10 reasons I love my wife

So 10 years ago, my wife and I went on our first ever date.

It wasn’t anything big. After my softball playoff game, I picked her up, went home to shower, and then we headed to the Casino, followed by a walk downtown.

I don’t know if at the time she expected to still be with me in 10 years, but I was smitten with her.

And as I said during my wedding speech, I knew she was perfect for me the moment she uttered those three magical words: “Go Habs Go.”

But she’s perfect for me. And I love her so. With that being said, here are 10 reasons I love my wife (I could have come up with a bunch more, but one main reason per year):

1: She’s funny. She’s always making me laugh with her silly jokes.

2: She doesn’t take things too seriously. She can have a good time doing almost anything.

3: She’s athletic. We first met playing ultimate, and since then have played a ton of sports together.

4: She’s a great mom. She’s made a lot of the big decisions to get the girls to certain stages of life.

5: She makes up silly games. She’ll take almost any object and create a fun game.

6: She’s creative. Home-made cards, changing lyrics to songs, poems, etc. She does a lot of creative stuff.

7: She laughs at my jokes (very important). It makes me want to keep telling them just to see her smile and laugh.

8: She likes to talk. She may not think so, but I love listening to her tell her stories of the day.

9: She loves dancing. It makes me smile everything she does a dance routine.

10:  She’s beautiful. I stare at her all time, quite often when she’s not looking. She just doesn’t know it.

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The problem with advanced hockey statistics

More and more, you start to see more advanced statistics used in hockey, especially on the Internet.

Douglas Murray is the newest Hab, but that might not be a good thing, say some people using advanced statistics.

Most of them are confusing, and the average fan doesn’t need to use or care about them. However, it’s getting to the point when you can’t visit any site on the web without people talking about advanced statistics.

I think they’re massively overblown. Some sites use them as the be all and end all for proving why such and such a player is great or horrible. I’ve seen a lot of it lately with sites trying to figure out if the Montreal Canadiens made a smart move in signing Douglas Murray.

But many of these advanced stats don’t look at the big picture enough. The problem is, taken in a vacuum, all of these stats are useless.

Let’s use two players as example to see who is better. For now, we’ll call them player A and player B.

I’m using the 2012-13 season, all players who played at least 30 games, and these are all in 5 on 5 situations. For the record, 509 players meet these criteria.

Below is a chart that highlights where they stand in regards to some of these advanced stats:

Player A Player B
Quality of Competition 0.004 (211th) 0.043 (103rd)
Relative Corsi Quality of Competition 0.221 (285th) 0.665 (154th)
Relative Corsi Quality of Teammates 5.812 (14th) 6.116 (11th)
Relative Corsi 20.3 (12th) 20.6 (9th)
On-ice Corsi 16.10 (20th) 25.4 (5th)
On-ice team Goals Against per 60 minutes 2.25 (275th) 1.48 (480th)
On-ice team save percentage .924 (190th) .943 (46th)

Looking at that list, most would think that Player B must be better. Plays against tougher competition and is better defensively. And Corsi is better in all sorts of examples.

Maybe Fenwick, which measures puck possession statistics is better. These stats use players who had 500 minutes of 5 on 5 ice time last season (355 eligible players).

Player A Player B
Goals scored against team while player is on the ice per 20 minutes   of ice time 13.08 (153rd) 11.981 (70th)
Hockey Analysis Rating Offence 31.2 (2nd) 30.8 (3rd)
Hockey Analysis Rating Defence -5.7 (202nd) 9.6 (95th)
Hockey Analysis Rating Total 12.8 (55th) 20.2 (14th)

A lot of these stats can be broken down even more, looking at the last two-year period, or three year-period. But suffice to say, you get the point.

By the way, Player B is Tyler Seguin. Player A is Sidney Crosby. Yet these advanced stats say that Seguin is better.

That’s where these stats all fall apart. There’s so many of them now, you can cherry pick what you want to prove your point.

Habs Eyes on the Prize, an excellent Habs blog, has been pretty hard on Murray. They present some of these stats, and say it reflects on a bad signing.

