2018 NHL Playoffs Predictions

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs start today. I’m going to embarrass myself but whatever…here are my predictions.

First Round Predictions

Nashville (1) vs Colorado (WC)

Nashville is OP. Preds have more depth and playoff experience. This it the only match-up that I predict will end in 4 games.

Winnipeg (2) vs Minnesota (3)

I know next to nothing about these teams but I know that Minnesota’s Ryan Suter is out with a late season injury. Based on that and the two teams’ regular seasons stats, I give Winnipeg a big edge.

Las Vegas (1) vs Los Angeles (WC)

Kings have superior players but the Golden Knights have better depth. I’m predicting a long, low-scoring series between these two teams and believe the bottom lines/pairings will win it.

Anaheim (2) vs San Jose (3)

Ducks are spooky but go sharks! I’m predicting that this one will be a tough series, Joe Thornton will play in at least one of the home games, and a lot of penalty minutes but not many power-play goals from either team.

Tampa Bay (1) vs New Jersey (WC)

Taylor Hall will go HAM and New Jersey’s top line will give Tampa Bay a hard time, but Tampa Bay is the stronger team. New Jersey not having a solid starting goalie situation will also hurt them.

Boston (2) vs Toronto (3)

Boston is a stronger team on paper but I want Toronto to win. Predicting Boston’s defense will not be enough to contain very spread-out scoring between Leafs skaters.

Washington (1) vs Columbus (WC)

I am expecting some Panarin highlight-reel goals but Capitals’s top two lines are too strong. Washington in 5.

Pittsburgh (2) vs Philadelphia (3)

Penguins have too much offensive talent, playoff experience, and leadership to lose this one. I hear Claude Giroux had a spectacular season but the Flyers never once managed to figure out how to beat the Penguins in the regular season. I think it will be a good match up and the games will be close but they will lose in 5 or 6 games.

Comparing Costs of Roller Hockey vs Ice Hockey

I started playing recreational roller hockey in 2014. I was under the impression that roller would be more affordable than the alternative. I joined an adult beginners roller hockey league at Dry Ice in Oakland and played once a weekend between late 2014- mid 2017.

Last summer after we moved to Utah, I decided to give ice hockey a shot. I signed up for an adult beginners ice hockey league at the Utah Olympic Oval and played about once a week through the fall and winter.

Now that I’ve experienced both, I can say that I found ice hockey to be much more enjoyable and more rewarding. I’m pretty sure I will be sticking with ice, but I want to take a deeper look into my original costs concern that steered me toward roller in the first place.

Initial Equipment costs compared (Winner: Roller but surprisingly not by much)

Roller hockey equipment cost estimate:

Helmet and shield: $80
Padded undershirt: $60
Elbow pads: $50
Gloves: $60
Roller pants: $30
Jock shorts: $60
Shin guards: $60
Stick: $50
Skates: $150
Bag: $25
Practice jersey: $15

Total: $640

Ice hockey equipment cost estimate:

Helmet and shield: $80
Shoulder pads: $80
Elbow pads: $50
Gloves: $60
Ice pants: $80
Jock shorts: $60
Shin guards: $60
Hockey socks: $10
Stick: $50
Skates: $130
Bag: $25
Practice jersey: $15

Total: $700

Regular maintenance costs compared (Winner: Ice)

The only regular maintenance cost for roller hockey was buying new wheels. Over the course of 3 years of playing, I probably had to buy somewhere between 12-16 new wheels to replace wheels that wore down or broke. Taking the middle value and with an estimated per wheel price of $10, that puts the maintenance costs at roughly $47 per year.

Skate sharpening for ice hockey was something I was worried would be expensive. Turns out, I only had to sharpen my skates once during my season; twice if you also count the initial sharpening when I bought the skates. At a $6 per sharpening and estimating four sharpenings per year (if I were to have played year round), maintenance costs would be $24 per year.

Skate time costs compared (Winner: Roller by a lot)

Open skate / stick & puck at the roller hockey facility in Oakland, CA charges $5 per session. Assuming you went to go practice about twice a month for a year, you would be spending $120 per year for skate time.

The two nearest ice facilities charge an average of $12.50 per session. Assuming you went to go practice about twice a month for a year, you would be spending $300 per year for skate time.

Having said that, roller beats ice by a mile in this area because roller can be practiced anywhere you have flat concrete. You could argue that makes roller $free.

Hockey league fee costs compared (Winner: Roller by a lot)

Fees will forever be your largest expense. Ice rinks cost much more to operate than roller rinks and that cost gets passed down to skaters in the form of team/individual league fees and annual usage fees.

From my experience, the annual fees between roller and ice have been comparable: around $40 a year. This cost is negligible compared to the individual/team fees you will pay.

