The fact that Chowder will wear braces for several years and someone paid thousands of dollars to get his teeth straight, and the fact that he plays a sport where people shoot pucks a his face, stresses me a lot.
I dare you to tell another story from the apartment
ALRIGHT BOYS GIRLS AND EVERYONE WHO THINKS THE GENDER BINARY IS FOR SQUARES IT’S STORY TIME.
Today, we’re going to talk about the time Paul’s desire for superior firepower turned into a mini arms race that ended with me setting Eric on fire with a homemade flamethrower.
No, Matt Boomer, you sexy motherfucker, I am not kidding you. Let’s begin with some details.
So when I was at the University of Iowa, several people, including myself, bought Nerf guns for impromptu battles in the hallways when we had free time. Mostly this was all good, clean fun, except for two of the guys down the hall, my roommate, and I.
We all thought, rightfully so, that factory built Nerf guns are bullshit. They’re weak, darts are too fucking light, the barrels cause too much friction, which makes them inaccurate and slow, and you have to re-cock them after each shot. That’s some fucking bullshit right there. So we fixed it.
We bought new, higher tensile springs. We bought PVC pipe and lubricant. We put BBs in the tips of our darts, and my roommate and even put in a second spring to automatically cock the gun, essentially turning them from bolt action pieces of shit into semi-automatic friendship-ruiners.
So when I moved back to Chicago, and into the apartment, I obviously brought my Nerf guns (my roommate gave me his when we moved out), and I obviously attacked my roommates the first opportunity I had. OBVIOUSLY this led to everyone buying Nerf guns and modifying the shit out of them.
However, some of us were terrible shots, so certain measures had to be taken to make it possible for them to keep up. Brad practiced in his room every day, Josh built an extended clip for his gun, and Kyle bought the fucking Vulcan and built a 600 dart belt for it because he decided aiming is for people who can’t fire 6 darts a second (he modded it for doubled firing speed using a small car battery and replaced mechanics).
And then there was Paul.
Paul was fucking terrible. Like almost so bad it couldn’t be for real. He once tried to ambush me coming around a corner from 2 feet away and missed by a good 6-7 inches. He literally could have slapped me and he missed. Whatever moving on.
So Paul decides to solve his aim problems in the most Paul way possible: online shopping. He bought 500 foam pellets for a marshmallow gun, two dozen foam discs, and a motherfucking t-shirt cannon.
You see, Paul, much like Kyle, decided aiming was for lames. So he would pour foam pellets into the cannon until it was half full, slip in a disc to keep them from falling out, then shotgun people in the face. I was his first victim and boy let me tell you that shit is terrifying.
So Paul became the big dog in the house during Nerf battles, and the rest of us found ourselves unable to compete. So we all escalated in our own insane ways. Eric and I, the former champions, modified our guns to fire faster, Brad added an extended magazine to his gun, Kyle built a harness so that he could shoot his fucking stupid fucking bullet-storm piece of shit while moving. Josh booby-trapped various parts of our apartment. Suddenly, we were all better than Paul again, so he decided to step his game up.
He started making paper cartridges that would explode open once fired. Suddenly, he could actually fire multiple times a minute, which meant once again, he was at the top. It didn’t help that our reluctance to shoot back out of fear of getting shot was allowing him to take his time, therefore drastically improving his aim.
So we stepped up again. I smooth out the cocking mechanism on my guns, improving my firing speed even faster. Eric adds more weight to his darts, making them heavier and faster and much more painful. Kyle buys a bigger battery, newer parts, and he perfects his belts, which increases his firing speed to 12 darts a second.
So Paul steps up to take advantage of his improved aim and buys something called a Pucker Chucker which basically is a t-shirt cannon except it shoots foam pucks. This means we can’t just shoot at him from the other side of the apartment anymore, so we all step up again. I modify the rail on top to make aiming easier, Eric modifies his grip to make it more comfortable, Kyle and brad modify their barrels to make them more accurate, and Josh jumps on board the crazy train and builds a goddamn under barrel cherry bomb launcher.
And this is where shit starts to spiral out of control.