I disagree, and this point was what I took away from two different articles about Murray:

I was going to use goal statistics here to add balance, but considering the goaltending Murray received last season, we know how that affects the numbers and I don’t think it’s necessary. What we can look at though, is strength of opponents.

See, something that showed Murray in a more positive light isn’t used, just mentioned in passing. Instead, the stats used lean toward the signing being a negative one.

Habs Eyes on the Prize also wrote on about whether Murray is a good penalty killer, using all these fancy stats. Here’s all I need to know about Murray:

  • Only 60 defencemen last year had more than 100 shorthanded minutes. Murray was one of them.
  • He was 20th among all defencemen in blocked shots.
  • He was tied for 30th among all defencemen in hits.
  • Only eight defencemen had more hits and blocked shots combined.
  • He was in three fights last year, and won all of them.
  • Despite being slower, he doesn’t take a lot of penalties. Last year, he had just 35 pims. Take out the fights, that equates to only 10 minor penalties (about one every four games).
  • While killing penalties, he starts in the offensive zone four per cent of the time, but finishes there 45.1 per cent.

Here’s the thing: Murray is making only $600,000 over the league minimum. And he’s coming in as a sixth/seventh defenceman. He’s not going to be coming in and playing 20 minutes a game.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some important non-traditional stats. Top teammates, PDO, offensive zone starts, etc.

But advanced stats can get out of hand. You can look at them all you want and use them to prove whatever you want. But in the end, they don’t really prove anything.

And that’s the most important thing to remember about advanced stats.

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Monica’s Sister book review

(Warning: This review contains minor spoilers)

So Earl Emerson came out with a new book, Monica’s Sister.

For those that don’t know, Emerson is my favourite author. I’ve read a bunch of different authors that I love: Lee Childs and his Jack Reacher series, Harlan Coben and his Myron Bolitar series, James Patterson and a lot of his series and so on.

But Emerson is my favourite by far, especially his firefighting books. In fact, getting Emerson’s autograph is actually on my bucket list and one I want to complete someday.

So I was stoked when I found out he had released his new book, the first one in four years.

Monica’s Sister is the 13th book in the Thomas Black series. His wife’s friend Angela ends up dead, with most people thinking it’s a suicide. Black is hired by Angela’s sister, Monica to find out the truth. At the same time, he’s in trouble with Monica’s husband, Clark Lloyd Self and Self’s bodyguards, one of which is a monster of a man.

I loved the book. There were a couple of small points that got to me though:

1) I figured out the killer pretty early on, so I thought a swerve was coming that wouldn’t show you it was who I thought it was. But it didn’t come. So I don’t know if a lot of people figured it out, or if was just me, but with no swerve, it felt like I missing something.

2) There were a couple of times when things on pages didn’t mesh. At one point, Black was describing a woman he met, saying she had the kind of face where you couldn’t tell how old she was. Then on the next page, he said the woman was 35 years old. It didn’t go very well.

But the action was still good, and the thing about Emerson’s book is the sense of humour. It’s crazy witty, and makes me crack up quite a bit. Even Emerson brings it up, calling it “black” humour (haha… get it?).

And I thought at the end that Monica ended up with a Robin Hood complex, which was a nice touch. She thought because her husband gave to the poor, it didn’t matter if he got his money from the rich.

The book is a great read, and hard to put down. One of things I like a lot about Emerson’s writing is that there aren’t 130 chapters in each book like some authors have. It makes each chapter seem important.

Monica’s sister available from electronic bookstores, such as Kobo, Kindle and Nook.

I give it five out of five stars.

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Harry Potter isn’t that great

So I just started reading the Harry Potter franchise.

Zack Sheppard photo, via Wikimedia Commons

This was the lineup at a bookstore for book seven of Harry Potter. I’m guessing many of the adults were buying it for themselves, but I’m not sure why.

I must admit I’m a complete novice. I have never seen the movies or read any of the books before. But it was on my bucket list to read them, so I started a few weeks ago. I’ve read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and am now a few chapters into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

And I just don’t get what all the hype is about.

