Cutting the Cord

As of last Sunday, we are officially cord cutters! We are no longer paying for DirecTV. I wanted to write this post today to document how we’re feeling after the first week without access to 1000 channels so I could compare a year from now. I also wanted to document the amount we’re spending in place of DirecTV. Plus, a few other tidbits that along the way.

The New Style

Without DirecTV, we still have access to an abundance of entertainment. The TV in our living room has an Apple TV hooked up to it where we have access to Netflix, Hulu and Plex. I’ve also got an Amazon Video account, although we haven’t used it just yet.

I’ve been a Netflix user for so long, I can’t remember not having it. Access to amazing shows like Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, oh and they also have some movies, wink, makes it an absolute no brainer.

We’re new to Hulu, but so far we’re really enjoying it. Chris and I have been watching Broolyn nine-nine, plus we’ve caught up a few network shows the day after they air. We opted for the no-commercials subscription, and it’s been fantastic!

Plex is something that I absolutely love. First it allows us access to all our DVDs, which I burned on to a network drive, from home or even on the road. Plus, we use the Plex Pass subscription and have a couple friends who we share libraries with. While we don’t use it all that often, it’s great to have and costs next to nothing.

Amazon Video. -sigh- We have it because it is part of Amazon Prime. But, since there isn’t an AppleTV app for it, it makes it difficult for us to use it. OK, not “difficult”, but it’s not the now normal user flow we’re used to. So, yeah, we have it. No, we haven’t used it very much.

Calculating the Spend

When talking our costs for TV watching, I was trying to figure out if I should include the cost for internet access. Because, obviously, without internet, a Netflix account is pretty useless. But, I work from home. If we shut off our Netflix account tomorrow, we would still pay the exact same amount for internet. So, I’m not going to include it.

The same goes for Amazon Video. That is an add-on feature for being an Amazon Prime user, which I have been for the past 7 years. Amazon Video has exactly ZERO effect on weather or not I have a Prime account. So again, I’m not including that either.

Spending Before

Prior to making the decision to cut the cord, our expenses for TV, in round numbers, looked something like this:

  • $147 – DirectTV
  • $8 – Netflix
  • $3 – Plex

For a total of ~$158/month.

Spending After

We signed up for Hulu when we left DirecTV, so our new costs look like:

  • $11 – Netflix (they raised our rate this month after 2 years at the discounted rate)
  • $3 – Plex
  • $12 – Hulu

For a total of ~$26/month.

That’s a savings of $132/month. Booya!

Some Up Front Costs

Our out of pocket expenses have really been pretty minimal. And, based on our monthly savings, they’ll have paid for themselves in less than a month.

I bought an HDTV Antenna in order to watch our local TV stations. When I hooked it up to the TV in the living room, it didn’t work. I then hooked it up to the TV in our bedroom and it works great! Like, better than I expected, great.

I believe the antenna didn’t work on the other TV because it needs a converter box. I’ve purchased this one, but it doesn’t arrive until Wednesday. I’m hoping this does the trick, because it also includes the ability to record shows. This would be super handy for one reason specifically; Jeopardy! Our family watches Jeopardy! every night during dinner. If we miss a night, we’ll watch the previous night’s episode and the current episode the following night during dinner. Shoutting out responses with the family is one of my favorite things.

Other Goodies

When I first posted on Facebook that we were getting ready to cut the cord, so many people came out of the woodwork to offer up suggestions. I wanted to share a couple that I’ve found handy.

  • The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide
    This article has a lot of info I already knew, but it covers a lot more than what I’m doing. If you’ve got specific shows/networks you’re looking for, this article may be helpful to you, too.
  • AntennaWeb
    Thinking of getting an antenna? This site can help you figure out the best placement for it to give you the best results.
  • How to watch live tv on your Apple TV
    I didn’t go this route because I didn’t want the upfront costs. But, seems really interesting.
  • ReelGood App
    I’m loving this app. You tell it what movies you’ve seen and what you want to see and what streaming services you have, and it’ll tell you which movies on your watchlist are available and on what service. No need to go searching around on each and every service.

Early Results

I wasn’t sure how well it was going to go over with the entire family, but a quick straw poll last night and I’m happy to report that nobody is missing it! Huzzah!

We’re still in the honeymoon phase at this point, so I’m curious to see how things go after a month or two. If there’s any drastic fallout, I’ll be sure to report back.

Too Little, Too Late

A note to DirecTV, if somebody at your company happens to read this…

When I called in to cancel, the service rep was trying everything he could to get me to stay. I expected that. He offered me an immediate $50/month discount with no change to my current programming. When I declined, he asked what he could do to keep me, but in the end I had already made up my mind. Although, I might have been swayed to stay had it not been for something he said after he first looked at my account. “OH! You are on one of our most expensive plans. We don’t even offer that one any more.” To me this came off as him saying “You have been overpaying for the past 4 years.” It just didn’t sit right with me, so in the end, I went ahead and cancelled.

So far, I’m not missing it.

The VegasGeek top 10 movies of 2013

December is such a great time of year. You get the holidays, of course, but something else I always look forward to is the ‘best of the year’ posts. Best movies, best albums, best celebrity meltdown, sports team, goals, assists, saves… I could go on and on. I freakin’ love the top 10 lists.

