Archive for September, 2009

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Questions Heading Into the Season

September 30, 2009

There’s a lot of questions floating around my mind…

- Will the Phoenix ownership debacle be settled anytime soon? With the judge rejecting both the NHL and Balsille’s bids, it means it will drag on into the heart of the season. As former Sabres have attested, playing for a team in the throes of bankruptcy is a drain both on and off the ice.

- Will Tyler Myers enjoy his 9-game tryout with the big boys and be shuffled off back to juniors, or will he become a permanent fixture on the team this season? And as a corollary to this question, when Lydman returns to the lineup once his hand is healed, which defenseman is relegated to the press box? My money is on Tallinder.

- Will Danny Paille fall victim to the “got married” disease that once affected Thomas Vanek?

- With his troubles this past summer and rumors of his extracurricular activities finally hitting the fan, will the Chicago Blackhawks make a move to sign Patrick Kane to a contract extension? A lot of Chicago’s young core is coming up on the ends of their deals at the end of this season and will be looking for significant raises.

- Continuing with the Kaner theme, just how many dimes will be thrown from the stands at “Twenty-Cent” this season? I’d hope that if fans do this (and in no way am I advocating that they do) that no one gets hurt and that teams donate whatever dimes are collected to a local charity. In fact, if a team wanted to have fun with it, they could make the night the BlackHawks roll into town “Twenty-Cent” night, and do some fundraising with dimes at the entrance gates. Think of how much money could be raised!

- What Sabres will show up this season? Will we get the Accountable Grown-Up Sabres, or will the Whiny Snot-Nosed Punks show up all too often? While I think there’s a lot more grownups in the locker room this year (and a few emerging grownups), there’s still a lot of players that can easily slip into the role of lackadaisical lollygagger quite easily.

- Will the Sabres have finally grasped that hockey games are 60 minutes long and not 40…or 20?

- Who will still be coaching in Buffalo at the end of the season: Lindy Ruff or Dick Jauron?

- Just why is Jonathan Jackson coming back to General Hospital after all these years? Sorry for the diversion but JJ on GH as Lucky Spencer was a cornerstone of my high school years. I’m feeling old and nostalgic right now.

- When will the first “My God, The Sabres Suck and Should All Be Set Adrift In Lake Erie” column be written by The Buffalo News?

- Will Patrick Lalime step up and again be a perfectly cromulent backup goaltender instead of a sieve on skates? With this being an Olympic year, and Miller guaranteed to play a significant chunk of time for Team USA in Vancouver, Lindy can’t fall back on his old coaching standby of riding Miller like Secretariat. Lalime needs to be able to give Miller a breather now and again.

- Will Tim Connolly remain healthy for longer than the length of time it takes one to walk a lap around the 100 Level at HSBC Arena? (Seriously, I think Timmy is the team’s Mystery wrapped in an Enigma and Covered in Band-Aids. This  WBEN interview is the most I’ve ever heard him speak in one sitting.)

- Just how does Sabretooth Twitter with those ginormous paws of his?

- How long until the first stick size joke is uttered regarding Chara’s posing nude for the ESPN Body Issue?

- Will The Two-Eyed Pea Brains achieve their third consecutive fifth place finish in the IPB Fantasy Hockey League this year?

- Will Max Afinogenov succeed in Atlanta or will he fall victim to his old dipsy doodling ways?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But tomorrow night the puck drops on the 2009-10 season and its going to be a good one…I hope.

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I Don’t Think He Does Well On Halloween

September 28, 2009

According to this WBEN profile of Pat Kaleta (click the “Hear Patrick Kaleta profile” link), the little button is scared of ghosts and has been known to take a Rock Band drumstick around his house with him when he’s creeped out. At least no ghosts inhabit HSBC Arena (that we know of).

I know I use the word a lot, but this interview makes Kaleta sound completely adorkable. I can’t wait to see who else WBEN puts through the ringer.