For roller hockey,the most recent team fee looks to be around $3000 to register a team for a season. Assuming a full team of 13 skaters (3 lines of 2 forwards, 3 lines of 2 defense, and a goalie), that comes out to roughly $231 per skater per season.

For ice hockey, the most recent team fee in the same geographic area looks to be around $8500 to register a team for a season. Assuming a full team of 16 skaters (3 lines of 2 forwards + 1 center, 3 lines of 2 defense, and a goalie), that comes out to roughly $531 per skater per season.

Verdict

Estimated cost to start playing hockey for one full year in the SF Bay Area including first time purchases of all gear, all fees, maintenance costs, and paying to practice at the rink twice a month:

$1771 to play roller hockey vs $3188 to play ice hockey

Roller hockey saves significant amounts of money. If you are wanting to give hockey a shot, starting with roller hockey makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint. You could pay the initial equipment costs (or even just a fraction of it) and get away with spending nearly nothing else for as long as it takes you to develop your skills enough to feel comfortable with joining a league:

Driveway hockey starter kit

Helmet and shield: $80
Elbow pads: $50
Gloves: $60
Shin guards: $60
Stick: $50
Skates: $150

Total: $450 + a practice ball/puck

With this setup, you can develop your skills and acquire new gear as you need it.

Also, you can always switch to ice at a later time. If you already own the full list of roller equipment, most of it will transfer over and you will only need to purchase shoulder pads, hockey pants, hockey socks, and skates. (~$300)

The Scam

Last summer, I tried to sell some old Nintendo games on KSL Classifieds (Salt Lake City’s more popular Craigslist alternative). A few hours after posting, I received a text message.

Seemed normal, so I reached out to this individual’s “brother” to see if he was interested.

Here’s what I got back.

Several things seem suspicious by this point:

  • Messages are out of order
  • He says “video game” despite my ad being for a collection of several games
  • This individual wants me to take my ad down and pay extra with a money order
  • He said kindly. Note to scammers…no one uses the word kindly except for you. It’s a dead giveaway. “Kindly” is to scammer as “meddling” is to Scooby-Doo villain.

I could have ceased all communications by this point, but I wanted to press further. I wanted to understand where this scam would go.

The response:

So… I take down my ad and this person will pay me with a money order + extra and his “mover” will come over to pick up the item. I’m super curious to see where this goes so I go along with it.

Now it starts to make sense. Here is how the scam works:

  1. Scammer asks seller to take down the ad and guarantee sale in exchange for more money
  2. Seller agrees. Takes down ad and awaits instructions.
  3. Scammer provides details of a money order that will arrive in the mail for the price of the item + extra money. Scammer probably will instruct seller to cash this money order and inform scammer when that is done.
  4. Once money order is deposited, scammer dispatches “mover” to pick up the item from seller.
  5. Several days later, the seller will learn that the deposited money order was fraudulent. This leaves seller with no item, no payment, and fees from the bank for the deposit of a bad check. And I guess the scammer gets my Nintendo games?

Anyway…I have no intention of giving my item up to the scammer, nor am I interested in seeing this “mover” in person.

…but I kind of want a souvenir from this. I mess with them a little more and then send them a fake name but a real mailing address so I can see this money order. I also mess with them a little bit by changing the item i’m selling to see if they’re even paying attention.

[not shown…message I sent scammer with details on how to get me the money order]

The next day, I received a huge batch of texts informing me that his father unexpectedly passed away. In all of the confusion, the secretary accidentally mailed out a money order for too high of an amount–about $900. I’m instructed to deposit the money order when I receive it, withdraw the accidental overage, and give that cash along with the video game to the “mover”.

Now I see where this scam becomes much more lucrative for the scammer. It’s not just that they get away with the item i’m selling…but that they also instruct me to pull out a larger sum of cash to return to the “mover”.

I didn’t bother posting the rest of the screenshots of the conversation–its mostly details about the confusion caused by the father’s death, more instructions, and pleas to continue moving forward with the transaction. It ends after a few hours of ceasing communication.

Several days later, though!…

HAHAHA they actually spent $6.65 to rush deliver a fraudulent money order to my address…complete with the fake name I provided them:

Since this scam utilized the US Postal Service, I was able to report it (along with the tracking info and origin address) for fraud investigation.  Slim-to-zero chance that anyone got caught, but I was able to document the steps of the scam to USPS. Hopefully, that information got used to better train people on how to avoid this particular scam.

Total score at end of day:
Scammer(s): -$6.65
Me: A stupid souvenir check for Pete Za

Thanks, Google Images

I’ve been using Anki along with AnkiDroid to create French flashcards. Whenever I encounter a new word/phrase I want to retain, I turn it into a highly personalized flashcard, which gets added to my Anki deck that I review daily.