I was kicking around the internet yesterday, as I sometimes do, and I found a page that listed every movie that was released in theaters this year. It even included the movies that are scheduled to be released before the end of the year. I found the page because I was at Best Buy over the weekend and noticed that the movie Jobs was out on DVD, which made me think, “wow, I didn’t ever realize it was released to theaters.” So I wanted to make a list of other movies I may have missed this year that I wanted to see. But as I scrolled the page, I ended up making two lists; Movies I saw in the theater, and Movies I want to see. So of course, I thought it would be fun to list out the movies I saw, in order, and give my two cents on each.

Before I get started, I need to tell you what I learned while doing this, because there were a few things. But the big thing… making a top 10 list is hard. Sure, I know the 1 or 2 that are on the top of the list. And, figuring out which two were at the bottom was pretty easy, too. But holy crap, the middle is difficult! Did I really enjoy We’re the Millers more than Kick-Ass 2? So, as you read my list, there are a stack of movies in the middle that could have been listed in a dozen different ways.

Anyway, let’s get started.

My Top 10

10. Gatsby
I haven’t read the book and haven’t seen the original, but I did enjoy this one.

9. Kick-Ass 2
-sigh- I was SO looking forward to this sequel. I liked it, but not nearly as much as the first.

8. Hunger Games – Catching Fire
I liked the first installment a lot. This one was good and really makes me want to see the 3rd. When the dome came crashing in, it had a bit of a Truman Show feel, which I liked.

7. We’re the Millers
Jason Sudeikis cracks me up. Jennifer Anniston is pretty damn hot. Good cast, silly fun movie.

6. Red 2
And the sequels keep on comin’! I liked Red 2 almost as much as the first. Almost. That’s saying a lot.

5. Monsters University
Has Pixar made a bad movie? Seriously, they seem to knock it out of the park every single time. If it says Pixar, I’m going to enjoy it. Period.

4. Despicable Me 2
When the first DM came out, the first trailer I saw for it looked terrible. It tainted my view of the movie. We finally went and saw it and I really enjoyed it (edit: my wife informed me that we did NOT like the first DM. Not sure why I don’t recall it that way.). I didn’t have to be talked in to going to see the second. It’s fun and funny.

3. Fight Club
Back in theaters for a couple days to celebrate the 20th anniversary. It is my favorite movie of all time, so it goes on the list. I felt bad letting it slip to #3.

2. Metallica – Through the Never
The story line was so-so, but holy shit, the 3D concert footage and the sound was absolutely amazing. If you get a chance, watch all the behind the scenes footage on youtube about how much work went in to building that stage. If there’s a better concert film, I haven’t seen it.

1. Star Trek – Into Darkness
I’ve never really been a Star Trek fan, but this and the previous movie have me rethinking that statement. Can we force J.J. Abrams to make 20 of these films? I’d see them all, in IMAX preferably.

The also-rans

The other movies I saw this year in theaters are:

11. This is The End (fun stoner movie.)
12. World War Z (I’m not a huge zombie movie fan. was very meh)
13. Jurassic Park 3D (I didn’t care for the 3D treatment)
14. R.I.P.D. (I’d rather just watch Men in Black 4 instead)
15. Oz – The great & Powerful (yawn)

Still need to see

As I said, this all started out as a list of movies I wanted to see that came out this year. In order of release date, here are the movies I’d like to see:

– warm bodies
– identity thief
– 42
– Hangover part 3
– Grown Ups 2
– Jobs
– Rush
– Captain Phillips
– Carrie
– Oldboy
– The Hobbit
– Saving Mr Banks
– Anchorman 2

Based on how crazy December is going to be for me, Anchorman 2 is the only one that’s going to happen in a theater. The rest are going to have to wait for Netflix.

OK, now it’s your turn. Leave a comment and tell me what you think of my top 10 list.

Thanksgiving movie list fail

Yesterday when I was thinking about my post for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to do a list of my favorite Thanksgiving themed movies. I knew my #1 was going to be Planes, Trains and Automobiles, that was easy. But for the rest, I would just hit up the interwebs and see what other movies are turkey day related. I was picturing getting a nice long list of movies that I could pick through, find 10 that were my favorites and then do a little countdown.

Search: Best Thanksgiving Movies
Results: 592,000,000

Hey, that’s promising! Let’s click on a couple lists…

This list is obviously crappy since it does not list Planes, Trains and Automobiles at #1. It’s not even #2 on the list. For shame, IMDB, for shame! Although, they did redeem themselves a little bit by listing Son in Law as #36. You’ll see why that’s important in just a minute. As I read the rest of the list I realized I haven’t seen hardly any of these movies.

Let’s try another list, shall we?

OK, this list starts at 10 and works it’s way down. #10 Son in Law. I may as well stop reading right now, I just know it. But, the list is only 10 items long, I’ll trudge on. Well, of the 10 they list, I’ve only seen 3. Scent of a Woman, Son in Law and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. At least they put the right movie in the #1 slot. But this list didn’t even include A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which was #14 on IMDB). Ugh, this is hard.

OK, one more list.

#1, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The rest, nothing I’ve seen. Crap.

So apparently, there is an amazing lack of quality Thanksgiving movies out there. Or, I’m just a shut-in and haven’t seen very many movies. But, I set out to do a top 10 list, so here we go!