Brad starts making smoke grenades, Kyle solves his weakness against close quarters combat by using his battery to create a cattle prod to keep people back. Eric breaks the head off an old golf club to use the shaft as a weapon, I put pins in the tips of all of my darts, and Paul realizes that the Pucker Chucker can also shoot real hockey pucks after he steals my bucket of pucks from my room.
So it escalated a couple more steps but I’m going to leave them out partially out of a desire to keep moving forward and partially out of shame anywhoozle when we pull out our final contraptions and modifications that day we shifted from light-hearted fun that was a bit too far to literally combat. Josh had a sword. I don’t know where he got it from.
That battle was terrifying. Our normal fights were like an hour, two hours tops, then we would clean up, get together in the living room with some beers, and laugh about what happened. Honestly we should have known this was going to happen because when we did this after our previous fight, the laughter was less “haha remember when I shot Josh in the butthole? Classic.” and more “haha remember when I missed your face with that puck? Next time I won’t miss.”
So we somehow get into a battle again and this time things go south quickly which is bound to happen when you have a dude in a speedo swinging a sword around while rolling fireworks down the hall. It was literally chaos. There were fireworks and homemade smoke grenades and Kyle made the electrical current in his cattle prod too strong and it was too close to the muzzle of his Vulcan so every few seconds you would just see a flaming dart wiz past and I built a fucking flamethrower and I don’t know what the fuck is going on so I’m just firing it in the general direction of Josh to keep him the fuck away. At some point Brad barricades himself in his room, and so we all run back to our rooms and hide.
We do this for three days. THREE DAYS. I missed classes. We all had junk food in our rooms, and private bathrooms, so that’s what we sustained ourselves on for three fucking days. I, however, try to eat healthy, so I ran out of food almost immediately. After not eating for a day and a half, with food literally less than 50 feet from where I was hiding, I decided that I was willing to risk a trip to the kitchen.
So here’s something important about our apartment: I was the only one who knew how to cook. I had tried to teach the others, but all that had accomplished was several kitchen fires. This meant when Eric also ran out of food, he knew the only way to get a meal was to make peace with me. So he had snuck down the hall to my door, intent on asking me for help.
I did not know he was there.
So when I opened the door and saw a crouching figure in the shadows nearby, I assumed, I think justifiably, that it was the guy who had been swinging a sword at all of us the last time I saw him. So I pulled the trigger on my homemade flamethrower, only to see Eric’s horrified face illuminated by the flames for a split second before they hit his torso.
Luckily, I was using a scavenged fuel source (computer screen cleaner), so the flames were weak, but still fire is fire and fire fucking hurts. So Eric is rolling on the floor with first degree burns on his stomach and chest, and I’m freaking out because Eric is my friend and I just set him on fire, so there is now a lot of screaming coming from the hall.
Now, to lighten the mood slightly, here’s a personality test. You hear the sounds of fire, followed shortly by screaming coming from the hall outside your room. What do you do?
Do you assume the crazy sword guy has finally snapped and is going to kill you all, so you climb out the window onto the fire escape? Congratulations, you’re Brad.
Do you hear the cries of pain and grab a first aid kit before sprinting into the hall to help? Hey! You’re Kyle!
Do you hear the flames so you sprint into the kitchen to grab the fire extinguisher? You are Paul.
Do you come out into the hall to see what’s going on but also bring your sword just in case you have to stab someone? You are Josh and also mentally unstable please put your sword away.
So Kyle comes out and he and I start administering first aid and luckily through a combination of the weakness of my fuel source, how quickly I stopped the flames, and the quickness of our treatments, Eric only gets some first degree burns on his torso. Paul puts out the last of the flames, Josh decides he doesn’t want to stab anyone today, and Brad decides that the lack of screaming is a good thing and he comes inside. I spend the next hour apologizing profusely while cooking everyone dinner, and we decide that hey we should probably have some rules for our Nerf fights to prevent this from ever happening again.
So we all eat, we establish rules about modifications and ammunition, and at the end of it all, we grab some beers, head into the living room, and tell Josh he needs to get rid of the sword seriously dude where did you get that from?
There’s no way in hell I’m the first person to suggest this, but are there any AU’s where Jack became a figure skater instead of a hockey player?
