Friday, October 19, 2007

Bloody Chiclets: the Flames, Hockey Pools and the Words We Use

NHL logoFlames logoThat sound you heard last week may have been Mike Keenan ready to blow a gasket. After the Flames got off to a rough start to the season and then put a few wins together, they blew a 4-0 lead against the Avalanche to lose 5-4 in overtime in their game in Colorado on October the 16th. Last night however, they came out on top against the L.A. Kings 4-3.

Throughout most of their first seven games they have been competitive, with the majority of wins and losses being decided by one goal. Scoring in general has not been a problem for the Flames.

The most recent Flames Insider e-mail update included this interesting stat and new NHL record heading into last night's game against the Kings:

"The Calgary Flames set a modern day NHL record Tuesday in Denver when, for the sixth consecutive game to start the season, a player produced a two-goal game.


Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius both have a pair of two goal games, where Matthew Lombardi and Jarome Iginla each have one. "

And then Daymond Langkow extended the streak to seven games with another two goals against Los Angeles.

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I'm registered in only one online hockey pool this year, hosted by Hockey's Future (I'm currently 33rd out of about 450 participants.)

Pools add a lot of excitement to the season. Kind of like betting but without any money involved (though there are many pools that do involve money and prizes.)

One thing that surprises me is that no one has yet come up with the mother of all online fantasy hockey sites. Something similar to what the English Premier League has been doing with football (soccer) for the past four or five seasons. The number of entrants has grown every year with about 1.4 million people taking part during the current campaign. But the huge numbers don't result in the feeling that you're lost in the shuffle, as you can set up as many individual leagues as you want. You're allowed one free trade per week and can make as many as you want with a cost of four points each, all depending on whether you have the money to make such transfers. The value of each player rises or falls with each subsequent week depending on his performance.

The team set-up is appealing as well, with all participants being able to select their team colours and each Premier League player represented by a uniform icon with mouse-over stats and current value.

I know there are some online fantasy hockey leagues that have attracted a large number of players, such as NHL.com and Yahoo! sports. And some of those appear to have similar features to the fantasy football site. But overall, they don't really seem to come close in terms of the wide-ranging accessibility and appeal of the Premier League site. In fact, I haven't even been able to sign up to the NHL website's fantasy league. Not sure if this is the reason but there are only two options for countries when signing up, the U.S. and Canada.

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Interesting post at the Globe and Mail's hockey blog the other day about the evolving language of hockey. Writer David Naylor mentioned a few terms that are common nowadays but which were rarely heard in the past. This is a topic I have been thinking about since I renewed my interest in hockey a few years ago; something made possible because of the internet.

It's interesting to note the new words and idioms that have come into play to describe various aspects of the game. Naylor covered some of them in his blog entry and there are numerous other ones.

dangle--not sure how long this has been around but I don't remember it back in the day growing up in Winnipeg. "Stick handling" is what it was always known as before (and still is for the most part.) A word that is far too loaded in my opinion and one which seems to have come about after the increase in female reporters in the dressing rooms after games.

squeezing the stick-- used to describe overly anxious individual players and/or teams.

dressing-room cancer-- a rather nasty way to depict a player who is not well liked by his team-mates and contributes to an awkward, unpleasant or flat out poisonous atmosphere.

There are plenty more. I have been compiling a list of words, both new and old, related to the game of hockey and may end up posting them here in the future.

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