  1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  2. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
  3. N/A
  4. N/A
  5. N/A
  6. N/A
  7. N/A
  8. N/A
  9. N/A
  10. N/A

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Disclaimer: I do like the movie Scent of a Woman, but can’t for the life of me remember how it relates to Thanksgiving, so I can’t put it on the list. Don’t like it, make your own list. 🙂

When success is subjective

I’ve always been a fan of sports. Not just sports, I guess you could say that I’m a fan of competition. I love some of the craziness you can find on ESPN 2 late at night, and I really wish that ESPN 8, ‘The Ocho’, was a real thing. I’m the kind of guy who will start watching some random sport for the first time, Curling, for example, and 10 minutes in to watching will be shouting things like “He put way too much spin on that one. The sweeper should have stopped sweeping way sooner” as if I’ve been a fan of the sport for years and have any idea what the hell I’m talking about. But of the 4 major sports, the only one I really follow is hockey. I’ll watch the Super Bowl or catch a World Series game here or there, but as for being a die-hard fan, for that I save my beloved hockey.

Hockey, like the other major sports, has a defined set of rules and a clear cut way to keep score. The team who puts the puck in the opponent’s net the most times, wins the game. There are referees that watch over everything and assess penalties for teams/players who break the rules. Sometimes a referee will go as far as disallowing a goal if the team who scored used an illegal method to get the puck in to the net. For instance, you can’t kick the puck in to the net. If that happens, the goal is called back and the game continues.

Here’s the thing, when the clock winds down and reaches zero, you can look at the scoreboard and see who won. And, if there is not a clear cut winner, they have a method for dealing with it. They play overtime. And if that still doesn’t decide it, they have yet another method for dealing with it. The shootout. So, no matter what, there is going to be a definitive winner. One team wins, the other loses. Say what you will about the puck being hard to follow while watching on TV, at least when the game is over you know who won.


Growing up, I remember my mom being a boxing fan. I remember watching a number of Pay-Per-View events with her. Now, I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve last seen a boxing match, but I certainly remember them from my youth. I remember a fight (don’t ask me who was fighting, I can’t possibly remember) we watched that went the full 15 rounds. I remember that one of the guys seemed to be beating the tar out of the other guy the entire night. Then, at the end of the fight, we waited a few minutes for the judges to make a decision. In the end, the guy who looked to have won… didn’t. Wait, what??


This weekend we ordered the UFC Pay-Per-View event. We don’t order a lot of them, but the fight card was filled with a number of guys both my wife and I like. The main event was going to be two fighters we both like fighting AGAINST each other. Yikes, rooting in that won was going to be difficult. We watched the prelims and then all the fights on the PPV. And in every fight, there was a clear cut winner. In some fights, one of the fighters was forced to tap out. In a couple others, the fighter was knocked out. And in the rest, the fight went the distance and the judges, a panel of 3, produced a decision. There was an obvious winner in every single fight.

The problem is, in the main event, the judges got it wrong.

The match in question was a championship fight that was scheduled for 5 rounds. Scoring in MMA dictates that the winner of the round is awarded 10 points. The loser of the round is awarded 9 or less points. I can tell you that unless a fighter is severely dominated in a round, the scoring is going to be 10-9. This fight was scored 48-47, 48-47 and 47-48 giving the victory, incorrectly, to the reining champion. It is not uncommon for close fights to end in a split decision.

The problem is, in the main event, it wasn’t a close fight.


OK, I don’t believe that. But I love hearing people say that.

In any sport where the winner is based on somebody’s opinion, there are going to be times when people don’t agree with the results. And, when there’s money involved (sports are BIG business, remember), when somebody feels they were wronged, they are going to cry foul.

At the end of the day, the fight this weekend doesn’t really affect me at all. I didn’t have a wager on it. No matter who won or lost, I enjoyed watching it. I don’t agree with the result the three judges came to, and that’s alright, too. I simply wonder if there was a way to take the judging out of the judges hands. Maybe they take a cue from hockey and institute an overtime session. Remember, the 7th rule of Fight Club is, Fights will go on as long as they have to.

When I first started writing this post, I was thinking about how subjectiveness plays a big role in the success or failure in projects we do for clients. If you come to us and ask you to build a website, if there isn’t a clear way to ‘win’, then the success of the project solely rests on you like what we produced. Where, if you came to us and said “I want to increase my leads by 25%”, we now have a clearly defined finish line. And when we are done with the project, we either did or did not cross it. it’s a subject I think I need to dig in to deeper. But that’s for a different post.

2013 NHL Playoff Predictions – Repeat edition!

For the past few years (2011, 2012) I have been posting my NHL playoff predictions before the start of the playoffs. Round by round, all the way to a cup champion. So, here we go with the 2013 edition.

First round

Western Conference

Blackhawks – Wild: Congrats Minnesota on making the playoffs on the last day of the year… No worries, you’ll be golfing in about 10 days. Chicago’s got this one.

Ducks – Red Wings: I don’t care for either of these teams. But, since both can’t lose in the 1st round, I’ll go with Detroit to take out Anaheim in this one.

Canucks – Sharks: Another series where I just don’t like either team. Because it’s fun to watch San Jose lose their minds each year in the playoffs, let’s go with Vancouver to advance.

Blues – Kings: It’s been 2 years since the Blues have beat the Kings even once. No chance they’ll find a way to do it 4 times in 2 weeks. Kings are moving on.

Eastern Conference

Penguins – Islanders: I like the Islanders. I think they are an up and coming team. But, the Pens are just going to be too much for them this year. Pens will make this a short series.

Canadians – Senators: Is this the first all-Canadian series in quite a while? I don’t know a lot about either team, so, gonna just pick based on seeding here. Go Habs! whatever.