Hear me out Jack going through his youth super passionate about being on the ice, with everyone criticizing him for not going into hockey, becoming the youngest Canadian man to medal in a worlds/Olympic competition, then having a late growth spurt that made him almost too tall/broad to compete the same way and pretty much cost him his career.
He craters, disappears for a few years, messes around with training and hockey a bit, ends up at Samwell to get a degree and reset his life. He still skates, and he’s not half bad shooting the puck around, so SMH tries to recruit him, if only to say they have a Zimmermann on the team.
Year or two later, enter Eric Bittle, SMH’s newest frog, who comes to find his teen idol, Jack Zimmermann, not only goes to the same school, but shares the same ice.
(Idk, but that is a fascinating dynamic I’d love to explore.)
I have fucking chills watching the vegas opening show. introducing a first responder and having a player skate out with them? warriors by imagine dragons? #VegasStrong everywhere? I was already near tears.
and then they had some survivors of the shooting do the puck drop? 58 seconds for each of the individuals who lost their lives? and then they projected their names onto the ice and i think the band that was playing during the shooting sang the national anthem and I just -
This was a beautiful memorial opening show that was respectful and sad, but with a tone of hope and strength. Well done, knights. Well done.
So the Stanley Cup Finals are upon us and I’m guessing a few people who’ve never watched hockey might decide to check it out, especially since no matter who wins this year, it’ll be historic.
A lot of people watching hockey for the first time: OMG WHAT THE HAP IS FUCKENING SO MANY MOVING THINGS.
Worry not. I am Here For You.
What even is going on here. I’m dizzy.
Yeah, that happens. What is going on here is that two teams of six dudes each are trying to get a six ounce rubber puck into the back of the other team’s net. They do this by skating rlly fast, banging into each other, cursing a lot, and flinging the puck around. That’s it, basically. Hockey isn’t very complicated in its basics. There is one way to earn a point (make the puck go into the net) and one way to win (be better at making the puck go into the net than the other guys).
I can’t see the puck WHY SO TINY.
I feel your pain. Watching hockey on tv is a bit of an acquired skill. If it helps, watch the players, not the puck. Ironically, watching it live is WAY easier.
Who are these six dudes?
Each team is allowed six players on the ice. Almost all the time, those six players are three forwards (who are supposed to shoot the puck and score - a group of 3 forwards is called a “line”), two defensemen (who are supposed to stop the other team from being able to score, and get the puck back for their team) and one goalie (whose whole job is to stand in front of the net, be huge and impenetrable, and stop the puck from going in). But except for the goalie, everyone shares in all the jobs to varying degrees. Defensemen often score, and forwards often defend. There is at least one NHL team whose top scorer is a defenseman.
There are way more dudes on the bench. What are they even doing, cheering?
They’re waiting for their turn. Each team can have 23 players on their active roster, but can only “dress” (get geared up and ready to play) 20 players for each game. They usually dress four lines of forwards, three defensive pairs, and two goalies (a primary and a backup - most of the time the backup sits on the bench the whole game. He only goes in if the primary gets hurt or gets scored on a LOT). If you are not familiar with the players and their numbers, you’re probably not noticing that the players on the ice change constantly. Hockey is so strenuous that you can’t do it at full game speed for more than a minute. Forwards play in “shifts” of usually 30-45 seconds, defensemen usually 1 to 2 minutes. They swap out as the coaches direct, without stopping play. I have yet to stop being impressed by this. You often don’t see the changes on TV because the cameras stay with the puck, and the players are changing off-camera.
Wait…what’s a power play? That sounds kinky.
A big part of hockey is penalties. You get penalties for doing not-cool stuff with your stick, your body, your skates. Most are minor penalties (two minutes) - there are also double minors (four minutes) and majors (five minutes). When a team is charged with a penalty, a player goes to the box, usually (but not always) the player who committed the penalty. You’re not allowed to replace the player who’s in the box, so this means his team is short one player, and the other team has an advantage, which is called a power play. Teams have a special group of players for the power play (usually their best forwards) and also a special group for when they’re at a disadvantage (called a penalty kill, heavy on their best defensemen because they want to survive the penalty without getting scored on). It’s possible to have TWO players in the box at once resulting in a 5-on-3 advantage (a two-man advantage is the maximum allowed) and sometimes you’ll get one player from each team with a penalty, resulting in a 4 on 4 period.
