers – Who Was In My Room Last Night? (Independent Worm Saloon)
Dredg – Brushstroke: Reprise (El Cielo)

If you haven’t ever had Richard James’ parents start singing “Happy Birthday” into an answering machine in the middle of your random 10, let me tell you, it’s a little jarring.

Two Videos

Nirvana – Big Cheese

I figure two weeks in a row with a double-shot of Nirvana warrants a video

Neil Young – Light a Candle

New album, Fork In The Road, comes out one week from Tuesday (4/7)

March Madness – For Real This Time

The basketball tourney got everybody in a brackets kind of mood, so now it’s time to do this for real.  The NCAA hockey tournament starts Friday afternoon, so hurry and download the NCAA hockey Frozen Four brackets here.  Fill them out and confuse your friends when you complain about Bemidji State busting your bracket.

Here’s mine, I’ll take all comers in the first annual Daneeka’s Ghost Hockey Madness Sweepstakes.  Winner gets … I don’t know … my undying admiration.

mh-bracket

The Mind Of Dwayne Hoover: 2666

This is another entry in “The Mind of Dwayne Hoover”. If you’re wondering what that means, check out the introductory post for a full list of entries in this series. Enjoy!

First of all, this is a bit of an imposing novel.  It’s long, it’s convoluted, and, other than the five books it’s comprised of, there aren’t really any stopping points.  I started reading this around the new year and due to my focus on other things I didn’t finish it until early March.  There was a significant chunk of time where I didn’t read at all, so when I say I had trouble keeping the whole story in my head, that is probably part of the problem.  2666 is the masterpiece of Roberto Bolaño, who died while in the final stages of preparing it for publication.  It revolves around the town of Santa Teresa, in northern Mexico, where, for years now, dozens of women have been murdered.  Law enforcement has had no successs stopping or solving the crimes.  For ong stretches of the book, you wouldn’t know this of course, because the narrative is following some literary scholars on their pursuit of reclusive German author Benno von Achimboldi, or it’s following a New York reporter covering his first boxing match, or Archimboldi himself through World War II.  Did I mention this book is imposing with a lot going on?

As I mentioned above, the novel is divided into five separate books.  Apparnetly Bolaño wanted to sell each of the five as separate novels, but upon reading them I have to agree with the publishers who combined them into one whole.  Even though the parts can be read in nearly any order (which is really cool, I’m actually excited to re-read this at some point in a different order), they intertwine and support each other book to create the entire story.  Actually the ability (or inability) to see the entire story is part of the narrative itself.  The title supposedly refers to the year 2666, a date which is never mentioned in the novel.  Instead it represents the perspective of the reader/narrator who has had time to collect all these stories and assemble them, even though there are unkown things about each of the characters that can never be explained regardless of how much perspective one has.

In contrast to the narrator, the characters struggle through the novel completely unable to know any of the entire story they are part of.  The literary scholars fly to Mexico to find Archimboldi based on a rumor of his whereabouts, without really knowing what it is they’re looking for.  The reporter spends considerable time researching, interviewing, and gathering information about a Mexican heavyweight challenger who goes down early in the first round.  The entire fourth book “The Part About the Crimes” was the most difficult of the books to read, a seemingly endless recounting of the murders without any meaningful breakthroughs for the characters struggling against them.

The story isn’t ever straightforward, and there are digressions galore in all of the books.  Fortunately, Bolaño is a fantastic storyteller, and I willingly followed him down each digression.  I already mentioned that I plan on rereading this one, and I would certainly read other novels of his.  A lament from the novel:

What a paradox, … now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze paths into the unkown.  They want to watch the great masters spar, but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrrifies us all, that somthing that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.

I feel like this is Bolaño’s pre-emptive strike against criticism of this expansive work, and I’m glad I took this on.  I’m not sure that I emerged victorious, but it was certainly an interesting and entertaining struggle.

A Wild Fan Looks At The Stretch Run

finish

After this weekend, the teams ranked 6th through 13th in the Western Conference have all played 72 games, meaning they all have 10 games remaining.  Here’s a look at where they stand and who they have left to face (home games are bold).