Capitals – Rangers: I actually think this may be a really exciting series to watch. I’m on the fence about who wins this. Think I have to go with Lundqvist to carry the Rangers through.

Bruins – Toronto: I think the Bruins’ playoff experience is going to carry them past the Maple Leafs in this one.

Second Round

Western Conference

Blackhawks – Red Wings: End of the line for the Red Wings. Hawks got this.

Canucks – Kings: This should be another real good series. Kings moving on.

Eastern Conference

Penguins – Rangers: Crosby will be back by this time. Rangers won’t be able to contain him. Penguins go through.

Canadians – Bruins: Wouldn’t it be neat if the Canadians were the only Canadian team to make it to the third round? Too bad it’s not going to happen. I’m going black and yellow here.

Third Round

Western Conference

Blackhawks – Kings: Congrats to the Hawks for being the best team in hockey during the regular season. Now, let me introduce you to the Playoff version of the kings. Kings will upset the Blackhawks on their way back to the finals.

Eastern Conference

Penguins – Bruins: Short and sweet. Penguins moving on.

Cup Finals

The Kings are a better team this year than they were last year. And, last year I didn’t listen to my heart and pick the Kings to win it all. This year, I’m not making the same mistake. I’m going with the Kings to repeat.

So there ya go. That’s my picks. Think I’m spot on? Think I’m crazy? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

8150 days: A Los Angeles Kings fan tale

After purchasing some concert tickets from a broker/buddy he asks me, “Hey, I have an extra pair of tickets for tonight’s Kings game, do you want ’em?” I had never been to a Kings game before, but wasn’t about to turn down free tickets. My wife Chris and I went to the game and watched the Kings beat the Quebec Nordiques 7-1. We had a blast and were both instantly hooked on hockey. The date was February 17th, 1990.

Over the years we have had the pleasure of being at several memorable Kings games:

  • The game outdoors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
  • The night they retired Luc Robitaille’s jersey
  • The game where Jari Kurri scored his 500th goal
  • The amazing night where Wayne Gretzky scored goal #802 (I played hockey on the Forum ice after that game, but that’s a story for another time)

All of those were pretty special to be at, but nothing can compare to what happened over a stretch of 30 days this post season.

Kings are in the 3rd round

For the first time in 19 years, the Kings had made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs. They had beat the #1 and #2 seeded teams in the West and we were starting to think that we were watching something really special. For as rocky as their regular season had been, the Kings looked damn good in the playoffs going 8-1 to that point.

John and Chris in Phoenix for game 1
The day before Mother’s day we were sitting on the couch watching game 7 of the Rangers vs Capitols series. The Kings were set to start the 3rd round on the road in Phoenix the next day. Chris says, “We should have looked for tickets in Phoenix.” [Side note, is there any question why I love this woman?] Both amazed at what she just said, and just as amazed that I didn’t think of it myself, I dashed upstairs to grab the laptop and started looking for tickets. There were still several seats available for both game 1 and 2, but when I looked at TicketExchange (a spot where season seat holders can sell their seats), I was blown away by 2 things; how many were available and how inexpensive they were. I bought a pair of seats 10 rows off the ice for game 1, we packed a bag and headed to Phoenix the next morning. The game was awesome. After the game we had dinner with a friend, crashed at the hotel and headed back to Vegas the next morning. While on the road back I told Chris, “If the series goes 5 games, we have to come back.”

Decent seats for game 5 in Phoenix
About a week later we were back on the couch watching game 4 of the series against Phoenix. After two periods the Kings were down 2-0 and it wasn’t looking good. I dashed back upstairs and grabbed the laptop again and headed back to TicketExchange. Amazingly I was able to get seats in the 5th row, on the goal line for less than I paid for the 10th row tickets for game 1. I made the purchase and then we made a pretty crazy decision. Since the west coast games start so early (5pm), we’d get out of the game early enough that we don’t really need to pay for a hotel. Instead, we’ll just leave right from the game and head back to Vegas. With that in mind, we didn’t book a hotel. It’s not like playoff games have the possibility of going in to multiple overtimes, right? Right?

When we were there for game 1 of the series, even though the Kings won, the crowd was pretty jovial. It was only 1 game, plus, this was the most successful season in Coyotes history. Well, in game 5, at 17:42 of the first overtime the Kings scored. It happend shortly (12 seconds) after a controversial hit by a Kings player that injured one of the Coyotes and that jovial attitude we experienced in game 1 was gone. The fans were pissed, but we were elated! The Kings were going to the Stanley Cup Final for only the 2nd time in team history.

The Stanley Cup Final

I was rooting for the New Jersey Devils to win their 3rd round series against the New York Rangers. I felt that both teams were going to be a tough match, but with the Rangers, they have a goalie who has the potential to go on a run and win a series by himself. That’s not to take anything away from Martin Brodeur, the Devils’ goalie who is one of the best in history. But, Marty is 40, and as great as he is still playing, I think it’s fair to say that his best days are behind him.

The Devils won their series and since they were the higher seeded player, Game 1 and 2 of the Finals would be played in New Jersey. As they had done in the 3 previous series, the Kings won the first 2 games on the road. They then came back to LA and won game 3. Since only 1 team in history has come back from being down 3 games to none in the Finals, at this point, as you would expect, LA’s bandwagon was overloaded and it was a foregone conclusion that the Kings were going to win game 4 as well.