I can understand kids, preteens and teenagers getting into the book. But I’m at a loss at why it captivated so many adults.

I remember a few years back, when working at a community newspaper, going to one of the local bookstores to take photos of people waiting in line for the book that was going on sale on midnight. I was flabbergasted by how many adults were in line to buy the book for themselves. Even a very good friend of mine was in line.

But it’s a pretty simple book. I find it dull in places, and it doesn’t keep my attention the way adult books would. I don’t get why grown-ups fell in love with it.

Do they get better? Were people engrossed because of the films? Am I just missing something? Am I too much of a muggle to miss it?

Someone please explain the hype to me.

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I finally win a poker tournament

Fore regular readers of this blog, you will know that I’ve been attempting to win a National Capital Poker Tournament for a few years now.

Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

I finally won my poker bracelet. Note: bracelet may not be as shown. (Photo by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com)

I’ve come close a few times. A few months back, I finished second. I’ve had early chip leads at tournaments. I’ve made miraculous comebacks. But it wasn’t until this past Friday night that I finally managed to win one. It was also a bounty tournament, which means for every person you knocked out of the tourney, you won $10.

How did I do it? Here are some of my key hands:

Early on, I was playing a lot of pots. No real big hands, but winning a lot of small stuff. There was only one memorable hand for me in the first hour or so.

Hand #1

There’s a guy in our tournament, Anber, who is a pretty loose player. He plays a lot of hands, and is constantly raising and re-raising. I find him pretty tough to play against, because you never know what two cards he might be holding. So I try to keep the pots small unless I have the nuts.

It was still early on, so the blinds might have been around 50 cents/$1. He raises around $3. I look down at AQ suited, so I call. There’s no other callers. Flop comes with A with two low cards, but no spades. Anber raises $4. I call. Turn brings nothing. He bets $6. Again I just call. River brings nothing. He bets $10. I call, and take down the pot.

Now, it may seem like I  played this hand pretty passively. But I’ve been burned a lot by this guy. He’ll raise with 9-5 offsuit, for example, and keep betting. So if he hit a five on the flop, he won’t slow down. Then if he hits a 9 on the turn or river, he keeps going. And it’s happened to me when he keeps betting and hits those two pairs or a straight or a flush. So I stay wary unless I have a monster hand.

But in the end, I won about $23 off of him, which was great.

A couple of hands later, I had an interesting situation.

Hand #2

I had a hand like 7-5 suited. Blinds might have been around 75 cents/$1.50. I like playing these types of hands for cheap, so I limp in, as does Dom and Scott.

Flop brings three clubs. Something like J, 8 and a 2. I check, hoping one of them bets so I can check raise. I am most worried at this point of one of them holding a king or ace of clubs, and wanting to chase.

Dom also checks, but Scott bets something like $4. I raise to $15. Seems like a big re-raise, but I figure a caller would be after a flush with a higher club than I have. If they fold, then I win the pot.

They both fold. I win about $8. Maybe I was too aggressive, but if any other club had shown up, I had nothing.

There were no real hands of circumstance for a while. The only real mistake I made was when Pat and I were in a hand. He was shortstacked, and after the river, I bet $10 (there was betting before this, and I don’t remember the cards I was holding or what I was showing). Pat called, and I won the pot. But he was only left with $5 (blinds around $1-$2).

The reason I didn’t like my play this hand was the fact that with a bounty, I could have collected the extra cash by eliminating him. I was thinking he would raise the last bet by going all-in, but he surprised me by calling. I should have just bet $15. If he didn’t call, fine. But I should have been more aggressive in my betting.

The final table isn’t too far behind all this. And we slowly whittle down. I eliminate Chris when he moves all-in with something like AJ, but I’m holding AA.

It wasn’t until the final four that I played my most interesting hands.

Hand #3

I’m in the small blind. Blinds are around $4-$8. The first guy bids something like $32. Gabriel re-raises all-in, about $179. I look at my hand and see 8-9 suited. I loved these hands. I want to call. Rohit, in the big blind, is short-stacked. He’ll probably call with any two decent cards. And there’s still the original raiser to worry about.

