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Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7
Calgary Flames 3
San Jose Sharks 5
(San Jose wins series 4-3)

Thank God the right Sharks showed up. And look at this: you put Jeremy Roenick back in the lineup, and he goes and scores four points. ‘Magine that.

Next up: the University of Dallas Stars. Game One is Friday on Versus at 7:00P PDT; I will post the full schedule when the NHL announces it, probably tomorrow.

Now I have to go weep like a small child for a while…

Do, Or Do Not

Because there sure as hell wasn’t any try out of the Sharks last night:

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 6
San Jose Sharks 0
Calgary Flames 2
(Series tied 3-3)

They made Game One look inspired. That’s how piss-poor they played. I’ll leave it at that.

If you’re a sports fan, these are the two most beautiful words in the English language: Game Seven. Unless your team is involved. Then it really, really sucks. (And now I get to miss a second consecutive Tuesday game night. Fark Calgary.)

Game Seven is Tuesday night, 7:00P, on Comcast Sports Net in the Bay Area, CBC in Canada, and Versus (who, as predicted, did indeed pick up the game in the wake of Dallas finishing off Anaheim last night, and fark the Stars right in the goat ass for that, because that means I’ll most likely have to watch the heavily biased CBC feed on Versus instead of getting Randy and Drew on Center Ice) in the rest of the United States.

Sweep The Leg

I apologize for being lax in my playoff reporting; honestly, it hasn’t been all that fun. I have a huge emotional attachment to this hockey club, and quite frankly their play in a good bit of this series has been infuriating and depressing. And since this is my blog and not a newspaper, I’m not going to write about something that I’m not having fun writing about.

So, with that, let’s get you caught up, starting with last Sunday night’s game:

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3
San Jose Sharks 3
Calgary Flames 4
(Calgary leads series 2-1)

San Jose scored three times in the first four minutes of the game. Then they decided that they could go back to the hotel. In their stead for the next 56 minutes, they were replaced by a collective of sloth. (The collective noun for bears is “a sloth of bears.” I could not find the collective noun for sloth, but I’m pretty sure it’s not “a bear of sloth.”

Which brings us to Tuesday night:

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 4
San Jose Sharks 3
Calgary Flames 2
(Series tied 2-2)

The sloth apparently were sent back to the rink to start Game 4. Despite a second-period goal from Ryane Clowe, one of the few Sharks to have actually shown up for most of this series, they were floating again. Then, with five minutes to go in the game, I guess the sloth got tired and told the Sharks to go the hell back to the Saddledome and start earning their paychecks again. Then….well, let’s bring in the Sharks’ broadcast team of Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda to tell you what happened:

Nine seconds left. (Yeah, I know Randy and Drew were saying seven. They were slow stopping the clock on the goal and they put the time back on the clock.) Man, my heart can’t take crap like this anymore. (And a big Chez Fred hello to the lone Sharks fan sitting in the front row behind and to the left of the Flames’ goal!)

Finally, tonight’s game, back in the friendly confines of the Shark Tank:

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 5
Calgary Flames 3
San Jose Sharks 4
(San Jose leads series 3-2)

FINALLY, a full 60 minute effort. This was a 4-1 game at one point, but Calgary doesn’t exactly suck, and the Hockey Gods hate me, so David Moss‘s goal with 1:17 left in regulation provided what most sports fans would call “an exciting finish,” but what I endured as “a powerful laxative.” If the Sharks can keep this game up, they will win this series. Period.

So the good guys are up 3-2, and they can finish this thing Sunday night in Calgary. 5:00P PDT start, on Comcast Sports Net in the Bay Area, CBC in the Great White North, and Versus south of the 49th Parallel.

Good News, Bad News

And first, the bad news, from last night:

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 1
Calgary Flames 3
San Jose Sharks 2
(Calgary leads series 1-0)

One of the worst, clumsy, undisciplined, lackadaisical games I have seen the Sharks play all year. You don’t get away with a lot of those in the playoffs, so burning one off in the very first game is generally a bad idea.

Now, the good news from tonight:

Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2
Calgary Flames 0
San Jose Sharks 2
(Series tied 1-1)

MUCH better game. Still not seeing a lot out of Jeremy Roenick or Joe Thornton, and I was hoping I would see significant contributions from both. But I needed to see that they took last night’s crap performance as a wake-up call, and they did not disappoint. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was friggin’ brilliant, including one save that I would find video of and link to, had the game not just ended. Watch this space tomorrow, maybe.

(EDIT: Here you go. 3:52 in.)

Anyhow, the good guys pulled out the split at home. Would have been nicer to get ’em both, but hey.

Game Three is Sunday night in Calgary, 7:00P, on Comcast Sports Net in the Bay Area, CBC in Canada, and Versus in the rest of the United States.

The Journey Begins Anew

stanley2008_200 This is the official warning to The Four Of You that we’ve reached the time of year where 70% of the the posts are going to be completely uninteresting to Three Of You.

