Drug aids?

[I wrote this back in July, and lost it before posting.  But it's important to think about, still.]

NPR, this morning, decided to talk about AIDS. Apparently, one of the global health organizations (WHO, I think, but I wasn't listening closely enough to be sure) is recommending increasing use of anti-retroviral drugs to curb AIDS in Africa. The piece was focused on South Africa, which has the largest AIDS population, and talked about potential health benefits and challenges (mostly supply shortages and distribution) to the program.

But one thing mentioned in there struck a chord; they mentioned that anyone going on the drugs would be taking it for the rest of their life. And that got me thinking. Are there preparations for the virus mutating to become immune to the drug cocktails used? Are they still working on drugs to actually kill HIV?

(Part of this is spurred by seeing where we are with TB, in that it has become immune to nearly all antibiotics, and nothing else is in the pipeline. So TB is well on its way to being a major health threat again, and, as near as I can tell, nothing is being done about it (at least, nothing in terms of new antibiotics).

This is another problem coming out of drug companies realizing that there is far more money to be made in disease management than in disease cure. I'm really not sure how to alleviate that, but it is desperately needed.)

Computer historical notes

Listened to latest The Talk Show, and had a couple of thoughts about it.

1) the hole punch for floppy disks had to do with pretending disks were double-density, not with write protection. All discs bought blank had a movable tab to affect writability. If you wanted to overwrite a Bard's Tale disc (which probably didn't have that tab), you'd just tape over the hole where the tab would go.

2) The note about Apple being ahead of its time was interesting. A case could be made that X-Windows belongs in that conversation as well. It's underpinnings (the X protocol) are largely the same, and it was first introduced (as W, for Windows; a later upgrade changed the name to X, since that was the letter after W) the same year.

3) I remember having to do OS installs (particularly OS/2, though windows was a bunch as well. And slackware was also quite a few) from stacks of floppies. Man, that was painful. I went through nerdgasm on my first OS/2 (Warp, I think) install from CD-ROM. Two minutes of configuration, and half an hour of waiting, rather than changing disks ever few minutes.

4) Talking about application languages, surprised he forgot that assembler was used before C or Pascal. With so little memory, it was about impossible to avoid.

Jackets leave Caps Blue

I wasn't able to watch last night's Caps/Blue Jackets game until after putting the kids to bed.  By the end of the second period, I was wishing I hadn't bothered.

The first period wasn't too bad, although some cracks were definitely showing (and those two power plays were really terrible).  And the two goals against certainly didn't help.

But the second period was just one long, unfolding disaster.  The Blue Jackets' speed was on full display and (helped by the absence of Green, who was hurt in the middle of the period, no doubt) the Caps really didn't have an answer.  Frankly, it's surprising they only gave up two goals for the period, especially since one was just a really bad goal by Holtby.  The second was really terrible defense, as Johansen was given way too much time, right next to the goal.

Shortly after the second goal was scored, I stopped the DVR from further recording, and would have turned it off, except that I looked at the current game state, and saw that the Caps had a shorty early in the third.  So I watched through to that goal, and turned it off.

This was a rare game for the Caps, where they were both bad possessionally, and got unlucky.  Nothing really good to look at.

The power play was atrocious, with some bad passes leading to breakaways (one of which led to a penalty, and another a short-handed goal), and with a bad penalty as well.  They were nominally 0/7, although they had less than eleven minutes of power play time.  Kudos to Columbus, though, because I think the fact that they were so aggressive at the point helped lead to the breakaways.  Still, not well handled by Washington.

The PK wasn't too bad, as it also had a lot of time on ice (also 0/7, on eleven minutes).

I guess, overall, the Washington power play was slightly better than the Columbus one.  That is, it had ten more shot attempts than Columbus, over a slightly shorter time.  But man, did it look bad.

Wilson ended up getting picked for best Cap by the broadcast.  I think it was due to his physical presence; he didn't manage to knock down three blue jackets at one time again, but had a number of very good, clean hits.  He also handled himself well when challenged on the first of those big hits.  And his possession numbers were very good, in his limited time.  But it was still kind of ridiculous to name him.

On the other hand, the top line was the worst one, at 5v5, and there weren't many players who looked good.  Green was doing well, before he got injured.  Fehr also did very well.  MarJo and OV were two of the three big anchors on the team, though (Chimmer was the third).  Not good.

Holtby looked pretty good, outside of that one bad goal (though it would have been good if he could have done a better job with the rebound that led to Johansen's first goal (the rebound went straight to him, and nobody was covering him at the time).

The result leaves Washington well outside the playoff picture (7th in division, 13th in conference).  It's going to take quite a rebound to get back (assuming they can do it at all).

If Grabo and Green don't both return soon, they can basically write off the season, because they're in very bad shape.  They need about 36 points in 28 games (about a 108 pt pace).  It isn't hopeless, but it's certainly a long shot.  Sports Club Stats says less than a 19% chance; that's certainly better than a couple of times last season (I forget exactly, but they were definitely below 5% twice.  Might have even been down to 2%).

Next up is a home-and-home against Detroit, starting tonight.  Go Caps!


The power of Green Over Game

I watched last night's Caps game in Buffalo after putting the kids to bed.

There was definitely some drama going in, as Laich had missed yesterday's skate, and it was unknown whether that was going to keep him out. He did end up playing, happily, and even looked good at times (he's seemed very hit-and-miss this season, with an awful lot of missing).

Holtby was in net, which was good, with the rest of the defense the same. Offensively, Wellman was still up for Grabovski. Happily for the Caps, Miller got the night off for the Sabres.

The game got off to a fairly slow start, with little going on for the first couple minutes. But Ellis tripped Erat in trying to recover from being badly burned, giving the Caps an early power play. The Caps lost the subsequent draw, but brought the puck back down and got Enroth to freeze the shot. OV tried to go back to the bench (apparently to change his gloves), but wasn't allowed by the refs. He came back, corralled the puck Brouwer had bumped back to him, and fired it between a defender's legs and into the top-left corner of the net.

A minute later, the Caps were back in the offensive end, when Green flung a shot towards the net. It made it through the traffic, and Green was credited with his sixth of the season, but replay review showed that the puck hit OV's pants on its way in. (And I'd never noticed before, but that deflection meant OV got credited with a shot and Green didn't, even though OV wasn't even trying to touch the puck. Interesting.)

A big flurry by the Sabres a couple minutes later, culminating in a rush up-ice. Holtby made the first two stops, but OV (in good position) failed to hinder Ehrhoff at all, and Ehrhoff put it over Holtby's leg for the score.

That finished out the scoring in the first, though the Caps had a strong edge in Fenwick the rest of the way.

An early penalty against Dima led to a lot of zone time for the Sabres, resulting in a Hodgson goal two minutes into the second.

That motivated the Caps to take over the game for several minutes, leading to Green breaking into the zone with the puck, getting Enroth to commit to him, then skating the puck around the net and scoring on the reverse layup (in off of Enroth, I think). I should also note that that was a dominant shift by the fourth line, leading to that. Their next shift was also excellent, with great forechecking. Indeed, Wilson looked better than he had in quite a while; he was definitely trying to show his ability to generate chances, not to hit hard or chuck knuckles.

Carlson had a really bad pinch, though, just after that, leading quickly to Verrone getting his first goal. Alzner made a good initial stop of the rush, and pushed it all the way to the boards. But all five Caps went to that side, leaving Verrone all alone, next to the goal, on the other side. So when Foligno's pass came across, he had an empty net and time. Not a frequent combination. (And, for those keeping score at home, that was one minute, two seconds after Green's goal.)

A few minutes later, though, Brouwer drew a hooking penalty to give the Caps another power play. OV got the puck in his normal position, but with no shot, so he threw it all the way across (through three defenders) to Erat, who quickly fed Brouwer in his normal position for the score. Nicely done, all the way around.

That finished out the scoring in the second (in fact, it almost finished out the shooting, too; there was only one more unblocked shot attempt over the last three minutes) with the Caps again having a one goal lead.