TEAM PTS REMAINING 10
Columbus 82 TB, CGY, STL, STL, NSH, NSH, CHI, CHI, STL, MIN
Edmonton 79 DET, PHX, ANA, MIN, ANA, SJ, VAN, LA, CGY, CGY
Nashville 77 ANA, SJ, LA, DET, CLB, CHI, CLB, CHI, DET, MIN
———————-
Anaheim 76 NSH, COL, EDM, COL, EDM, VAN, SJ, SJ, DAL, PHX
Minnesota 76 NYR, NYI, CGY, EDM, VAN, CGY, DET, DAL, NSH, CLB
St. Louis 75 LA, VAN, CLB, CLB, CHI, DET, DAL, PHX, CLB, COL
Dallas 74 VAN, LA, FLA, PHX, LA, CGY, STL, MIN, COL, ANA
Los Angeles 70 STL, DAL, NSH, DAL, PHX, PHX, CGY, EDM, VAN, SJ

Things in the Wild’s favor include –

1) Lots of games against the teams competing for those final spots.  They finish against Nashville and Columbus which could be an opportunity to make up some ground in head-to-head matchups.  They still control their own destiny (if they finish 10-0 they make the playoffs).

2) The current 8th place team (Nashville) has the hardest remaining schedule.  Average standings points of opponents for Nashville is 88, they play Detroit twice on the road, and nobody who’s been eliminated from playoff competition.  The second hardest schedule belongs to Edmonton, currently in 7th place, who faces all three division leaders down the stretch.

Things not in the Wild’s favor include –

1) They don’t have an easy schedule, the average standings points of Wild opponents comes out to 82.  Only Edmonton (84) and Nashville (88) have harder schedules.

2) They will have to win some of those 10.  And maybe even more than one in a row.  On the road.

Wild Math: +10 -9 = 1 big ?

Oilers Wild Hockey

That doesn’t look good.

Just a reminder, last year the Wild played without Koivu for 24 games due to a broken leg.  Their winning percentage dropped .050 points in those games (from 1.26 pts/G to 1.16 pts/G).  I don’t think anyone here would argue that this year’s team is more capable of making up for that loss than last year’s team.

The Wild got Gaborik back on Sunday, but he’s still obviously nowhere near 100%.  How much production he will bring is still unknown, but filling Koivu’s role if he misses time will be be the bigger question mark going forward.

I’m Not Your Beam Of Light

Random 10:

Nirvana – School
Deftones – Feiticeira
Onesidezero – Holding Cell
Korn – Here to Stay
White Zombie – More Human Than Human (Meet Bambi in the King’s Harem Remix)
Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Dredg – Catch Without Arms
Korn – Bottled Up Inside
Nirvana – The Man Who Sold the World
A Perfect Circle – Sleeping Beauty

That’s an angry ten! If you’re not worked up enough after those songs, here’s two more loud and fast ones for you.

Two Videos

Mastodon – Blood and Thunder

*new album out Tues.*

Meshuggah – Rational Gaze

Followers

A ghost story.  Brothers can be cruel.

Followers (@ Scrawlers)

My brother told me there were many kinds of ghosts.

“The only one you need to worry about are the Followers. You know when you’re standing in a dark room convinced there’s something behind you? Followers.”

His voice trailed off. When it came back it was fainter.

“They’re usually harmless, but if you’re stuck with them for too long you go crazy.”

Fainter still…

“Some people claw all the skin off the back of their neck trying to get rid of them.”

Silence. Then the lights went off and he locked the door behind him.

A New Career?

The Beloit Snappers are including some fan-submitted photos in their game program this year.  Since I had some photos from some games, I submitted this one:

Got the call yesterday from the Snappers, who informed me that my picture made the cut!  My spoils include:

– One free copy of the 2009 Snappers Souvenir Game Program
– Four box seats to any April or May home game
– Four vouchers for a free hot dog and soda
– One team autographed baseball
– The opportunity to throw out a first pitch at an April or May home game

This beats the time I caught one of the free T-shirts they were throwing into the crowd.

So I think this makes me a professional photographer, right?  Time to ditch this chemistry gig and start racking up the free hot dogs and soda! Anyway, this only made me wish the baseball season would get here sooner.  Less than three weeks until real baseball starts again!

