Friday, May 30, 2014

a good walk spoiled: part eight


This was by the longest course I've ever played. 9 holes took about 2 hours and I was beat. My shots on the ninth started failing me. Maybe one day I'll play 18, but this wore me out.

(This was also the nicest course I've played, but that's not saying much. It was $18 for the front nine.)

The first hole was rough. I'm not confident in my woods. This is only my third time playing a regulation course (not a par 3) and the first time I didn't even bring my woods. My second shot went out of bounds. Luckily, it's not that long of a hole and I only took four actual swings.

I just don't have distance. Today I hit one green in regulation and it was the par 3 5th. In fact, on 6 out of 9 holes, by the time I was putting, par was off the table.

The fourth hole features a giant lake in front of the tee box. I hit a great tee shot and it just found the water on the far edge. That was the only ball I lost today. (This was the first time golfing since Father's Day 2012 when Brit gave me 18 titanium golf balls.)

My best shot came on the 5th. I got out my 5-iron and placed it right on the green. One of weaknesses in the past has been first putts. But today my first putts were great. I left myself a totally makable 5-footer for par. And I just missed it wide leaving myself another 5-footer for bogey. And I made that one.

The sixth started poorly but ended well. My tee shot (3-wood) went out of bounds. I found it and took a drop. Since it's 495 yards, after four strokes (counting the penalty) I was still about 190 yards out. From there I got in, in three. Great 5-iron from the fairway to the fringe. A great 25-foot fringe putt that rolled within two feet.

If those last three strokes would have come on a par 3, it would have been a rare par. Also, I two-putted 5 of the 9 holes. If I had done that on the 5th, I would have made par. Alas.

On the 8th, I got on in three. I had about a 20-footer and I was just trying to two-putt. And wouldn't you know my first putt almost went in. It looked like it was going in the whole way. At the end it rolled an inch wide, about 5 feet past the hole. And I missed the comebacker. But that was almost a genius par on a par 4.

- - -

Tip for Future Dave: remember to follow through. Makes a big difference.

- - -

Here's the historical record:

August 14, 2005: +15 on a par 3
August 27, 2005: +9 on a par 3
July 3, 2009: +17 on a par 3
July 3, 2010: +22 on a par 3
July 5, 2010: +22 on a normal 9-hole course
October 3, 2010: +23 on a normal 9-hole course
October 16, 2011: +17 on a par 3
April 12, 2012: +15 on a par 3
May 30, 2014: +22 on a normal 9-hole course

I am shockingly consistent on regulation courses. 

Still, I shot 58. And breaking 50 would be nice.

Also, in these 9 outings, I've made 4 pars. One on a par 4. The others were all on par 3 courses.

Today, I had:
2 bogeys
2 double bogeys
4 triple bogeys
1 +4

Not the worst.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 4

Week 0: 200
Week 1: 195.5
Week 2: 194
Week 3: 191
Week 4: 190

If last week it showed 192, I think this would be more impressive. So just a pound this week despite staying consistent through Memorial Day weekend, I've lost 10 pounds in 4 weeks. Obviously that's an unsustainable rate.

10 down, 30 to go to my goal.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

World Cup 2014 Preview

The World Cup begins in three weeks.

It really is perfect. Because I can't get excited about soccer every year. But once every four years, it satisfies that itch. Also, soccer in America is substandard and no one has any ties to it, and it's not easy to embrace the foreign Premier League (or La Liga or anything else), not to mention that in the last 19 years, only four teams have won it. But international soccer fixes all of that.

- - -

This won't be a preview in the conventional sense for two reasons. One, I don't know really anything about these teams. Two, you can go to lots of places for that.

This is going to take a deeper dive into the teams' rankings and groups.

- - -

Qualification

32 teams get invited to play. Here's where they come from.

