All posts by Daneekas Ghost

GAME 4 – Minnesota Wild v. Pittsburgh Penguins

Doubleheader today, with two home openers for the Minnesota professional hockey teams.


First up:

The Minnesota Whitecaps begin their NWHL title defense with their first game of the season at 2:00pm (you can watch on Twitch if you desire). They've got a highly touted rookie Nicole Schammel, from last year's Gophers team.

It sounds like most of the teams have rookies (more than 50% of players are new) due to the folding of the CWHL and the formation of the PWHPA and their members sitting out the season in order to demand higher pay and benefits.

In my exhaustive research I find that the Whitecaps are expected to be good again this year, although it's hard to predict anything in a league with such massive turnover.


Secondly ...

The Wild continue their search for a victory, now back home in Minnesota against a Penguins team that hasn't looked super great so far.

Minnesota is 29th of 31 in the league in shooting percentage (6.3%) and 28th out of 31 in save percentage (0.854).  PDO says ... yuck.  If you really want to get depressed, check out the High Danger Scoring Chances stat on hockey-reference. If you want an illustration of what needs to change for the Wild to succeed, I think this does it.

HDSC For % Converted HDSC Against % Converted
36 2.7% (31st) 39 15.2% (30th)

However, I promised at one point that I wouldn't lose my mind, so here we go, playing at home against a team that isn't playing their best hockey, that sounds like it could be a win.


GAME 3 RECAP - WINNIPEG 5, MINNESOTA 2

Ugh.  For a third straight game, the Wild battled out of an early deficit.  For a third straight game, they gave it right back and lost.

It's fine to look at a lot of these metrics and see that the Wild are creating just as many chances as their opponents, and they are controlling possession just fine.  But also, they just are not converting and they are not keeping their opponent off the board late in games.

Third period goals for the season -- MIN 1, Opponents 5 (+3 empty netters)

A team can't shoot this poorly all season, but boy it would be nice if they started proving that soon.

GAME 3 – MINNESOTA WILD V. WINNIPEG JETS

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.

The Jets are not as good as the Avs or the Preds, so this should be (emphasis on should be) the game to win of these first three. When you listen to hockey people talk about the Jets they say things like "can you believe they have Neal Pionk in their first defensive pairing?"  To which I say "I'm pretty sure the answer you're looking for is ... no?"

So defensive issues for the Jets, while the Wild have struggled to score.  Let's see how this goes.

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.


GAME 2 RECAP: COLORADO 4, MINNESOTA 2

The Wild had 9 chances that were rated at 10% or higher xG (expected goals - as calculated at MoneyPuck), and scored 1 goal. Which feels a little frustrating.  Compare this to Wild opponents this year (5 goals in 10 chances rated at 10% xG or greater).

Image from MoneyPuck.

Looking at xG for the entire game, MIN  outdid COL 2.56 to 2.22. Which doesn't matter of course, but it's at least some evidence that they held their own.  The Nashville game felt like the Wild missed an opportunity to steal a point or two that they didn't really deserve.  This game felt like they should have come away with more than a loss.

Eventually it would be nice to get a win from these decent road performances.  Maybe tonight?

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.

Unfortunately the struggles of Staal (-2, CORSI % - 23%), Zuccarello (-1, CORSI % - 29%) and Parise (CORSI% - 42%) continued in this one.  All three of those CORSI numbers were lower than every player on the Avalanche in this game.

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.

GAME 2 – Minnesota Wild v. Colorado Avalanche

Anyone going to watch this one? I admit I will probably be otherwise occupied.

The Wild get to play the two best teams in the Central in their first two games, and both on the road.  What fun!

The Avalanche will be pretty heavy favorites in this one.

GAME 1 RECAP - PREDATORS 5, WILD 2:

  • Parise/Staal/Zuccarello went -3 and generated 1 shot on goal.  It would have been worse if not for Dubnyk standing on his head here.
  • Dumba got a goal, so he's on pace for at least 80 this season.  That will be exciting.
  • Playing on the road against Nashville is a tough way to start the season, but it feels worse when the Wild blow a third period lead.  File game 1 under missed opportunity.

GAME 1 – Minnesota Wild v. Nashville Predators

Hey, hockey season starts today!  And the Wild are on national TV, so I might just watch it.

**MLB postseason drowns out all hockey talk**

It's always great to be at the start of a season and have that sense of unbridled optimism that comes with it, right? Just ask the USA Today and their points projection for the upcoming year.

Oh, God.

All is not lost.  The Wild may play in the Group of Death for an entire 82 game season, and they may start the season with 20 of their first 30 games on the road, and they may still be built around an aging core of players, they may still be one of the few teams in the league to rely heavily on a single goalie, and that goalie may be one who has declined each of the last two years .... I forgot where I was going with this.

Matt Dumba is back!  Maybe Greenway and Fiala and Donato will break out this year!

**someone whispers something about Joel Eriksson Ek**

Anyway.  Things are not as bad as all that.  The Wild are a good defensive team, with their #1 D-man back in the lineup.  If they get any kind of decent scoring together, they will be in the playoff mix.  And, in fact, most projections put them right there.  The Athletic's projection system (by Dom Luszczyszyn ) puts the Wild's playoff odds at 59% before the season opener.

I'll take it.

Sean Tierney collected a whole bunch of points projections into one place and it's clear that most people see the Wild as an 85-93 point team (USA Today excepted).

What do I think?  I read Russo's piece about the new culture of positivity in the Wild locker room and came away unconvinced.  Most of the quotes sounded like a team in denial at worst, or putting a brave face on at best.  The schedule is brutal, but if the Wild are around 12-15 wins after that first 30 game stretch, they get a ton of home games over December, January and February (23 home games compared to 9 road games) and they may be able to make some hay there. I'm definitely in wait and see mode with this team, I am certainly not optimistic that they will follow the Twins example and look like world beaters.

