Ms. Conduct

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"I'm hurt and they're throwing bras?" "It's not you, Marty. it's me."

It’s happened over and over in my years of watching hockey: One of my players goes down injured, my heart races, panic creeps in, and I fire laser beams of righteous indignation at the opponent who caused it, while fighting back that “what if it’s really serious?” lump in my throat.

Meanwhile, the team’s athletic trainer calmly, carefully traverses the ice, sometimes grasping the arm of a player with his latex-gloved hand to get to his patient as quickly as possible. (Bonus: This distracts me from my worries for a few seconds, pondering the pleasures of gripping that player’s strong, steady arms. *swoon*)

When they do get there, kneeling on the ice, arm around their charge, assessing the damage and reassuring the injured player, I am so grateful for their calm presence that I can’t help but love them for taking care of “my boys.”

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You are ridiculous, Brian Boyle.

So, I’m watching 24/7 on Wednesday, reveling in all the hockey goodness and enjoying the crap out of it. And by the end, I come away with one overriding feeling:

Oh my God, the Rangers HAVE to be the most attractive team in the league.

But because we’re not just winging it here at Backhand Shelf — because we have integrity and we like to put numbers and facts behind our work — I knew I couldn’t just assume the Rangers were the most attractive team in the league.

I had to make up numbers to support my theory.

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All Zack Stortini wants for Christmas is his two front teeth.

What I love most about Christmas is that Canadians and Americans celebrate it on the same day, so none of this  “Merry American Christmas!” nonsense like we have to do with Thanksgiving.

So, that said, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

I hope the Jolly Fat Man brought you whatever you wished for and ate the cookies you left out for him. Otherwise, the Canucks flew him to your house for nothing! (Kyle Wellwood jokes are the gift that keep on giving.)

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Bryzgalov: "Universe this big!" - Photo by John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette

Ilya Bryzgalov made a “humongous big” splash Wednesday night on HBO’s 24/7 with his trippy monologues on the universe and tigers and whatnot.

But while his broken-English meanderings make for some of the most engaging moments of a show that’s already enthralling from start to finish, I found myself wondering if the reality of it isn’t quite as charming.

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Preach!

I promised myself I wouldn’t write much about the Wild here at Backhand Shelf because I know you guys don’t want to read about irrelevant teams any more than I do

But the other day I saw this tweet and it stopped me in my tracks. THESE guys are talking about the Wild? They care who the Wild’s goalie is? They know minor league stats for their third string goalie?

Indeed, they are paying attention. Lots of people are, actually, though some have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a reality where a) the Wild are good and b) they aren’t your Jacques Lemaire, sleepytime trap team anymore.

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Not this kind of fox hunting...

Minor confession: As much I go on about stats being the buzz kill of hockey pleasures, I have a masochistic side that occasionally enjoys them.

For instance, a couple of years ago, I went about studying why people were poo-pooing +/- numbers as a way to judge a player’s defensive effectiveness. I’ll admit, I learned a little and certainly look at that statistic in a more “shades of grey” way now.

But in general, unless the numbers are wildly compelling and also, let’s be honest, goalie-related, you’ll get a pair of glazed eyes and silent nodding if you try to engage in stats-talk with me.

Occasionally, however, I wish for stats that actually would engage me AND become part of the statistical lexicon of hockey. The one I wish for every year when it comes time to draft my fantasy teams is Relative Foxiness.

It’s not that I want to sacrifice fantasy hockey success in the name of an all hot boys team, but if I’m torn between two marginal players, I’d love a stat like RF to turn to as a tie breaker.

But the more I think I about it, Relative Foxiness has to be based on a variety of less-processed statistics, like the following:

"Hey ladies..." "We're married." "I'm a professional hockey player." "Oh! Well, hi there!"

AF (Actual Foxiness): Let’s face it: Some guys don’t need the ol’ “I’m a hockey player” line to get the girls. Some… well, they really do. The more handsome a guy is if you imagine he’s an accountant instead of a hockey player, the higher his AF rating.

