Archive for April, 2009

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Playoffs Round 2…Ding!

April 29, 2009

My record on predicting the first round of the playoffs was 5-3. Not bad for using tralalafeeling bits instead of hard core stats. So, lets take the same prediction style to Round 2.

Washington vs. Pittsburgh: There are only two things guaranteed in this series. First, Pierre McG will hurt himself from trying to simultaneously fellate Crosby and Ovechkin. Second, whichever team wins the series will have their marquee player annointed pope. Keep an eye out for smoke signals from either Washington or Pittsburgh. I’m rooting for the Penguins in this series. I find Sid and Geno so much more appealing than Ovie and Co. Sid’s got an endless supply of things to mock him for, and Geno looks like he’s perpetually confused and wondering where his pants are. Meanwhile, I’m tired of hearing about how Ovie is the first person to ever have invented fun.

I’m adding a new level of tralala feelingbits to my analysis of this round of the playoffs: the battle of the mascots. In this series, Iceburgh beats Slapshot any day. Iceburgh’s so norky looking, which is exactly what you want a mascot to be.

That reminds me, why haven’t the Sabres put anything regarding Sabretooth on their site? Can some PR intern not write a biography of ‘Tooth? How hard is it to come up with stats like his favorite activity (Leaf blowing…er not in that way. Heh) or his favorite food (roast Duck with mango salsa, King cake, Shark fin soup, etc) or other fun things. Sheesh, if you don’t want to put the effort into writing it, open it up to fans and cull the best suggestions together into a bio for the darn cat.

Meanwhile, back at the prediction ranch…

Carolina vs. Boston: I’m rooting for Boston here. They’re infinitely more appealing than the Hurricanes. The end. And besides, I really do not want to see a Pittsburgh / Carolina conference final. I would lose it if I had to hear about the Staal brothers playing each other, and the endless interviews with Ma and Pa Staal and which kid do they love more. (The correct answer is Marc. However, since he isn’t playing anymore this season, we’re going to hope that we never have to find out who is more favored between Eric and Jordan. We wouldn’t want it to end up like the interview with the Miller clan during the first time Drew and Ryan played each other and Mother Miller admitted she liked goal scoring better.)

In mascot land, while Stormy is cute and cuddly, Blades has his own series of commercials.

Detroit vs. Anaheim: Quack, quack, quack, quack. Guess who I’m rooting for? While Detroit is a good team, there’s something pretty robotic about their style of play. There doesn’t seem to be any joy on the ice. It’s like the old Soviet Red Army is playing. Meanwhile, the Ducks have personality. Getzi took on JoeTho the other night for no good reason. Corey Perry has his own drinking game amongst the fans (Drink every time the announcer calls him “CoreyPerry” instead of just “Perry” during the play-by-play. Just take it easy or you’ll be on the floor by the end of the first period.) And you have to root for Drew Miller. As his big brother put it in his latest blog, Drew is smart, hardworking, talented (so is a trained St. Bernard) and a definite asset to any NHL team. As Meg pointed out on Interchangeable Parts the other day, that might have been a subtle plea for the Sabres to acquire his brother.

In the battle of the mascots, Wild Wing is decidedly less scary that that ginormous inflatable octopus that decends from the rafters at the Joe.

Vancouver vs. Chicago: This series might as well just be called the Battle of the Pretty. Chicago is one not-pretty semi-talented singer away from having a boy band. (Oh, hi Brian Campbell. How ya doin? Didn’t see you over there.) And Vancouver has Taylor Pyatt (and his eyes), Big Bear (and his adorable habit of adding a superfluous S to things), and Kesler and Bieksa. Plus, they have what seems like half of the Sweden playing for them with the Sedins, Sundin and Ohlund. (And how can you not love the Sedins when even their own teammates can’t tell them apart, leading to who knows how many too many men on the ice penalties? And they’re on the cover of SI this week, too. Here’s to hoping for no cover jinx.)

And in the mascot battle, Fin trumps Tommy Hawk by a landslide.Fin blogs. The end.