Host: 1
Europe: 13
Africa: 5
South America: 4 or 5
Asia: 4 or 5
North/Central America: 3 or 4
Oceania: 0 or 1

Notes:
Asia's 5th best team plays South America's 5th best team for a spot. (This year: Uruguay over Jordan)
Oceania's best team plays North/Central America's 4th best team for a spot. (This year: Mexico over New Zealand)

So once you sort out the intercontinental playoffs and include the host, you have six regions with the following number of teams:

Europe: 13
South America: 6
Africa: 5
Asia: 4
North/Central America: 4
Oceania: 0

Okay, five regions with teams. So let's look at the current FIFA world rankings to see which region has the best competition.

- - -

Strength of Competition by Region

South America
Average Ranking: 9.67
Median Ranking: 8.5

Europe
Average Ranking: 11.15
Median Ranking: 10

North/Central America:
Average Ranking: 25.5
Median Ranking: 27.5

Africa
Average Ranking: 32.8
Median Ranking: 32

Asia
Average Ranking: 51.5
Median Ranking: 52.5

Notes:
Unless there is some bias in the FIFA rankings, Europe and South America are bringing much better teams to the tournament. Asia is terrible at soccer. This discrepancy is somewhat surprising. I figured Europe and South America would have the best teams, but I assumed that by comparing only the say the top 4 teams in Asia to 13 teams in Europe that it would be about even. (The idea that the 4th best team in Asia might be comparable to the 13th best team in Europe--but that's just not the case.)

Brazil is currently 11th in the world and actually brought down the South America rankings. It would seem that region deserves more than 5 bids. Perhaps, Asia could do with less?

In North America, the average is lower than the median because the outlier a good team--the US at 13th.
In Africa, the average is higher than the median because the outlier is a bad team--Cameroon at 59th.

The best team in the Cup is Spain, ranked #1.
The worst team in the Cup is Cameron, ranked #59.
The best team to miss the Cup is Ukraine, ranked #20.
If New Zealand had beaten Mexico to qualify from Oceania, they would have been the worst, ranked #79.

(All rankings used above are as of 17 October 2013, the rankings used for the World Cup draw. For what it's worth, in the current rankings Brazil moved up to #4, the USA dropped a slot to #14.)

- - -

Strength of Competition by Group (aka what's the Group of Death?)

I'm using screenshots from the ESPN bracket because they helpfully include the world rankings. (Though I just noticed these are neither the current rankings nor the draw rankings. Close enough.)




Average Ranking: 24.25



Average Ranking: 21



Average Ranking: 20.25



Average Ranking: 14.25







Average Ranking: 22.75



Average Ranking: 26.25



Average Ranking: 11.25



Average Ranking: 28.25

Notes:
The average ranking of all teams/groups: 21.03.

The Group of Death is clearly Group G. Plus, when you consider that the US has lost to Ghana in both 2006 and 2010, it's hard to imagine a worse draw. Group D is no picnic either.

When you look at Groups H and Group F, you see that a team ranked 22 or worse, and ranked 21 or worse are guaranteed to advance.

When you look at Group G and Group D, you see that a team ranked 14 or better, and 13 or better are guaranteed not to advance.

I think it's interesting to mentally sort each group by rankings and think of them as seeds. For example, Argentina has the easiest path of all the 1-seeds.

No 4-seed has an easy draw, but the previously mentioned Groups H and F offer the best hope for a 4-seed to advance.

Ghana got the worst draw by far for any 4-seed. At #24, they would be a three seed in almost every other group.

Most groups tend to feature three teams that share good chances to advance and one lowly outlier.

France is fortunate to be a 2-seed. In other groups they would either be a 3 or a 4-seed.

Brazil and Belgium are the lowest 1-seeds and could easily have been 2-seeds in other groups.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week 3

Week 0: 200
Week 1: 195.5
Week 2: 194
Week 3: 191

Last Sunday I went to Five Guys. This weekend I stayed on the train. Also, only looking at data points every week is a little deceptive. Last Thursday I saw 192.5. I was still 192 as of yesterday. So for six days I hovered between 192.5 and 192, but I saw a loss of 1.5 pounds last Thursday and a loss of 1 pound this morning.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Search for Cilantro Salsa

I've been eating healthier again and one of my favorite lower-calorie meals are tacos.

