Saturday, October 10, 2015

Avs Opening Night. I could totally coach an NHL team.

Avalanche Opening Night


Coming out with a bang, ending with a whimper

Hoo boy, where do I even begin. Let's start with this:

Honestly, that might have been the worst third period meltdown I've personally seen. I'm sure there were worse, but this was the one I'll always remember. 

New season, new coaching staff, new draft pick, new free agents, new outlook, new philosophy. This was supposed to be an optimistic year. Rantanen somehow inexplicably dropped to our 10th pick to the delight of Colorado hockey fans everywhere, and several offseason pickups were expected to make immediate impacts. 

I'm a realist, and a student of the game. Well, I say I am. But I know how good the team is. I'm predicting a first round playoff exit. Probably getting lit up in the series. We're on the cusp of greatness. A solid core, a building defense, and a growing pool of prospects waiting in the wings. 

But let's start with the good:
-We came out guns blazing, holy cow. That's the attack I know my boys can mount up.

-The power play looks about a thousand percent better than last year. I don't know what they did, but well done.

-Lando seems to be harnessing Viking Mode more effectively this year. He was an absolute monster out there.

-MacKinnon is playing more aggressively.

-Comeau looks amazing. I was nervous putting what I thought was a 3rd liner on Duchene's wing. But he was easily the better player between Duchene and Iggy.

-Beauchemin was an absolutely stellar signing. His passes were great, his shot was booming, his defense was solid.

-Zadorov, what little I saw of him, had flashes of brilliance. He's still very young, but I see greatness already. I hope he sticks with it and becomes a staple in our defense.

-Rantanen needs to be either bumped up with better linemates or something, because though his line looked awful, I think it was because his linemates couldn't keep up with him. He was flying.

-The 4th line of McLeod, Mitchell and Skill is a huuuuuge upgrade from last year. Cody Mac and John McDangleSnipes Mitchell were on the 3rd last year and were expected to score. This year they seem to be just out there to wreak some havoc, and they absolutely took it to Minnesota. And it got them a goal. Well done.

-Iginla still has one of the best high-slot one-timers in the game.

-The Pepsi Center's media has been given a huge makeover. Which sounds like such a small thing, but seriously. The speakers shook the arena, the 3D projector over the ice was spectacular, we played the Mario mushroom powerup sound when one of our guys got out of the box, and our goal song is no longer written by a convicted child molestor. Also, the intro was Brother in Arms from MAD MAX FURY ROAD.

I'm never going to miss an opportunity to post more Fury Road.

Now the bad, and hoo boy here we go. 
-Holden and Guenin. I have no description, just those two.

-Soderberg looked lost out there. I liked the signing as a 3rd line depth signing, but man, at 5 mill? Yikes.

-Holden and Guenin. Okay I lied, but why in the world are these two still wearing the burgundy and blue? You're telling me Stuart, who was scratched after signing an extension last season, couldn't defend better than either of these two? And Gormley, ranked one of the better prospects in Arizona last season, who is fast as can be with a laser pass and rifling shot, couldn't crack the lineup ahead of these guys? My goodness, as I'm typing this, watching the Colorado/Dallas game, the Stars just scored again. Who were the defenders? GUENIN AND HOLDEN.

-After we were up 4 to 1, a pretty commandable lead with 17 minutes left in the third, the boys just started passing the puck back and forth. No attack, no hussle, no urgency, no killer instinct. And of course Parise scores his hat trick. Because our guys just sat back and what? I guess they thought the Wild were going to just hang their heads and go home? Just absolutely inexcusable.

-Barrie and Duchene looked lost out there. I like the guy. On the 4th line. He should not be playing with Rantanen on the 3rd.

-Mitchell is on the Power Play. Why?

-McLeod is our extra attacker. Why?


Please, for the love of everything icy, free Gormley and Stuart. And Grigorenko, while we're at it. Throw him up there with Rantanen and see what they can do. Can't be any worse than our current 3rd line setup.

Here is my ideal lineup:
Landeskog - MacKinnon - Tanguay
Comeau - Duchene - Rantanen
Grigorenko - Soderberg - Iginla
McLeod - Mitchell - Skille

Beauchemin - Johnson
Gormley - Barrie
Zadorov - Stuart

Iggy gets sent down to work with Grigorenko and the Yeti, forming a crash and bang/ shutdown/ scoring third line that he can keep up with. I, sadly, think the Iginla/Duchene experiment is over, as much as I'd like to see it work. Iggy just can't keep up with Duchene, where I think Rantanen's energy can really explode there. Line one gets left as is, because that line is absolutely firing on all cylinders right now. Ideally, Guenin and Holden will be anchoring the San Antonio Rampage, our AHL farm team. And I put Zadorov next to Stuart so the youngin' can learn from the feisty vet and have a solid anchor to rely upon should he decide to pinch up.