In other news, I don’t know if you heard, but both Chris Drury and Danny Briere are out of the playoffs. Where’s the Buffalo News to discuss that fact? Every other week it seems the News publishes an article saying out Briere and Drury are the greatest leaders to ever have lead. And where did their epic leadership skills get them? First round exits from the playoffs, that’s where. Although I do give Drury a ton of credit for playing with a broken hand. I’m always astounded by the injury reports that come out after a team is eliminated from the playoffs. There’s Drury’s broken hand, Corey Sarich’s broken foot, Mike Richards bum shoulder (he’s now laid up for 10-12 weeks), not to mention that I learned last night that Jamie Langenbrunner of the Devils had knee surgery on the 18th and was back in the lineup 8 days later. That takes cojohnes the size of the Garden State (or a cortisone shot to end all cortisone shots).

Speaking of injuries, has it ever been revealed what injury Pominville suffered towards the end of the season, or what’s going on with Lalime’s hip? Lindy said they would be discussed later, and well, it’s later. Yes, I know Lindy is busy in Switzerland right now, but surely someone else in the organization can talk about it.

On a final note, I’m completely amused by the fans who sat behind Tortorella last night wearing ponchos. It’s like they went to a Gallagher show and a hockey game broke out.

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I’m In The Wrong Racket

April 25, 2009

- Matthew Stafford, the #1 overall pick in today’s NFL draft, signed a deal worth $78 million, including $41.7 million in guaranteed money. What is a kid fresh out of college going to do with that much money? And what the heck were the Lions doing giving that much money? What happens if Stafford pulls a Ryan Leaf and flops out of the league after a year or two? The Lions are up the creek without a paddle, that’s what. How long until the league mandates a rookie salary cap like what the NHL uses? An NHL rookie makes a maximum base salary of $875,000 before bonuses. This is a manageable salary for someone so young. It kind of reduces the amount of income that one could spend on hookers and blow…not that I’m saying that anyone has spent money on that.

- I was in Rochester today and the mall I stopped at had a Bills store. I about fell over when I saw that a t-shirt was $35. And the Bills hats were pretty tacky, too. Fail on the merchandise front.

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The LQ Show

April 23, 2009

Saw this on Buffalo Rising earlier today.

There’s a couple of random moments…”Go Green With The Goose” and “Lake Erie Classic” made me laugh.

I wonder what the final count on “small market” is?

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All Quiet on the Locker Room Front…NOT

April 20, 2009

Just when I think that there’s a lack of stuff going on in the Sabres internet world, two gems show up today to make me think otherwise, courtesy of John Vogl and Ryan Miller. Please excuse my rambling, I’ve tried to make it as coherent as possible.

- Vogl’s article regarding the eerie quiet in the Sabres locker room was an interesting read.

I can understand why those Sabres that spoke with Vogl regarding the locker room atmosphere wanted to keep their comments off the record to preserve team harmony. But on the other hand, why aren’t they speaking up within the room to make their points? It’s also interesting that MULTIPLE Sabres spoke on this topic. If it were just one or two, you could chalk it up to a couple of disgruntled malcontents, but if there’s multiple people confirming the quiet, it’s a problem.

The Washington game in late December is brought up as an example of a game where speaking up wasn’t appreciated. A little detective work shows that after this game, the only two Sabres to speak up regarding accountability were Miller and Gaustad. Vogl points out that there was at least one Sabre who didn’t take too kindly to the constructive criticism offered after the game. I’m really curious as to who has the soft outer shell and can’t handle the feedback of their peers. I know in my job peer feedback is really valuable. Granted, my peers don’t give me feedback in front of the media, but as I recall, neither Gaustad nor Miller specifically threw any one player under the bus. While they were mad, they were very careful to keep their comments general and applicable to the entire team.

I guess this summer will be the one where a lot of players look at themselves in the mirror and see what they’re made out of and whether they really can handle being a Buffalo Sabre.

- Ryan Miller’s postseason wrap up was an intelligent look at the good, the bad and the ugly for the season. He did compliment the Buffalo News for being reasonably fair in their coverage of the team. (Color me shocked on that one. Sorry News writers, you can make the argument that sometimes your commentary beats the same drum over and over again.) I like that he pointed out that the players that we as fans hold up as the epitome of the great Sabres teams – Briere, Drury, McKee, Dumont, Briere and the rest of the cast of thousands – had to grow and develop and find themselves before they became “stars.” Who knows if in our current group of muckety-mucks we have the next Briere, Drury, McKee, etc. I also wonder if this is Miller’s parting shot that they players are tired of being held up to the players that are no longer here? It’s tough to forge your own identity when you’re constantly being compared to those that have come before.