Some grilled chicken (50 calories), flour Guerrero tortilla (100 calories), a little light sour cream and some salsa and you're good to go. A meal of two tacos is about 400 calories and really filling.

Except the salsa has to be key. For months I had it in my head that I had this one salsa that was cilantro flavored and it was awesome. I searched multiple grocery stores and eventually found it. It was at King Soopers, their Private Selection Zesty Cilantro Salsa.

And I came home and you could hardly taste the cilantro.

So I decided to fix that. I thought I would try out the cilantro paste that I've seen but never had. My logic was this: I love cilantro. But I never have it when I want it. And then I buy it and goes bad really quickly. So if the paste is good, it would be really handy. Plus, I figured mixing it in salsa is a good application.

And since I'm going to make some custom salsa, I might as well squeeze a lime in there. Similar logic. I love lime juice on my tacos. But once you cut open a lime, it goes bad pretty quickly. Adding it to the salsa means lime juice all day.

The verdict...? This salsa is awesome. Dave's Super Zesty Cilantro and Lime Juice Salsa.
Both the Canadiens and the Thunder have to play the conference finals without their goalies.


Monday, May 19, 2014

A look at the College Football Playoffs

This ESPN graphic is super helpful. Let's start there. 


So here are the top 6 bowls in the land.

Compared to the 2013-2014 BCS Bowls, the new additions are Cotton and Peach. As a refresher here was their schedule last year, with BCS in bold:

2013-2014

Peach: Dec 31
Rose: Jan 1
Fiesta: Jan 1
Sugar: Jan 2
Cotton: Jan 3
Orange: Jan 3

And this is the graphic above, but for an easy comparison, here's what's coming up, with this year's playoffs in bold:

2014-2015

Peach: Dec 31
Fiesta: Dec 31
Orange: Dec 31
Rose: Jan 1
Sugar: Jan 1
Cotton: Jan 1

That alone is an improvement, reclaiming New Year's as a college football holiday. (Sort of a shame for the NHL who has established New Year's Day as their holiday, but I suppose there's room for both.)

- - -

Just for fun I thought I would look at what bowl games were like a generation ago. For starters, in 1990-91 there were 19 bowls. Last year there were 35. Which means that when I was growing up, making a bowl really meant something. This was the schedule of the last two days of the season:

Sun: Dec 31
Copper: Dec 31
Sugar: Jan 1
Rose: Jan 1
Orange: Jan 1
Hall of Fame: Jan 1
Gator: Jan 1
Fiesta: Jan 1
Cotton: Jan 1
Citrus: Jan 1

Holy Hanna in a handbasket, look at that. And that's it. That's how the season ends, with 8 games on the same day. For what it's worth, the Peach Bowl did exist, it was just on Dec 29th. I think back to back days with tripleheaders is a nice solution.

- - -

The notable bowls that didn't get invited to the playoff series are Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl. As an aside, I understand having sponsors, but you really need to have a name beyond the sponsor. The Capital One Bowl used to be the Citrus Bowl, but you wouldn't know it today.

- - -

Speaking of sponsors, here are the official current names for the top 6 bowls:

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Discover Orange Bowl
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual*
Allstate Sugar Bowl
AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

*This is a goddamn mouthful. I'm okay with the others.

- - -

Here is the rotation schedule:


The next two years provide 6 games in 2 days, but in 2016-2017, New Year's Day is on a Sunday. The result is the Rose, Sugar and Cotton bowls get bumped to Monday. The Rose Bowl Parade is never on a Sunday, and I'm guessing the main reason is avoiding conflicts with the NFL.