Buffalo, who'd been dominated for most of the game up to this point, put together a heck of a seven minute (or so) stretch, ending with Hodgson stealing the puck from Chimmer (drawing a penalty in the process), faking out the defender (not a good play by Alzner here, either), and putting a backhander over Holtby's shoulder for his second of the game. Very nice play by Hodgson, very poor one by Chimmer; in particular, Chimmer pled his case over the penalty call while Hodgson skated in on the net.

Play, the rest of the way, was pretty even, until they got to overtime. There, the Caps took over, with Green cementing his "Game Over" nickname one minute in. But that whole minute was some very nice 4-on-4 play by the Caps.

This game really felt like a dominant one (and 5v5 close FF% corroborates that (64.2%)), but there were some terrible mistakes a few times in there. Plus, another case of the Caps giving one back right after scoring.

Erskine and Carrick were serious anchors on the Caps possession numbers. The other four defenders were 58-65% CF, while Erskine and Carrick were 29%. Ouch. Why are Oleksy and Schmidt in Hershey, again? And why the hell were Erskine and Carrick getting most of their starts in the defensive end (83%)?!?

Wellman has looked pretty decent in his two games. Not like a driver of play, of course (which Grabo can be), but not like an anchor either. That's better than I was expecting. Let's hope it continues.

The power play, of course, looked very good, with two goals on three attempts. And in those 4+ minutes, they had six attempts, four of which were on-net.

The PK, on the other hand, did not look so good. The defenders did block half of the shot attempts, which is good, I guess. But there were six in under three minutes, and that's too many. I wonder how much of that is driven by Erskine and Carrick's performance (roughly 1/4 of the total time).

Holtby, I thought, had a pretty good game, despite that terrible save percentage. He just wasn't getting much help from the defense. Two of the goals are directly attributable to the skaters, and a case could be made for a third, as well.

Anyway, overall a very good game by the Caps. They dominated for most of the game (basically, outside of the first seven minutes of the third), but they really need to concentrate more. They can't keep having breakdowns leading to quick scores like kept happening last night.

Next up are the Blue Jackets, who have finally cooled of, and are currently tied with the Caps in the standings. Go Caps!


Habitual position

The Caps definitely like going to Montreal; Saturday's game against the Habs definitely didn't change that.

I mentioned that Grabo wasn't available; I don't know how soon he will be.  OV did make it, which certainly surprised me.  To make up for Grabo, Wellman was called up again.  The defense didn't change from the previous game, unless you want to count Holtby in net.

The game started out pretty well, with the Caps having a very solid edge through the first period (13-7 fenwick events, 12-3 on net) but no goals being scored (and that does include each team getting a power play).  Just before the end of the period, Backstrom got tagged for a high stick on Plekanic and Eller got a double against Carlson (after seeing the replay, I'm not sure why that one was a double, though I'm not complaining).  The refs definitely screwed up, though, as they waited to blow the whistle until Washington corralled the puck, even though Washington ended up with the power play.  Not a big deal, but it definitely was weird.

That carryover power play worked out well for Washington, as OV got his 36th of the season less than a second after it ended on a beautiful juggling play.  A shot rebounded in the air, and OV bounced it on his stick twice to bring it back in front of the net, then slammed it home in a tiny hole Price left when he wasn't able to move over after the prior shot.

And that pretty much opened the floodgates, as Erskine scored a minute and a half later.  Then, three minutes later, Wilson had a really pretty assist, backhanding across to Beagle, who had an open net.  And four minutes later, Carlson added another when his (fairly weak) wrist shot was deflected a hair, at the last second, by Beaulieu, past Price.  That was enough to bring Budaj off the bench, although at that point Montreal hadn't even attempted a shot in the period (so, yes, more than halfway through the game, Washington had more goals than Montreal had shots on net).

The crowd was definitely restive at that point, as Montreal's next shot was greeted with a lot of (mock) cheering (the next couple were as well, although not quite as much so).

Montreal closed the shot gap a bit, the rest of the way, but that's about it.  The only other goal scored came on a 2-on-1 with OV and Wellman where everyone (probably including Wellman) was fixated on OV shooting, and he instead passed across to Casey.  Casey took a second to get the shot off, but made sure to get it up, and got his first goal of the season.

I had actually already turned the game off at that point; I might have been asleep when he scored.

It might have been Washington's best game of the season, although it should probably be attributed as much to Montreal's lack of effort as to Washington's skill.  They just looked considerably off, all game.  And Washington certainly had no reasons for complaints with the officiating; they got eight power plays to the Habs' three.

The power play certainly wasn't terribly effective, with only seven shots (fifteen attempts) in that time.  The last PP I saw was with the 4-0 lead already, and was pretty lackadaisical.  Three more of them came after that, so I suspect they were pretty similar.

The PK did a good job, though, limiting Montreal to only two shots in their six minutes with the man advantage.  Certainly nothing to complain about, there.

My biggest worry is that the Caps will slack off after that.  Buffalo's next, and Miller hasn't been allowing them anything.  I guess we'll see, tomorrow night in Buffalo.  Hopefully, OV didn't reinjure himself, and Grabo will be better (I know, that's a stretch).  Go Caps!

Bedeviled in the swamp

I don't have a whole lot to say about the Caps game against the Devils, the other night.  OV was out, Neuvy was in.  Schmidt was also out, with Erskine coming in; I understood that decision, but didn't agree with it.

The stats say it was a very close game (5v5 close FF% dead even, difference of one in shots), and I guess the 2-1 score reflects that, but I must admit that it didn't feel that close, especially once NJ went up by a pair.  It really never felt like the Caps were going to come back (granted, the penalties didn't help that), so I guess, in that sense, the Chimmer goal was almost like a present.  Just not a very good one, since it wasn't enough to tie the score.

Neuvy played a very good game; I thought he (and Erskine and Carrick) badly overplayed Jagr on Henrique's power play goal, but that was really his only mistake.  Dima really needs to stay out of the box, because Erskine and Carrick are an adventure out there at evens; the PK is really not the place for them.

The power play was kind of interesting for the Caps, if only mediocre effective (no goals, twelve shot attempts, nine on net).  Green twice ended up playing OV's normal position, which seemed like a decent fit for him (Carlson does a slightly better job on keep-ins at the point, but Green's passes across are better.  Not sure which to favor, overall).  Fehr ended up in Brouwer's position a couple of times, which I like (even though he didn't do much in this game).  And Brouwer ended up in OV's position during one stretch, which I didn't think much of.

The PK was pretty decent, with thirteen shot attempts against and three for (all of the latter on net).  Of course, defending five power plays is just too many.  If I remember correctly, they did a very good job against the first two, and things went a bit south from there on out.

One thing I didn't like was that the Caps were completely dominated on the boards; they did very little cycling of their own, which was particularly bad for the third line.

Oh, and things got even worse about eleven minutes into the second, when Grabovski's leg got rolled over in front of the net.  He didn't return, and didn't play against the Habs, although there was one slight sign of encouragement there, as they showed him in the press box and he wasn't using crutches.  Yeah, that's a slim hope to hang onto, but we'll just have to take what we can get.

Anyway, that's about it, although I should doff my cap to Schneider, who had an excellent game in goal for Jersey.  (And as a side note, I still don't understand why he wasn't on the goalie list for the US Olympic team.)

I'll write up my thoughts about the Habs game separately.


Finding the skinniest of the skinny

I've mentioned before that my daughter is starting ballet. I've known, for quite a while, the emphasis on thin in ballet, but I hadn't realized just how strong it is. Like Ms Edwards at TrespassMag, I think that's a bit of a shame. And this academic paper from 2003 shows that the emphasis goes way overboard, and has for many years (many of the citations in it go back to '83).

According to a research conducted by Benn and Walters (2001), dancers studied were found to only consume 700 to 900 calories per day. Many of the subjects were consuming less than 700. Surveys conducted in the United States, China, Russia, and Western Europe by Hamilton (1998) found that female dancers’ weights were 10 to 15 percent below the ideal weight for their height.

That's just not good for anyone, and the paper details that a bit more. It also mentions how that is largely (though not totally) a US problem. And perhaps that's largely the result of US culture in general, which is so emphatic on how thin women "should" be.

I wonder if all that is a bit of background on why the character Boo in Bunheads is there. I hope that, showing her (Kaitlyn Jenkins, the actress, that is) having some success, it helps people in power in ballet companies see that it might not be such a disaster to have normal, healthy women as their stars, rather than waifs. Kudos to the makers of that show.

