Archive for December, 2009

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How Far We’ve Come

December 31, 2009

We’re heading into a brand new decade tonight. A lot has changed on a personal, professional and sporting levels since the year 2000.

When the clocked flipped to midnight on January 1, 2000, I was a freshman at Canisius. Use of the internet was growing, but e-mail and AOL message boards were still king. The internet wasn’t even considered in ad plans, except for those annoying pop-up ads. Blogs were still relatively unheard of.

I graduated in 2003 and was hired into a job in my field. (Huzzah!). I’ve survived three promotions and some downsizing, but still love what I do and work with people that I adore. And the constantly changing ad environment makes every day a learning experience.

The Sabres entered the decade in a less than spectacular fashion. Michael Peca was engaged in a prolonged contract dispute that eventually led to him being traded to the Islanders for Timmy and Taylor Pyatt. Can you believe Timmy has been in the Sabres organization for over 8 years? Have we really had eight years of the boy in the plastic bubble jokes?

Then all hell broke loose with the Rigases and the Adelphia and most Buffalo fans thought the Sabres would be toast, but Mr. Golisano stepped in to save the day and keep the team in town.

After the lockout, there were those two magical seasons where the team seemed unstoppable. Who doesn’t remember Pommers shorthanded goal in Ottawa that sent the Sens packing (and one could make the argument that it’s the source of the team’s current bad juju against the Sens)? And later that year, if not for one delay of game penalty, one defenseman not looking down and a litany of other events, the Sabres could have made the Cup Finals.

The following season seemed to be even more magical than the last. The Sabres returned to the blue and gold color scheme, was ditching the raging goat head for the sluggalo their best decision? On a business side, it probably was, as Sabres merchandise flew off the shelves. Blue and gold became the colors around town. The team got off to a 10-0 start and won the Presidents Trophy. There was even a little line brawl against Ottawa. The entire town united behind them as the playoffs started. The Party in the Plaza became the place to be. Who can forget those scenes of the crowd going absolutely bananas outside the arena after Afinogenov scored that goal in Game 5 against the Rangers? Sure, that season ended with a whimper instead of a bang, and it still causes most of us to twitch involuntarily when hearing the Goos version of Better Days, but that team took us on one hell of a ride.

There was the day that Sabres hockey died…at least if you believe half of what you read on message boards and in Bucky Gleason columns. Briere and Drury both left for much greener pastures, where they’ve had mixed levels of success. Sure, there were issues on both sides and people flipped their shit when neither of them re-signed, and there was a level of  “they signed for *how* much?!”  but, in hindsight, those two were not the be-all and end-all of Sabres hockey.

Yes, there were the two seasons where the team didn’t make the playoffs. But the 2008 season did have the amazing Winter Classic. Who could forget seeing  72,000 screaming fans jammed into a snowy Ralph to watch a hockey game? It was quite a sight. And all the players had this sense of joy and wonder on their faces, that you could tell that they were proud to be part of the experience, that for one shining moment, the end result of the game might not have mattered as much as it normally would have.

And then there’s this current season. The Sabres start has a lot of people wondering “what if?” Miller is playing like a man possessed, and Lalime has regained his form and is proving to be a perfectly cromulent backup again. Gaustad has been kickass in the face off circle, Pat Kaleta found a goal scoring touch, and there’s been some amazingly entertaining games so far. If the Top 6 can pull their heads out of their asses, there’s a lot of potential for a good end to this season. The 2009-10 Sabres seem bound and determined to end the decade on a high note. And if a couple of them manage to work in some Olympic hardware as a part of this season, then more power to them.

And the growth of the Sabres internet community has been huge. The Sabres have embraced blogs and Twitter. Sabres fans have created a large number of blogs that house some incredible writing. Hopping onto a blog after a game to read postgame thoughts or see what the writers saw that I missed has definitely made watching hockey more enjoyable.

We’ve said a temporary goodbye to some longtime Sabres this decade; guys like Stu Barnes, Marty Biron, Brian Campbell and those two idiots that shall not be named. But when those guys left, new ones stepped up to fill the void in our hearts. Guys like Gaustad, Miller, Myers and even little Kennedy and Kaleta have gotten the fans attention.

Some things haven’t changed. The Bills still haven’t found a solid successor to Jim Kelly and they still haven’t made the playoffs. The Sabres haven’t won the Stanley Cup. Buffalo still equals joke on the national sports scene.

I think we can agree that the past decade was a hell of a ride. Let’s see where we go from here.

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Sabres vs. Pens – 12.29.09

December 29, 2009

This blog is brought to you today by Kleenex, Dayquil and Gatorade. Yup, I have a cold. I hate having colds.

First Period

- We really need to come up with a better name for the Kennedy/Grier/Vanek line than “Frozen Four.” I get why they’re called that, but having the word “four” in a line of three really doesn’t make sense.

- The story of the Pens bus getting stuck downtown is funny, not just because the coaches were the ones doing the pushing, but that the pushers had to jump back onto a moving bus because the powers that be were afraid the bus would get stuck again. Jay McKee’s reaction of “welcome to Buffalo” is also pretty funny. I sense a “shit happens” subtext out of his comment as well. Heh.

