Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Giddy about Pens offseason

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans will miss Jordan Staal. He helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup in 2009 and was one of the few offensive bright spots in the disappointing playoffs loss to the Philadelphia Flyers this year.

Zbynek Michalek was fun while he lasted. Kind of. In 2010-2011, he and Paul Martin were very good. When Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were knocked out, they stepped up and help the Pens become one of the top defensive teams in the league. A lot of hate has been spewed at Michalek, and more so Martin, for their regression in 2011-2012, especially the playoffs. They did play poorly in the playoffs, but to blame them for the team's problems this postseason is unfair.

That being said, moving him and freeing up cap space is fine by me. The team has a lot of depth on the defense. Michalek was expendable.

While I liked both of these former Penguins, the recent trades made by general manager Ray Shero has me all kinds of pumped for the 2012-2013 season. Hell, they have me pumped for July 1, 2012. The team has almost $15 million in cap space and there are two big names on the free agent market. You may have heard this already, but the Pens are aiming at signing forward Zach Parise and/or defenseman Ryan Suter.

Holy cow!

Let's start with Zach Parise. He's a stud winger. Let's looks at his goal totals for his past five healthy seasons (he was limited to just 13 games in 2010-2011): 31, 32, 45, 38 and 31. And that was playing with the likes of Travis Zajac as his center. With the Penguins he would have Crosby, who made Matt Cooke look like a nightly scoring threat for about 10 games last season.

With Parise playing with Crosby and James Neal playing with Malkin, the Pens would have two wingers with the potential to score 40 goals. You'd have to go back about a decade to Alexei Kovalev and Jaromir Jagr for the last time the Pens had that kind of scoring power on the wings.get

Oh, and other than 2010-2011, Parise hasn't failed to play in at least 80 games per season.

Then there is Ryan Suter. He is like a combination of Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar. Seriously. He is a shut-down defenseman who delivers big hits and blocks a lot of shots. He kills penalties and contributes points on the powerplay. He has registered more than 30 assists the past four seasons and is coming a off a career high 46 points.

He would be an immediate upgrade to pretty much every defenseman on the team, at least the games when Kris Letang is mentally unstable (See Game 3 of the playoffs this year).

It's not realistic the Pens with get both players. $15 million is a lot of cap space, but these guys are going to be looking for $6-7 million/year contracts. There is word Parise might take a bit of a discount to play with his buddy Crosby, but Pittsburgh fans should be wary of stories like that. Remember when Jagr told the world he would play for the league minimum to play for Mario again? How did that work out for the team?

Then there are the Detroit Red Wings. They have $20 million in cap space and they REALLY want Suter to replace Nicklas Lidstrom (Lidstrom couldn't have waited one friggin' year!?).

The Minnesota Wild are said to want Parise, but I'm not too worried about that. I mean is an extra $1-2 million really worth it if your centers are Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak when you could be playing with either Crosby or Malkin? I don't even know who Kyle Brodziak is. Parise probably doesn't either.

July 1 is going to be a great or a not as great day for Pens fans. I say not as great, because even without Parise or Suter joining the ranks, this is still a championship caliber team.

I'm giddy.

Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lucy: Houdini reincarnated

By Jeff

My long-haired Guamanian jungle shepherd, Yigo, spoiled me. He was used to be a loner, so he never really got separation anxiety. At least he never showed it by breaking out of his crate or chewing on household items.

Ever since I adopted him, I haven't had any problem leaving him alone in the house to roam. I could surround him with any kind of valuables and wouldn't have to worry about a scratch on any of them. He's much more interested in licking himself, sleeping, looking out the window and sleeping.

Lucy is the polar opposite.

She gets crazy separation anxiety. She gets very antsy when Julianna and I leave as if she thinks we are never coming back.

At first, she was fine in her crate. We'd come home and she'd be laying in the crate and get incredibly excited whenever she saw us. But one day we came home and we were greeted by two dogs at the door despite locking Lucy in her crate when we left.


She then proceeded to chew the shit out of numerous items in the house. somehow she got on my dresser to my Kindle Fire. It still works, there is just a crack in the top left corner. I know you were concerned.

In an attempt to thwart Lucy's escapes, we bungee corded the crate.

It worked for a day.

We came home on the second day of the bungee experiment and she had chewed through it and escaped again.

We escalated the battle to padlocking the crate. It worked perfectly... for a week.

I came home Tuesday and she had somehow worked her way out. She had cracked the plastic bottom of the crate, wedged her nose under the bottom bar, pulled up and managed to squeeze through despite her size.

How the hell do I combat that? Well, I got another crate, the other had a slight crack that she then made worse, so a new crate should do the trick, I thought. And on the way home from Petco I stopped at the grocery and grabbed another padlock.

Well, I came home last night and Lucy was at the door waiting for me again!

She had knocked the crate on it's side and squeezed out the bottom again (now the front).

Well, I'm not about to let a dog keep outsmarting me. I surrounded her crate with other objects to prevent it from being knocked over again. There was no way she was tipping that baby again.

Well I came home tonight and there Lucy was at my door with a giant smile on her face!

I am throwing in the towel. There is no stopping this escape artist. She has defeated me. I am going to get a thick chain, but somehow she'll get out.

I personally blame Yigo for most of this. He's here all day. He could put a stop to these escapes, but I think he just sits and watches. Or runs upstairs and hides when he hears loud noises.

The Animals - We Gotta Get Out of This Place