That’s right, tomorrow is the beginning of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Sharks, in no small part due to a twenty-game run at the end of the season where they were unbeaten in regulation (and only two of those were overtime losses, and ONE of those was a result of the goddamn shootout), finished the season with the second-best record in the league, a franchise record 49-23-10 for 108 points, and the second seed in the Western Conference. (Only Detroit, with 115 points, had a better finish.)

As a result, so long as they don’t face Detroit, they will enjoy home-ice advantage (by the way, the name of my band in Guitar Hero II? Home-Ice Advantage.) in every playoff series they take part in this year.

And as the two-seed, they will face the seven-seed in the West in the opening round, the Calgary Flames. And because I know you care (and actually one of the benefits of playing against a Canadian team is that CBC airs all of their playoff games, so folks local to me in Seattle MIGHT care) here’s the schedule for that first round, at least, what we know of it at this point:

Game 1: Calgary at San Jose, Wednesday, April 9, 7:00P (CSN HD, CBC, Versus)
Game 2: Calgary at San Jose, Thursday, April 10, 7:00P (CSN HD, CBC)
Game 3: San Jose at Calgary, Sunday, April 13, 7:00P (CSN, CBC, Versus)
Game 4: San Jose at Calgary, Tuesday, April 15, 7:00P (CSN, CBC)
Game 5: Calgary at San Jose, Thursday, April 17, 7:00P (CSN HD, CBC, Versus)
Game 6: San Jose at Calgary, Sunday, April 20, TBD (CSN, CBC, Versus)
Game 7: Calgary at San Jose, Tuesday, April 22, TBD (CSN HD, CBC)

(And I could absolutely see Versus picking up Game Seven if (Heaven forfend) it’s necessary and the Dallas / Anaheim series doesn’t go seven as well. And I, personally, am rooting for seven games, sixteen overtimes, and at least a dozen lifelong debilitating injuries in that series.)

Anyhow, now you’re all caught up and ready to follow along with me as the boys in teal march towards their first Stanley Cup. Game on…and LET’S GO SHARKS!

Banner Day

Last night’s final from the I’d-call-it-fabulous-but-the-actual-seating-bowl-is-a-shiathole Honda Center in Anaheim:

Friday, March 28
San Jose Sharks 3
Anaheim Ducks 1
(Sharks clinch 3rd Pacific Division title)

Bring on…well, whoever winds up as the 7- or 8-seed!


Because Hot Dogs Just Taste Better When They’re $6.50 A Pop

Ah, public relations people. You gotta love them. Mainly because as far as I know murdering them is still a capital offense in most states.

Today’s Golden Slurpee goes to Washington Nationals spokesperson Chartese Burnett, on the team’s commendable policy allowing patrons to bring in their own food at the Nats’ new stadium:

“I don’t know who’s going to want to bring in food with all the great offerings at Nationals Park.”

Spoken like a woman who hasn’t paid for ballpark food in a long, LONG time.

Daaaa Bears!

I discovered today that Carl’s Jr. now offers a Chili-Cheese (Double or Six-Dollar optional) Burger. And, hey, so long as we’re doing that, let’s dump some on the fries, too! They also now have a Cap’n Crunch milkshake. I remember way back that Planet Hollywood used to use crushed-up Cap’n as a breading for their chicken fingers (in fact, I see they still do), but this was the first time I had seen it as a dessert mix-in.

It’s like they’re basing their entire marketing strategy around how heart-attack-inducing their meals are.

Fun little puzzle (although I did a lot of the work for you above): Go to the Carl’s Jr. Nutritional Calculator. Using only one entree item (burger, breakfast item, or other sammich…you could use a salad if you want, but you won’t want to – keep reading), a single side, a single dessert, and ONLY LOGICAL EXTRAS (you must be able to make a case as to why it would be desirable with that meal), see if you can cobble together a meal that clocks in at over 3000 calories. It CAN be done!

(I am SO going to Fatburger tomorrow night for dinner.)

Let Me Know Who Shot First

From One Of The Four David Zinkin, I present: Best. Headline. EVAR.

I Love Lucy

So just a warning before we get started here: this post is going to have a higher sucrose level than much of the material you read here at Chez Fred. Complimentary insulin syringes will be distributed after your meal.

Tonight was the annual Seattle Women’s Hockey Club fundraiser. I’ve written about it before…basically, one of The Four Of You was a member of the club a few years ago, said “hey, yeah, I know someone!” when they were tossing around the idea of getting an announcer / host for the event, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I won’t bore you with the details…suffice it to say we faced a few hurdles before and during the event, we got through them, and nobody noticed that I essentially butchered the first game. (I stumbled through a few announcements. Yeah, I’m human, but I hold myself to a superhuman standard when I do this thing.) And I ended strong, so I was okay with it. But this post isn’t really about that.

I said before that I love seeing these women, and for the most part, sadly, I only see them once a year, at this event. They are fantastic people, they are SO happy I’m there, and I’m pretty sure I could just say “Boondoggle!” repeatedly into the mic for three hours and they would still think I did an awesome job.