In fact, I didn't think about it until I wrote the rest of that, but we also saw, in the first episode, how a dance audition can end before it begins, although they attributed it to age rather than body profile.

Disrupted Video Recorders

[actually wrote this one yesterday, as well]

Was surprised to hear, earlier today (via @siracusa) that TiVo is abandoning hardware, in favor of becoming a software-only company. To that end, they're getting rid of most of their hardware engineers.

I'm not sure if I'm more surprised by that change of strategy, or by the fact that "most of" means five.

Good luck to those five, although I'm sure someone will want to hire them. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few companies would be happy to hire all five together. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with the company, from here on out.

Capital mistakes

[like many times, I wrote this yesterday, but am not getting aroound to posting it until today.]

I watched last night's Caps-Sens game a little bit late; I watched a bit of the first only a little bit late, but wasn't able to watch the rest until after the kids were in bed.

Holtby was in net, getting his first start in quite a while. The skating lineup got a little bit of shuffle; OV was a game-time decision and didn't play (lower body injury). That led to Volpatti playing again, and Brouwer being on the top line (and Fehr taking OV's spot on the power play again). And Erskine was scratched, leading to Schmidt being called up and playing.

I was really happy about the second part of that, although I can't say as it went terribly well. Schmidt and Carrick did not exactly cover themselves in glory in the game, although I think I'd stick with it (but I'd feel even better with Schmidt and Oleksy).

Overall, this game was played pretty close to even, possessionally. I thought the Caps did better, most of the time, but there were some really bad odd-man breaks (including a nightmarish 5-on-2, thankfully snuffed by an offsides call that was borderline interference) that made Holtby work much harder than he should have.

One of those odd-man breaks was a breakaway where Bobby Ryan looked like he'd beat Holtby, but Holtby's leg pad slightly deflected the puck as it was pulled across the net, causing the puck to hit the heel of Ryan's stick, and him to miss the net entirely.

Another of those breaks was the result of a bad pinch by Alzner (and that's certainly not something we can say with any regularity), leaving Carrick to defend. In real time, I thought Carrick was doing a decent job (would have liked to see him focus a little more on the pass), but ended up screening Holtby for a shot that went, five-hole, into the cage. And Holtby looked very surprised by where it went.

The Caps penalty kill did a very good job defending three of the four power plays they faced (one shot on goal between the three), but only managed one clear on the third one. Lots of zone time resulted in a tired defense (over a minute, I think), and a goal from Spezza. It also didn't help that Dima was the man in the box, that time. The PK also managed three shot attempts of their own in that time. I was actually pretty happy with the overall performance, despite the goal.

The power play was merely so-so, with ten attempted shots in four attempts (five shots on net). OV being out, of course, was a major factor here, so perhaps I'm being a little harsh.

Regardless of whether that's so or not, what's not is that they were unable to put a single puck past Anderson, so those two goals mentioned were more than enough to decide the game.

On the plus side, possession was pretty even (dead even, per 5v5 FF%, in fact), so things aren't looking too bad, in one sense.

Unfortunately, it makes six losses in a row, which has moved the Caps out of playoff contention, and things are not looking good, going forward. That's because their remaining schedule has a lot of road games, and against a lot of good teams. And they'll need about 40 pts in the 32 remaining games. So they'll definitely need to earn a playoff spot, if they want it.

And it starts tomorrow night, against the Devils, in New Jersey. They'll need to do a lot better than they've been doing. Let's hope they manage it. Go Caps!


A bridge (toll) too far?

Another big event I haven't been talking about is Chris Christie's debacular handling of a crisis that seems to be entirely of his own making; that being the closure of toll lanes to the George Washington Bridge, apparently as political retaliation against the Mayor of Fort Lee.

Rachel Maddow had a nice run-down of the weaknesses and failures of Christie's explanations in his long, rambling "mea culpa" (well, that's what it was supposed to be, but it ended up being more of a "woe is me; look whom I trusted").

Even if you believe everything Christie said in that statement, though, I still think Christie has to go.  Because either he cares nothing about who gets hurt by his political retaliations, or he allows his underlings to play so fast and loose that they do the same.  Either way, he needs to go.  Even if nothing comes of the Hoboken Mayor (Dawn Zimmer)'s accusations that Hurricane Sandy aid was withheld as retaliation for not supporting a particular development that Christie wanted finished (and that would surprise me, given that the person in charge of that aid (Guadagno) admitted that a meeting took place as Zimmer claims, but that the discussion went differently.  But Zimmer is the one with detailed notes).

Anyway, despite my lukewarm endorsement of Christie after his re-election, he's got to go.


Home on a branch?

I've been forgetting to write about Google's impending acquisition of Nest (maker of thermostats and smoke alarms with nice design and automation features) for $3.2B.

And really, that's because I'm not sure what to make of it.  I'm concerned, because I don't like google peeping into my life (despite blogging here, I try to minimize what's visible), and this certainly gives Google a foothold into knowing a lot more about my house, as well as knowledge of when I'm home, or not.  Hopefully, they don't send wifi info back to Nest.  It would also tell a fair bit about my power use, and things of that nature.

All in all, it's got me wondering if it's time to rip out the Nest, and see about replacing it with something a little dumber.  So far, I'm keeping it, but I'm definitely going to be watching.

A failure of execution

I wasn't able to watch last night's Caps Rangers game until fairly late; I took my daughter skating around when the game started.  But I finally saw it after getting her home and to bed.

The game started with Gru in net (I missed my guess on that one), and Erat, Laich and Ward at forward (and MarJo, Backstrom, and OV were reunited).  The defensive lines were unchanged.

And when Dima's terrible excuse for a pass, one minute in, led to Nash's goal, perhaps I should have just turned it off.  The Caps actually dominated possession for a while after that, but were unable to beat Lundqvist, even on their power play (in fact, it was a pretty terrible power play).  And then the wheel fell off, as Erat and Alzner got called for hooking twenty-three seconds apart.

Nash got Gru to open the five hole less than a minute into the first penalty, and doubled the Rangers' lead.  The Caps technically killed off the second penalty, but Stepan got it past Gru before Alzner could get back to the play.  At that point, Oates had had enough, and put Holtby in net.

Things looked a little more encouraging when Kreider got whistled for slashing with half a minute left in the period.  And improved again when Hagelin was called for slashing OV half a minute into the second.  It took only half a minute after that for the Caps to get onto the board, with OV slamming a one-timer from his normal position into the top corner of the net.

But then the bottom fell out, when, with the second power play unit on, Callahan got his first short-handed goal (as a side note, I felt better when Ryan charged up-ice, because Dima was with him, but Dima failed to do anything to keep Callahan from potting the rebound of the initial shot).

That was actually the end of the scoring; the Caps didn't help themselves with a long parade to the penalty box in that period (with Erat taking his second and third).

In the third, the Caps managed not to shoot themselves in the foot any more, but didn't do especially well in their pressure.

Overall, though, they were ahead on Fenwick, for the game, 5v5, and 5v5 close by pretty good margins.  So it was actually a much better game than the Columbus one, despite the scores being so similar.

The special teams goals look like a big edge for the Rangers, although the shot data says it was very close, and probably a slight edge to the Caps.  But the Rangers got the shortie and the second goal right after the penalty expired, which, I guess, is what counts most (at least, for this game).

Dima and Erat seem like the goats of the game; both made mistakes that cost the team.  But they were also the two best players, possessionally (Dima ahead of Marty, slightly).

One thing I found interesting is that the Caps had 16 O-zone faceoffs, compared to only seven in the D-zone.  I think that has to say something good about how the Caps played, but I'm not sure exactly what.  Obviously, it didn't convert into goals.

As far as faceoffs were concerned, Erskine and Carrick (as you'd hope) were heavily protected in this game; hopefully, that will continue.

More generally, that makes five losses in a row for the Caps, despite them playing pretty well for most of that stretch.  But Oates is obviously getting frustrated, as Gru was sent down today (perhaps a trade for Neuvy fell through?) and Oleksy was waived (I'm a bit annoyed about that; he's been pretty good, and a fantastic bargain on his contract).  One assumes that opens room for something else to happen; we'll have to wait to see what the other dominos are.