Icing? Offsides? These are clearly not cake-decorating terms.
Hockey is played in three periods of twenty minutes each with a 15 minute intermission between them. During those periods, play continues until a whistle is blown or a goal is scored. Whistles are blown for penalties, when the goalie freezes the puck (stops it and hangs on to it so it can’t be played), the puck goes out of play (over the glass or into the bench) or when the teams commit the infractions of icing or offsides. Icing is when someone shoots the puck from behind the center line all the way to the opposite end. You’re not supposed to do that. When the puck is being played toward the offensive zone, the puck has to be the first thing across the “blue line” (the line that marks the beginning of the offensive zone). If an offensive player beats the puck across the line, that’s offsides.
Hey, they’re fighting! That can’t be allowed, right?
Well…yeah, it kind of is. Hockey players frequently get in minor little shovey-shovey sweary shouty skirmishes (this is often referred to as the players getting “chippy”). Those aren’t fights. Real capital-F Fights are actually a stat that is kept for teams and players. An official fight is usually at least semi-planned and the refs are sort of given a heads-up about it, they usually just stand there and let it happen, and the players keep each other from piling on. It’s a real fight if the players drop their gloves and if punches are thrown. Believe it or not, learning to “hockey fight” so you don’t actually injure yourself or the other player is a skill that players are taught. It happens, but usually both players will get some variety of penalty (roughing or fighting depending on the severity and who started it). There was a real fight in last night’s game although it was really more like a minute-long hug session.
They’re totally running into each other. A lot.
Yep. That’s called checking, or hitting. It’s legal to hit a player who has the puck in order to get possession away from him. But there are a lot of rules - you can’t hit someone who doesn’t have the puck, you can’t hit the player with the puck from behind, you can’t hit them above the shoulders or below the knees, you can’t use your elbows, and so forth. Legal hits can still be pretty brutal and how penalties are called for illegal hits is wildly inconsistent. Hits are another stat kept for the teams and it’s a measure of how aggressive they’re being in taking puck possession.
Hey, the players are getting points too, not just the teams.
Yes, they are! Hockey is very team-oriented. It’s extremely rare for a player to score a goal without one of his teammates setting it up for him, or getting the puck to him in a way that enables him to score. Players get equal points in their individual stats for both goals and assists. Each goal has the possibility of two assists - the guy who touched the puck before the goal-scorer, and the guy who touched it before that. Assists are not recorded on every goal, and some goals only have a primary assist and not a secondary. When we talk about players’ stats, the ones most frequently mentioned for forwards are total points (goals + assists), goals, and points per game (goals + assists divided by number of games played). Any player will tell you that the ability to just shoot the puck into the net is not the most important part of offensive play - the ability to “create offense” and set up plays that result in a goal is even more important. Some players are goal-scorers (Alex Ovechkin is one example) and some are players that do more offensive creation (Sidney Crosby is like that).
DUDE THE GOALIE IS GONE. DID HE REMEMBER THAT HE LEFT THE OVEN ON?
If the goalie is gone it’s probably in the last 2 minutes of the game and his team is losing. There is no rule that says you HAVE to have a goalie on the ice and you’re allowed six players, so if you pull your goalie, you can put another forward on to score. If there’s 2 minutes left and your team is down by 1 or 2 goals, if you pull your goalie, the worst that can happen is you’ll lose MORE, and you might be able to tie the game and force overtime, or even win, if you put yourself at a man advantage with an extra skater. This is called an “empty net” situation and it’s nerve-wracking, especially if your team is the one that pulls the goalie. All it takes is for the other team to break away from your defense and they can pretty much score unchallenged. (There is another situation, delayed penalties, during which a team pulls their goalie during other times in the game, but that’s a bit advanced. I can explain it if anyone’s curious)
Um, is it me or do these playoffs take forever?
