Its A Moral VictoryJanuary 11, 2008
On paper, last night’s Sabres / Sens game should have been an Ottawa blowout. The Sabres were facing a 7-game winless streak, had three of their best players out of the lineup (Timmy, Roy and Afinogenov), and were starting Thiebault instead of Miller. Theoretically, this one should have been over before it even started.
But then, something surprising happened. The Sabres managed to stick with Ottawa, remaining scoreless through the first period. Not bad at all. Then Ottawa put two in the net. The Sabres team that we’re used to seeing would have rolled over and died, letting Ottawa have their way, conceding that the game was already over.
Did that happen? Hell no. The Sabres again stuck with the Sens, who to be perfectly honest, kind of went to sleep once they had a two goal lead.C-Mac got the first goal on a nifty move in front of Gerber and Paille scored the tying goal. (Lindy – can we please keep C-Mac up here permanently? The kid is alright!). The Sabres were also playing with a short bench, as Spacek was out after the second period with back spasms.
Overtime was great. I had to remind myself to breathe as both teams had multiple end-to-end rushes. Vanek had 3-4 different opportunties to put the game away, but right now the kid cannot buy a goal to save his life. That has to end soon, right?
Taking Ottawa to 6-rounds in the shootout also proved this team was not going away anytime soon. Color me surprised that Lindy did not put Vanek in as one of his top three shooters in the shootout, but he must’ve sensed fan disgruntlement with how Vanek has done in the shootout lately. However, I do admit to thinking that the Sabres were toast when Vanek was the fourth shooter. Guess he proved me wrong there.
The Sabres also played a physical game. Mair had a crushing hit or two, and Hecht leveled one of the Sens at the blue line. The Sens did not – or would not – match the physicality of the Sabres. Alright, so they tried once. Chris Neil saw Soupy against the boards and lined him up. Luckily, Soupy ducked, or we would have been squeegeeing Soupy off the ice.
Speaking of Chris Neil, he was involved in a fight with Goose. Goose crushed Neil with a check that Neil took offense to. After some yapping, they both dropped the gloves and went at it. None of this prancing around with the fists up, waiting to see who would throw the first punch (Don’t hide behind Sabretooth, Peters. I see you back there). While it wasn’t the best fight I’ve seen this season, it was probably one of the more interesting ones. The two have fought before and Neil has done some damage to Sabres in the past (Drury last year and Staffy this year). If a fight needed to happen, it was this one.
The Gaustad / Neil fight also served as a great lead-in to the discussion of fighting during the first intermission. It was interesting to see the different viewpoints on this aspect of the game. While Rob Ray thinks fighting is an essential part of the game, Harry Neale does not. Neale made the distinction that fighting does not belong in the sport of hockey, but in the hockey as entertainment aspect, it probably does. I kind of agree with Neale. If you’re judging hockey as a sport, then fighting shouldn’t be involved. Its the only major sport in the US where fighting is an accepted part of the game. Sure, the players are penalized in the game for taking part in a fight, but there’s no further sanctions. Other sports not only toss the player from the game for fighting, but also suspend and/or fine the players involved afterwards. If you’re judging hockey as entertainment, then a fight or two helps to keep things interesting. However, I hate pre-arranged fights (Peters, I’m still looking at you). If fighting does happen, it should stem from something happening within the game – a hit, a goal, trying to shift momentum. It should not happen because two players decide that they should fight. That’s a little too WWE for me.
I saw this picture on Yahoo and had to laugh. I think all of us ladies can learn something from Goose about proper self-defense techniques. Go for the eyes! Blind your attacker.
While I would have liked to have seen a win from the guys, this was probably their best 60+ minutes of hockey that they have played this season. I really hope they keep it up, because its no fun watching a team in a losing streak.