- It’s not hockey related, but I’m excited that Richard Schiff and Bradley Whitford are going to be back on TV again, though sadly not in the same show. (Schiff is going to be on a paranomal-type show, and Whitford is playing a cop on another show.) They are on the short list of actors that could make a reading of the phone book into award-winning television. The others are the remaining cast of The West Wing and Anthony Geary and Jonathan Jackson from General Hospital, in case you were wondering. And yes, I am talking about non-hockey things on a hockey blog, because “whatever strikes my fancy” is in the header and is one of the rules of this place. My puck, my rink, my rules.

- Jordan Staal takes a Tyler Kennedy rebound and puts it past Miller. 1-0, Pens.

- At about the 8:30 mark of the first, the Sabres have 3-4 quality scoring chances, but the puck manages to go behind Fleury, or wide or through the crease. All of them avoid the net. The Pens answer with Crosby getting Miller out of position, but missing the net.

- Guerin scores a fluky goal as he lets the shot go from along the boards and it gets past Miller. The shot appears to have hit something before it got to Miller, as it went clear up in the air and over Miller. 2-0, Pens.

- RJ says something that no Sabres fan wants to hear: “Miller is a little slow at getting up.” I don’t like that phrase.

- I think we’re going to have to have a lesson for the Sabres entitled “Hockey Games are 60 Minutes Long.” I hate that these guys seem to take a good while to get warmed up. They’re falling into old patterns again.

- I miss Jay McKee. He’s a classy guy and a good egg. And his shot blocking skills are unreal. Too bad he’s another one of those guys made up of spit, duct tape, bubblegum and sheer determination.

Second Period

- The Sabres know how to ruin my enjoyment of a perfectly good piece of Carvel ice cream roll (the kind with both chocolate and vanilla ice cream and a lot of the chocolate crunchies) by letting Kunitz score on Miller. Miller is immediately pulled in favor of Lalime and Miller looks pissed. 3-0, Sabres.

- Judging by the way the Sabres have played so far tonight, you would have thought they were the ones pushing a charter bus uphill (both ways) through the streets of downtown Buffalo. There’s just a “meh” attitude from them.

- Not hockey related, but it’s pretty cool that Byrd was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. I think we could all agree that Byrd was a bright spot in the disaster that was this Bills season.

- According to Sabres Edge, Miller tossed his stick, blocker and helmet down the tunnel as he exited the ice. I’m curious as to whether he was pissed at himself for letting in three bad goals, or whether he was pissed at his teammates for not helping him out. Also, does he have to go and pick it up or does some lowly Sabres staffer have to go and fetch it?  (The postgame show indicated that a staffer fetched all the gear for Miller. Sigh.

- McKee ends up gloving the puck in the Pittsburgh crease, which leads to a penalty shot for the Sabres. Stafford is selected to take the shot, as he was one of the players on the ice when the infraction occured. Because the refs were reviewing the initial play, Staffy was skating back and forth nervously. RJ remarked he looked like an expectant father, while Ray remarked that he looked awfully pale. And Ray is right, Stafford did look white as a sheet. I’m not sure how much of that was from nerves versus how much of that is Staffy’s normal Edward Cullen-esque coloring. When all is said and done, Stafford scores. So it’s now 3-1, Pens.

- What in the bluedilly eff was that? Staffy goes backhand then forehand on Fleury in a nifty little maneuver. Maybe Lindy needs to start sending people to the press box more often…coughPommerscough. 3-2, Pens.

- Talbot gets in shorthanded on Lalime and while attempting a wrist shot, watches his stick shatter into several pieces. The stick moved towards the net faster than the puck.

Third Period

- HONK! Gaustad taps in a gorgeous cross-ice backhand pass from Stafford to tie the game at 3.

- Neale points out that Gaustad is favoring his right shoulder as he heads toward the bench for celebratory fist bumps. However, Gaustad hops right back out on the bench, so maybe he’ll just fall into the “day-to-day” realm. Speaking of which, why do teams classify injuries as day-to-day? Last time I checked, “day-to-day” was the default setting for humans. Athletes aren’t anymore special than the rest of us when it comes to this.

- So far, the Gaustad/MacArthur/Stafford line has the three goals and three of the four assists. Not bad for what seemed to be a thrown together line combination. Maybe it’s one worth sticking with.

- WHOO! Pommers scores on the power play. It’s his 10th goal of the season, and moves him into a tie with MacArthur for second on the team’s goal chart. (Pommers previously was tied with Roy and Timmy at 9.) So four unanswered goals are kind of nice to see, but it would have been better if they hadn’t have gotten into a 3-0 hole in the first place.

- Kunitz upsets the Sabres when he comes up and challenges Lalime after he gloves the puck. Yeah, pick on the goalie. Way to prove that you’re a man. Why not go after someone vaguely threatening like Mair, Rivet, Montador or Gaustad?