- - -

I'm sort of fascinated with the idea of neutral site games that aren't actually neutral. Both Illinois BCS games (and I went to both) were essentially road games. LSU in New Orleans, USC in Pasadena. Here are the locations and teams that could benefit from a home atmosphere.

Rose: Pasadena, CA (USC, UCLA, Stanford?)
Sugar: New Orleans, LA (LSU)
Orange: Miami, FL (Miami, Florida, FSU)
Cotton: Arlington, TX (Texas, A&M, Baylor)
Peach: Atlanta, GA (Georgia)
Fiesta: Glendale, AZ (Arizona State)

For what it's worth, ESPN just did a profile of the 16 teams they expect to contend for the playoffs this year. 7 of their 16 are listed above with potential home atmosphere. The schools that could come into play this year are UCLA, Stanford and LSU. Another way to look at it: 7 of the 12 schools that I listed above are being projected as top teams.

Here's a quote from ESPN's Mark Schlabach: "The committee doesn't want to put a higher seeded team in an unfair venue. For instance, if USC is No. 1 and LSU is No. 4, they won't put the game in the Sugar Bowl. Or vice versa, if LSU is No. 1 and USC is No. 4, the game wouldn't be played in the Rose Bowl. They'll try to reward the two highest seeded teams and put them closer to home. It might be more difficult protecting the No. 2 seed, depending on who the No. 1 seed is and where the games are being played."

If they are going to recognize some sort of home atmosphere advantage, it does seems like the Big Ten has a disadvantage in that area. But I can't blame anyone for not having a bowl game on January 1st in Chicago.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unwritten Rule: Follow-Up

On April 19, the Warriors played the Clippers in Game 1 of the West Quarterfinals. There was a play where Chris Paul had the ball, was contacted by the Warriors and lost the ball out of bounds. I wrote on April 21 how the new replay rules have screwed up the unwritten rule of giving the ball back to the team who had the ball in lieu of calling a foul on the defense. 

Well, last night, the Thunder had the ball and was contacted by the Clippers and lost he ball out of bounds. I didn't watch the game live so I don't know how the replay was handled. Today Will Leitch wrote about how the unwritten rule may not be the correct call but it is the right call, echoing what I wished had happened last month. Worth noting that the two plays were called differently, both going against the Clippers.

Week 2

Week 0: 200
Week 1: 195.5
Week 2: 194

Friday, May 09, 2014

thoughts on chiefs 2014 draft (1st round)

I try not to follow any of the pre-draft stuff. It's really pointless, yet I know there are tons of that spend tons of time making big boards and all this shit. This is only one example of thousands.

Going into the draft I thought secondary and receiver were the Chiefs's biggest holes. O-Line is a close 3rd. (Even though they're necessary, I'm always bored and disappointed with offensive linemen picks.)

After all that the Chiefs select at 23...a pass rusher, Dee Ford.

This exchanges is a nice summary of the contrasting opinions on the pick.



On the one hand, I think Dee Ford is a good player. He could be the next Tamba Hali in a few years. And last year the Chiefs had great success when Houston and Hali were healthy and rushing the passer, and struggled when injuries decimated our pass rush. (Of course, it might be simpler to say we started losing when we had to play good teams.)

There's no way to know if this is actually a good pick or not, but my instant reaction is that of the last comment pictured above.

- - -

It's not really fair to look back in 3 years and spot the Pro Bowler at pick 56 and say I can't believe the Chiefs passed on This Amazing Guy to pick Dee Ford. Instead, I'll simply note the players that the fans were talking about, so in a few years we can fairly evaluate the pick.

First here are the picks that fans wanted that were already gone by 23:

Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Giants, 12th pick
CJ Mosley, ILB, Ravens, 17th pick
Calvin Pryor, S, Jets, 18th pick
Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints, 20th pick
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Packers, 21st pick

They're interesting to track but I don't think the Chiefs should have moved up to get any of them.