I now have more NCPT titles than Daniel Negreanu. (Photo by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com)

I take a minute to think about it. I had the $179 covered. I would have called the $32 easily. But I decide with a raise and a re-raise, I have to fold. Rohit does call, but the original raiser folds. Matt, who was eliminated by this point, said I made the right call.

I don’t remember what Gabriel had (I think Ace-high kicker), but Rohit had JJ. Of course, the flop comes 9-9-T. Ugh. That’s horrible. I should have just closed my eyes instead of looking at the cards.

Rohit wins, and doubles up. But all I can keep thinking about is the fact that I could have been in the final two with about 90 per cent of the chips.

Bad luck starts following me around at this point.

Hand #4

Not too much longer after the missed set, we’re down to the final three.

Rohit is first to act, and raises to about $40 (blinds were around $6-$12). I see 6-6. I think Rohit is bluffing, so I move all-in. He calls, with a J and either a king or an ace. But it’s pretty much a coin flip at this stage, which is better than I could have hoped for when he called. However, the flop brings a jack, and the turn brings whichever of the other two cards he was holding.

So Rohit doubles up to about $500, and I go from chip leader to about $300 in chips.

With the blinds soon going up to $10-$20, I was comfortable with that amount of chips. But then I started a bad trend, until a fateful hand turned it around.

Hand #5

This hand turned around my bad luck. After losing the previous hand I spoke about, I was completely card dead. Not even bluffing hands, or calling hands. Just brutal.

Eventually, the blinds go up to $15-$30. I look down at 10-3 of diamonds in the small blind. At this stage, I just wanted to turn my luck around and steal a pot. Gabriel folded, so I moved all-in. Rohit, the big blind, called with KK. I was sunk. All I could hope for was to fluke into a flush.

A 10 came on the flop, but only one diamond. However, a 10 came on the turn, giving me a set and cracking the kings. Rohit was down to $6. The hand immediately before this, he was a massive chip leader. He lost when he flopped a set, but lost to a straight on the river against Gabriel. Rohit went from about $500 to $6 in two hands.

Heads up lasted a bit longer than I thought it would. We went back and forth. I became chip leader, then he did. Then I did again.

I started to get some really good heads-up hands. At one point, I had pocket twos, pocket nines, and pocket sevens within five hands. So my raises were getting folds. That meant I was grabbing the blinds, which was important when they are so high.

All of that led to this:

Hand #6

The final hand of the night. I had a KQ offsuit, which is an excellent starting hand. With the blinds at $20-$40, I raised to $120. Gabriel raised me all-in (he had something like $300 left). I called pretty quickly. He had an A-4 offsuit. The flop brought a king. And the turn was a queen, giving me the victory.

Plus, with this hand, I ended up with four eliminations, which meant an extra $40.

Overall, I was pleased with every hand I played except for one (where I didn’t bet enough to eliminate someone early on). Even the big hand with my 66 versus Rohit’s KJ offsuit, I liked my play, as it was a coin flip and I was chip leader.

I was aggressive. I raised a lot, played a lot of pots, stole some hands, and got lucky at the appropriate time.

The first victory felt good. Now let’s hope I can do it again.

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100 reasons to hate the Bruins

There’s a lot of reasons to hate the Boston Bruins.

Almost every game gives us new reasons to hate the team. And their latest run to the finals was no different.

That being said, here are 100 reasons for you to hate the Bruins.