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I Declare…

September 27, 2009

…that the next organization that uses the BEP’s “I Gotta Feeling” as theme is going to have the keyboard of fury unleashed upon them. I like the song, but it’s just so overused and overplayed. Two of the four broadcast TV networks used the song during their Fall 2009 upfront presentations, it’s on the radio constantly and now the Sabres used it as their red carpet theme. (I’m also extremely bothered by the use of “Gotta” instead of “Got A” in the song title, but I digress.)

Theme music choices aside, the Sabres video is a really quick (and cute) look at the boys on the red carpet.

- I also declare that an organization that uses the phrase “City of Hockey” as its theme for the season should do more to make sure that pre-season games are televised. If MSG won’t play nice, then put the games on the web for pete’s sake.

- I further declare that this Bills game is boring. Losses are never fun. That’s why I pulled up the hockey game on the laptop. Hockey makes it all better. Except when it makes it worse, of course.

- I further think it’s pretty kickass that Gaustad has gotten 17 penalty minutes in two games this preseason. As long as they’re not “stupid” penalty minutes, I will take displays of toughness any day of the week.

- I also submit that Pat Kaleta is truly a good egg. How many professional athletes would donate their autograph fees to charity and then go ahead and start their own foundation? Also, it’s an awesome cause that Kaleta is working towards.

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We Skate With ‘Em

September 25, 2009

I’m impressed that this kid has so much of this speech memorized.

Also, four year olds saying “Screw ‘em” will never not be funny.

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There’s Real Hockey on My TV

September 23, 2009

Or, a semi-live rambling blog of the of Sabres/Leafs game tonight.

First Period

- I don’t care if it’s the Leafs feed on NHL Network, I will watch it. Somehow, this feed is coming through for me I wonder how many pissed off emails the league/Sabres/MSM received (I know the News and WGRZ were aware of the situation) from Sabres fans. I don’t understand league blackout rules. I mean, yes MSG has the rights to Sabres games, but if MSG isn’t going to be showing the game, why should they give a flying fig that the NHL Network is going to be showing the game? Also, it’s incredibly misleading that the Sabres site advertised the game as being offered on NHLN tonight, when it in fact was not. League website template or not, a team should be able to update its own site with the proper TV coverage information and not have to post the corrected information in a release three clicks into the site.

-  I realize I work with ads all day and should be relieved when I see an unsullied space, but I really miss the dasher board ads. I know it’s time consuming to install them, and all the deals probably have yet to be completed, but the boards look really naked. And there’s too much white on the screen, what with the white boards, white ice and white Leafs uniforms. We could have the abominable snowman frolicking on the ice and no one would notice.

- McCormick and Rosehill interrupt my diatrible about ads by having a nice little fight. I miss fighting. And it was a good, solid fight. Not a let’s tango around each other with our fists raised in the air kind of fight that we’ve often got used to seeing. (Sorry, Petey. Them’s the breaks. But I do hope you make the Devils. You’re a good egg.)

-  When I’m not busy typing, I’m trying to rank the players for my fantasy hockey team.  The Two Eyed Pea Brains draft tomorrow and I realized that there’s like jack defensemen in the Western Conference outside of Lidstrom. At least the moral and ethical battle of drafting Pronger and his Elbows of Doom moves to those peeps drafting from the Eastern Conference.

- Is Miller wearing a camera on his head or is he just making like the Great Gazoo with his headgear?

- Do we really think Luke Schenn can outmuscle Goose and Grier in the Toronto zone? (Does Grier have a nickname? Griersy? Mikey? Fred? Bob?) And Goose is wearing the C tonight. While I have a feeling Rivet will remain the Captain for this season, I really want to see Gaustad wearing a letter this year.

- As the Leafs TV announcers are waxing poetic about the Sabres penalty kill this preseason, Miller makes one hell of a diving, pivot-y save. Score one for the Gazoo.

- And at this point, those bastards at Time Warner realize the feed should be blocked and I lose coverage. I pick up the internet feed on the commercial so I don’t think I’ll miss much. I’ll stick with the Leafs TV announcers, since they’re really not that bad…yet.