Anyhow, after all is said and done and I’ve reminded everyone to Please Drive Home Safely, I generally queue up some music on my laptop, chat it up a little with the on-ice officials I’ve been working with all night (who I actually remembered to publicly thank both BEFORE AND AFTER the two games this year), and just kinda hang out. Everyone in the club is basking in that whole post-event “hey, we actually pulled this thing off!” vibe, and I like that.

But really I’m waiting to see…well, we’ll call her “Lucy.” (For no other reason than it makes the post title pretty much write itself.)

I’m a horrible judge of age and I wouldn’t do that to her anyhow, so let’s just say that Lucy is older than I am and leave it at that. I first met her in 2005, the first year I hosted the event. It was also her first year with the club, and she had explained to me that she’d joined up because she thought it would be a good and different kind of exercise, and that at the time she joined up she couldn’t even skate, but she just absolutely fell in love with the game of hockey once she was around it.

And MAN, did I completely understand where she was coming from. There is just something about being near a hockey game that…satisfies me. I don’t have any other way to explain it, I can’t tell you why, it just IS. And the itch can be scratched with other sports, but never completely. There is an ethereal thing about hockey and its culture that no other sport has.

Anyhow, me and Lucy had a fantastic talk about that, and we realized that we were absolutely kindred spirits in that regard. She didn’t know what It was, either, but she knew It was there, and she knew she was in love with It. And she made it very clear that having me there doing my thing amplified It. She asked if she could have a picture taken with me, and of course I was happy to oblige.

And I left that night awash in the appreciation of a lot of people, but talking to Lucy always stuck with me, because she Really Understood. And The Four Of You know that I’m not exactly a New Agey kind of guy, but there was totally an exchange of positive energy between us that stuck with me for quite a while.

So two years ago, as athletes often are, she was injured and couldn’t play, but we still got to talk a little bit. And she took a year off from the club last year, and I was sad that I didn’t see her name on the roster. So I was totally jazzed when I got my rosters for this year’s event and saw Lucy’s name back on there.

Back to the postgame show: cue up a little Oingo Boingo and Dead Or Alive and whatnot, mill around a little bit, and finally I go back to the scoring box because we’re about to run out of music and I don’t want it picking something at random out of my playlist, because with my luck we’d get Snoop To The Motherfarking Dogg or Kid Motherfarking Rock popping up and a lot of parents with their kids would (justifiably) be pretty motherfarking pissed at me.

And I threw a few more songs into the queue, because there were still a bunch of people milling around (apparently the good people at Pyramid Breweries gave us a LOT of beer), and I looked up, and there was Lucy.

And of course, we get to talking. (She was surprised and thrilled that I remembered the picture from three years before.) Now understand I was still beating myself up a little over the flubs I’d made over the course of the evening. Not a lot, but a little. And she’s looking at me like I’ve turned bright green. “I don’t think you understand,” she says. “I’m sitting there on the bench, and I hear you, and I think “we have a VOICE.” If you’ve made a mistake, we don’t notice. We just know that there’s a VOICE, and that it’s great.”

Wow. If you’ve never had the experience, I strongly recommend having someone say that to you sometime.

I tried a little something new this year: someone (thank Glub for Internet whackjobs) has collected fairly clear recordings of the goal horns of all 30 NHL teams, made simple movies out of them, and posted them on YouTube.  (A quick explanation for the hockey-impaired…when the home team scores, most pro teams have a…well, for lack of a better term, a ritual, to get the fans involved in celebrating the goal.) So I worked a little bit of the multimedia magic that I’ve picked up over time, grabbing a few of them and ripping the audio off as MP3’s that my laptop DJ software can fire from the sound effects banks. I thought maybe it would add some big-league flavor to our little community-rink production.

I was a teeny bit worried about the sound quality, so I asked Lucy what she thought of them. And she looked at me again, and just from her look I knew that, at least for her, it had EXACTLY the effect I was going for. And that snowballed into the “kindred spirits” energy-exchange that I was so hoping for. We talked about what it felt like to sit in an empty arena and look at a clean, freshly-Zambonied sheet of ice, and about how it feels to do something you really, really love to do, and do it alongside people who really, really love the small part they are contributing to the overall whole, and about how we still hadn’t figured out what It was, but we still knew It was there and that we could never get enough of It.

And eventually (and always far too soon) it was time to go, and I walked with Lucy out to our respective cars, and we went our separate ways, but that positive vibe, that unique, unexplainable, special love for the game that Lucy absolutely basks in and that I can literally SEE her soaking up when we talk, that stayed with me. And, once again, it’s going to stay with me for a while.

I give her a VOICE. Heady stuff, that.

Can we have female pimpettes at Chez Fred? Yer damn skippy we can. “Lucy,” if you’re reading this, please enjoy your Bishop Don “Magic” Juan Big Pimpin’ Cup:

Big Pimpin' Cup