I knew it was going to be expensive, but I went back to TicketExchange to see how painful it was going to be to get 2 tickets for game 4. I was prepared to spend a fair bit to get tickets, but when I saw that nosebleed seats were going for $1600 each, as much as I wanted to be there, I just couldn’t justify it.

Well, a funny thing happened in game 4. OK, it wasn’t funny at all. The Kings lost. The celebration had to be put on hold. But surely they were going to win game 5 in New Jersey, right? I spent a few minutes contemplating a trip to New Jersey to watch game 5. Sanity won out and I never even got to the point of looking up flights or seats for the game.

We interrupt your hockey for some family time

LA Kings Tattoo
Game 4 took place on a Wednesday. On Thursday morning we woke up early and drove to Los Angeles to attend our niece’s high school graduation. Our hotel was in Anaheim, the graduation was in Palos Verdes and dinner was in Beverly Hills. To say we did a lot of driving that day is an understatement. On Friday we got up late and I spent the day getting an LA Kings tattoo at House of Ink with my buddy, Scott. [Before we get to the tattoo shop, Scott tells me, “You’re going to have to let me go first because if you go first, I can’t guarantee we’d both get tattoos” – classic] The shop owner, Sean, is a HUGE Kings fan and was giving a 50% discount for any Kings tattoo. He also made an offer that if the Kings win the cup, he’s giving away free Stanley Cup tattoos. The story got picked up by Pretty cool. Saturday we drove back to Vegas and watched game 5 on the couch. Sadly, the Kings lost.

On Sunday, I decided I wanted to get a new Kings t-shirt to try and change the Kings’ luck. They played well in both games 4 and 5, but the bounces weren’t going their way. We drove all over Vegas and weren’t having any luck finding Kings gear. We then got a call from a friend who was in from out of town. We headed over to meet up with him for a late lunch. After lunch we walked around Town Square and found a shop that had Kings shirts. Excellent, we were set! We got home in the early evening and I sat down at my desk to do some work. Well, work quickly turned to reading every article I could about the Kings. Apparently, after the game 5 loss, people started ejecting from the Kings bandwagon at record speed. You would have thought that the series was over and the Devils had won it. Even though the Kings were up 3 games to 2, it didn’t seem like anybody was giving them a chance. I then read something very interesting… ticket prices for game 6 were drastically lower than for game 4. STOP EVERYTHING. Wait, what?

Before even looking at ticket prices, I tell Chris this news. Knowing that I have a HUGE amount of work backed up on my plate, she gives me that look. The one that says, “you know you are talking crazy right now, right?” I sit on the idea for a while, trying to focus on work. It’s not working. I headed over to TicketExchange once again. Fingers crossed, please let there be some affordable tickets available. Seat location didn’t really matter. In the building was my only requirement. The search results popped up, and there they were… tickets. Bunches of them. They weren’t cheap, mind you, but there were a handful of seats available for a price I was willing to pay. I haven’t hit the buy button yet. I tell Chris about it. She says, “Well, let me know what you decide and if I need to go to sleep so I can drive in the morning” [again, so awesome. She was willing to drive so that I could get some work done on the way.] – I made some calls to see if I could get one of my developers to take care of some work for me. He says he can. It’s settled then. I bought 2 tickets. After I stopped dancing around the room I decide that it would be best to drive to California immediately so I could get some sleep and then work from a coffee shop during the day. So, 90 minutes after having the idea to look for tickets and just barely more than 24 hours after getting home from Los Angeles, we were back in the truck and heading BACK to Cali.

Game Day

Without question, we are about to watch the biggest game in the 45 year history of the Kings franchise. If they lose game 6 and have to head back to New Jersey for game 7, well, I don’t like their chances.

Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up way too early and headed to a coffee shop and got to work. Amazingly, I was able to concentrate and got a handful of things knocked off my list. I was shocked, really. But by noon I was realizing that I forgot to bring a jacket and LA was MUCH cooler than Vegas. I packed up the laptop, went and picked up Chris and we hit up the mall for a sweatshirt. Yes, a Kings sweatshirt, if you must know. By this time though, the lack of sleep was catching up. We headed back to my Sister’s house and I was able to take a nap before it was time to head to Staples Center for the game. Once again, the game was going to be an early start, so we decided to pack up all our stuff with the idea that we would head directly back to Vegas after the game. Ambitious, I know.

The Sandly Cup
We got an early start because we didn’t want to get caught on traffic and wanted to be able to find a place to park. We got to Staples Center 2 hours before game time and were able to get a great parking spot inside the Staples garage. I had all sorts of random thoughts about what might happen if the Kings win and the crowd starts to riot. It’s sad we even have to consider these things, but we do. So getting to park in the garage at least gave me a sense of security. Not to mention, it made for a pretty short walk to the arena. Since we got there so early, we spent some time walking around LA Live, which was pretty cool.

Holy shit, the Kings won the Stanley Cup!

Our seats were about 4 rows from the top of the arena, but we were right at center ice. Two rows below us were the press boxes where the TV announcers sit and call the game. What I didn’t know at the time and wish I had, Bob Miller and Jim Fox, the were sitting in the press boxes just behind us calling the game. It would have been awesome to at least give a wave to Bob and Jim. They are the voices of the Kings and they feel like old friends.