Things aren't looking easier, going forward.  Next up will be Ottawa coming to visit, tomorrow night.  Go Caps!


Caps feeling blue, jacketed

I wasn't able to watch the Caps game against the Blue Jackets the other night; I didn't realize, in advance, that it was on Comcast's secondary channel, and didn't realize until after I'd put the kids to bed (and done a couple other things, I think).  So I turned it on just in time to see the last 45 seconds or so, with the Caps trying frantically to reduce the embarassment of the 5-1 score.

I went looking through the stats, to see if there was any saving grace to the score, and there really wasn't.  Gru had a terrible night, and Holtby was merely good in relief.  But possession was heavily in favor of Columbus, no matter how you want to measure it.

Actually, one thing about it was really weird; overall Fenwick was just about even until Columbus scored its third goal.  That's usually when the team losing starts picking up some steam (since the team leading is focused more on holding its lead than extending), but it appears that the Caps gave up at that point.  Fenwick was 21-19 (in favor of Columbus) at that point.  It was 26-16 the rest of the way (and that's giving the Caps credit for their last five, which all happened after Columbus seems to've stopped trying to score).

So there's really nothing good in the game.

The power play didn't score in almost eight minutes, though they did get eight shots on net (and attempted five more).  That's not terrible, but not great, either.

The PK allowed eight shots (and three more attempts) in just over six minutes, with two goals (and a third goal was scored three seconds after OV got out of the box, before he could get back into the play).

Bob, obviously, had a great game, stopping twenty-six of twenty-seven, but they really needed to send more pucks his way.

Erat finally escaped purgatory for the game, and got an assist on Carlson's goal (as near as I can tell, he was on a line with Backstrom and Brouwer, although I don't know the rest of the lineup shifts (except that Volpatti sat out).

One thing I can't figure out is that Erskine and Carrick again got a lot more D-Zone faceoffs than Green and Orlov.  I get that Green and Orlov are the best in the offensive zone, but they're also the best at moving the puck up the ice.  They're also much more defensively responsible in their own end.  But the faceoff numbers for the defensemen make it look like there was a lot of shuffling from the combos we've been seeing, lately (Erskine had 7 D-zone draws, for instance, while Carrick had only three).

I'm not sure where all that leaves us, except hoping that things work a lot better this evening against the Rangers (and thinking it's very unlikely to be Gru getting the nod tonight; not sure where to bet between the other two).  Go Caps!

Aloha, Photography

I found Craig Mod's writeup about smartphone camera adequacy an interesting take, but I have to wonder about a few things in it.

There's some very good stuff in there, but I feel like he's talking from a very specific point of view.  He's certainly right that most people don't care about having an image larger than a computer monitor.  Of that, there can be no doubt.

One minor element he's missing is that computer monitors are stepping up a lot in resolution right now (from 2MP to 8MP), so what looks fantastic now might not in only a year or two.

But before we get too down into specifics, let's talk about what the advantages are to a dedicated camera (and, let me state here, I believe Mr Mod knows all of these):
  • Higher resolution, due to larger lenses (diffraction limits capabilities of smaller lenses)
  • Less noise (particularly at higher ISOs, but it can happen at pretty low ISOs also)
  • Greater control of depth of field
  • Greater dynamic range (more info in "dark" pixels)
  • Greater color range
  • Greater control over settings (particularly aperture, shutter speed, ISO; camera phone might offer control of these, but it'll be harder to change, if so)
  • Faster access (my D4 can be ready far faster than a cameraphone, and has less shutter delay, even if the camera app is already running on the phone)
  • Better support for long exposures
  • Support for filters (software has yet to be able to duplicate the effects of a polarizer or neutral density filter)
  • Higher quality lenses (again, this is related to size, but also to being able to change them)
  • Greater durability
  • RAW output (much more color depth and other info than a JPEG)
  • Much better autofocus, particularly of moving things
  • Battery life
  • Larger, more flexible flashes (in particular, the ability to bounce light off of walls/ceilings, but amount of illumination is also not to be sneezed at)
Now, of those, some are already changing (a quick-release tripod mount for an iPhone 5, for instance), and some will change eventually (software will get better at noise reduction, so that the difference will be negligible up to quite high ISOs.  And on-sensor phase-detect autofocus will move into phones someday, as well.  As will RAW output, likely).  And the iPhone 5s shows that some progress can be made with a small, built-in flash that would be harder to do with a larger model (the dual-color LED flash on that phone).  But some of them will not.

For instance, the flexibility of a smartphone limits options for controls, making it tough (if not impossible) to match a camera, and also limits how quickly you can get the camera available.

So, when you get down to it, what he's saying is that, for a particular style of shooting (landscapes with great depth of field), phones are now good enough for most purposes (ie: as long as you don't care about printing).

Note, also, what he says about his style of shooting:
Connected to that rule of simplicity is a bias toward constraint. I’ve always shot with one lens. Obsessed over a single type of film.

There's certainly something to be said for that (as an engineer, I agree that simplicity is always an important goal in design), but shooting with a single lens also means that you won't notice certain inherent limitations (width of picture being the biggest) of a smartphone.  So again, we're seeing a "good enough" for him that won't necessarily be so for everyone.

Anyway, despite all that, I like the way he laid out where he sees things.  He's right; for some things, the cameraphone really is good enough.  And they're still getting better at a frightening rate.  And there's certainly something to be said for a camera that you always have with you.  Sometimes that's meant that I have gotten a shot, because I had my phone with me.  But sometimes, it's meant that I didn't bother, because I knew that the phone wouldn't be capable of getting what I was trying to shoot.

A friend of mine who's an excellent photographer has been bouncing around in equipment lately, because he does a lot of hiking, and couldn't carry 20-25 pounds of gear on a multi-week hike.  So he's dropped down from full-frame (Canon) to Sony NEX and is now changing to Sony's new A7r.  I can certainly see where he's coming from (I don't hike, so the fact that my tripod is almost nine pounds isn't a big problem).  He'd like the phone to be good enough, I'm sure.

Me?  I'm looking forward to being able to interface my camera to my phone (probably via bluetooth) to upload things sooner.  It won't help with some pictures (ones needing significant postprocessing), but will be fantastic for others.


Netflix addendum

I talked, earlier, about Netflix and bandwidth for 4k video.  I'm a little surprised by a couple of things I've seen.  One is that Netflix' FAQ says that their "Super HD" quality (1080p, I assume) requires only 7Mbps, which is a lot less than stuff I've got.  In fact, thinking about it, it's less than the maximum that a DVD can use (10Mbps; think, for instance, of the ending scene of Much Ado About Nothing, with a blizzard of confetti raining down), let alone what a Blu-Ray requires.

So I wonder about that.

But the other thing that I saw was a reference (I thought on Daring Fireball, but I can't find it now) that said that only 15Mbps was required.

I don't know, but that sounds incredibly low to me.

A tax on both their houses

And I've had people tell me that paying taxes is the same as slavery (yes, Tea Partiers, that would be you).

Third lead was not the charm

Well, as expected, Neuvy got the start in goal last night against the Penguins. One thing I forgot to mention about the Sharks game was that Fehr and Laich were flipped in the third period. That flip remained in effect last night.

So, with those caveats, it was the same lineup as the San Jose game.

And how did it go? Well, for sure it was a lot better than the last Penguins game (where the Caps were shut out in 5v5 Fenwick close); in fact, it started very well. For the first ten minutes or so, the Caps were doing a fantastic job of controlling the neutral zone, keeping Pittsburgh from setting up in the offensive zone.

After that, the Penguins started catching up, and things looked very bad when they got a power play just before the thirteen minute mark. But a bad breakout pass was corraled by Alzner, and pushed up to Laich around the offensive blue line. He was supported by Brouwer and fought off the defender to get a clean shot off from the low slot, which he put over Fleury's shoulder to open the scoring.

Pittsburgh kept catching up for the rest of the period, but didn't manage to tie the score.