Now onto the part that really caught my eye:

The catch is some people don’t ever get to the point where they are fuming mad, so we have to evaluate that and I want to see who in our organization shows up in September with that motivation… Because this has to be all together, all for one and one for all, team first, it’s not about what is on the back of the sweater, no man left behind, no “I” in Team, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts… I had a few more quotes to drive the cliché spike home but it ended up being annoying.

You honestly cannot tell me that the first part about teammates getting mad is not in response to Vogl’s article today. This definitely proves that the players are keenly aware of what is said about them in the media. Look at how angry and pissy they got when the News called them out as soft for not retailating after Gomez injured Miller.Which brings up another interesting question: why do they seem to respond well to getting called out by the media but cower when one of their teammates do it? And how would they feel if they hopped on the internet and checked out what’s being said about them in the Sabrelogosphere?

Miller is essentially issuing a challenge to his teammates. Are they going to take not making the playoffs seriously and work hard at bettering themselves this summer, or are they going to spend the summer golfing, drinking and whoring it up? Also, which players need to go watch “Network” to remind themselves that they’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. (If any of them do go watch “Network,” I have a study guide from my senior seminar available on a disk somewhere, in case they need some interpretation assistance.)

And if Miller is worried about resulting to cliche to prove his point, maybe he needs to check out some of the demotivators and hang them around the locker room? I’m personally fond of the arrogance, cluelessness, ignorance and idiocy ones.

Also interesting was this thought:

part of the development process is about falling flat on your face… And then recovering, learning, adapting and remaining motivated.

They say there’s not a lot of similiarities between the hockey world and the corporate world, but you learn by falling flat on your face, picking yourself up, not scraping the ice from your shoulders or dirt from your knees and figuring out how to do the same thing again but with a different result. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (now who’s resorting to cliche), but it’s a painful learning experience to get stronger.

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From the “No Shit, Sherlock” Files

April 17, 2009

A Tweet just came through from Sabres.com that Golisano and Quinn have announced that Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier will return in their current roles next season. I’m not really that surprised. Lindy has one year left on his contract and Darcy has two. If one or both were fired, that would mean that Golisano would have to pay them the remainder of their contracts. Mr. G hasn’t become a billionnaire by paying people to sit on their derrieres and do nothing. I’m sure that each will be allowed to ride out their contracts and then further conversations will be held, I’m sure. Maybe after this current deal Lindy will move on to another team, but for now, he’s still ours. God love him.

I’m sure this will help the players maintain some level of consistency for next year. And I don’t mean maintaining a level of consistent apathy, that’s for sure. If they go for three consecutive seasons without making the playoffs, getting rid of Lindy and Darcy will be the least of the team’s concerns. The fans and media will be out for the players if this happens.

And not that the Sabres are preparing for Max Afinogenov to leave town, but the Afinogenov jerseys were on the sales rack at the Sabres store this morning. There also was a sale on stuffed Sabretooths, and while they were adorable, I needed a stuffed Sabretooth like I needed a hole in the head. I did leave the store with the team’s photo, so it wasn’t a total losing effort.

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Interesting.

April 15, 2009

- Reading the comments on Sabres Edge can sometimes be a crap shoot. For every nineteen crappy comments, whines and rants, you sometimes trip across a rare good one. In the comments for today’s post , Mike Harrington posits that we’ll see Tellqvist approached as a UFA to back up Miller next season, as Lalime’s injury is pretty severe. While nothing has been confirmed by the team (and probably won’t until we’re close to the draft and/or UFA day), wouldn’t that be something if it were the case? Lalime was hired to be the perfectly cromulent backup for Miller, and Tellqvist was brought on to be the cromulent backup for Lalime when Miller got hurt. How odd that Tellqvist may now be the everyday backup for Miller.

If this is true, I’d be sad to see Lalime go. He was always a good interview and really seemed to have a good bond with Miller. I don’t know how Miller and Tellqvist get along, but the few interviews I’ve seen of Tellqvist show he has a keen analysis of what’s going on in the room.

- Continuing with the goalie theme, Miller did a brief interview for the league at the NHL Store today. Check it out here. The league also includes a text summary here. (I’m not a pharmacist, but someone should tell him that four Tylenol and two Aleve before a game probably isn’t healthy.)

- We were letting our inner twelve year olds out to play at the office today because of this article. Who knew politics could be so inadvertently funny?

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A Competely Unscientific Playoff Prediction Post

April 13, 2009

Warning, this post contains predictions based on little to no use of statbits, and very high use of tra-la-la feelingbits. You’ve been warned.

