NHL Predictions 2009-2010

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to take the ‘horrible prognostication’ tag out for a spin, so, with the NHL season starting up here’s my preseason take on how the conferences are going to shape up.

First, I’d like to say that I made a point of choosing three teams from each conference that weren’t in the playoffs last year, who will make the leap this year.  It may affect the accuracy of this exercise, but it’s a lot more fun than keeping the same teams in the top 8.

First up, the Eastern Conference.  I honestly don’t follow these teams hardly at all, so I’ve got very little on which to base these predicitons.

DIVISION CHAMPS –

1. Washington Capitals – Very good team in a bad division = lots of points
2. NY Rangers – Gaborik plays 75 games, scores 45 goals, Rangers cruise
3. Boston Bruins – I really wanted to pick someone else in this division, but who?

PLAYOFF TEAMS –

4. Philadelphia Flyers – solid team, why not #4?
5. Buffalo Sabres – a little too high?  this is a nod to my Buffalo friend, you’re welcome Tom!
6. Pittsburgh Penguins – two very long seasons tire this team out – they will still be a threat for sure
7. Toronto Maple Leafs – surprising team #1, possibly still a year away, but I say this year yields some playoff experience
8. Atlanta Thrashers – surprising team #2, start printing the playoff tickets now.
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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN –

9. NJ Devils – if true, probably the biggest surprise of them all
10. Montreal Canadiens – they blew up the whole team, who knows what will happen?
11. Carolina Hurricanes – not quite going to make it this year
12. Florida Panthers – some backsliding from last year’s near miss
13. NY Islanders – anything above last place would be an achievement
14. Ottawa Senators – not good
15. Tampa Bay Lightning – bad, bad, bad

Now the Western Conference.

DIVISION WINNERS –

1. San Jose Sharks – they’re good, and no one else in their division should challenge them for the top spot
2. Detroit Red Wings – in my book, it’s their division until someone takes it from them
3. Edmonton Oilers – Vancouver is the safe pick here, but that would be the same three winners as last season.

PLAYOFF TEAMS –

4. Chicago Blackhawks – they could certainly make a run at the Wings
5. St. Louis Blues – I like this team, they’ll be very good
6. LA Kings – lots of young talent turning the corner this year
7. Vancouver Canucks – what happens if Luongo doesn’t play all season?
8. Minnesota Wild – homerism?  guilty as charged.
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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN –

9. Calgary Flames – very easily could be a playoff team
10. Columbus Blue Jackets – they are middle of the road, could be in or out
11. Dallas Stars – backward sliding, could be worse than this
12. Anaheim Ducks – probably not this bad, but I can dream
13. Nashville Predators – really tough division for these guys
14. Phoenix Coyotes – it’s a circus and I can’t imagine them succeeding in that environment
15. Colorado Avalanche – bad, bad, bad

You want a Stanley Cup prediction, too? All right –

Washington over St. Louis in 6 games

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Decisions, Decisions

The NHL kicks off its season this weekend, which means I’m faced with my annual dilemma of whether or not to pay for the ability to watch hockey online.  The NHL Gamecenter live feature is a bit steep ($160 for 80 games or so), but still very tempting.  What do you think?

Carl Matthias

  • 10,000 Days (Wings, Part 2) – Tool – 10,000 Days
  • The Clincher – Chevelle – This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In
  • The Big Come Down – Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
  • Filthy – Nothingface – Violence
  • Change (In the House of Flies) – Deftones – White Pony
  • War? – System of a Down – (self-titled)
  • Karma Police – Radiohead – The Best Of
  • Pond Song – Dinosaur Jr. – Bug
  • Symphony of Destruction – Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction
  • I Bleed – Pixies – Doolittle

Triangles and the Twins

After their victory over the White Sox last night the possible scenarios (all in all 21 games involving the Twins or Tigers = 2,097,152 scenarios) for the Twins look like so:

0.9% of the scenarios have the Twins clinching the division on the road in the Detroit series.