The second period started pretty well for the Caps, although without a lot going on. Several minutes in, though, the Caps caught fire, and over the next six minutes or so, attempted thirteen shots to Pittsburgh's two. I was just saying to myself, "How can the Caps lose this game, playing like this," when Nicky made a mistake near the offensive blue line leading to a 4-on-2. Adding insult to injury, the scoring shot from that jailbreak went off Nicky's stick.

For several minutes after that, neither team could mount any sustained pressure, then Washington got a very good shift from the third line. That shift culminated in Orlov getting the puck at the left point, skating across a little, then passing to MarJo deep on the right side. He threw a one-touch pass to Chimmer in the crease for the tap-in goal.

And then, we saw Washington allow another goal only a minute-forty after scoring. It's really depressing how regularly that's happened, this season. It was some pretty terrible defense, with Erskine and Carrick both managing not to defend anyone (and Wilson made a rookie mistake, going down too early, to make it even worse).

The rest of the period was pretty much up-and-down the rink, with chances at both ends, but nobody managing to score.

The third opened with withering pressure from Pittsburgh, helped by an iffy power play that put Green in the box. No scoring resulted, but the Caps didn't manage any pressure until Erskine managed to draw matching minors with Malkin (who, it should be noted, had an incredible game), leading to 4-on-4 hockey. And the Caps took advantage of that, scoring a minute and a half later. OV got the tally, putting it past Fleury from the slot right after getting his stick slashed out of his hands (no call) for his thirty-fourth goal of the season.

But Pittsburgh kept up their pressure, and scored to tie it three minutes later. Pittsburgh was content to play defense for quite a while after that, but still scored on their next shot attempt, six and a half minutes later. From there, Washington mounted a furious charge to try to tie things up, but were unable (helped by OV breaking two sticks about thirty seconds apart in that final flurry).

To break it down, I think Neuvy had an ok night. I don't remember any incredible saves, but none of the goals left me wondering why he didn't stop them, either.

The power play was ok, generating four shot attempts in two minutes and twenty seconds. The PK was better, allowing nine attempts in four minutes and forty or so, but scoring Laich's goal.

At evens, the team did pretty well, staying just on the right side of 50% against a very good possession team. Oddly, the fourth line did very well, and the other three were pretty tightly clustered. One thing I can't figure out; the third pairing was used as the shutdown line, getting most of their starts in the DZone (5/6 non-neutral starts). The other two pairings only had four D-zone faceoffs between them.

A couple of notes of interest: especially in the first period, the Penguins were going power vs power, playing Crosby's line against OV's (and that seemed to work pretty well for them). Also, I thought the Pens rarely played Crosby and Malkin together (other than power plays, of course), but they did it quite a bit in the second half of the first period.

One other change from ten games ago: the breakouts looked quite good. They were crisp and fast. What made it even more interesting (and I don't know if this was a function of Dima's vision, or of good coaching beforehand), a couple of times the Pens shut down bothoutside lanes, and Dima shot his breakout pass straight up the middle (from behind the net).

Anyway, not a bad game overall; the Caps didn't look outclassed. Disappointing to see them lose the lead three times, of course, but I chalk that up to luck more than anything. It was a loss, and not gaining any ground in the standings is disappointing, but it wasn't a dispiriting loss.

Next up are the Blue Jackets, in Ohio, on Friday. Let's hope the play continues to be very solid, and the luck turns around a bit. Go Caps!


[again, written yesterday, but just posting today, unedited]

I was feeling pretty leery about last night's Caps/Sharks game. The Sharks are a top-three possession team, and have only lost once to the Caps in the last fourteen years. On the plus side, the Sharks have several injured players (Dustin Brown, Logan Couture, and Tomas Hertl, at least).

Not unexpectedly, Gru got the start in goal again, with the rest of the Caps lineup being the same as the last several games.

And things started out very well for the Caps; they were territorially dominant for the first seven minutes (or so) of the game, although I don't remember any great chances during that time. But things started evening up quickly after that, leading up to a Sharks goal on a very pretty deflection thirteen minutes in.

The Caps matched that nineteen minutes later as OV found the roof of the goal through a hole a hair larger than the puck, from a very sharp angle.

The Sharks thought that they'd taken a lead at the end of the second, but it turned out that time had expired while the puck was still in the crease. And the third period went by in a long blur of not much happening (although the only two minors called in the game were at the very beginning and very end of the period).

Having said all that, I was pretty happy with the game. The Caps out-shot and out-attempted the Sharks by a small but significant amount (roughly 53% of both shots and Fenwick for, both overall and 5v5 close. Of course, unlike Phoenix's game the other night, almost the entire game was played 5v5 close).

Anyway, all of that led to the game going into overtime. And unlike the Sabres game, the Caps were dominant in overtime. Like the Sabres game, though, they were still unable to score. So into the shootout they went. For only the fourteenth time this season.

And for the third shootout game in a row, the Caps were unable to put even one shot past an Olympic goaltender (this one, though, wasn't wearing any pants. I have no idea why). Which meant that Marleau's goal in the second round stood up, and sent the Caps to the showers with only one point.

There was very limited special teams, so all I'll really say is that the power play didn't have much zone time, but the PK didn't allow much either.

As far as individual players, Gru had a very good game, allowing only the one goal on twenty-seven shots on net. Fehr was also a force, with some strong defensive plays using his reach, and a couple of very good chances. Grabo was also excellent, creating good chances for Fehr and OV, as well as drawing the penalty for the Caps only power play. Speaking of OV, that shot was a sharpshooter's dream, although this was not an OV game.

That is to say, San Jose is a team that lives by playing along the boards. And the Caps basically beat the Sharks at their own game, with some very strong cycling. And the boards are not OV's game; he's just ok (compared to average NHL talent, not compared to his talents elsewhere on the ice) there.

MarJo showed how far he's come; last season, him along the boards was basically an automatic turnover. This season, he's been fairly strong; he even beat Jumbo Joe in a board battle at one point last night.

One thing that surprises me, looking back now; Ward is a very strong board player, and I didn't notice him being terribly off, or anything, last night. But his possession numbers were terrible (he, MarJo, and Chimmer were all under 40% Corsi For); I'm not sure how that happened.

That line, though, was heavily victimized; all the other forward lines were over 55% (next lowest forwards were Brouwer and Beagle at 58.8%, in fact). I guess I must have noticed one or two of their successes, and missed all their failures, because that's really terrible. Especially with how sheltered they were, in terms of starts (and, to a lesser degree, in terms of competition), they need to do better.

But like I said, I was pretty happy with the game, even with the shootout results. Like I've said before, games like this will lead to many wins and few losses.

Next up are the Penguins, tonight, in Pittsburgh. Oates more or less promised Gru wouldn't be playing again. I'd like to see Holtby, but if I were to bet money, I'd put it on Neuvy. Also, tonight's game is on NBCSN; hopefully, I'll remember to set the DVR. Go Caps!


Splitting apart

I managed to work in, this weekend, reading a young adult book by Veronica Roth, Divergent.

It takes place in a post-apocalyptic Chicago (and I was glad to have been in Chicago this summer, as it got me to recognize several places) where the city still (kind of) exists next to a big marsh that used to be Lake Michigan. In response to the destruction of society, the people have been split into five groups, each of which emphasizes one trait that that group believed contributed to the End. Those groups are Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (fearlessness), and Erudite (knowledge).

Everyone, on a specific date around their sixteenth birthday, has to take an aptitude test to determine which group they're most cut out for (and it seems that most people end up staying in the group in which they were born). Shortly after (I think it was a couple of days later), they choose which group they want to be in.

But some people are shown to be Divergent by the aptitude test (which is administered VR-like via a serum). Few people are quite sure what it means, but it's deadly to admit to (for reasons unclear until very late in the book).

The main character, Beatrice, is born to an Abnegation family, and is found to be Divergent. The test-giver didn't rat on her for being Divergent, and allows her to make her own choice after telling her that the test ruled out two factions.

She chooses Dauntless, and is thrown into a bit of a nightmare of initiation, as Dauntless (at least as it is "today") is very Darwinian (and, yes, cutthroat).  It takes a while to come out, but the Dauntless are the ones that protect the city from the outside, although we never really find out from what they're protecting the city.  They are the only group that has firearms, although they don't seem to have a lot of them.