For example, here is one of my noun cards for the french word for “bad luck” (malchance), featuring the first couple of things I associate with the word:

I’ve relied heavily on Google Images to make flashcard creation as quick as possible. However, Google changed something about their search algorithm within the last 6 months that has really slowed me down. Before, Google Images seemed to be like a big shotgun blast of any image tagged with or sitting in a page with words in my search term. Now, it seems like there is a new layer in-between my search and the results I see. Google Images assumes what it thinks I’m interested in, only shows me images of that category, and hides the rest. It is up to me to clarify further by clicking buttons from a list or by entirely redefining my search term. This might be valuable for some people, but it’s been a nightmare for my flashcard creation process where I have to regularly fight the image search engine to show me something I’m certain the old algorithm would have given me.

Top 10 worst examples:

10. “Pleasure”

“Hey Google. Got any pictures representing pleasure? Like maybe a stock image of someone enjoying some candy or a massage or maybe even something romantic?”

“Yeah, man. Here you go!”

9. “Honor”

“I know it’s abstract, but I’m needing an image to represent honor.”

“I’ve got you covered.”

8.  “Shuffle”

Shuffle has a lot of meanings! I might get the shuffle icon from a media player, or a deck of cards, or–”

“Cartoon chicks!”

7. “In reverse”

“Got any pictures of a car backing up or the alphabet going backwards?”

“Yeah, but this band is pretty good, too.”

6. “Damages”

*sigh* “…damages please”

“You bet.”

5. “Wander”

“Y u do dis to me”

“CARTOONS.”

4. “Melody”

“Surely everyone knows what a melody is. It should be unambiguous”

“CARTOONS.”

3. “Long lasting”

“…Lo-”

“MAKEUP!”

2. “Edge”

Edge…”

“okay I get it…he’s a wrestler. But I want a sharp edge

“I don’t even know what that is. Can you please just give me…you know… like a cutting edge?”

1. “Case”

“Fine. I’ll stop being picky. Just give me a case. Anything you’ve got. Please. Court case, computer case, briefcase, uppercase or lowercase letters, I don’t even care anymore. Heck, recommend me a phone case to buy if you want. Just please give me a case.”

“k”

Gym Stuff 2017 (Squat)

Last of the 2017 gym posts. Previous posts: deadlift, overhead press, and bench press.

This one is weird. I hate this lift.

My squat has never felt comfortable. I’m constantly fighting to improve my form but issues keep popping up like Whac-A-Mole: squat not deep enough, knees buckling inward, lower back strain, etc.

In my first two years of squatting, I was reluctant to increase weight due to form concerns. By 2016, I came to a decision that has lead to great progress: even if form wasn’t perfect, increase the weight if form was acceptable. My squat still feels awful, but its got nearly 100 more pounds on it now than it did before.

I technically hit my 2016 goal at the end of 2016 when I was motivated to reach 225 lbs (two 45 lbs plates on each side). However an injury while deadlifting at the end of 2016 caused me to halt progress. I’ve only recently started working back up, again (most recently hitting 225 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body weight).

Thoughts:

  • Now that i’m regularly doing reps of ~200 lbs, its ridiculous to think that there was ever a time where the most I could do was 60-80 lbs.
  • I don’t know how interested I even am in pushing this lift much higher than where it is. I like the idea of having a strong squat for functional strength and hockey…but I do not like the idea of having to buy larger pants.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Bench Press)

Post 3 of 4. Previous posts: deadlift and overhead press.

The bench press might be my favorite compound lift. It was the first compound lift I started training.

Progress has been slow, but I managed to hit my 2016 goal last week (165 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body weight).

Thoughts:

  • I think I graduated up a shirt size around the end of 2014.
  • All of 2015 looks like it was a huge waste of time. I wasn’t consistently on the same program or training schedule so that whole year just looks like it was “maintenance”. Next couple years weren’t awful. Slow but steady.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Deadlift)

Picking up where this post left off…

The deadlift is tied with the squat for my least favorite lift. It’s the lift that I’ve been training for the least amount of time and also train with the least frequency.

These days, I deadlift no more than two sets a week (as per my Greyskull LP program). I am interested in continuing to make progress on this lift but probably won’t increase frequency until I’m ready to move on from Greyskull.

Similar to my overhead press, I just hit my strength goal, today. (255 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body-weight)

Thoughts after visualizing my progress:

  • 2016 didn’t look terrible, but I can see the point at the end of the year where I injured myself deadlifting and it affected my psychologically well into 2017.

    re-enactment of my deadlift form on the day I hurt myself
  • Looks like I was really close to hitting this goal a year earlier. What helped the most between last year and this year was having a gym partner comment on my form (helping me learn to keep my back neutral)
  • 2017 by itself looks crazy. Thanks Greyskull.