9.6% of the scenarios result in a game 163 (tie atop the division)

15.0% of the scenarios have the Twins winning the division in 162 games.

So 1 in 4 possible scenarios result in the Twins playing more than 162 games this season.  After this summer, I guess I’ll take it.

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Too Lazy to Even Title My Posts

  • Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven – Doolittle
  • Tool – The Patient – Lateralus
  • Portishead – Hunter – Third
  • System of a Down – Darts – (Self-titled)
  • Nirvana – Anorexorcist – With the Lights Out
  • Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night – MTV Unplugged in New York
  • Mudvayne – Mercy, Severity – The End of All Things to Come
  • The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song – The Hazards of Love
  • Wendy Sutter – Tissue No. 7 – Songs and Poems for Solo Cello by Philip Glass
  • Audioslave – Like a Stone – (Self-titled)

No other posts this week.  Really didn’t have much to say.  Sunderland-Burnley is on ESPN2 tomorrow morning early (7:45 Central), else I’ve got nothing.

Cycling

No random 10 story today, I’m going with some non-fiction instead. Hope you enjoy it.

    Thursdays, Mrs. Mak has class in KC and this was her week to drive, so I had the entire night to myself and only my bike for transportation. Because I’m somewhat of an idiot, I figured I could use this opportunity to take an extended ride on the bike and push myself a bit. What I came up with was not on the scale of a trip to Wisconsin, but hey, I’ve got to start small. So here are 10 songs to go with my 10 mile trip around Lawrence.

  • Kyuss – El Rodeo – And the Circus Leaves Town
  • Headed out straight from work (in jeans, mistake #1) with fuzzy rock and fresh legs (neither would last more than about 5 minutes).

  • Led Zeppelin – In the Evening – In Through the Out Door
  • Zeppelin got me to this little music shop here in Lawrence (it’s called ‘Best Buy’, I heard they’re expanding a bit, there might be one near you soon) where I picked up ‘Horehound’ by The Dead Weather. A short ride to pick up some cat food for the starving pets at home and I headed back in the other direction.

  • Counting Crows – A Murder of One – August and Everything After
  • I’ve had that Counting Crows album since it came out, and it wasn’t until tonight I realized that ‘A Murder of One’ is a play on the word for a group of crows. Apparently the bike ride finally got the mental juices flowing.

  • (Hed) P.E. – Swan Dive – Broke
  • So this is the part of the ride I was most nervous about – the big $#@!ing hill behind our house. As I slog my way up the hill, I’ve got “What could be better than a swan dive into the asphalt?” blaring in my ears.  It seemed almost portentious.

  • Coil – The Golden Section – Horse Rotorvator
  • Survived the hill, only to get the creepy gloom of Coil as my reward, beginning to think I overreached a bit with this trek.

  • System of a Down – Spiders – (self-titled)
  • Recovered some and I’m almost to my next destination, 7 miles into the ride, I’m already thinking about the road home.

  • Black Sabbath – War Pigs – Paranoid
  • I get to Blockbuster (yeah there was one closer, but the idea was to push myself) and I’m almost dead, it was pretty much uphill the whole way, fortunately no more backbreakers like the first one, but I arrive and probably look like hell, judging by the clerk’s reaction. I grab my movie (The Matador) and start back with the War Pigs guitar solo starting me off.

  • Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly – There is Nothing Left to Lose
  • This is perfect.  I grabbed a drink and sat for a minute and I’m feeling much better.  Learn to fly, indeed.

  • Mastodon – Hunters of the Sky – Blood Mountain
  • Another uptempo and loud one, perfect for the downhill ride all the way home.

  • REM – Texarkana – Out of Time
  • Made it! And it felt pretty good. Felt even better after a shower and some supper. The movie was pretty good too, funny and well done (Pierce Brosnan was excellent).

New Music

The Dead Weather – Horehound – Clearly I just bought this, but I’ve listened to most of the songs on youtube. I do like a lot of Jack White’s stuff, and this was a little more dirty, bluesy and it caught my attention more than the other stuff. I don’t think it’s going to be one of my all-time favorites, but it should be a quality listen.