So you can see where there are a lot of parallels with Hunger Games (more than I expected, when I started it); I think the main character is, also like in Hunger Games, becoming one of the driving forces of a revolution overturning society, although I don't have the second book to confirm that.  (Which reminds me, I still haven't seen the second Hunger Games movie.  Need to rectify that.)

The book definitely has some problems; learning to use a gun takes (much) more than a day or two.  And learning to fight, hand-to-hand, takes much longer yet.  Expecting a group that has never done either to be able to compete with people who've been doing it all their lives is absurd.

And let's face it, if there are only twenty-ish new people each year joining a group of ... well, it's unclear, but seems to at least be several hundred to a thousand... Well, that won't be enough.  Especially after that group is cut down to ten.

Plus, it takes quite a few support people to keep an army running.  It wouldn't take nearly as many as today's US Army (which has, IIRC over a hundred support per soldier), but it's considerably more than zero.

And that doesn't even touch on the number of Erudite.  To manufacture the things briefly mentioned takes very large numbers of people.  You need the people to do the designing, then the people to design the manufacturing, then the people to do the manufacture, then the people to assure the power for all of those stages, the training people to teach the engineers, etc.  It would take hundreds of times the number of Dauntless (although it's possible that there are far more Erudite than Dauntless, it's very unlikely).

Actually, that is one dynamic that isn't even touched on; the relative sizes of the various factions.

One that is discussed is that the government is almost entirely run by Abnegation; the other factions have only token representation.  This does make sense, in a way; you do get the least corrupt people running things.  And in a low-resource environment, that's certainly important.

Anyway, it's a very interesting book, and will probably make a pretty decent movie (it's coming in March), but I'm undecided about whether I'm going to read any more of it.  Maybe I'll get them from the library.  One thing strongly in its favor was that I raced through it in very little time, so it definitely kept my attention (much more difficult, these days, than it used to be).

Die by the blade

I did manage to watch yesterday's game in its entirety (on DVR-delay, so I think I got through the whole thing in ninety minutes or so) after getting back from taking my daughter skating again.

From the beginning, we should note that the lines and defensive pairings were the same as the previous game (so the third pair was again Carrick and Erskine, and Laich and Brouwer were together on the top line). The only change was in goal, as Gru came back, leaving Holtby on the shelf. Good thing Holts isn't getting time to let the memories of that last outing fester in his mind. Oy.

With the 1-1 final score, and shootout decision, I'd like to say that it followed the same script as the last Sabres game, but it really didn't. The Caps did have the edge in 5v5 close Fenwick, but there was a lot of power play time. Or, rather, penalty kill time, as the Caps seemed to think that Buffalo needed an edge (well, to be fair, there were at least three penalties I thought should have been called on the Sabres). Brouwer, in particular, seemed to think that, as he got called for penalties on two shifts of three consecutive one late in the second.

In any event, the game went into overtime where the Caps couldn't even attempt a shot (despite having five men on the ice at one point in the middle). But they managed to hold off Buffalo, and got into the shootout. It only took the default three rounds this time, but the results were the same as the last time these goalies faced off in the shootout. That is, Miller stopped every shot, and Gru stopped all of them but the last.

Breaking down the pieces, the power play wasn't terribly good. They attempted five shots, and allowed two attempts against in their two minutes (so, yes, serious small-sample size warnings).

The PK not terribly good, allowing thirteen attempts (four on net) against in nine minutes, and only got two shot attempts on their own. The shots are pretty good, actually, but that's a lot of attempts. I wonder if they were lucky on shots missing the net. For the season, the Caps are allowing close to four attempts per power play, so maybe they actually did pretty well, compared to their results for the season.

I'm going to come back to that in a minute.

5v5, the Caps did pretty well again (almost exactly the same as against Toronto). Of course, five minutes of the game was played 4v4, and the Caps accomplished exactly nothing. And these last two games were against the two worst possession teams in the league. So it's hard to feel too positive.

And the number of penalties was certainly disturbing. I'm going to write another (non-Caps-focused) post in a few minutes about this, but they can't expect to win with large penalty disparities going in the wrong direction.

But to get back to the Caps, and penalty killing, the Caps have had the 7th most minutes, 4v5, in the league (259m). And in that time, they've managed the most shot attempts against (I wish I had the numbers for at the end of their run of... what was it? 50 penalties in a row successfully killed). That isn't good. They are eighth in the league in shot attempts for, which is ok, I guess.

Anyway, overall, I see a penalty kill in desperate need of an overhaul, and I don't see that happening. Oh, and per-player Corsi shows that Carrick and Erskine (on D) were black holes, as was the fourth line (on O). If only we had positive possession players to plug in, like, say, Oleksy, Schmidt, Erat, or Latta.

So, not looking greatly positive for the future, although at least there's some positive potential ahead.

And next up is San Jose and Pittsburgh, Tuesday and Wednesday. Nothing like a back-to-back against top teams (and I also feel obligated to point out that, last time the Caps played Pittsburgh, they were only one standings point behind. And now they need a telescope to see the leaders). Having said all that, Go Caps!

Neuvy adds to Leaf fall

I wasn't able to watch much of the Caps/Leafs game, the other night. I wasn't able to look until after putting the kids to bed, at which point I found out that the game was on the alternate channel (I assume a Wizards game was on the normal Comcast Net channel, but I didn't check). So the part I was able to watch I had to watch live (which sucks; I hate commercials).

But I can say almost exactly when I turned it on; it was a few seconds before Wilson and Ashton dropped their gloves (so, 14:53 of the second period). Not thrilled to see Wilson chucking his knuckles; I'd rather see him show his scoring touch. Having said that, I was glad he won the fight pretty handily (and I thought it was interesting that the knuckles on his left hand ended up bleeding, when he tries to throw big punches with his right. But he jabs (while holding the jersey) a lot with his left, and the jersey he was holding probably led to the bleeding. The jabs are interesting, insofar as not a lot of guys are strong enough to do that.)

And then, of course, I had to watch Erskine and Orr go at it five seconds later. Ho-hum. I'd like to say something about Erskine pulling someone off the ice that we're glad to see go, but Orr? Who cares? Impressed at how well Erskine did, but I still wouldn't cry if there was no more fighting at all.

Anyway, I should mention that lines and defensive pairings were the same as the night before. The one difference is that Neuvy was in goal, rather than Gru. Which leaves me really feeling badly for Holtby; he needs reps to get back into form.

Getting back to the game, that means that I missed the first goal from each team.

I can't say as it felt like either team was dominating, after that. The Caps did get a power play shortly after I turned it on, but nothing came out of that.

The third didn't start out well for the Caps, as Alzner deflected a sharp-angle shot from Kessel over Neuvy's shoulder. He made the percentage play, but it didn't work out.

The "top" line responded a few minutes later, as Backstrom got a turnover on the forecheck, near the goal, and threw it towards the net. There were two defenders there, and one got his skate out of the way, but the other deflected it into the net to tie the game. No surprise that Backstrom is going to be the one carrying that line.

The final goal of the game came seven minutes later, just after a power play expired, and MarJo (from Backstrom's normal spot) found Ward with a bit of space in the middle, and Wardo banged it home.

It was a herky-jerky affair, but the Caps managed to close out the game defensively.

Overall, the power play did decently, as the final goal was, for all intents and purposes, a power play one. And they did have seven shots on net (and fifteen attempts), which isn't bad. The only bad part were the two shorthanded chances allowed.

The PK did not do so well, allowing seven shots (eleven attempted shots) and one goal in almost six minutes. The only thing in their favor was that the did attempt two short-handed shots (if I remember correctly, the one that missed the goal came when Chimmer had a mostly-open net).

And even strength was just about even, across the board. What's odd is that the first and fourth lines were the best on Corsi (I'd expect them to be the worst), which, I guess, is just going to encourage Oates to keep doing what he's doing.

And I don't have anything new to add to the goaltending situation, beyond what I said the other day. I'd have to assume Neuvy (or Gru? that actually might make more sense; his trade value is likely to be as high as it will ever get) will be traded soon.  Regardless of the truth of that speculation, kudos to Neuvy for putting in a great game under difficult circumstances.

Anyway, I'm writing this after the Buffalo game was played, so I'll save more general comments until the end of that game.

Lightning Edge

[note: I wrote this several nights ago, but am just getting around to posting it.]

