Thursday, April 30, 2009

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2009: Quarter Finals Prognostications.

Old school wooden hockey stick...

Apologies to my loyal BTOG overseas readers but please permit me to indulge once again in that great Canadian pastime of NHL Stanley Cup playoff prognostication. [Ed. note: remember, what ice hockey is to Canadians, ping pong is to Chinese.]

Eastern Conference

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins.

Ok, what the hell happened in Game 7 of the Devils/Hurricanes first round series? 3 minutes left in the third, the score's 3-2 for the Devils. I had to visit the loo. I came back to the TV 4 minutes later to find Devil's goaltender Marty Brodeur booking a tee time in between post game interviews.

What gave, eh?

I don't know much about the Hurricanes other than I like Eric Staal and Cam Ward. If they can stand on their heads again, it will be undoubtedly be another long series.

I picked the Habs to beat the Bruins in the first round but that's was only because of my genetic predispositon. I have to give credit to the Calgary Flames (Eastern version). However, in the second round, they will face a much more formidable foe in the Hurricanes.

I'll give this one to the Bruins (that hurts me to the very core). Chuck Kobasew, Steve Montador, Andrew Ferrence will be too much for the 'Canes.

Besides, if the Stanley Cup ends up in North Carolina and the Royal Bank of Canada rink again, I may have to quit watching hockey altogether.

Bruins in six.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals.

Tough series to predict. Great series to watch though.

Team Ovechin was "underwhelming" in the opening playoff round, to say the least. The NY Rangers took them to seven games. What gave?

If they didn't plug in their rookie goaltender Varlamov, Team OV could have been good as gone in 4.

So, this second round series is basically Crosby vs. Ovechin. Ovechin has the edge. Indeed, I predict he will elevate his game this time around.

Washington's offence is more explosive than the Penguins.

Goaltending is about equal. Penguins' goalie Fleury has had his stretches of mediocre play but who hasn't?

Mmmm...the outcome of this series is so difficult to predict...

I'll pick DC on the basis of a better offence and home game advantage (even though I like Crosby a lot).

Washington Capitals in seven.

Western Conference.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Detroit Red Wings.

First I just want to re-iterate the fact that I did predict the upset of Ducks over the Sharks in the first round.

But I think their road to the Stanley Cup finals ends here against the Wings.

The Duck's Getzlaf-Ryan-Perry (GRP) line will have to stand its head. Neidermayer and Pronger will have to put on 30+ outstanding minutes again.

However the Wings have at least 3 GRP-like lines and 4 top-of-the-world D-men.

I'll pick the Wings again. Too much talent.

Having said that I'm still wary of their goaltending. So, in addition, I'll predict that the Ducks have a 42 percent chance of upsetting the Wings.

Detroit Red Wings in six.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Black Hawks.

Well, well, well... the Canuckleheads are Canada's remaining hope of bring home the Cup to the motherland.

I'll be cheering for them in this case. I promised along time ago that I would cheer for any Canadian-based team (other than the Toronto Maple Leafs) remaining in the playoffs.

However, they will be facing a very, very, very strong Chicago team. Just ask the Calgary Flames.

The depth of the Chicago roster is daunting. Captain Jonathan Teows was a monster in the Calgary series. In fact, I think his line mate Patrick Sharp actually out played him.

If the Canucks had a second line of any stature, their chances would be better.

As for defencemen, I'll give the nod to the Hawks. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith were monsters against the Flames. They'll be the shut down guys again.

The absolute biggest factor in this series will be the goaltenders. If Roberto Luongo is in the zone, nothing will stop the Canucks. Hands down.

So, it's Roberto Luongo vs. the Chicago Black Hawks.

It will be an entertaining squeaker of a series...

Chicago Black Hawks in seven. (I'll be hoping for an upset...go Luongo go!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Murphy's Law of Biking?

Murphy's Law of Biking?
Fish Creek Provincial Park Flood
The great flood of 2005 (the sunshine's so bright it's hurtin' my eyes...)

I managed to fit in a bike ride this weekend. I was so glad the weather was so nice. So warm, I could feel the rays of sun splashing my face.

Spring was finally here, I thought [ed. note: an overnight storm brought 5 cm of snow.]

I was feeling really well. The long winter break allowed my right wrist to heal. The pain in my right hip seemed at bay as well.

The bike felt really smooth.

For this early in the season, biking seemed effortless, I thought.

That was until I rode into the very east end of Fish Creek Park, a natural park close to where I live.

As I was riding along, the bicycle path took a wee dip into a stand of bald poplar trees. At the base of the small knoll the path terminated at a T-intersection.

It was Sunday and the Park was crowded with folks enjoying the well deserved weather.

As I swooped down the hill, I saw a couple of seniors approaching from the right of the intersection.

I rang my bell.

Damn, they weren't going to hear the ring, I thought.

I slowed down for extra measure.

Out of nowhere, a little girl (now more than 8 or 9 years old), riding her Walmart-purchased hot pink bike complete with multicolored bar-end streamers and white tires, came barreling through the intersection from the left.

She was wildly out of control.

Her momentum carried her well into my side of the path.

Distracted just enough by the elderly pedestrians, I swerved.

However, to no avail.

The little girl slammed into my left shin.