- With 40 some odd seconds left, the whistle blows and both Staal and Gaustad are sent to the box for doing who knows what. In the interim, Harry Neale mentions that Lalime hasn’t been scored upon tonight. Is this a jinx by Harry? I certainly hope not.

- Miller is working a pair of crazy eyes on the bench.

- Myers completely bowls over Malkin behind the Sabres net. Irresistible force met immovable object, and for once, the force won.

- And sweet merciful hockey playing baby Jesus (Sit down, Sidney. I wasn’t talking to you), the Sabres actually manage to come back from three goals down and win! WHOOOO! After the Pens went up 3-0, I written a rant about how this would have been the second season in a row where the team lost the game that closed out the calendar year. Last year, you’ll remember was that embarrassment of a game against the Caps, notable only for Goose and Miller’s postgame interviews where both were going to cut someone. I’m glad to be able to go back and cut that rant out of this entry.

Tonight, the Sabres somehow managed to pull this one out and rally behind Lalime and Stafford. This is the kind of statement setting game the team needed. I did genuinely get a kick out of how happy the boys were while celebrating with Lalime when the final horn blew. And I know it’s part of his schtick, but it was funny to see Sabretooth bowing down before Lalime during the announcement of the three stars. Lalime played his ass off tonight. Does Lalime’s recent play eliminate any further discussion of trading for a more cromulent backup (coughBironcough).

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Sabres vs. Blues – 12.27.09

December 27, 2009

Random thoughts from tonight’s rare Sunday game…

- Nice job of Rivet in stepping in to take on Crombeen who was going after Kaleta. The funny thing is that I don’t think Kaleta had even done anything to warrant being chased around by Crombeen. But it was nice to see Rivet step up for a teammate.

- Speaking of stepping up for a teammate, the Sabres seemed to have stopped doing that recently. Where was the outrage from the boys over Roy’s smushie last night? I hope it doesn’t take Miller getting run over AGAIN for some outrage to show up.

- Good to see Chris Butler back on the ice, especially back in his hometown. Butts has 40 people in a suite cheering him on.

- I’m not sure if you’ve gotten the memo (sent in triplicate by Heather B), but Henrik Tallinder has made the Swedish Olympic team. This is the first time in his career that he’s played for the Swedish Olympic Team, as that “unfortunate incident” (yes, I’m being polite here) in 2005 led to his ineligibility for the Torino games. For whatever reason, Tyler Myers has brought out the best in Hank this season. It’s like old, non-pansy Hank has shown up for the Sabres this season. Is there some way they could turn Myers Swedish for the Games so he could continue to play with Hank?

- The Conk is a member of my fantasy hockey team, The Two-Eyed Pea Brains, who are currently ranked 4th in their league. So I’m torn between wanting Conk to help out the Pea Brains and have a good game and wanting Conk to become a human sieve and help the Sabres out. Looks like Sieve Conk came out to play tonight after all.

- How funny was Hecht not knowing that he scored and diving out to get the rebound from his goal to try and put it in again?

- I enjoy Kaleta’s balls to the wall style, but I will admit to showing concern when he went crashing into the net and landed awkwardly in the net against the boards. There are times I wish he would just rein it in a little bit.

- It’s the holiday season and Sabres broadcasts have featured the MSG holiday promos where the MSG NYC studio staff and assorted Knicks players wish us a happy holiday season. Whatever happened to the in-game promos where players, their wives & kiddos and/or puppy dogs wished us happy holidays?

- According to the box score, Stafford has been scratched. Is it sad that it wasn’t until midway through the second period that Stafford was scratched? Is Lindy exhibiting some tough love with young Staffy?

- Awesome of the Sabres/MSG to show the entire row of soldiers in uniform at tonight’s game. :)

- Did Lindy and James Patrick get their ties at the same time from the same place? They’re the same striped pattern, just in different colors.

- Wowies, who woke up Timmykins tonight? Two goals for him. His second goal was a gorgeous shorthanded combination play between him, Myers and Grier. I wonder if there is something to this “internet bitching about the players” phenomenon. First, there was bitching about Lalime. And he turned it around. Then Vanek. Now Timmy’s turning it around. Should we start bitching about Staffy next?

- Was Miller supervising the repair of Lalime’s mask towards the end of the third or just being overly concerned that he might have to make an emergency entrance into the game in case the repair went on too long? (Inner monologue: “Son of a… Can’t these guys play one single game without me?”)

- All in all, this was definitely better than the Bills game. Now off to watch The Sound of Music.

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Sabres vs. Sens – 12.26.09

December 26, 2009

I hope we all enjoyed our little two day respite from hockey and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. My Christmas was great and provided me some good loot (an iPod touch) and proved that my family gets me (a Sabrebucks card) and knows how to make me laugh (a giant Ryan Miller poster – henceforth referred to as the GRMP).

First Period

- The Sens are down Spezza, Foligno and Alfredsson tonight. All have one heinous injury or another. Can the Sabres defeat a depleted Sens lineup? Make that a tired, depleted Sens lineup. RJ reports that the Sens did not make it into Buffalo until 11am this morning, as they had to be deiced twice at the Ottawa airport due to an ice storm.