I wasn't able to watch last night's Caps game until a fair bit after it started (I probably just barely beat the end of the game out when I hit play).

I knew, in advance, that the lines had been shaken up the last couple of days, with a "top" line of Laich, Backstrom, and Brouwer; a second of Fehr, Grabovski, and Ovechkin; and a third line of Chimmer, MarJo, and Ward. What I hadn't been previously aware of was that Erat was getting scratched (reported as healthy, but I hope not. Volpatti is not, by any stretch of the imagination, close to as good as Erat. If Oates thinks he is, I have to wonder about his sanity).

Things started out very weird, as there was a big conference at the benches, between the officials, both coaches, and both GMs. I was definitely confused. It turns out that the ice by one goal (occupied by Gru at the time) was really terrible, and they were trying to figure out how to handle it. They decided to change ends of the ice halfway through each period (with certainly limitations), and got started a few minutes late (although I still don't understand why the GMs were involved in the discussion).

The start of the actual game wasn't great; Tampa was slightly ahead on play. The Backstrom line then dumped the puck in, Brouwer retrieved it and pulled it out to the point, then started across the ice. Then he decided to pass away, and passed it directly to Tampa's other point defender, then watched himself get beaten up-ice by his defender (Tyler Johnson) for an early goal.

Washington continued to get outplayed for a bit, until OV's line came on again, and got a goal from Fehr on a 3-on-2 (OV had the assist while Grabo drove to keep St Louis from stepping up on Fehr). From there, it was pretty even play until Washington got a power play.

It wasn't a very pretty power play, as Tampa was able to clear a number of times, but it did have a nice result 1:43 in, when Ward and Grabo both managed to deflect Green's shot from the point (the first shot of the power play, incidentally) to give the Caps the lead.

The rest of the period had quite a few offensive chances, then the Caps got a power play with a minute-ten left. That led to an impressive barrage, culminating in a goal with twelve seconds left. MarJo had gotten the puck at his normal position to the side of the net, and took advantage of everyone overloading to cover OV, so he could walk in front of the net and put it 5-hole on Lindback.

The rest of the game was pretty back-and-forth, with Tampa attempting to keep pressure on Washington, and Washington attempting to strike back. There wasn't a whole lot of scoring, but that's a testament to both goalies playing well, and a little luck. Tampa scored a pair before Washington closed the scoring with one more in the final minute.

So the Caps got the two points, moving them back to third (after the Flyers and Rangers had passed the Caps during the days off) in the division.

How did the various players do? Well, the "top" line did not do well. In their defense, they were mostly fighting off the St Louis line, but they need to do better. OV's line (which I would consider the top one) was dominant. They had two goals (the last goal was also by Fehr), killed it in Fenwick, and had a number of chances (one of which was spoiled by an uncalled hooking; another went off the inside edge of the post). They also had only one bad shift.

MarJo's line was pretty good (MarJo himself looked fabulous; some incredible skating in there, especially), although I would have liked to have seen a little more possession (there was one third period shift where they were absolutely killed).

The fourth line had one or two very good shifts, but was pretty poor, overall. Wilson doesn't seem to be improving; his numbers just keep getting worse.

The power play was pretty good. It's definitely hard to argue with two goals in three chances. And they did get five shots (four more attempted, but not on net) on those chances, which isn't bad, but they also gave up two short-handed chances (one of which was only saved by an incredible play by Gru).

There really isn't a lot to judge on the PK. They were only out once, and didn't give up a goal, but did give up four shot attempts.

Overall, it wasn't a bad game. The Caps did have a small edge in Fenwick close (54%), and did have an edge in penalties. Gru was pretty good (no bad goals, and a couple of very good saves). Getting the two points was good, and overall numbers look pretty decent for the team.

I'm definitely not understanding the new lines (especially Erat being scratched), but they weren't as bad as I expected.

Anyway, next game is tonight, at home, against Toronto. Go Caps!


Do Drac Inn

The other movie we watched this weekend Adam Sandler's animated Hotel Transylvania.  I'd actually already seen it (on the flight back from Hong Kong, on which I watched a bunch of movies), but had only recently gotten the blu-ray.

Sandler is playing a vampire who had a daughter whose mother was killed by humans right after the baby was born.  To protect the daughter, he has built a hotel in a castle in the middle of nowhere, where no humans are allowed.

When the action starts, the daughter (Mavis) is approaching her 118th birthday (apparently the de facto age of majority for vampires), and she wants to see the world.  Dad, of course, wants her to stay safe, at home, but graciously allows her to visit a nearby "village".  The village had much of the hotel help (zombies) dress up as humans, and pretend to be out to get her.  That got her to return home in tears.

Unbeknownst to either (Dad was watching the carnage in the village, to make sure nothing went wrong), a hiker named Johnny wandered by about then, and followed the zombies back to the hotel (not realizing where he was going, of course).

Dracula noticed him almost immediately, and kept trying to get rid of him without anyone noticing.  But, of course, things kept going wrong, and Johnny quickly met Mavis.  It was cute, the way it was handled, and went exactly as you'd expect.

In fact, the rest of the movie goes largely as you'd expect; it's a fun romp.

My daughter loved it.  My son (who's almost three), was a little scared of the monsters, at first, but, with some reassurance about them, stuck it out and demanded to watch it again when it finished.

Aside from a bit of concern about scaring little ones (some kids wouldn't be able to deal with it, even with reassurance), it was fine for them (although a couple of the jokes went over their heads).

The acting was pretty good; I was impressed that Sandler did as good a job as he did (I'm not a fan of his, although I did like The Wedding Singer).  And, as I said, it was very funny.  It certainly wasn't deep, but we liked it.

We'll probably watch it again before too long.



I didn't mention watching a couple of movies with my kids, this weekend.  On Friday, I showed my daughter the CGI film Epic.

It's about a teenage girl whose mom passed away, and is just moving in with the father she hasn't seen in years.  He's obsessed with finding little people living in the woods around his house, and that has led to his estrangement from pretty much everyone.

Well, the girl finds herself at the wrong place at the wrong time, and not only discovers proof positive of those people existing, but shrunk down to their size and in the middle of a war between life and rot.

I'd seen a trailer for it over the summer (in front of Avengers, maybe?), and thought it looked like it might be decent, but that the title was horrendous.  It's like they're trying to sell something, but can't figure out what it is, and ended up with an interim title becoming a final one.  Definitely knock points off for the terrible name (it also doesn't help that I think that word is absurdly overused).

Anyway, it has the stereotypes you'd expect among the little people.  The wise one, the young rebel, and the old soldier among the good guys.  And it pretty much goes as you'd expect (the good guys win, the girl falls in love with the rebel, and the rebel and soldier make up and work together.  Oh, and the father and daughter can have a decent relationship, because she realizes he isn't insane).

The execution is pretty good, though.  It certainly wasn't a great movie, but we enjoyed watching it.  My daughter did want to watch it again, the next day (we didn't).

I'll probably show it to the kids again, at some point, but it probably won't be for a while.  It certainly didn't come close to matching the first Ice Age, or Rio (both done by the same group).

Cold, snap!

Must be pretty cold; local schools are already announcing closings for tomorrow, even without any snow.  Can't remember ever closing for cold, when I was growing up.  Not sure what to make of that.

Card Stream?

A friend pointed me at the announcement that Netflix will be streaming House of Cards in 4k resolution this year.

I find two things interesting about this.  One is that it's only for LG TV users.  The other part, though, is wondering who will have the bandwidth to receive the stream.  I have FiOS; I didn't think that'd be fast enough, but the top two plans ($210/mo or $300/mo; I hadn't looked recently, and didn't know those two were available) might be.  Outside of those people, and Google Fiber people, I'm not sure who has the bandwidth to take advantage (because those are very small groups).



I missed last night's Caps/Wild game completely, unfortunately.  I was getting up early to take some pictures (bitterly cold at dawn, too), and the game slipped my mind.

So I looked it up, and saw the score, thinking, "Guess they didn't play that well".  Then I saw that they had taken a 2-0 lead, and that was very disappointing.  Then I saw that the shots were 11-1 in the first (when the Caps took that lead), and was amazed.  And those two goals were thirteen seconds apart.  Way to not let up!