But! There is a way forward for the team, and Matt Dumba might just be a reason to watch all by himself if he can replicate last year and stay on the ice the entire season.

I would bet on them topping 90 points before I would bet on them not reaching 70.

**Reminder: find a pithy quote about how useless the USA Today is for the end of this thing**

Off-Day Distractions: The $700 Lineup Game

I'm stealing this from Sean McInhoe at The Athletic, but he did it with hockey, and I'm suggesting that we do it with baseball, so it's totally different.

We'll need a slightly bigger team, and a bigger budget due to the longer seasons, but we can make this work.

  • 10 players needed
    • 2 pitchers
    • 1 catcher
    • 1 first baseman
    • 1 second baseman
    • 1 third baseman
    • 1 shortstop
    • 3 outfielders (any combination of right/center/left)
  • $1 per game appeared in for whatever team you are signing the player to. (Example: The Phillies can sign Pedro Martinez for $9)
  • The team gets the full career WAR of that player (Pedro's 83.9 bWAR for $9 is a pretty good steal)
  • You can spend up to $700.

Here's my sample Phillies team. They're pretty stacked (Ryne Sandberg's 68 WAR for $13 didn't make the cut)

Pos Player Cost WAR
P Pedro Martinez $9 83.9
P Kid Nichols $21 116.1
C Benito Santiago $136 27.3
1B Jimmie Foxx $89 96.6
2B Joe Morgan $123 100.6
3B Tony Perez $91 54
SS Julio Franco $16 43.5
OF Hack Wilson $7 38.9
OF Hunter Pence $155 30.7
OF Hugh Duffy $34 43.1
TOTAL $681 634.7

Who did I miss?  What franchise would run away with this?

Aizuri Quartet – Sophia’s Wide Awake Dreams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twX3dU5iaqw

I'm still spending a lot of time listening to this album.

This piece is from an opera by Lembit Beecher, "Sophia's Forest", and this two part suite is the inner world of the narrator, an immigrant child fleeing a civil war. There are nine "sound sculptures" that are electronically manipulated in addition to the four string players.

I like this (and most everything else on the album) because it is certainly modern and not just straightforward string quartet music, but there is a lyricism and a theme that comes through without difficulty.

Plus, I figured just playing The Beths would be too easy.

5 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 105 votes, average: 8.80 out of 10 (5 votes, average: 8.80 out of 10)
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The Debut Novel

I have found myself reading quite a few debut novels lately.

  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
    (currently reading)
    I'm kind of in love with this book right now. A Nigerian woman has multiple gods living inside her (some Ibo spirits, Jesus, etc.) and they sometimes take her over and sometimes fight each other and sometimes just comment on human affairs. It's not going to end well for the woman, that much is clear, but I'm really into this.
  • Mikhail and Margarita  by Julie Lekstrom Himes
    (currently reading)
    It's a take on Mikhail Bulgakov and the censors in Soviet Russia.  I just read The Master and Margarita during October, so I've enjoyed all the little parallels that crop up.
  • Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin
    (finished last month)
    This felt a little unfinished, but it was good.  A "finding your way in the world" novel with just enough weirdos to make it interesting.
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss
    (finished last month)
    Dr. Jekyll's daughter teams up with Sherlock Holmes, and the daughter of Dr. Moreau, and Frankenstein's female monster, and some others to solve crimes.  This was ... a lot.  I kind of lost my patience in the climactic fight scene, so I struggled to the finish.
  • The Pisces by Melissa Broder
    (finished last month)
    I've enjoyed Broder's poetry and essays, but this one wasn't quite as captivating.  A woman suffers a breakup and house-sits for her sister in California where she falls in love with a merman.  Broder is frank and sex-focused and a little bizarre. Interesting book.

There is something exciting about discovering a new author, and getting in early on their career.  I follow a few early career awards (The Whiting Award, The Locus Award for First SF/F Novel, The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, etc.) where I found a lot of the books above.

What have you been reading? Any up and coming authors on your lists?

First Monday on a Second Tuesday Book Day

Book Club! - This month the WGOM book club is doing The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Thanks to eschapp for setting that up.

This month I read Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, which won the Man Booker International Award for translated literature.  It was really interesting, it made me hold a lot of ideas and themes in my head at the same time.  There wasn't much overreaching narrative, but there were lots of vignettes that very clearly fit together with themes of travel, observation and preservation, and the futility of the human desire to keep things familiar and the same.  I enjoyed it, although if you're looking for a "great story", this is probably not your book.

I also loved Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen.  The poems had absence and hurt, but with an enormous amount of tenderness that made them great to read.  It reminded me of Slow Lightning by Eduardo Corral (another favorite - Corral just announced he's got a second book coming out, I'll definitely be buying that sight unseen).

FMBD: Firsts

It's the end of the semester, so now I have some free time and I can really get after it and read some books.

I recently tried to quantify all the translated books I've read, and they pretty much fell into three categories: European, Latin American, and Murakami.* But there were no African writers and very few Asian writers (not even African writers writing in European languages).

This past month I listened to Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag - translated from Kannada (spoken in India) - it was a very short, but very well constructed family drama, with an undercurrent of violence.

And this month I'm picking up Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo. This is the first Malagasy novel that has ever been translated into English. Madagascar is already so strange and interesting, so I'm excited to see what the book is like.

So I've been expanding my reading in that direction, what have you all been reading?

* one notable exception was Han Kang's The Vegetarian (from S. Korea)- which is hallucinogenically great.