- For a team that hadn’t been on the ice until pre-game warmups, Ottawa is currently handling the Sabres their collective asses. Play has been primarily in the Buffalo zone and Miller has had to make a couple of stops early.

- Connolly gets one through a herd of people and clanks it off the goal post. How does that count as a scoring opportunity but not a shot on goal? I’ve never understood that particular part of the NHL rules.

- Miller is completely stepping into the role of “Goalie Eff This Shit” tonight. He is AGAIN bailing his teammates out of it. Did someone drink Jobu’s rum before taking the ice? That’s the only reason I can think of for this out of control play. With four minutes and change remaining in the period, it’s 17-0 in Ottawa’s favor in the SOG column on the stat sheet. To  paraphrase Bob Uecker, “No shots? No goddamn shots?” I’d be amused if Miller just flipped his shit in the locker room during the intermission. (“I don’t have to take this. I’m going home. Patty, you’re coming too. The rest of you idiots can play rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock  to figure out who’s got net the rest of the night.”) I’m not sure who would be more entertaining to watch while losing his respective shit: Lindy or Miller.

- I love the crowd giving a ridiculously snarky cheer when Montador finally gets the first shot on goal with 2:35 left in the game. You know it’s an odd game when the announcing crew is running out of words to describe what’s going on.

- HAHAHAHA. The crowd booes the Sabres when the horn signals the end of the first period. I love this town.

Second Period

- The Sabres start the second period with a bang: they DOUBLE their shot total from the first period. Yay!

- Someone obviously said or did something in the locker room during the intermission as the Sabres are definitely playing with more energy this period. I’d still like to see some more physical play out of these guys, but I guess we’re in baby step mode tonight.

- Oh for you know what’s sake, Kovalev flips a pass towards the front of the net and it goes off Montador’s arm and into the net. Miller had no shot on that one. I guess it’s going to be that kind of night, eh? 1-0, Sens.

- Oh, eff me. Volchenkov gets a low shot from the point that Miller stops. The rebound pops out to Neil and he pokes it through Miller’s five hole. Tallinder and Myers were just standing there with their thumbs up their butts during this whole play. 2-0, Sens.

- The Time Warner HD feed craps out for a moment  and I briefly wonder if the cable gods and hockey gods were teaming up to save me from having to watch the remainder of this game.

- The Sabres power play continues its epic failure as they are now three for their last fifty. That’s an effectiveness rate of 6% and hardly a quality stat for an NHL team.

- Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, Vanek FINALLY scores on the second of two shots from inside the faceoff circle. 2-1, Sens.

- MacArthur and Neil start sniping at each other before a faceoff and Mair steps in to go after Neil. Both Neil and Mair are off for being bad little children, so there will be some four on four play for two minutes or less, as Harry Neale is fond of saying. Heh.

- Lindy Ruff is looking particularly frown-y tonight. While I can’t blame him, I can’t help but think he’s going to wear down some teeth with how tightly his jaw is clenched.

- The Sabres are given a four-on-three for twenty-eight seconds as Campoli is sent off for tripping Timmy. On this power play, just as the crowd as he rips a gorgeous slot five-hole on LeClaire to tie the game at 2. It’s a great goal right when the tean needed it the most.

Third Period/Overtime

- During the intermission, there’s a great discussion about Myers and sending NHL players to the World Juniors. On Myers, isn’t it something that last year at this time he was playing for Team Canada in the World Juniors? And now he’s a bona fide NHL defenseman, logging quality minutes on a team currently leading their division. Not bad for a kid of 19. On the latter part of the discussion, you can’t make the comparison of releasing players to compete in the World Juniors versus releasing players to go play in the Olympics. Sure, both tournaments represent and opportunity to play for your country, but the entire league shuts down for the Olympics; not so for World Juniors. Besides, as Rob Ray pointed out, most of the players in the NHL that are eligible for Juniors have already served their country and probably won a medal. There’s not much more to achieve at that level. They can set their sights on winning a Cup or winning a gold medal down the road (provided the league removes its head from its ass concerning future Olympic participation).

- Remember a couple games ago where RJ had a shoutout to Jim Kelley, who was currently undergoing a tough time  (or words to that effect)? I’m sure most of us kind of wondered what it was all about, as the last thing most of us remember hearing about Kelley was that he was getting ripped on the Internet and points elsewhere for a column he wrote about a month ago. Well, Kelley’s latest column explains the situation. It’s an interesting read and I wish him nothing but the best.

- Roy gets smushied (technical term) by Winchester as he is in the midst of taking a shot. No penalty is called, as it’s a clean hit, but Roy-Z takes his times getting off the ice and heads down the tunnel towards the locker room. He looks pretty scrambled as he’s heading towards the bench, so who knows what’s going to happen to him. What is it with Ottawa players and scrambling Buffalo players brains? There was Drury back in the day, then Kaleta last week and now Roy-Z.

- Four minutes left in the game is probably the first time I heard the “Let’s Go Buffalo” chant come from the crowd.

- This is the part of the game I hate: where you can tell that the teams are trying to score and break the tie, but not really going at it like they would earlier in the game, since the overtime point is so close.