Then I noticed that the shots on the game were 30-11, and that the Caps led the league in possession last night (69% Corsi For, against a pretty good possession team in Minnesota).  How did they lose?

Then I looked at all the gaols in the second.  Four for minnie, one more for Green.  Holtby had allowed four goals on only eight shots.  Three of those goals were on the power play, on their only three shots with the man advantage (side note: there were five PPs for Minnesota, so the Caps did a good job restricting their shots.  Excellent, in fact.  But the goaltending was regressing to the mean, as one would expect.  Just considerably harder than expected).

The third third period was again heavily dominated by the Caps.  But Holtby let in one of the two shots the Wild managed.  I don't know that I'd call it the worst goaltending performance ever (my first thought was Roy's last game in Montreal, but his nine goals allowed were on twenty-six shots), but it's in the conversation.  It is the most goals allowed on eleven shots, since shots started being tracked.

I hope that isn't going to obliterate how well Holtby's played for the Caps; it was an atrocious game, but still just one.  I suspect, though, it's going to keep Holtby on the bench (or scratched) for a while, with Gru getting most of the starts and Neuvy the leftover scraps.  I hope I'm wrong about that.

One bit of weirdness on the game; Suter managed to be +2 for Minnesota, despite the score being tied at evens (and OV was -2).  More than that, though, Suter had his first ever hat trick (yes, apparently he didn't manage a hat trick at any point before he even got to the NHL), making two games in a row the Caps gave up a hat trick.  Very weird.

I don't really read anything into it, but it's certainly not a good thing.

Still, as noted, the Caps flat out dominated in possession, which is a fantastic sign for the future.  My note about a trend, though?  That's four games in a row the Caps have had the edge in possession, and they have only two points to show for those games.  Still, if they can maintain their improved play (and I've got to think that the breakout improving has a lot to do with that), they'll win a lot of games.  Despite the four consecutive losses, I'm feeling a lot better than I did a couple weeks ago.

Two other bits of weirdness I noticed last night.  Mathieu Perreault is 18th in the NHL in points per minute, ahead of everyone on the Caps (Grabo is leading, and he's 28th in the league).  What did he get traded for, again?  And the other was that Erskine showed up as the best possession player last night (91% (!!!!) CF); I have no idea how that happened.

Unrelated note: my daughter and I went to Kettler Friday morning, to skate (her second time).  When the public skate ended, we went over to see if the Caps were still practicing.  They'd mostly finished, and only Wilson and Latta were left (and were goofing off).  Wilson skated by the corner where we were, and Wilson hit the glass with his stick as he passed.  My daughter was a bit scared; I had to reassure her a little.

Anyway, the Caps (and Holtby) have several days until the next game; it'll be Thursday in Tampa.  I'd be surprised, but I hope Holtby gets another chance, so he can exorcise the memory of that stinkbomb.

Go Caps!

Four Ways to Skinner Cat

The Caps game against the Hurricanes last week actually did go about the same way as the ones before; that is, one team dominated possessionally at evens, and the other team won, largely on the strength of goaltending.  The only real difference was that this game ended up being close enough to go into overtime.

What was definitely weird was that the lines got a major shuffling, coming in.  Part of that was driven by Laich returning, although I don't know what drove a top line of OV-Grabo-Fehr and second line of MarJo-Backstrom-Brouwer.  I guess it worked ok, though; Fenwick 5-on-5 close was nearly 60% for the Caps.  Replacing Volpatti (who, it has been pointed out to me, has been an absolute sinkhole possessionally) with Laich was certainly a good step in the right direction (even though Laich has been pretty brutal himself).

Things started well for the Caps, dominating territorially, until taking a too many men on the ice penalty followed by a high sticking penalty.  That led to a long 5-on-3 (effectively 5-on-2 when Backstrom's stick broke on an attempted clearing), with Skinner potting one with seventeen seconds left.  They managed to kill the second penalty, although it did obliterate their shooting advantage.

Things were pretty calm for the rest of the period, with the Caps barely managing to regain their shooting edge, but without anyone else finding the inside of the net.

The second period was just crazy, with OV scoring on a rush down the right in the first minute.  Less than a minute later (does this sound familiar?), Malhotra beat Gru to restore the advantage.  A minute and change later, Brouwer got his ninth on the backhand (nice when your side of the net is empty), then Binky got one another minute later when his shot towards the front of the net went in off the hand of a defender.  Forty seconds later, Skinner got his second when his wrister beat Gru.

For those doing the math at home, that's five goals within four minutes.  Quite a blur.

Amazingly, the rest of regulation was quiet, with the Caps holding the edge, but nobody scoring.  That took them into overtime, where the Caps are 2-1 (not counting the flood of shootouts).  And it looked good for the first minute and change.  But they overcommited when Oleksy pinched following a good OV chance, which led to a 3-on-1 the other way.  And Skinner completed his hat trick in that rush, beating Gru again.

It was a bit of a frustrating game (especially the two penalties followed by the broken stick), as the Caps played very well, but just not quite well enough to win.

But it bodes well for the future, and they did bring home a point.

One small note: Joe B mentioned OV saying something about how they've managed to win a bunch they should have lost, and lost some they should have won.  Which is all true, although it ignores that they've won a bunch more than lost, like that (and ignores how big a part the shootout has played, as well).

Anyway, a well-played game that didn't go the right way.  That's beginning to feel like a trend.  I just hope they keep playing well, because that will lead to wins accumulating (hopefully without the shootout).  Go Caps!


Failure to Ward off troubles

The Caps/Sens game the other night was another pretty good one for the Caps. But what really struck me about it was that I watched it just after watching the Premiership Liverpool/Chelsea game. In that one, Liverpool took the ball right down the field, and scored (helped by a weird bounce) at the end of the third minute. Chelsea took that as a wakeup, and dominated the rest of the way, scoring in the 17th and 34th minutes.

Well, the Caps started out with some heavy pressure, scoring in the third minute (lucky shot by Ward in the slot that bounced off Anderson's stick) and preventing any shot attempts for the first six minutes or so. Well, Ottawa didn't dominate the rest of the way, but they did have the edge and scored in the fourteenth and twenty-fourth minutes. The parallel breaks down a little bit, as Ottawa managed to add an empty-netter in the final minute, but it was striking, watching them back-to-back.

Overall, though, the Caps played pretty well; not quite as well as in Buffalo, perhaps, but well. They had thirty-five shots and 57% Fenwick 5-on-5 close. The main flaw was on allowing too many breakaways and two-on-ones. The first goal was the latter (and Green tried to play the shot, I thought), while the second was the former (Turris with a very nice finish while getting hooked from behind (by Green)).

Gru was in goal again (Neuvy has now gotten sufficiently frustrated that his agent has asked for a trade). While it worked out well in this game, I'm not a fan of "riding the hot hand", because it always ends with letting someone playing subpar hockey get too many starts. Not to take anything away from Gru's (excellent) performance, but he's still only faced 307 shots; that's not enough to draw any conclusions about his ability. If Neuvy can't be traded, send Gru back down, with the expectation that he'll get a lot of games next year.

Anyway, getting back to the Senators game, the power play looked pretty good with some very good chances, and forced some great saves by Anderson. The PK looked ok, but still allowed too many shots (six in four opportunities); they're not going to continue to save all those shots. One minor thing that's happened several times this season came up in this game also. The PK (Fehr, I believe) got a decent scoring chance, and got the puck back. I'd like to see them pass back into their own zone when that happens, instead of just trying to trap the puck against the boards. It just feels like it doesn't kill any more time, and tires people out more (plus gives more chances for a player to get caught too far up ice).

Be that as it may, I did think it was a good overall game by the Caps. They played hard, threatened a lot, and could have won if Anderson didn't make some great saves. Games like that, they'll win, more often than not.

One thing about both of the last two games; it didn't feel like their breakout was constantly (or even regularly) getting stymied. If they've figured that one thing out (and maybe they have; there seemed to be more of defenders carrying out of the zone), then their possession numbers will improve dramatically, and they'll win quite a bit more. We'll see.

Next up, Carolina comes to visit, tonight. So far this season, special teams have dominated the decisions.  Go Caps!