Here are the players that were available at 23:

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Bengals, 24th pick
Jimmie Ward, S, 49ers, 30th pick
Terry Bridgewater, QB, Vikings, 32nd pick
Marqise Lee, WR, not drafted in the first round
Derek Carr, QB, not drafted in the first round

Looking at that list, it seems like Dennard, Ward or Lee would have been the next people up, if Ford had gone before 23. I probably would have picked Dennard but there's a reason why I'm not running a team.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Back on the Weight Loss Train

Week 0: 200
Week 1: 195.5

Raise your hand if you saw this coming...I gained the weight back and need to lose it again. (whole world raises hands)

In 2013, I started eating healthy on May 1. I weighed 205 pounds.

By September 25, I was down to 175. So in under five months, I lost 30 pounds. It only took me a little over three months to lose 25.

Over the last seven months, I've gained back 25 of the 30 I lost last year.

- - -

There's just a bit of fuzzy math with the numbers right now. I weighed myself about two weeks ago and I was 199.5. Then I didn't weight myself until Monday, May 5. That's when I started eating healthy. And two days ago I weighed 198.5. So technically that should be my starting point. But I wanted my weigh-in date to be Wednesday (since sometimes I eat poorer on the weekends and I wanted two days to try and make up for that before a weigh-in) and I wanted the round number of 200 to be my starting point (so that when I hit 190 or 180 it will be easier to say 10 pounds, 20 pounds lost). So I'm not really sure what I weighed last wednesday, but I'm going with 200.

As for this week, I was 198.5 on Monday and Tuesday, and then all of a sudden I weighed once and it said 195.5. Maybe tomorrow I'll see 197. We'll see what week 2 will bring. I know the first week is always an outlier because your body is so used to burning 4000 calories a day that it's easier to lose weight.

- - -

I already feel smaller and better. It's a weird dynamic. For the last couple months, when the weekend hits, but even on weekdays, all I want to do is eat. Barbecue, fudge, whatever. In large quantities. But as soon as I start eating healthy, I feel better. My appetite doesn't know what's best for me.

Measuring My Vocabulary

Recently, I saw this site which measures rappers vocabularies and compares them to Shakespeare and Moby Dick. It does so by counting unique words in a 35,000 word sample.

(Aside: There is a implicit understanding that more unique words is better. I'm not sure that I agree with the statement on its own. However, I of course wanted a bigger number than Shakespeare.)

Here are some notable benchmarks:

Moby Dick: 6,022
Wu-Tang Clan: 5,895
Outkast: 5,212
Shakespeare: 5,170
Beastie Boys: 5,090
Jay-Z: 4,506
Eminem: 4,494
Kayne West: 3,982
Snoop Dogg: 3,974
DMX: 3,214

So of course, I was curious how I measured up. I took the first 35,000 words from Autopilot.


So that shows that I've used more unique words than Beastie Boys and Shakespeare but not Moby Dick or Wu-Tang.



Friday, May 02, 2014

Best Avs Games 2013-2014

October 2, 2013
Avs 6, Ducks 1
Opening night. Roy's first game as NHL coach. Crush the team that would end up as the best team in the West and Roy pushes over the partition. Good times.

November 19, 2013
Avs 5, Blackhawks 1
After ending Chicago's historic streak in the season before, Colorado plays the champs for the first time in the Central Division, and blows them out.

January 14, 2014
Avs 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Welcome to the big time, Tyson Barrie. After getting his first OT winner 6 days prior against the Senators, the defenseman won it for the Avs over their divisional rival.

February 3, 2014
Avs 2, Devils 1 (OT)
Down one, Roy pulls the goalie with 2:30 to go and it pays off. Avs tie it and win it in overtime. FORESHADOWING.

April 1, 2014
Avs 3, Blue Jackets 2 (OT)
Columbus was up 2-0 after two. Doesn't matter. Avs come back from a two-goal deficit and win it in overtime. FORESHADOWING.