Montreal vs. Boston – I have to go with the Bruins in this one. The Habs were just too much of a hot mess towards the end of the season. I think the Hockey Gods also are still taking out their retribution on the Habs for their fans flipping cars and rioting after a first round series victory awhile back. The Bruins also have solid consistent goaltending from Tim Tom, but if he gets hurt, the Bruins could be in a world of hurt, especially since Manny Fernandez played like hot buttered ass the other night.

Rangers vs. Caps – As much as the Ovie tongue bathing kills me, I have to pick the Caps in this series. I could not stand it if Chris Drury and Sean Avery move further along in the playoffs. Drury, for obvious reasons, of course. And as much as he is a good hockey player, Sean Avery didn’t invent the game and often times gets in his own way. Also, the Caps have a strong supporting cast behind Ovie with Semin, Fedorov and especially Green bringing up the rear on D.

Devils vs. Canes – I hopped aboard the Devils bandwagon, and while some are deserting like rats on a sinking ship, I’m hanging on for dear life. It’s going to be a long brutal series, but Zach Parise and Marty Brodeur will kick Rod Brind’Amour and Cam Ward’s asses. (Provided that Scott Clemmensen’s Brodeur voodoo doll doesn’t magically start working, of course.)

Phylers vs. Penguins -I have to pick the Penguins in this one. The Penguins have done phenominally well since Therrien was fired. They have massive scoring potential with Sid, Geno, Staal and the rest of the cast of characters. While the Phlyers may play more of a physical style suited for these early playoff rounds, they have Danny Briere on their team. That automatically disqualifies them from winning a series, in my opinion.

Author’s note: You may wonder why I am so anti-Briere and Drury. It’s just my little counter-rebellion to those people who insist that Briere and Drury were the be all and end all of Sabres hockey. While they were two key cogs in the Sabres machine, there were other cogs that were just as important that weren’t replaced or were replaced with a remanufactured model.

Ducks vs. Sharks – While I think the Sharks are going to take this series, it probably will be a brutal one since Chris Pronger’s involved. The dude hasn’t stomped on or brutally slashed anyone in awhile, so we’re due. But at least the Ducks have some pleasant players to balance out the Pronger. They hav’e the wonderfully balding Ryan Getzlaf, Drew Miller (the Jan Brady of the Miller family – “it’s always Ryan, Ryan, Ryan!”), and Scott Niedermayer of the fierce playoff beard.

Columbus vs. Detroit – I’m rooting hard for Columbus in this one. How can you not? This is the first time in their franchise’s history that they have made the playoffs, and they did so in the season immediately after their beloved owner passed away. In addition, they’re riding a hot rookie goaltender and they have a solid star player in Rick Nash. Hopefully, a playoff series win will get Nash a better dining companion than Oscar the Grouch.

Vancouver vs. St. Louis – As much as I adore Jay McKee, I think that the Canucks will have their way with the Blues. The Canucks have a solid goalie in Luongo, and their own version of the Swedish mafia, with the Sedins, Sundin, and Mattias Ohlund.

- Calgary vs. Chicago – Go Blackhawks! I think rooting against Patrick Kane means that I have to turn in my Buffalo residency card. In addition, I still like watching Campbell play. Unlike Briere and Drury, he hasn’t been mentioned in every article about why the Sabres now suck, so my tolerance quotient is significantly higher for Soupy. Of course, the first time he tries a spin-o-rama and gets knocked into next week by Phaneuf or Sarich, all bets are off. Chicago has also seen a rebirth of hockey within their city, so they do deserve to at least see the Blackhawks win a series.

And finally,

- Versus vs. CBC – CBC, of course. While CBC broadcasts usually look like they’re being transmitted from an ice rink deep in rural Soviet Russia, they know hockey. And they have Don Cherry to bring the crazy. Don Cherry trumps Jonesey and Engblom any day. And having CBC guarantees that I see at least one more playoff series than what Versus is providing. If Time Warner ever added TSN, I’d be in hockey heaven.

- Also, what in the blue dilly heck in the NHL trying to do with their NYC TweetUp? It’s a cool idea and it will be neat to see how many people show up. And it also shows that the league is continuing to embrace this newfangled thing called “social media.” [/sarcasm] However, some of the details are a little amusing. Free food from Mickey D’s? An autographed copy of Youngblood as a door prize? Oy.

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