- The mom unit is wondering why there isn’t an alternate game offered on the NHL Network while the Sabres game is blacked out. Right now, it’s the black screen of death on the regular channel and “no service available” on the high def one. That’s not good customer service on the part of NHLN/TWC. According to NHL.com, there’s three other games that the league could slot in so their flagship channel isn’t dead air for three hours.

- The ice sounds on this internet feed are incredibly crisp. You can hear every puck receipt and every zhush of the skate blades.

- The final shot count at the end of the first period is 18-5, Sabres. While there’s no score yet, I think the Sabres have done an incredibly good job at pressuring the net, making chances and playing a solid game. Of course, there’s still two more periods for the wheels to come off the wagon.

Second Period

- On a delayed penalty against Exelby for knocking the snot out of Pommers, Paetsch rips a one-timer past MacDonald. 1-0 Sabres. WHOOO!

- The Sabres Twitter feed is reporting that Stafford is now wearing a cage after taking a stick to the face in the first period. Poor Staffy, but the show must go on. He takes a stick to the face and comes back to the game. I drop a full bottle of hair conditioner on my foot and I’m whining for twenty minutes and thinking I broke my foot.

- WHOOO! Gaustad Hecht (status changed in the 3rd) is credited with the Sabres second goal.

- Is Rob Ray doing the radio broadcast? I spy him ensconced between the benches in his Sabres track suit.

- My inner 12-year-old is coming out, but can we please not use the word “streaking” in reference to Jiri Tlusty, especially after those photos came out.

- Miller’s flopped embarrassed reaction to his whiff on the Tlusty penalty shot was pretty funny. Miller had his legs together, but not all the way. You could tell he wanted that one back. Now I laugh. If that happened in March, I’d probably cry.

- The mom unit is watching DWTS on the TV. Why, oh why, is the Miley Cyrus music video for “Party in the USA” debuting during this show? It has nothing to do with either “dancing” or “stars.”

- I come back from a feed crapout to find that Cody McCormick has scored to make it 3-1, Sabres. WHOOO! McCormick (shall we call him Pepper, Saffron? Seasoning Packet?) is just an assist away from the Gordie Howe hat trick.

- More from DWTS. I can’t decide whether to be freaked out by or in awe of the costumes from the stage version of The Lion King. They’re alternately cool and detailed, and yet terrifying.

As Sabres fans, we all need a little hakuna matata in our lives.

Third Period

- Mitchell scores while I’m reading my neighborhood newspaper’s crime blotter (unlike the Amherst Bee, this blotter contains actual crime). The score is now 3-2, Sabres.

- Sensory overload night continues as Glee is now on the TV. And within the first two minutes, they manage to top last week’s Crohn’s shoutout. This Beyonce thing is even more timely and relevant in light of the Kanye debacle, even though it’s probably a very large coincidence.

- Miller shuts down Lori Peckarovsky who somehow got in on a little shorthanded breakaway. (Toronto is a man down due to the puck over the glass delay of game rule.) On this penalty kill, the Leafs allowed no shots. It feels good to once again want to scream “shoooooot” during a power play.

- A scrum breaks out in the Toronto end, as Gaustad gets a roughing penalty, leading to all sorts of chaos. I liked seeing Grier jump in to help Gaustad, even though Gaustad was taking on not only the Maple Leaf player, but also the referee. That takes talent (and a mighty big bit of pissed-off-ness).

-  The Leafs broadcast shows a picture of Stafford with the cage and his grotesquely swollen lip with the caption that he won’t be kissing anyone tonight. That’s snarkily brilliant for a broadcaster. I would also caution the broadcasters to never underestimate a hockey player when it comes to extracurricular activities.

- This is Lindy’s 12th season as Sabres coach. Crikey, I’m old.

- The broadcasters enlighten us with what a typical Sabres third period is like when they have the lead: they clog up the neutral zone, forcing the opposition to work harder to get the pucks in. I’d like to add that they forgot to mention that Sabres third periods generally include the lead being given up at some point in combination with the offense taking a holiday.

- A Leafs player makes one hell of an effort to keep Pommers from scoring into the empty Toronto net. I guess the population of Pominville will have to wait to grow until another day.