April 3, 2014
Avs 3, Rangers 2 (SO)
Down one, who else, Tyson Barrie ties the game with under a minute to go. And he get the shootout winner. 

April 5, 2014
Avs 4, Blues 0
This was the game that started the Blues slide into 2nd, and the Avs rise into 1st. Also marked that Colorado became the only team to defeat all 29 others. 

- - - PLAYOFFS - - -

April 17, 2014 - Game 1 of West Quarterfinals
Avs 5, Wild 4 (OT) 
See here. My first playoff win, basically of my life. 

April 26, 2014 - Game 5 of West Quarterfinals
Avs 4, Wild 3 (OT)
See here. The 2nd comeback win in 5 games. 

Thursday, May 01, 2014

True Seeding in the NHL Playoffs?

I swear, I swear I was planning on doing this post before the Avalanche lost. This isn't complaining about their matchup.

I actually like the idea of divisional playoffs for building rivalries. I think that's more of a thing in hockey. In the NBA, I don't think that Toronto playing Brooklyn 3 years in a row would generate intense rivalries, I think it would just be boring. I think seeding 1-16 in the NBA Playoffs would be very interesting.

But because I'm curious, let's just see what it would look like in the NHL.

1 Boston vs 16 Dallas
2 Anaheim vs 15 Detroit
3 Colorado vs 14 Columbus
4 St. Louis vs 13 Philadelphia
5 San Jose vs 12 New York
6 Pittsburgh vs 11 Minnesota
7 Chicago v 10 LA
8 Tampa Bay vs 9 Montreal

First, some notes. St. Louis would have been the biggest beneficiary, playing a team 6 spots worse than their actual matchup. Philly would be hit the hardest, playing a team 8 spots better.

So your actual winners of the first round are by seed:
1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12

- - -

Let's set this up like a bracket and make some projections based on performances so far.

First Round (winners in bold)

1 Boston vs 16 Dallas
8 Tampa Bay vs 9 Montreal

4 St. Louis vs 13 Philadelphia
5 San Jose vs 12 New York

6 Pittsburgh vs 11 Minnesota
3 Colorado vs 14 Columbus

7 Chicago v 10 LA
2 Anaheim vs 15 Detroit

Montreal was the easiest pick as they actually already swept the Lightning. Boston and Anaheim also won against teams that already lost. Pittsburgh and Chicago are lined up against winning teams, but I feel good about those picks here. And Colorado and Columbus have both been eliminated, but I don't think I'm a homer for picking the team that went to overtime in game 7. Same for St. Louis and Philly.

The only one's that tough is San Jose vs New York. New York is still alive and San Jose isn't. My brain thinks that SJ is much better, but I'll advance NY here. Who's to say the Sharks wouldn't collapse against the Rangers?

Second Round

1 Boston vs 9 Montreal
4 St. Louis vs 12 New York

6 Pittsburgh vs 3 Colorado
7 Chicago vs 2 Anaheim

I think I should leave this here for now and come back to it. Pittsburgh over Colorado is an easy call, but the others are up in the air. Right now, I would pencil in Boston, St. Louis and Chicago. Man, this bracket would have really shaped up well for the Blues.

- - -

Now to compare this to reality. Under this new scenario, St. Louis and Colorado would still be alive. Minnesota and LA would have been eliminated.


Checking on FancyStats

Before this series, I had a prediction. That if the Avalanche lost it was not because they can't win by being outshot. I predicted a series loss would be because scoring rate or save rate would drop. So let's check in on those numbers for Colorado.

Colorado

Scoring
Reg. Season: 2.99 goals/game
Playoffs: 2.86 goals/game

Save Percentage
Reg. Season: .919
Playoffs: .906

Shot Differential
Reg. Season: outshot by 3.1/game
Playoffs: outshot by 8.4/game

Well, all three categories got worse. Scoring dipped. Save percentage dropped. And the fancystat got even worse.