You can trust me, I've taken my Xbox NHL Avalanche team to 16 consecutive Stanley Cups.

I don't even have a beer pairing for this I was so taken aback by the meltdown against Minny. Well done Wild. Seriously. I loathe you with the fury of a thousand suns, but you hung in there and took the punch and got back up. Cheers to you. 

GABF 2015

GABF 2015


It's the most wonderful time 
Of the year

Where do I even begin? If you are one of the fortunate(!) souls to be reading this, you probably are already very familiar with the Great American Beer Fest. 


Maybe you don't. Maybe you read this for my photo-taking abilities, and uncanny skill in analyzing what the Avalanche should be doing because of course I can coach from my couch.

Great American Beer Fest is the greatest day of the year for beer lovers. It is one of the biggest sudsy celebrations in the world, cheersing over 3,500 beers over the course of 3 days. 

You want medals? How about 242 of them. 
You want stickers? Well too bad, stickers aren't allowed. But if you ask nicely, most brewers will still give you some.
You want pretzel necklaces? How about pretzels, cheese, funyuns and beef jerky.

You like porters? Stouts? Wheats? Marzens? Sours? Gose? Fruit? Ales? Lagers? Chili beer? Stein beer? Browns? Belgians? Smoked? Bacon? Chocolate? Peanut butter? Well I've got great news for you. I literally couldn't list all of the beer types here. Mostly because I enjoyed a lot of them, and I don't remember.

So I'm not even going to try to explain it. We poured beers, we met brewers, we talked up our suds, we made drunk friends who we are totally soulmates now but will never see each other ever again. So I'm going to go over some of my favorites and stand outs. There are your usual all stars: Great Divide, O'Dell, Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, you know, the booths that have lines a hundred yards long. I can get these beers, usually, anywhere. So I tried to stay off the beaten path and go for some of the smaller breweries. There are some hidden liquid gems hiding amongst the lesser-traveled booths, and the lines are much smaller anyway. Double win.

Let's start with Brasserie St. James.  Hailing from Reno, Nevada, BSJ (are we comfortable enough to abbreviate? I'm going to say yes.) won the Best Mid-Size Brewpub in 2014, and I can tell you right now they live up to the accolade. I'd never heard of them until I saw them offering Grand Cru. If you don't know what that is, don't worry, nobody does. Grand Cru doesn't really mean anything, but is usually used to describe strong or rare released beers. BSJ offered two things that caught my eye, but the lambic Grand Cru drew me in first. It was heavy, it was rich, it was delicious. I'm no expert, I don't like using words like "mouthfeel" or "tasting and smelling notes." So forgive me when I describe this beer as a tart liquid meal. Grand Cru's remind me often of plum belgian beer, and this was no different. Nothing overpowered the other, and it made me instantly warm and happy.

I pretended to look around and casually snuck back into the line. They also offered a plum lambic. Plum?! I'd never had a plum beer, and I had to have it. 

I plum loved it. Subtle, slightly tart, not overpowering and easy to drink. A bit barrelly and creamy. It tasted like breakfast on the porch of a french farm. 

Lickinghole Creek Brewing was up next. An absolutely gorgeous farm brewery in Virginia, with a somewhat creepy farm picture on their website. At any rate, the brewers themselves poured the beer, and they were exceedingly friendly and willing to discuss their product. Their labels, by the way, are absolutely gorgeous. Quick tangent, have I talked about my far-off dream of being a beer label designer? I have no intention of going to school for such an endeavor, but how much fun would that be? Anyway, I went with Batchelor's Delight because it had a pirate ship label. This was their barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel. 

This might have been my favorite of the night. Heavy, dark, barrelly, raisiny, vanilla-y. It tasted like rum raisin ice cream. It was trouble, but it didn't scare me off because I went back for another. Probably not wise at 12 percent, but I was already like twelve beers deep anyway so I didn't even notice.

Lastly, let's talk about Uncle Billy's Brewery and Smokehouse from my home away from home, Austin, Texas. Aside from a sweet website with brilliant wordplay, Uncle Billy's makes amazing beer. I had the smoked gose (what?!) Two things I'd never in a million years would have thought to combine, but there it was. It poured like pale gold with subtle lacing, and tasted out of this world. I guess a barbecue smokehouse would naturally have a stable of smoked grains, so I don't know why it surprised me so. But there it is. I don't even know how to describe it because of how unique it was. The smoke was subtle and didn't overpower the tartness of the gose, which was an odd sensation going down because smoked beers are usually dark and heavy and overpowering. Well done Uncle Billy, I will definitely check you out next time I head down that way. 

I was at GABF for two days, so of course I had many, many more good beers. But those were the ones that impressed me enough to write about. I hope someday to visit each one someday to show my appreciation in person. 

Until next time GABF.