A Win on the Road

The U.S. Soccer team got it’s first win on the road in the CONCACAF final round last night, defeating Trinidad & Tobago 1-0.  The team has been perfect at home thus far, so this victory makes qualification for the World Cup their prize to lose.

The standings after 8 matches (out of 10) are below – top 3 qualify for the 2010 World Cup, 4th enters a qualifying playoff.

  • USA – 5 wins, 1 draw (16 pts)
  • Mexico – 5 wins (15 pts)
  • Honduras – 4 wins, 1 draw (13 pts)
  • Costa Rica – 4 wins (12 pts)
  • El Salvador – 2 wins, 2 draws (8 pts)
  • Trinidad/Tobago – 1 win, 2 draws (5 pts)

Things we know for sure:

– The US and Mexico cannot finish lower than fourth.

– The US could qualify after the next match with a win in Honduras (October 10).

– If the US draws, they need Trinidad/Tobago to take at least one point from Costa Rica to cement a qualification.

– If the US loses, a Costa Rica loss is necessary to qualify.

– If they don’t get it locked up on the 10th, they get to host Costa Rica on the 14th, where a single point will punch their ticket.

Reading

Shadow Country

Shadow Country

by Peter Matthiessen

Finally finished the book I’ve been reading for the past month or so.  Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen revolves around the shooting of E. J. Watson in the Everglades in 1910.

I enjoyed the book, this was a really engrossing read.  E.J. Watson is a remarkably interesting subject, and Matthiessen keeps this entire massive novel on point.  The setting of the Everglades frontier in the infancy of its development allow for a multitude of themes (racism, environmentalism, vengeance) but none of them are presented with a heavy hand.

The book is split into three parts, first comes the accounts of those who lived with Watson, second is the consequences, as Watson’s son attempts to piece together his father’s legend and sort out fact from fiction and last the entire story of Watson himself right up to his final moments.  When the entire Watson legend has been revealed, causes and effects, there is no great feeling of justice being served, or rage at a great injustice.  Rather it seems that this was the end that fit the story very well.  Perhaps ‘fate’ from the history of ancient Greece that Watson carries with him is the best way to describe it.

Up next, I’m excited to get to The Ancient Book of Sex and Science by a few Pixar artists who are doing a series of these.  I haven’t managed to get my hands on the first book in the series, but from what I’ve seen of the newest one (perhaps NSFW), it looks pretty cool.

The Ancient Book of Sex and Science

Many a Hand

New Music

Meshuggah – ObZen – This one was on sale at Amazon  last weekend, so I figured, why not?  This is about as hard of metal as I can listen to, and even then I’ve found that I can’t listen to more than about 3 songs in a row off this album before I start tuning it out.  It’s just too intense and too demanding for me to give it the required attention for a full 50 minutes.  That being said, there are some good songs on here – the opening riff to ‘Combustion’ has been running through my head all week, and the songs ‘Bleed’ and ‘Dancers to a Discordant System’ are also pretty awesome.

Random 10 songs:

  • Tehran – The Offspring – The Offspring
  • Plateau – Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II
  • Shimmy – System of a Down – Toxicity
  • The Crunge – Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
  • Somebody Someone – Korn – Issues
  • Aliens – Atomship – The Crash of ’47
  • Vordhosbn – Aphex Twin – Drukqs
  • Sifting – Nirvana – Bleach
  • They Hung Him on a Cross – Nirvana – With the Lights Out
  • This Spiteful Snake – Meshuggah – ObZen

Random Ten Story

No one lived here, but there were usually plenty of people on the street each day.  This was a one-horse town that had been never recovered from the sick twist of fate that had given Tehran, OK its politically charged name.  If you stayed long enough you grow used to the strangers and just greet the folks you know.  Everyone was there of course to scale the plateau south of town.  Today was finally our day, after listening to all the tall tales and half-baked mysticism, we got to see it for ourselves.  We were both in good spirits, she danced just a bit of a shimmy as we bolted out the door and south to our destination.