1. The 2011 Stanley Cup.

2. Cam Neely being in the Hall of Fame, despite not deserving it.

3. Cam Neely and Peter Chiarelli getting more screen time in the playoffs than Ron MacLean.

4. They have a winning percentage of above .500 for 33 of 37 NHL teams they’ve ever faced.

5. The only reason the Bruins beat the Habs in 94 was because Patrick Roy had appendicitis.

6. You like the fact Michael Ryder won a Cup, but hate it was with Boston.

7. P.J. Stock on Hockey Night in Canada.

8. You feel guilty about cheering for Happy Gilmour while he’s wearing a Bruins jersey.

9. Once drafted Shaone Morrisonn, whose name was misspelled more than any other NHL player in history.

10. Bruins fans thinking the comeback against the Leafs in the first round was the greatest comeback ever.

11. This song:

12. Homer announcer Jack Edwards.

13. Once had Mike Milbury as a coach.

14. Once had Don Cherry as a coach.

15. Bruins fans think the Boston Garden was better than it was.

16. Raymond Bourque. Hated that he was so good.

17. Thinking Bobby Orr was better than Wayne Gretzky.

18. Eddie Shore.

19. The Bruins four-game sweep of the Habs in 2009.

20. Owner Jeremy Jacobs.

21. Andrew Ferrence flipping off the fans.

22. This rally towel suit.

23. The 1972 Stanley Cup.

24. Nathan Horton for scoring the OT goal in Game 7 against the Habs in the first round in 2011. (He also scored the OT winner in Game 5. The bum.)

25. Forgetting to pay their power bill and having a blackout during the 1988 finals.

26. David Krejci once complaining about the ice after a loss to Montreal.

27. Mike Milbury hitting a guy with a shoe.

28. Jaromir Jagr and his playoff beard look wrong in a Bruins uniform (especially the beard).

29. Chris Nilan was cool until he became a Bruin.

30. The three straight years in the early 90s they eliminated the Habs from the playoffs.

31. The Neely for Pederson trade.

32. This Kyle McLaren hit on Richard Zednik.

33. Having a bunch of hall of famers (Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, Guy Lapointe, etc.) finish their career in Boston.

34. Giving up nothing for Phil Esposito.

35. Fog games at the Boston Gardens.

36. Milan Lucic.

37. Terry O’Reilly in the Hall of Fame.

38. They raised a banner for finishing first in the East.

39. Eddie Lebec never actually played a game for the Bruins.

40. The 1970 Stanley Cup.

41. Tyler Seguin isn’t that good a player, no matter what Bruins fans say.

42. Causing Rocket Richard to be suspended.

43. Their ugly third jersey.

44. Bruins getting preferential treatment because of Colin Campbell’s son, Gregory, playing on the team.

45. Terry O’Reilly going into the stands to fight someone.

46. Marchand’s low blow hit on Sami Salo.

47. Marchand’s low blow hit on Alexei Emelin

48. The finger wagging in the 2011 playoffs after Claude Julien said his team would never do such a thing.

49. Their embellishing.

50. Claude Julien says his team would never embellish.

51. CBC hiring too many former Bruins.

52. Anthem singer Rene Rancourt.

53. Trading for Tuuka Rask.

54. Bruins fans tweeting racist things when Joel Ward scored an overtime playoff goal against them.

55. Thinking the Kessel deal was the biggest one-sided deal in NHL history (Note: not even close).

56.  The 1941 Stanley Cup.

57. Phil Esposito. No reason, but I figure the greatest Bruins scorer in their history deserves to be mentioned.

58. Tim Thomas not going to the White House.

59. Derek Sanderson when he used to call Bruins games.

60. The Big Z is a stupid nickname.

61. Marchand diving.

62. Orring.

63. They don’t have any great nicknames for their players.

64. Having Brad Marchand as a player.

65. This Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty.

66. Chara not being suspended for that hit.

67. Dr. Mark Recchi saying MaxPac was faking his concussion.

68. Milan Lucic running away from Georges Laraque.

69. The 1939 Stanley Cup.

70. Ben Affleck is a fan, but admits to being a bandwagon jumper.

71. Dane Cook is a fan.

72. So is Mark McGrath.

73. Pushing Leafs fans down stairs.

74. The whining about the too many men on the ice call.

75. This song:

76. Brad Marchand punching a Sedin numerous times with no penalty. (I don’t mind the fact he kept hitting Sedin, just that he didn’t get a penalty).