- Oh, come on. Two icing calls with less than twenty seconds left in the game? That’s a joke. Can’t the game just end in peace?

- While the Sabres pulled out a win, they played two good periods and one decent period. It’s not bad for preseason, but it’s not good for the regular season, either.

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Hitting Him Over the Head…Hard

September 22, 2009

- Why do I have the feeling that Lindy has done everything short of beat Derek Roy over the head with a goalie paddle to emphasize that he needs to stick to the system and not turn everything into a fancy-schmancy pretty play clinic? And judging from this quote, it sounds like Roy-Z may be ready to run in the opposite direction whenever he sees Lindy coming.

We’ve talked about it in Zurich, we talked about it in Bern, we talked about it in Calgary, I’ve had a lot of time with Derek.

Lindy’s like that bad cold that Roy just can’t shake.

I also like that Paul Hamilton elaborates on Roy’s (ahem) maturity and how he needs to grow into a leader. I can’t help but wonder if Roy was taken to the woodshed by the organization after those photos hit Deadspin last year. It also probably doesn’t help matters that the second item on Google’s helpful list of potential search queries is “Derek Roy drunk.”

Time will tell if Young Grasshopper Roy-Z (oh hell, now he’s Old Grasshopper Roy-Z) will rise to the level at which he needs to perform both on-and-off the ice.

- I didn’t watch the game last night (bad feed + headache + gymnastics needed to run earbuds to laptop = chaos), but judging by the presence of the “Free Goose” tags on Twitter, it sounds like Mr. Gaustad was unjustly punished while some other dudes got away with things. Also, I did like the fact that it sounds like he stood up for a teammate. If that carries over to the regular season, I’ll be happy. We can argue that toughness and stick-up-for-your-teammate-ness was decidedly missing from the team these past two years.

- And I just ordered the NHL Network. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a semi-live blog(ish) of tomorrow night’s Sabres/Leafs game. I’ll catch up on ANTM and Top Chef afterward.

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It’s All Starting To Come Together

September 18, 2009

- Paul Hamilton is reporting that the Sabres lines appear to be coming together quite nicely. I’m happy that the “popular opinion” line of Gaustad, Hecht and Grier appears to be a reality. (Not that I think Lindy reads the blogs or other writings outside of the MSM, but hey, it’s all about me on this blog.) I hope that playing with Grier and Gaustad pulls Hecht out of the funk that he appeared to get into at several points last year.

And Lindy’s also altering The System. Oh, how I’ve missed hearing about The System. Then again, by mid-January, I’ll probably be so sick of hearing about The System, I’ll wish that we traded The System to Atlanta for Max Afinogenov.

- I wonder how much whining the trio of Miller, Gerbe and Kennedy threw at Lindy so that they all could play in Michigan tomorrow night? I mean, we know Miller probably did the least amount of whining, he was probably more of a demander than a whiner, but Kennedy and Gerbe are the youngins and don’t quite have the clout Miller does. I could imagine Lindy letting them play just to shut them up and get them out of his hair (what little he has left).

- Anne discusses the awesomeness that is the picture accompanying the Tim Kennedy article on Sabres.com, but I want to talk about how yet another one of the little kiddos is looking up to Gaustad as a role model. This time, Kennedy is analyzing Gaustad’s face off skills, trying to pick up any pointers and techniques to help him win more of them. I know Kennedy said that he wouldn’t dream of out-muscling Gaustad in a faceoff, but those two going up against each other in a drill could be fun to watch.

- The Sabres theme for the year appears to be “City Of Hockey.” I really like how the theme is carrying through the passport-like media guide and the season tickets. I’d like a t-shirt with the crossed swords/City of Hockey logo on it, but again, I need another Sabres shirt like I need a hole in the head. Heh.

- Where are Michael Kors and Nina Garcia? Project Runway just isn’t the same without them.

- How awesome are the Voltaggio brothers on Top Chef? Not only are they good cooks, but they also have some dry wit and intensity that’s a welcome break from the typical reality show crazy.

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