An enormous, wretched, sick crashing noise came from behind me.

I turned around to find the little girl lying prostrate over the ground next to the wreckage of her bike.

Miraculously unscathed, she quietly picked herself off the ground and started walking off with her bike.

I checked on her.

She said she was okay.

Her dad watched the whole situation unfold from atop the grassy knoll. He came down and scolded his young daughter for missing the turn. Ugh.

He asked me how I was. I told him I was more concerned about the little girl.

I rode onwards albeit in some shock from the crash.

On the next hill climb, as I shifted to a lower gear, my bike's rear derailleur cable snapped.

I'm not sure why it broke.

What else could go wrong?

I limped home on the three remaining gears...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle Please Stand Aside...

Susan Boyle Please Stand Aside...

A lot has been said about new British singing sensation Susan Boyle, but the BTOG has discovered a diamond in the rough as well.

C'mon Westjet. Hire this guy!

He's frumpy dude, but give him a chance.

Dude can really rap, eh...

I luv that guy smoking a butt in the front row.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2009

photo courtesy of goig

It's that time of year again. I don't mean it's spring time either (a whole separate posting in itself).

After nearly a season of more than 2400 mostly mundane National Hockey League games, it's the playoffs: the road to the Stanley Cup.

I used to follow the league much more closely in the past. But, for the record, I'll give it a shot.

BTOG's prognostications for the first round of the 2009 NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup Champs:

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Will be a most entertaining series, as usual. Don't write off the sad sack Canadiens despite their mid season dismantlement. The Bruins may be more talented and possess most of the grit in this match up but, historically, the Habs will pick up their socks. The key to Canadiens victory will be Carey Price, the goalie.

Prediction: Habs in 6 (in a 7 game series).

Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers
Ovechin, Ovechin, Ovechin, Ovechin... Enough said. Too much Ovechin.

Prediction: Capitals in 5.

New Jersey Devils vs. Hartford Whalers...I mean the Carolina Hurricanes.
Who cares? Carolina's hot down the stretch but I have this feeling Devil's goalie icon, Martin Brodeur will resuscitate his game in the nick of time.

Prediction: Devils in 7.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers.
Flyer's goalie Marty Biron better stand on his head in this series or it could be banishment to the links pretty quick this year. I like the Flyer's work ethic. Too bad they made some dumb trades at the trade deadline.

As for the Penguins, Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz and Co. maybe too much to handle.

Prediction: Penguins in 7 (only because of the home game advantage).

Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks.
Will be another entertaining series. Doesn't look good for the hometown Flames. Where shall we start: injuries, poor record on the road, poor record against Chicago, poor record vs Hawks' goalie Khabibulin. Did I mention the injuries?

I don't like how they limped into the playoffs. What really didn't help was the tinkering of the roster at the trade deadline. It really screwed up the team chemistry.

The key to the series will be Flames' goalie Kiprusoff. He's going to have to steal a couple of games for the home side.

Prediction: Calgary in six.

San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks
I still disagree with naming a team after waterfowl.

This will be a close series.

The Ducks have been hot down the stretch. The Sharks can be had.

This will be the upset of the opening round.

Prediction: Ducks in seven.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets.
Dunno about naming a team after a piece of clothing.

The Red Wings are just too much. Too much talent. Too much depth. The only deficiency in their roster is their goaltending. They have to correct this by playing tighter defence.

I really like Blue Jackets' Rick Nash. But he may not be enough to dethrone the Wings.

Prediction: Wings in 6 (only because of their mediocre goaltending).

Vancouver Canucks vs. St Louis Blues.
Maybe another upset in the making. The Blues are very hot.

The play of Vancouver's goalie Luongo will be decisive. His play in the last couple of weeks of the season was inconsistent.

I'll err on the side of Luongo.

Prediction: Canucks in seven.

The Stanley Cup Prediction
The Detroit Red Wings vs. The New Jersey Devils.

The 2009 Stanley Cup Champs: Detroit Red Wings.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Yogi the Bear, Boo Boo, Picnic Baskets and Chinese Tourists.

Be careful! The first step's a doozy! Nice to see so many Chinese ladies traipsing around Africa these days.

Hey, Would You Please Stop Shaking the Cabin!!! I'm Trying to Sleep in Here!!!

When I was a university student back in the day, I worked for a summer as a research assistant in Glacier National Park. It was such a beautiful park. It was our task to construct what is called a stand origin map. Basically it was a map of forest according to the age of the stands of trees of the forest that blanketed the park.

Suffice to say, during the 4 months in Glacier I hiked every trail in the Park. It was hard work but what an office!

One of the great joys was living in some of the back country warden cabins.

They were so nice and rustic.

So peaceful, except for the occasional mice crawling inside the walls of the log cabin during the night.

One night, the rodent scurrying was replace by a more sinister sounding noise. From the corner of the cabin came heaving, scraping/scratching noises. It woke me up several times over the night. Kind of scary.

Next morning, while brushing my teeth outside, I checked out that corner of the cabin. Stuck in the splinters of the cabin logs making were long tuffs of coarse, wiry, brownish hair. Interesting... what could have happened out here?

So, when I came upon today's video of the day, it reminded me of the swell times in Glacier National Park.