A Wild Fan Checks Last Night’s Boxscore

americansplendor

I admit, I’ve been a little bit pessimistic about the Wild.  But here’s the good news.

Teams that control their own playoff destiny in the Western Conference:

Detroit (clinched spot)
San Jose (clinched spot)
Calgary
Chicago
Vancouver
Columbus
Dallas
Edmonton
Minnesota

The Wild  are still the only team other than the current top 8 which control their own destiny* thanks to 2 games remaining against the Oilers, and one against the Stars.  It bears repeating however, that this scheduling advantage is only an advantage if they actually take advantage and win some games.

That’s as positive as I can manage right now.  We need two points tonight against Colorado, there’s no way around that.

*Anaheim and St. Louis could force a tie with Dallas if they win out, but I didn’t want to bother with tiebreakers.

No Way to Recall What It Was That You Said to Me

New Music

R.E.M. – Murmur – My attempt to discover the best that the 1980’s has to offer has resulted in my rediscovery of R.E.M.  I was enormously into them when my entire music collection was on cassette tapes.  As I moved over to CDs, I never re-purchased the albums and I moved on to different (louder) genres of music. Although I’ve managed to acquire a fair amount of their music from my youngest brother (who’s becoming an R.E.M. nut himself) neither he nor I ever had this album, so when I found it on the cheap at the local used record store, I pounced.  It’s definitely recognizable as the same band, but it’s still a bit different than the early 90’s R.E.M. that I used to be so enamored with.

Random Ten Songs

Dredg – The Ornament (Live at the Fillmore)
Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug (Lost Highway Soundtrack)
Foo Fighters – Ain’t It The Life (There Is Nothing Left To Lose)
Nine Inch Nails – Zero Sum (Year Zero)
Tantric – Breakdown (Tantric)
Rage Against the Machine – Take the Power Back (Rage Against the Machine)
Jane’s Addiction – Summertime Rolls (Nothing’s Shocking)
Tool – Eulogy (Ænima)
Nine Inch Nails – That’s What I Get (Pretty Hate Machine)
Nine Inch Nails – Piggy (The Downward Spiral)

The NIN quadruple! If there was a band I expected to show up 4 times in a single list, it would be NIN. They’ve released so many albums that they actually account for almost 10% of the songs on my iPod (alright, I went and actually counted – 156 songs out of 1866, or 8.3%).

Two Videos

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Bells of Creation

They managed to release a new album without my noticing, perhaps it will make an appearance at the top of one of these posts soon.

Nine Inch Nails – Something I Can Never Have

Couldn’t resist…

Travel

Mrs. Mak has a graduate school interview in Kansas City this weekend.  I’m going along as moral support, and we’re leaving tonight.

I’ve got a random 10 ready to go for Friday, but I’m not sure what the internet situation will be while I’m away, so if I don’t respond or fix any glaring errors in the post, now you know why.

Wish us luck! (especially her, she’s the only one actually doing anything, I’m just the support staff)

Back next week.

A Wild Fan Waits For A Winning Streak

skeleton

Wild record this year after a victory – 12 wins, 16 losses, 4 OT losses.

Take out the first seven games of the season and you have a paltry 7-16-3 record in games following victories in the last 60 games or so.

On the other hand, they are 19-12-2 in games following a loss, so they are almost methodical with their inconsistency.

At least they got a point last night.  They are 2-2-1 in their last five heading into yet another road trip.

A .500 record the rest of the way puts them at 86 points, which I’m guessing will not make the playoffs.  I’d set the bar around 91 or 92 points right now.  Am I alone in wondering where they are going to pick up those other 5 or 6 points?

Caffeine Withdrawl

Caffeine Withdrawl (@ Scrawlers)

It’s Wednesday, I should be crawling out of bed, shuffling through the morning toward the office, bleary-eyed and sleepy, until I get to the dark steaming center of my ritual.

“Coffee?”

“No, thanks, Mom.”

As much as I need it, I won’t take coffee from my parents. They drink coffee all day, every day, their authority seemingly derived from the dark roast. Accepting their offer would come with a tacit understanding that I have passed some threshold into adulthood and maturity.

“Are you sure? You look tired.”

“I’m still adjusting to being back home.”