Despite this, all four losses were by one goal (except for the empty net goals in Game 6).

For a more complete picture, let's look at Minnesota's stats.

Minnesota

Scoring
Reg. Season: 2.43 goals/game
Playoffs: 3.14 goals/game

Save Percentage
Reg. Season: .913
Playoffs: .885

Shot Differential
Reg. Season: outshot by 1.1/game
Playoffs: shooting more by 8.4/game

The Wild's scoring went way up, goaltending dipped, and their shooting differential skyrocketed.

Conclusions

Putting it all together, it's clear that the Avalanche had better goaltending in the series yet the Wild had better scoring. The only way that makes sense, is that they were shooting a ton more.

If the Avs could have maintained their rate of being outshot by 3.1 a game, it looks like they would have won the series.




Avalanche Season Comes To A Close

What a season.

It's hard to remember now, but less than a year ago, Colorado earned the #1 pick. And when the team hired Roy, I (like most fans) was on board. But we didn't really know what to expect.

To go from 29th to 3rd in the league...
to win the division over excellent teams like the Blues, Blackhawks, Wild...
to go to the playoffs for the first since I moved here three years ago...
to win three playoff games, two of which were unbelievably exciting...
to go to a Game 7 and to have that go to overtime...

It is all incredible. Thank you to the players and coaches and the rest of the organization for a fantastic experience all year.

- - -

I'm glad I got to experience a Game 7. And I'm glad for the players. It didn't turn out the way any of us wanted, but it is good experience. I think the Avs will be back in the playoffs for the next couple years and this was a good first run with this young core.

Moving forward this team has some strengths but also some weaknesses that could pose problems.

Despite my previous post that I wasn't worried about the advanced stats for this year's playoffs, I absolutely think they need to improve their possession/shot numbers. And they need to improve their defense. You can't count on having the #3 goalie (by save percentage). Varly should be top ten next year, but you can't count on staying that hot all year.

The offense should only get better. We have a lot of great scorers and playmakers that are young too. If we're able to keep them around, the next six years look solid.

Worst case scenario: The defense and possession number stay this bad or get a little worse. Varly regresses to average or below average. The offense is average. Avs miss the playoffs again.

Best case scenario: The defense and possession numbers improve just a bit. The offense improves because we have young talent that just matures. Varly has room to regress a bit and still stay a top 5 goalie. And now we have a bit of playoff experience. That's a dangerous team.

- - -

The NHL division playoffs have done what they intended--created and intensified rivalries. Before this series, many Avs fans thought little of the Wild. Just a boring, defensively-minded team. Now, this is a team that our players, coach and fans want to beat year after year. A dirty hit that ended the season of our most clutch player and whining about every call, in a series (like every series) that has a bunch of big calls go both ways, will do that. Minnesota, I'd love to do this again next year.

- - -

I really thought the Avalanche were going to win that game. Repeatedly.

Brit and I went out to a sports bar to watch it together. It was the first time in our relationship that we've gone to a bar to watch a game of any kind. Before Game 6, she said, "If there's a game 7, we have to go out." I love this woman.

When I was thinking Colorado was going to win, I was already thinking, "The better team did not win." What I meant in my head, was that these teams are so even. They could play a best of 100 right now and it would be 50-50. It sounded more magnanimous assuming the Avs won. Now it comes off as sour grapes.

The Wild won fair and square. The Avs had plenty of chances and there's no whining here about the outcome.

- - -

I was really looking forward to a series with the Blackhawks. Even if Colorado lost to them, there's no shame in that. And it would have been more good experience. And I was just really curious if our regular season success against Chicago would carry into the playoffs (it didn't for Minnesota). But it will have to wait until another year.

- - -

What more can you say? I've still never seen a team advance in the playoffs, but it's mostly my fault for only rooting for the Chiefs and the last 3 years of the Avalanche. It was a great season and has the prospect of more.