77. Being happy Ray Bourque won a Cup with another team.

78. One Ranker.com guy has Zdeno Chara as the greatest Bruin of all-time.

79. Bruins fans are sore losers.

80. Once naming Jason Allison as captain.

81. Ric Flair’s wooooo after every goal, even though he has nothing to do with Boston.

82. Ken “The Rat” Linesman

83. Jack Edwards once comparing Matt Cooke to Sirhan Sirhan.

84. Andy Moog.

85. I just know I’m going to hate Torey Krug within a few years. I can feel it.

86. The 1929 Stanley Cup.

87. Thinking they’re a great all-time team even though they’ve won six Stanley Cups in 90 years.

88. Glen Murray as a Bruin. I just never liked the guy.

89. Bill Simmons will only write about hockey when the Bruins are involved in the Cup finals.

90. Milan Lucic’s hit on Ryan Miller

91. Never played Pascal Pelletier (from my hometown) more than six games.

92. Bruins goalies being sore losers when they lose in a shootout.

93. This Bobby Orr goal was not that great. He scored before he was tripped.

94. This photo is also overblown.

95. The year Milbury chose a bunch of undeserving Bruins for the all-star game.

96. By eliminating the Leafs in the first round this year, we got to see less of April Reimer and Elisha Cuthbert.

97. Spoiled the Subban name by drafting Malcolm Subban last year.

98. Shutting off the hot water for visiting teams in the old Boston Gardens.

99. Bruins fans in general.

100. They’re the Bruins.

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Roy followed a Habs tradition when he left

One thing that really bothers me is when people call Patrick Roy classless for demanding a trade from the Habs years ago.

Patrick isn’t the first Habs superstar to leave the team, but he takes the most grief for it. (Antoine Letarte photo, via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s come up a lot again lately, with Roy being named the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. It seems to come every few years, whether it’s retiring his jersey, or being in the running for the Habs head coaching position.

In case you don’t know the story, on Dec. 2, 1995, Patrick Roy was left in net for nine goals, as the Habs lost 12-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. When he was pulled, he went past the coach, Mario Tremblay, and told team president Ronald Corey that he would never play a game for Montreal again.

Four days later, he and captain Mike Keane was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Andre Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault.

Nowadays, a lot of fans remember that game, and still hold a grudge against Roy. I think it’s silly. But people say what Roy did was classless, and goes against the tradition of the Habs organization.

After all, old-time players would never do something like that.

Really? If anything, Roy simply followed a long-honoured tradition of bailing on the team. It doesn’t take long going through the Habs history to find examples of players and coaches turning their backs on the organization.

Here are some of the biggest:

1) Guy Lafleur. When Guy Lafleur left the organization during the middle of the 1984-85 season, he didn’t retire because he was feeling old, worn down or tired of the game. No, he left because he didn’t like the ice time he received from coach Jacques Lemaire. Lafleur asked to be traded, but when told he wouldn’t be, he packed his bags and quit. He made a decision that he would rather not play hockey rather than stay with the Habs organization because of troubles he was having with his coach. Sound familiar? Yet Roy gets chastised while Lafleur is still remembered as a Habs legend.

2) Bernie Boom-Boom Geoffrion. Geoffrion didn’t have ice time to blame for leaving the Habs. No, his was a different reason: the captaincy. Apparently, he was so upset that Beliveau was given the C in 1961 that it gnawed at him until he decided he would rather retire than play for the Habs.

3) Gump Worsley. Roy wasn’t the first goalie to quit on the Habs in the middle of a season. The coach at the time, Claude Ruel, was playing Rogatien Vachon more, and wanted to send Worsley to the minors. He refused and quit the team, eventually deciding to retire.

4) Scotty Bowman. Yes, it’s not just limited to players. After the 1978-79 season, the Habs decided to hire Irving Grundman as general manager. So Bowman quit the team and went to coach the Buffalo Sabres instead.

There’s four good examples of superstars leaving the Habs organization because they weren’t happy with the team, for what ever reason. And I’m sure we could find more if we tried. Yet Roy is the one that takes the brunt of the criticism.

Look, I’m not saying that you can’t be angry at Roy for what he did. But it’s hypocritical to blame him for turning his back on the Habs while not doing the same for the other players who have done the same.

It’s time to forgive Roy for leaving the team.

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