TS (Twitter Savvy): Any player with a Twitter account gets some points here, but if his Tweets consist of “Game tonight. #getemboys” and the like, then we’re talking a TS rating in the cellar. If he’s like Ryan Whitney, tweeting pictures of a Hangman game between teammates where neither of them can spell, that’s high Twitter Savvy marks.

HS (Backward Crossovers): This is a defenseman rating only, and it measures how good a d-man is at backward crossovers. (HS=Hip Swivel, by the way). Some d-men (I even see it in rec league occasionally) just have a really sexy way of skating backward. The best way to judge is to stand behind them in the crease and watch them on a 1-on-1. I will gladly participate in creating this rating.

Foxy points for you, Jon Blum! Awww....

GL (Goalie Love): Every time a defenseman or forward skates out of his way to give his goalie a pad tap or a pat on the head or a fist bump, his Goalie Love stat goes up. If he’s just scored a goal, fist bumped his way down the bench, and STILL goes down to give the goalie some love, he gets double.

BWL (Beat Writer Love): How often the team’s beat writer goes to them for quotes because they don’t give the usual cliches, have a sense of humor, and can string an intelligent sentence or two together.

BS (Blocked Shots): Yeah, that’s right. I can dig real stats, too. My grandmother used to say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” (though I don’t really understand why), but I think shot blockiness is next to godliness. Also, if Shots Blocked-to-Goals Scored isn’t some sort of proper statistic, it totally should be. That is my kinda player. Get after that, Cam.

Stephane Veilleux gets high marks for Kiss Cam Awareness.

KCA (Kiss Cam Awareness): When the Kiss Cam hits the visiting players bench and the guys just sit there, spitting or shooting snot rockets or checking out the talent, that is poor Kiss Cam Awareness and bad for your foxiness stats. If you react in any way, even just a giggle, but better yet, you play along (even better still if your teammate/victim is caught by surprise), your KCA rating improves.

RFMT Ratio (Real-to-Fake/Missing Teeth): There’s just something about that toothless hockey grin, isn’t there? I figure the more teeth you’ve lost, the harder worker you are. This one is gonna hurt the goalies, though, so you boys better either be blocking shots with your face when you play out in summer hockey or work on your Savegasms.

SGI (Savegasms Induced): Goalies only, obviously. One of the goalie coaches I follow on Twitter said the other day, “Inconsistent goalies suck.” And this holds true in the area of sexy glove saves, too. Every goalie (even my lousy ass) can bust out the occasional glove save that makes the crowd go, “Oooooooohhhhh!” and the ladies knees weak. But some goalies do it consistently and they should be rewarded for that statistically.

Oh yeah, Millsy! That's the spot!

TDI (Third Defenseman Indicator): Another goalie-only stat, which rewards goalies who can launch an outlet pass to a forward in the neutral zone and effectively increase possession time in his team’s offensive end. So few goalies can do this successfully on a consistent basis, it’s almost not fair to include it, but it’s such a hard skill to master and it’s so damn sexy, those guys deserve credit.

All these attributes would, in my fantasy land of fantasy stats, combine somehow (I’m a writer, not a mathematician) to give us the Relative Foxiness of any player. I’m pretty sure this would be a VERY popular stat, so if you stat nerds want to impress the ladies with something other than your Corsi or your Fenwick, get on this pronto.

But I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of great ways to objectify, er, I mean objectively rate foxiness. Whatcha got?

 

 

Oh dear. I hope you’ll forgive me. Like a lot of people, the minute my head hits the pillow on Thanksgiving night, I’m done with actively thinking about the reasons I’m thankful and really don’t care about anybody else’s reasons either.

But I am so overwhelmed with gratitude, particularly regarding all things hockey, that I can’t resist this opportunity to whip up a little thanksgiving sandwich –  a veritable Dagwood of gratitude — and fawn over hockey a little bit more while it’s still not completely seasonally awkward.

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