It’s not you. The Stanley Cup playoffs take forever. Sixteen teams make the playoffs (out of 30, soon to be 31 teams total) and they play four rounds, each of which is a best-of-seven. The winning team at the end could have played as many as 28 games in the post-season - the regular season is 82 games long. There are four divisions in the league grouped into two conferences. Each division sends their top three teams to the playoffs, then each conference sends the next two highest-scoring teams for a total of eight teams per conference. Those eight play for the conference championships, then those last two teams go on to play for the Stanley Cup. This year’s western conference champions, the Nashville Predators, and the eastern conference champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, are two games in to the final round now. Pens are up 2-0 games in the series. Each round takes about two weeks - the playoffs started April 12 and could end as late as mid-June if the final round goes to seven games.
A lot of these dudes seem to be Canadian.
Yep. Hockey is Canadian for sure. Of the players in the NHL, 50% are Canadian (if you can name a world-famous hockey player there’s about a 95% chance he’s Canadian), 25% are American and 25% are European of some other variety (mostly Russian, Swedish, Czech and Finnish). One of the things about hockey that bugs me is that it’s SO WHITE. There are many reasons for that, but it’s getting better. At this year’s All Star Game there were six minority players invited, and there are some amazing up-and-coming young players of color in the league like Auston Matthews (who will 98% probably win the Calder trophy for Rookie of the Year this year), Josh Ho-Sang, Seth Jones and Nazem Kadri, three of whom played in this year’s playoffs.
There’s a lot of hugging. I did not expect this much hugging.
Hockey players hug a lot. After someone scores it’s pretty much standard for there to be a big hugpile.
Okay, I think I’m good for now.
Awesome! Hockey is fun to watch and hopefully this has been helpful. I enjoy talking about it and learning more stuff myself, so send me an Ask if something confuses you.
What she means:
William Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom have known other since the year 2007, with Nicklas Backstrom being a not even 20 years old rookie, coming to Washington to stay with former Capitals center Michael Nylander and his family, including 11 year old William Nylander and his then 9 year old brother Alexander, they were living together, shooting pucks at the rink together before practices and playing ping pong in the Nylander basement even after moving out. Now, William Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom, after facing each other in the Stanley cup Playoffs in William Nylander's rookie year, play together on the same line for Team Sweden at the IIHF World Championship, Nicklas Backstrom centering William Nylander on his right wing after knowing each other since Nicklas Backstrom was too, a young Swedish rookie in the NHL, 10 years ago.
There is an empty storefront across the street from Geno’s favorite Russian bakery in Pittsburgh.
It’s not very appealing. He thinks it used to be a candle shop but it’s been empty for years.
The big front window is cloudy with dirt and dust and the paint in chipping around the edges. The For Lease sign is hanging crookedly in the door, so old that the number is almost completely worn from the sun.
The space needs a lot of work.
He can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to take the time to fix it up.
It’s a shock when he returns from a long road trip and sees the sign gone and the window clean with the trim painted a fresh white.
There’s a warm, glowing light coming from inside.
He doesn’t have much time to think about it before the light changes and he’s able to safely walk across the street to Kalatch.
an NHL version of the “boys” by charli xcx video with evgeni malkin shooting pink pucks at a piñata, ryan reaves blowing kisses, auston matthews taping a pink stick, jamie benn and tyler seguin throwing pink confetti at each other, wayne simmonds curling puppies, and marc-andre fleury doing cartwheels in all-pink goalie gear
Dex knew he was in trouble the first time he saw Nursey playing hockey. It was a practice, in frog year, and Dex had already decided that he and Nurse, Derek M. were not going to be friends. Or even acquaintances. Or anything close. But all the irritating comments and rolled eyes in the world couldn’t stop Dex’s stomach from swooping as he sat on the bench and watched Nursey slam a guy into the boards, steal the puck, and shoot for the net. He recognized the fluttery feeling in his stomach, he was a gay man competing in competitive hockey. It was hopeless trying to ignore the fact that hockey players were hot as hell and Dex had given up trying long before Samwell.
But still, Dex told himself, it didn’t actually mean anything. A hockey crush is different than a crush crush. So Dex swallowed the feeling and once he was paired up with Nursey on the ice, it wasn’t that big of a deal. He had less time to watch Nursey when he was trying to keep his eyes on the puck, anyway.