- RJ makes a comment that he hasn’t seen Stafford for awhile. According to the Yahoo box score, Stafford has about seven minutes and change of ice time. Ellis has about five and a half. Either the two of them are injured, or Lindy has duct taped their asses to the bench since the first period.

- I wonder what Miller and Lalime are chatting about in between the third and overtime. Whatever it is, Lalime is laughing. Also, the PA system is playing the “Jump On It” song. That song has always made me giggle since that darn episode of Fresh Prince back in the day.

- The Sabres have a couple of quality efforts in overtime, as do the Sens, but really, it’s all going to come down to the skills competition. Which seems to be a perfect ending for the night somehow. As we’re heading to the shootout, Stafford is shown on the bench. And he appears to be falling on the “pissed” side of the spectrum (as opposed to the “hurt” side), so I’m thinking that Lindy has nailed his ass to the bench for some reason or another. Revenge for the Festivus video? Bad play? Talking back? Turnovers?

- Kovalev dekes backhand on Miller in Round 1, while Vanek misses backhand on a down LeClaire. Vanek had a perfect chance to put the puck in the net, but he missed. He effing missed a wide open net.

- Mr. Carrie Underwood beats Miller in Round 2, while Timmy fires wide. Ottawa wins.

No cookies for the Sabres after this one. Well, maybe with the exception of Miller and Lalime. The team was fortunate to get point out of tonight. The Sabres also got luck that the Sens killer instinct wasn’t humming along at 100%.

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2009

I hope all of you out there in bloggy-land have a very, very, very Merry Christmas. Eat, drink, be merry and have a blast with friends and family.

Catch you on Saturday for Sabres vs. Sens!

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Sabres vs. Capitals – 12.23.09

December 23, 2009

First Period

- Just shy of a minute and a half into the game, Backstrom rips a shot past Miller. Please don’t let this be one of those nights. 1-0, Caps.

- If you’ve been a longtime reader of this blog, you’ve picked up on my affinity for reality TV. Last night, I was watching 18 Kids and Counting on TLC. The family visited a Predators game in Nashville, got to enjoy the game from a suite, play some on-ice intermission activities, and ride the Zamboni. (I’m jealous on that last one.) I do have to scold TLC for a misleading pop-up during the show. The pop-up said that the 18 kids constitute an entire NHL roster. Not quite. They seem to be forgetting the two goalies and 2-3 press box residents currently on most NHL rosters.

- Green rips a shot from just inside the blue line that deflects off Roy-Z’s shaft (that’s what she said) and over Miller’s shoulder into the net. 2-0, Caps.

- Nerd alert: when I hear the last name of the Caps’ Erskine, I’m reminded of former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

- Tonight’s game features the #1 and #2 face off guys in the league in Gaustad and Steckel. Bucky’s column from today’s paper shares some further insights into Gaustad’s face off development, and how he’s helping Kennedy come along on draws.

- Why are there cowbells (I think they’re cowbells) at a Caps game?

- Why is there a gentleman dressed like an Apollo astronaut in the stands? I see dressing in costume has become a thing now at hockey games. What’s wrong with just putting on a sweater and attending dressed as a normal human being?

Second Period

- After one period, Gaustad and Ellis are a combined 11/12 on face offs. Now if their teammates could just take advantage of those wins…

- If you didn’t see the game tonight, I urge you to check Sabres.com for the Drew Stafford Festivus video. You will not be disappointed. Kadooz to Stafford for keeping a straight face throughout the whole thing and to his teammates for having such impeccable coming timing. About the only way it could have been improved was if the airing of grievances was towards his teammates instead of his sticks. And on a shallow note, Staffy could definitely exhibit at the gun show. Who knew he was so ripped?

- I think Lindy is going to hurt himself tonight with how hard he is frowning.

- Stafford gets in all alone on the goalie and gets called for goaltender interference after accidentally bumping into the Washington goalie. Upon further review, the goalie appears to have initiated the contact, but Stafford gets called for the penalty. I’d like to air a grievance about that.

- WHOOO! Goose steps up to the “fuckthisshit” plate and puts the puck in the Washington net, glove side. After his goal, he was all “yeah boys, let’s do this,” at least if my lip reading is up to snuff. 2-1, Caps.

- No whoo. Morrison makes a nifty between the legs shot up and over a down Miller to make it 3-1, Caps. I can appreciate the prettiness of the goal even if it does put my darlings further in the hole.

- WHOOO! Montador rips a shot from the point and Timmy tips it past the goaltender. 3-2, Caps.

- RJ and Harry are in fine form tonight, as RJ is lambasting Harry and the rest of the crew for not getting him any Christmas presents. I guess the Caps radio guy gave him a Hersheys Kiss filled candy cane, and that’s what started the whole rant. Harry replied that his excuse was that his present contained liquids that aren’t allowed in the pressbox.

- That period was significantly better than the pile of puke that was the first period. Can they improve in the third?

Third Period

- Roy gets a nice point blank shot in on the Washington goalie, but he’s denied a goal.