——————

She was a little afraid to be lost in the crunge, that was climber-speak for the foothills that were the final test before the actual climb.  She kept asking me if I had seen the bridge yet.  I explained that we were following the river,  and it had to lead to the bridge eventually.  Tired of explaining myself I focused on the shrine we needed build.  Tradition dictated that before we climbed we had to erect a shrine to somebody.  Someone important to us – we had heard of shrines for everything from the holy ghost to late night TV personalities.  We eventually decided on her mother (boring, but it was the only photo either one of us had on us).

——————

“There’s nothing on the top?”  her tone matched my incredulity. But it was true.  The view was spectacular from up here, and there was lots to see in the surrounding country, but it kind of scared me that the only thing I could find was an old birdwatcher’s guide and a discarded broom and dustbin.  It wasn’t until she whispered my name that I realized she wasn’t following me anymore.  She had scratched away a section of the dust to reveal, carved into the stone itself, some characters like nothing I had seen before.  “Aliens!” she breathed, and we began to clear away as much of the dust as we could.

——————-

“That was fun,” I remarked sarcastically after we had swept the entire top clean of dirt.  She hushed me and went to work translating all the symbols using the key we found in the southwest corner.  It turned out that the Vordhosbn (the alien species) had come here multiple times because of the sheer beauty of this particular stretch of Oklahoma desert (no accounting for taste, I guess).  They composed poems and songs dedicated to this planet, and wrote then in the stone here.  Sifting through it all felt like trying to make sense of second-rate junior high graffiti.  It seemed like the stoners of the alien race came here, where they lay about reveling in inaction and expounding all their beautiful words.  I realized despite the sense of wonder at almost contacting another species, there was still nothing up here except the bucket, the mop, and the illustrated field guide.  Disappointment ate at me during the entire descent.

———————-

We were met by a man who looked to be older than the dust that caked his face when we reached the bottom.  He instructed us in no uncertain terms not to tell anyone of what we had seen.  I argued with him that people would want to know about this, but he just kept repeating, “you know what happened to the last person who tried to change the way people see the world, they hung him on a cross.”  That really didn’t make sense, but to make him happy, we both agreed not to speak a word of it.  Strangely, as soon as I said it, I knew I wouldn’t tell this story to anyone who hadn’t already seen what I had.  Before he left I did ask him if there were other places like this, where extraterrestrials came to hang out.  He said there was someplace in Mexico, while pointing to the green land north of where we stood.  When I called him on his contradiction, he merely smirked, spit, and left. This spiteful snake didn’t know anything and wouldn’t help us even if he could.

(Guitar solo)

How Was My Day?

These clouds should be black
These clouds should be threatening
Not hanging effortlessly

I focus on making them solid
I focus on making them heavy
Enormous weights that fall and crush

If they do fall it will be rain
If they do fall it will be a refreshing rinse
With no thunderous theatrics

I will revenge this additional mockery
I will revenge this frustration of desired destruction
I will jump in all of their puddles

Home Sweet Home

Since I last wrote about Sunderland, they have gone 1-2 in the premier league and beat Norwich City in the opening round of the Carling Cup tournament.

BLACK CATS 1 – 3  CHELSEA

Sunderland just couldn’t hold off Chelsea after scoring early in the first half.  These matches against top-5 clubs are just brutal to follow, because you’re just waiting and hoping Chelsea doesn’t just drop the hammer on your team.  Unfortunately that’s what happened in this one.

BLACK CATS 2 – 1   BLACKBURN

These are the matches that Sunderland has to win if they want to move up the table.  Last season their record at home against teams 1-15 in the final standings was pretty poor (2 wins, 3 draws, 10 losses) which was a big reason why they had to fight off relegation late last season (more on this below).  So it’s good to get started on the right foot at home.

STOKE CITY 1 – 0  BLACK CATS

Blah.  Couldn’t get any points on the road.  Frustrating match, but that’s all I really have to say about that.

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