Dex pushed when Nursey pulled. Their mutual agreement to disagree made the world go round and helped the goals get scored. So what if Dex felt slightly nauseous around Nurse sometimes? It was worth it for the cause.
There is music in Faber. Not the usual game-day get-hyped mix that he was used to when they tested the sound system. It was beautiful - swelling cello, melancholy and then building speed and drive. It gets under Jack’s skin, makes his palms sweat. He wonders if it would offend whoever’s playing it if he asked them to shut it off. He bypasses the locker room in favor of following the sound, and when he sees the figure on the ice, he almost thinks he’s dreaming. The music, the scrape of skates, echoing in the rafters is eerie. In flashes of blonde hair and black clothing, the skater is a phantom, toying with Jack’s memories. But he can’t leave.
Nobody else has ever been on the ice before Jack’s usual practice time. He finds himself equal parts afraid and intrigued as the ma makes graceful leaps, moving too fast to get the impression of a face. Slowly, he descends through the stands until he is braced against the gate, fingers clutching tightly at the door. The music ends, skater coming to a flourishing stop at center ice, toe pick dug into the faceoff dot. Jack’s shoulders fall with the sudden “woosh” of his breath. His gear bag slips and falls to the ground, the thud of it snapping the man’s attention to Jack.
They regard each other with wide, terrified eyes.
“Um. Sorry,” the guy says.
“No, no. I uh - I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t know anyone was using the rink.”
“I thought maintenence put music on.”
“No, that - That was me.”
“I see.” The guy fidgeted. “You’re good.”
“I mean it. That was beautiful.” The skater blushed.
“You’re too kind.”
“I’m really not.” They continued to stare at each other.
“I should probably get out of your way then.”
“You - uh - you don’t have to.”
“We could split the ice. I don’t really need a whole rink for my thing. Was just gonna shoot some pucks.”
“You’re on the hockey team.” It wasn’t a question. Jack nodded anyway.
“Nice to meet you.” Jack tried to smile. Eric smiled back.
“You too.” Jack smiled wider, realer.
“I should, uh, go put my skates on.” Jack jerked his thumb at the bench. Eric bit his lip.
“Okay.” He started skating backwards slowly. Jack dragged his bag into the penalty box and grabbed his skates. After kicking off his running shoes, he took his time lacing up, willing his ears to stop burning as he pulled the laces taut. With a breath, he stood and took the bucket of pucks with him, gloves tucked under his arm as he took the ice. Trying his best to ignore Eric, who had put in headphones, he started with a few half laps to warm up his legs.
They nearly scared each other half to death when they skated up the center line, turning to skate right beside each other. Eric recovered his poise first, giving a bright smile before speeding up and leaving Jack in the dust. Jack tried to work on some puck-handling drills, but found himself watching the puck in his periphery, watching as Eric runs through the routine again and again. He can almost hear the cello in the movements of his body. As he finishes the run-through, Eric looks over his shoulder at Jack. Jack loses control of the puck.
It thumps against the boards. He goes after the puck, and for the first time in his adult life, his skating is entirely graceless.
“Sorry, I’m distracting you,” Eric says. “I should probably just go.” Jack turns quickly, startling Eric.
“You don’t have to go,” Jack insists. “It’s not - You aren’t distracting in a bad way.” Eric’s face is already flushed from exertion, but the little smile he directs at his skates makes Jack’s chest squeeze. He skates closer, cradling the puck with his stick, until he and Eric are close enough that they don’t have to raise their voices in the cavernous rink. “You’re really good. You - um, uh - it’s…really beautiful.”
“Well thank you.” Eric meets his eyes, smile growing. “I guess I best get going though, free skate’s almost over.” Jack looks up at the clock on the scoreboard and sees that his team will be in for practice any minute.
“Oh…Yeah, the guys will be here for warmups pretty soon.” He doesn’t want Eric to go, but if they walked in now, the chirping would be brutal. He’s pretty sure it’s written clear on his face just how adorable he finds Eric.
“Right…” Eric’s smile dims, and Jack scrambles to fix it before he disappears.”
“But I’ll see you tomorrow?” And there it is, back in full force.