- Finally, one of the Sabres steps up when a Cap or five gets in too close on Miller. Rivet exchanged some holiday greetings with one or two of the Caps before the refs stepped in.

- Gaustad gets called for tripping while Rivet is still in the box. Yay, a 5-on-3 for almost a minute. This will probably not end well for the Sabres. And I called it. Backstrom scores from close range to make it 4-2, Caps.

- Oh joy, oh bliss. Ovie8/Gr8/Grape Ape scores to make it 5-2, Caps. This is a FANTASTIC game. I still cannot believe that Ovie has a license plate with the tag Gr8. That’s like borderline douche-y and attention whore-y.

- I want to thank the Sabres for the lump of coal they gave their fans for Christmas tonight. I hope the Ottawa game on Friday is better. Like, seriously better. Or there will be some serious grievance airing on Friday.

-

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Sabres v. Laffs 2 – Electric Boogaloo

December 21, 2009

First Period

-I’m glad that I was able to read Mirtle’s article on Ryan Miller. It definitely made up for having to see  Ovie and his tramp stamps on Yahoo this afternoon. Is it me, or do the tramp stamps make it look like his ass is sprouting wings? But anyway, back to Miller. I enjoy how snarky and humorous he is in his interviews. And the humor is what keeps his words from drifting over the thin like from snarky to downright bitchy. His lines about the goalie workout going Hollywood and looking like a heroin addict were classic.

- WHOO! Patches lets a shot go that slips through Gustavvson’s five hole and trickles toward the net. Mair is chilling out along the side of the net to make sure the puck makes it all the way in. What makes the goal funny is that the Versus announcers were waxing poetic about Gustavvson immediately before the puck went into the net. 1-0, Sabres.

- Newsflash from Versus: Tyler Myers is still tall. (Memo to Versus: he was tall on Friday. He’s still going to be tall tonight. I wonder if he’ll share his protein bar recipe with Miller so that our little goalie can put some weight back on.)

- Versus, you know I love hockey. I think the idea of a New Year’s Eve hockey special is a good one, but I won’t be watching. New Year’s Eve is spent with Seacrest and Dick Clark. It’s like a rule.

- Stempniak gets in on a breakaway on Miller, but the goalie shuts him down on the backhand.

- I do have to say that Ron Wilson is looking very dapper tonight in his three piece suit. It’s not a look that many can pull off, but Wilson is doing a pretty good job of it.

-  First period fun clip can best be described in two words: Schweddy Balls.

Second Period

- Toronto ties up the game just shy of four minutes into the period as the Sabres try to get fancy in the Toronto zone, but really just end up turning the puck over. Real good boys, real good.

- I’m amused that these Versus guys have suddenly discovered that Miller is a superstitious sort, what with the pregame visualization and the having to pirouette once before being the last one to leave the ice. I’m sorry, it’s not like Miller just dropped down into the NHL from outer space. He’s been in the league for a good long time.

- Tyler Myers has Gustavvson beat and rings the shot loudly off the crossbar (shoutout!).

- Newsflash. Tyler Myers is young.

- Ian White scores to make it 2-1, Laffs.

- Newsflash: Lindy Ruff is the longest tenured coach in hockey.

- Miller again pulls off two rapid fire saves, one full one square to the shooter and a second one a diving save to the right side with the stick sprawled to the post. (Speaking of amazing saves, how funny [in hindsight, of course] was Fleury’s little pokecheck on Roy-Z during the skills competition on Saturday? Poor little Roy-Z never knew what hit him.)

- Second period fun clip (because really, you need a fun clip at this point in the game) is two more words: Forever: The Office.

Third Period / Overtime

- Memo to the Sabres: stop with the fancy dancy plays and just play some good old fashioned basic hockey. Don’t overthink the shit. To paraphrase a line from Miracle: PASS, SHOOT, SCORE! It really is that simple.

- I’m also amused that Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood’s engagement is a story on NHL.com. How often do you see a story break on both NHL.com and TMZ? Will the same coverage happen if Mike Comrie gets engaged to Lizzie McGuire, I mean, Hillary Duff?

- Gaustad is still leading the league in face off percentage. It’s not the sexiest of stats, but it’s still an important one. The Versus crew tells us that Lil Timmy is 0-6 on draws tonight and has the worst face off percentage in the league. Sounds like it’s time for Goose to step up those face off tutoring sessions with Lil Timmy.

- Newsflash: Lindy is disappointed in the Top 6. Welcome to the club, Lindy. We had t-shirts made.

- Seriously, that bumper with Myers wishing us a happy holiday was adorable.

- Toronto fans, you’re really not heckling Miller with your team only up by one goal? One head removed from a sphincter on the Sabres and the game is tied.

- Tonight is Gaustad’s 300th NHL game. Congratulatory HONKs all around!

- WHOO! The Leafs turn the puck over in their own zone, Stafford whiffs, but Hecht is there to pick up the rebound and put it past a fumbling Gustavvson. Remember Leafs fans what I said about the removal of heads from sphincters leading to goals? Yeah, that just happened. The game is tied at 2.