I’m not gonna lie, I was a nervous wreck. When the Kings hit the ice for warm up, just hearing the announcer say “Your Los Angeles Kings” in his familiar voice, I got a little choked up. Then again when they hit the ice for the game, during the national anthem, and when they scored goals 1, 2 and 3 in the first period. I was a mess. The entire time we were there I felt like I was seconds away from either vomiting, screaming or bursting in to tears. After the first period, the Kings were up 3-0. Knowing that anything could still happen, I turned to Chris and said “This game is NOT over.” In the second period the Kings made it 4-0 and I think at this point you could start to get the feeling that this was going to happen.

But wait! The Devils scored to make it 4-1. Then, right at the end of the 2nd period, the Kings took a penalty. I think the crowd was holding their breath during that penalty kill. A goal early in the 3rd period would have given the Devils a big boost and that would have made the 3rd period a nail-biter. I don’t know if I could have handled that. But, as they had done so many times this season and playoffs, they killed off the penalty and from that point on, the Kings took it to ’em. They would go on to score 2 more goals late in the 3rd to send the crowd in to an absolute frenzy.

John and Chris at game 6 of the finals. About to watch the Kings lift the Stanley Cup
For the final few minutes of the game, the crowd stood and cheered. I have never heard a louder crowd. Not just at the end, but during most of the game. When the announcer would be announcing the goal scorers and assists, we could barely hear him. So it’s no wonder we could hardly hear when he said “One minute. One minute remaining in the 3rd period.” But you could tell when he said it because the volume went up again. Then, as the clock wound down, the crowd counted down the last 10 seconds. And when the clock struck 0.00, the buzzer sounded, the streamers and confetti came from the rafters, and tears filled my eyes once again. The Kings are the Stanley Cup Champions.

Exactly 8,150 days after watching our first Kings game, Chris and I got to watch the Kings lift the Stanley Cup.

What a journey.

Visiting enemy territory

It was the day before Mother’s Day and my wife and I were sitting on the couch watching the Ranger’s game on TV. Playoff hockey is always great, but this year is even better than usual because the L. A. Kings had beat their first two opponents and had advanced to play the Phoenix Coyotes in the third round, which was set to start the next day. During a break in the action my wife says, “We should have looked in to buying tickets to see the Kings play in Phoenix.” I leapt off the couch so fast, there was probably a cloud in the shape of my body left behind. I grabbed the laptop and was shopping for tickets. To my absolute amazement, there were still tickets available for the game. We purchased a pair and then tried to contain our excitement. No chance. We were positively giddy!

We woke up early and made the quick (4.5 hours) drive to Phoenix. We stopped for lunch, checked in to the hotel and then headed to the arena. Of course, 95% of the people were wearing white, and here we come strolling in wearing our Kings colors with pride.

Walking in, grabbing some concessions and making our way to our seats, there was some occasional light hearted banter with some Coyotes fans. The people seated around us, more of the same. But really, most of the Coyotes fans were in high spirits because it was the first time their team had ever made it this far in the playoffs. When the Kings scored, we stood and cheered. When the Coyotes scored, we sat quiet. When the fans chanted “Let’s go Coyotes”, we countered with “Go Kings Go”. The mood remained upbeat and light hearted, even after the zings won the game.

Fast forward a week. The Kings had won the first 3 games of the series. The Coyotes then took game four in Los Angeles. Game 5 was set for Tuesday, back in Phoenix. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to catch another playoff game, especially at the relatively inexpensive prices in Phoenix, we bought two tickets and headed out Tuesday morning.

Game 5 and the Kings are up 3 games to 1. One more win and they are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 19 years. This is going to be awesome!

We got to the game and had a very similar experience as the first game as we headed to our seats. The crowd around us this time, however, wasn’t in as great a mood as before. Their team was on the ropes, and I think everybody was feeling it. As the game went on and the lead changed hands and the crowd had a decidedly more aggressive feel. The game went in to overtime. The atmosphere was already a bit tense. The refs made a couple calls that went the Kings’ way, and the crowd wasn’t pleased.

With only a couple minutes left in the first overtime, the was a bit of a controversial play. One of the Kings hit one of the Coyotes and it injured their player. The crowd wanted a penalty to be called, and when there wasn’t one, the got even more vocal. The tension in the atmosphere shot up.

Then, as if scripted, 12 seconds later the Kings scored to win the series. We jumped up and cheered as some of the fans near us started heading for the exits. The Coyotes fans began booing and throwing things on to the ice. A Kings fan in our section ran down to the glass and started banging on it and a guy in our row (big dude, I might add) starts yelling at the Kings fan and ends up throwing a half-full water bottle at the guy. Not hard enough to injure anybody, but, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how quick or how high this was going to escalate. As the guys next to us passed us to leave, one of them says to my wife “Piece of shit.” (she took it as being directed at her, while I think he was pissed at the Kings player who had injured the Coyote player)

We watched the handshake line and the presentation of the Western Conference trophy. By then a fair amount of the Coyote fans had left. As we made it in to the concourse, the tension was still pretty high. Just before we made it out the door we saw a security guard talking to a fan who had blood running down his nose. He was obviously in some sort of altercation and was NOT pleased. We walked to our car with no incident, got in and made our way to the freeway and headed back home.

What a difference between the two games. These were the first two games I had ever attended where we were rooting for the visiting team. I didn’t put too much thought in to it as we bought our tickets. I can’t say that I ever felt like we were in danger, but at the same time, there was definitely a chance that it turned in to a situation.

We have plans to purchase tickets to see the Kings play during the regular season in Phoenix next season, but I will think twice before purchasing playoff tickets in the enemy’s building in the future.