- Newsflash: In overtime, the first goal wins the game. You think, Versus broadcasters? *headdesk*

- WHOOOOOOO!! Roy-Z’s left all alone twiddling his thumbs in front of the net and puts the puck past a floundering Toronto goalie. 3-2, Sabres.

- End of game fun clip: Bust A Move.

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Sabres vs. Laffs – 12.18.09

December 18, 2009

First Period

- So was Goose a little overeager to get back into the lineup? He was quite frisky on the opening face off.

- Three minutes into the game, and the Leafs are already on the board. Miller leaves his five hole wide open. (That’s what she said.) 1-0, Laffs.

- The next team to play in Ottawa may just want to consider bringing an exorcist along for the ride. First, the Sabres get food poisoning. Now the Minnesota Wild’s equipment truck catches fire destroying most of their equipment. The photo of the goalie mask covered in soot and ash is completely haunting, but when you look at the photo independent of the circumstances, it’s beautiful. I wonder if the league will postpone the game to a later date to allow the Wild players to get whatever gear they need so that they can play the game safely? With how particular players are about their equipment, playing a game tomorrow night with unfamiliar equipment or without essential custom equipment could be detrimental to the safety of the Wild players.

- The first period was a bit of  a dud. There wasn’t a lot of brilliant play on either side. When the Sabres first shot doesn’t happen until the 12:40 mark of the period, you know this isn’t going to be an epic battle.

- Can we all have a collective HONK of appreciation for all of the Goose love that is being shown around the league these days? First Versus makes a case for him to make the Olympic team and then Mike Harrington steps up to the plate to further reinforce the idea. Let the Goose loose in Vancouver, Burkie!

Second Period

- Misspeak of the night by K-Syl: “blue and green make gold” is apparently the new tagline of the Sabres Green Team.

- Roy-Z ties up the game on a beautiful shot from just inside the blue line. Staffy found him with a nice pass and Yo-Yo was creating a diversion in front of the Toronto goalie.

- After Roy-Z’s goal, the theme of the period temporarily switches to “let’s spend as much time as humanly possible in the Sabres end.” Someone should tell the little angels that their game plan needs some tweaking.

- What the fuck was that? Lydman shot the puck from half a stride inside the blue line, Toskala flubbed the catch and it just trickled into the net. I love goals where you can hear the disbelief in RJ’s voice as he calls the puck crossing the line. 2-1, Sabres.

GOALIE FAIL!

- Whoo! Tim Kennedy and Mike Grier work to make a give and go turn into a take and went. 3-1, Sabres.

- Wow, I think RJ’s call tonight may just be the first time I’ve heard Luke Schenn referred to simply as “Schenn.” LukeSchenn is like the Eastern Conference version of CoreyPerry. Watch a Ducks game sometime. It’s always CoreyPerry this, CoreyPerry that. It’s never just Perry.

- Double Whoo! Tyler Myers goes coast to coast, passes the puck to Ellis who rips it past Toskala. The Ellis goal is Toskala’s cue to exit the game, as Wilson gets out the cane to yank the goalie for giving up 4 goals on 10 shots. Wowies. That’s going to kill someone’s fantasy hockey stats for the week.

Third Period

- I wonder if Lindy’s rant to the team after the first period (assuming there was one, because as Roby pointed out, there were veins popping out of Lindy’s neck at one point on the bench) included a threat to have THAT restaurant in Ottawa cater a team meal at some point. Heh.

- What is it about Sabres games that attracts so many commercials for law firms? Did Cellino and Barnes start a trend? I miss the days of hyperhydrosis and that damn talking fish.

- I just noticed that the Leafs sweaters color coordinate with the ad of whatever company buys the ad space behind the visitors bench (New Era?).

- WHOOO! Vanek pulls off a nifty wraparound goal. He manages to make it from the face off circle to the other side of the net completed untouched by a Leafs player. When you couple that with Gustavsson’s delay in making it across the crease, of course the puck is going to end up in the net.

- Tonight’s statbitty goodness is courtesy of the Sabres Twitter feed. The Sabres are 14-0 when leading after 2. The Leafs are 0-15-4 when losing after 2. (The Devils lead the league at 16-0 when leading after 2).

- Stempniak makes it 5-2 with 19 seconds left as Miller gives up his traditional end of game oddball goal. That said, he’s played a pretty nice game tonight, stopping about 40 shots. I hope Lalime puts on just as good of a performance tomorrow night.

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Sabres vs. Sens – 12.16.09

December 16, 2009

Random thoughts from tonight. I really wasn’t feeling inspired to write a full game log after my day at the office. My brain broke at 9:00 this morning when I had a vendor try and convince me that 2.25 = 1.

- I love this spot promoting Canisius hockey. A mascot will never not be funny. Though I do have to wonder if Petey was played by a “professional” or his regular student occupant?

- Continuing with the Canisius theme, I wish the “Peter Canisius” twitter was updated. A Twitter from the point of view of that statue is pretty fricking amazing. I’m sure if it could talk, the stories it would tell would be a great chronicle of Canisius history – both official history and things the college wishes didn’t happen.