2012 NHL Hockey Playoff Predictions

Last year I posted my 2011 NHL Hockey Playoff Predictions, and I ended up going 7-1 in the first round. I came up with Vancouver playing Boston in the finals, but my finals prediction ended up failing. Still, a pretty good showing.

With the playoffs getting set to start on Wednesday, it’s time to give my predictions for this year’s playoffs. Everything after the first round is a bit of a crapshoot because of the way the NHL reseeds the teams before the next round. But, whatever… here we go:

Round 1 – Western Conference

Los Angeles Kings (8) vs Vancouver Canucks (1)

Last year I voted with my head when I picked my beloved Kings to lose to the Sharks. Well, this year, I’m going with my heart. I think Jonathan Quick is going to steal this series for the Kings.

Winner: Kings in 6 games

San Jose Sharks (7) vs St Louis Blues (2)

If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that the Blues would have been within 1 game of winning the Presidents trophy as the best overall team in the league, I would have ruptured something laughing at you. But, here we are. All I can say is, good luck Sharks. Wait, I hate the Sharks. It’s going to be fun watching them live up to their annual playoff disappointment!

Winner: Blues in 5 games

Chicago Blackhawks (6) vs Phoenix Coyotes (3)

The Coyotes goalie has been INSANE recently and I have a feeling the Blackhawks are going to have a tough time getting pucks behind him. Never bet against a hot goalie.

Winner: Coyotes in 6 games

Detroit Red Wings (5) vs Nashville Predators (4)

I think these are the two teams that nobody in the west wants to play right now. It’s nice that only one of them will make it through to the second round. Nashville is a gritty team and their power play is one of the best. Detroit is just getting back a bunch of healthy players. This is the series to watch in the west in the first round. It’s going to be a great one.

Winner: Predators in 7 games

Round 1: Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators (8) vs New York Rangers (1)

Last year I picked the Rangers in the #1 slot to get upset by Washington. It was my one error in last year’s opening round. I made the biggest mistake. I bet against the hot goalie. Dumb. This year is different though. Lundquist isn’t standing on his head like last season. I think this is going to be a really tough, high-scoring series. And, as much as I’d like to say we’re gonna see another 8 knock off a 1, I just can’t.

Winner: Rangers in 6 games

Washington Capitols (7) vs Boston Bruins (2)

Tim Thomas has kinda come back down to earth after his amazing season/playoffs last year and Washington finished the regular season strong after playing pretty mediocre most of the year. But sadly for the Caps, they’re goalie situation is a mess.

Winner: Bruins in 4 games

New Jersey Devils (6) vs Florida Panthers (3)

Congrats to the Panthers for finally making it to the playoffs. Enjoy the next few games. They’re the only ones you’ll be playing in the playoffs this year.

Winner: Devils in 4 games

Philadelphia Flyers (5) vs Pittsburg Penguins (4)

Holy crap, it’s like Christmas in April. If you don’t already have a DVR, go get one. Now. These teams hate each other. This series should be the most entertaining of the first round. Hell, maybe of the entire playoffs. I know there’s not usually many fights in the playoffs, but I’m gonna say this series breaks that rule. Oh, and for my prediction, I’m going with goalies on this one.

Winner: Penguins in 7 games (man, I hope it goes 7 games)

Round 2: Western Conference

Kings vs Blues

The Kings played the Blues really tough this year. But, I still think the task may be a bit too big this time around.

Winner: Blues in 6 games

Predators vs Coyotes

I think the Preds are gonna wear down the Coyotes and score a bunch on the power play.

Winner: Predators in 6 games

Round 2: Eastern Conference

Devils vs Rangers

This should be a pretty fun series to watch. In the end, the Rangers are gonna be too much for the Devils

Winner: Rangers in 5 games

Penguins vs Bruins

Let me just say, I think this series is going to decide who wins the cup this year. I’m going to go with the Penguins to light up Tim Thomas for a bunch of goals. If I’m wrong and the Bruins win this one, you can switch my picks to Bruins to repeat.

Winner: Penguins in 6 games

Western Conference: Round 3

Predators vs Blues

This should be a pretty good series. I think it’s going to be a really close one. I’m gonna go for the upset here.

Winner: Predators in 7 games

Eastern Conference: Round 3

Penguins vs Rangers

The media circus around this series should be an absolute blast! How about this for a great finish: game 7, overtime, in New York… Crosby scores and immediately points at Tortorella on the bench who’s head explodes.

Winner: Penguins in 7 games

Stanley Cup Finals

Predators vs Penguins

You may not think so, but I think this would be a really entertaining final. In the end, I’ll have to go with playoff experience to come through.

The Champs will be: Penguins in 6 games

So there ya go. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Oh, and if you have your own predictions, leave ’em here, too.


2011 NHL Hockey Playoff Predictions

As a fan of the LA Kings, this has been a really entertaining season to watch. The Western Conference has basically been in ‘playoff mode’ for the past few months. For a while there were something like 8 teams separated by less than 10 points. Completely nerve-wracking as a fan. But also, completely awesome!

With the playoffs starting tomorrow, I wanted to put together a quick post about my predictions for this year’s playoffs.

Round 1: Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks (1) Vs Chicago Blackhawks (8)
It’s great that the defending champs squeaked in to the playoffs… The bad part is, they get to face the top team in the league. Sadly, the first round is all the Blackhawks are going to see.

Winner: Canucks in 5 games

San Jose Sharks (2) Vs Los Angeles Kings (7)
For the first time in history, 2 teams from California are playing each other in the playoffs. As much as I love the Kings, with their recent injuries and their recent lack of ability to score goals, I just can’t see them getting past San Jose. (I hope I’m wrong on this one!)

Winner: Sharks in 6 games

Detroit Red Wings (3) Vs Phoenix Coyotes (6)
The Coyotes are one of the most impressive teams this season. Finishing 6th in the West is a HUGE accomplishment considering they have only one player who scored 20 goals this season. Unfortunately for them, the Wings are a playoff hockey machine.

Winner: Red Wings in 6 games

Anaheim Ducks (4) Vs Nashville Predators (5)
With the Ducks in the playoffs, this marks the first time that all 3 California teams have made the playoffs in the same year. Both of these teams are tough, tough teams. I think these guys are going to beat each other up in a grueling series that I expect to see multiple overtime games.

Winner: Predators in 7 games

Round 1: Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals (1) Vs New York Rangers (8)
I think the Caps are a much better team this year than they were last year. They cut back on the run-and-gun style and play a much better brand of defensive hockey that should take them far… Unfortunately for them, I think they are going to have a difficult time scoring against the Rangers who’s goalie is an absolute monster. Upset time!

Winner: Rangers in 6 games

Philadelphia Flyers (2) Vs Buffalo Sabres (7)
This is a toughy. Philly is really strong, but in the goalie department, it’s hart to bet against Ryan Miller in Buffalo. If this was strictly a goalie game, I’d go with another upset here. But, I think Philly’s overall team is going to be too much for Buffalo to overcome.

Winner: Flyers in 6 games

Boston Bruins (3) Vs Montreal Canadiens (6)
How lucky are we that these two teams that hate each other SO MUCH [remember this hit?] get to play each other in the first round? Man I love playoff hockey! I think this is going to be the most entertaining series. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be a very long one.

Winner: Bruins in 5 games

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) Vs Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
Sidney Crosby missed 41 games (half the season) and still lead the Penguins in scoring. Makes you wonder where this team would have finished had be been healthy all season. Unfortunately for the Penguins, I think the’re going to get the opportunity to go hang out with Crosby pretty soon.

Winner: Lightning in 6 games

Western Conference: Round 2

Vancouver Canucks (1) Vs Nashville Predators (5)
I’m predicting a few lopsided victories in this one.

Winner: Canucks in 5 games

San Jose Sharks (2) Vs Detroit Red Wings (3)
I think this is going to be the best series of the 2nd round. And, I think this series is going to send the Sharks faithful in to a deep depression. Once again, their regular season greatness is going to come up short.

Winner: Wings in 6 games

Eastern Conference: Round 2

Philadelphia Flyers (2) Vs New York Rangers (8)
This should be another entertaining series, but I think the Flyers are going to prove to be too much for the Rangers and their goalie just isn’t going to be able to save their bacon this time.

Winner: Flyers in 6 games

Boston Bruins (3) Vs Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
I’ve been rooting for both of these teams all year (I had both goalies on my fantasy team), so this is going to be a fun series to watch (for me, anyway). I think Tim Thomas is going to steal the show this time around.

Winner: Bruins in 5 games

Western Conference Semifinals

Vancouver Canucks (1) Vs Detroit Red Wings (3)
I think this is a series that could easily see some games with scores like 5-4, 6-3, etc…

Winner: Canucks in 6 games

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Philadelphia Flyers (2) Vs Boston Bruins (3)
This is another series I’m really looking forward to. I think this may be a really physical series with a lot of bumps and bruises. I’ll go out on a limb and say the home team wins every game in this series… except the last one.

Winner: Boston Bruins in 6 games

Stanley Cup Finals

Vancouver Canucks (1) Vs Boston Bruins (3)
This isn’t about playing it safe. This isn’t about just riding the top team in the league all the way through the playoffs. But, Vancouver is a pretty amazing team. This season they scored the most goals (262) and allowed the fewest goals (185) of any team in the league. Curse of the president’s trophy be damned!

Skating with the Cup: Vancouver Canucks in 5 games.

So that’s my predictions. Agree with me? Think I’m crazy. Leave a comment and tell me who YOU think is going to win.

A date with The Goonies

In order to maintain your geek cred, there are a number of movies that are required viewing. The list is really long and won’t even begin to list them all here. One movie that most geeks will agree is on the list would be The Goonies. I am a tad bit embarrassed to say that I have never seen it. I feel shame.

I am not sure how I missed seeing it when it came out. But after that, it somehow had always slipped through the cracks. Last year when we had our 24 hours of movies marathon, Todd was going to bring it over, but got sick and missed the marathon. We scheduled another movie marathon earlier this year, but it got cancelled and has yet to be rescheduled. So, it’s not for a lack of trying, it just hasn’t happened. But that is about to change.

Thursday morning I received an email from Netflix letting me know that they had received the last movie I had sent back. About an hour later I received another email informing me that The Goonies is on the way. Since I had a flight to Chicago scheduled for Friday afternoon, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing the movie until I returned on Sunday evening. But then, something funny happened. Ryan sent the following tweet:

Celebrating 25 Years of The Goonies

So, it seems that my destiny was to see The Goonies for the first time on the 25th anniversary of its release. I have been looking forward to seeing it for a long time, but one more day won’t kill me.

See ya tomorrow, Goonies.