- Miller played out of his mind in the first period. For a good chunk of that frame, it was like he was the only Sabre on the ice who actually gave a damn. Did his teammates all watch Gone With the Wind on Tuesday night and decide to get their Rhett Butler on and not give a damn?

- Was it ever determined who exactly the Ottawa fans were booing? Were they just booing anyone in a white sweater that might be Canadian?

- Derek Roy needs to Quit. It. Already. with the “who me?” innocent crap he pulls every time he is called for a penalty. You got caught stealing the cookies from the cookie jar, Roy-Z. Take your punishment like a man.

- Oh goodie. Carrie Underwears was in the house tonight. Did we really need to see a shot of her clapping after Fisher scored? We get it. They’re dating and they’re fresh, wholesome and not scandalous. (Sidebar: Tony Romo is dating Chace Crawford’s sister? And Chace Crawford dated Carrie Underwood, who also dated Tony Romo? Mind…blown.)

- Ryan Miller looked completely natural holding that precious little baby during the Children’s Hospital party segment. You know how there’s some guys that hold babies like they’re ticking time bombs and/or sacks of potatoes? Yeah, this was not like that. Also, how adorable was that kid asking the players all sorts of questions? And furthermore, how adorable were the players in their Sabres Santa hats? Way to turn me into a ball of goo before the third period of this game, Sabres. Was that some dastardly plot by the team to save the feature for a night where the outcome was highly unlikely to be in the Sabres favor? Was the warm and fuzzy intended to be a distraction from the half-assed product on the ice?

- I almost feel like the boys realized sometime today that they only have the one game to play before they return home and can sleep in their own beds and have some home cooking. I felt a “we’re going to lose this game because it’s in Ottawa” vibe tonight. Did they start reading too much into the stats about how the team is tw0-eleventyseventy-one when playing games against the Senators? I mean, why did no one have a fist to face meeting with Ruutu after he knocked Kaleta into next Tuesday? And that was just the least of their sins.

- I miss Goose. I want Goose back.

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Sabres vs. Canadiens – 12.14.09

December 14, 2009

Pregame

- I’m late to the party, but this was some interesting reading from Paul Hamilton as he and Timmy exchange verbal and written bitchslaps in regards to Timmy’s face off issues.

Connolly said, “I’ll let you guys try to figure that out. You guys can keep writing the stories and making things up so I’ll stick with that. You guys, it’s what ever you want to relate to it, that’s fine. I don’t know, it’s just something we discussed with my line mates, get different looks and different plays off the faceoffs in things we want to do. I can’t announce if I want to do a certain play off a faceoff, what I’m going to do so, if I want to take faceoffs I’ll take ‘em, if not, somebody else will.”

OK, if Connolly wants me to speculate and not give me the facts when I ask him directly I will. First, let me lay out some facts. Connolly is 43 percent on faceoffs. To put that into perspective Jason Pominville is 45.9 percent. Here’s another fact,  Paul Gaustad stays out and takes faceoffs with many of his teammates after practice. I have never once seen Connolly work on draws. He works hard as practice is going on, but he’s usually the first player off the ice as others work on their games. Here’s another fact, Lindy Ruff has given him the freedom not to take draws whenever he wants. In my opinion has he quit on draws because his confidence in that part of the games is shot. He’s so far gone he’d rather others take draws because he feels it’s better for him and the team. He feels others have a better chance to win it. He’s so far gone he doesn’t feel practicing it would do any good.

Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark my friends. But I do like that we’re privy to insights like this. The Sabres face off troubles have been remarked on by many a broadcaster and blogger since the Goose went out.

- Continuing with the Timmy “love”, please tell me I’m not the only one that sees the humor and the irony in having Timmy do the voiceover for DeGraff Hospital radio commercials? Mr Therebutforthegraceofgodandducttape is the commercial voice of a hospital? Whoever concepted that is a genius.

Pregame photo:

(photo from ihasahotdog.com)

Here’s hoping Sabres fans won’t want to lock Timmy in his room tonight.

First Period

- Picture it, Montreal. Two-thousand-and-nine. Your goalies tonight are Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak. Also, Tyler Myers is 6’8 and 19 years old. I think that stat is poised to be this year’s “Ryan Miller / 26 / Michigan State / Hobey Baker” that Versus trumpted a couple years back. Please, I’m begging you, don’t drink every time they mention Myers’ height or age. You’ll be schnocked by the end of the first period.

- Way to interrupt the Amway commercial with the game broadcast there, Versus. Good job. That opening face off isn’t at all important.

- Why do I feel like I’m watching this game through a dirty fishbowl even though it’s in HD?

- The Sabres are being intense in the Montreal zone so far.

- The Versus broadcasters report that Gaustad could be back soon as he was skating this morning. Happy HONK!

- Montreal scores on the power play as one of the Tits brothers rockets a shot past Miller. I’m not exactly sure why Montreal was on the power play as it looked like all players currently on the ice were involved in the scrum in front of Miller. Why Hecht was called out specifically, I haven’t a clue. 1-0, Habs.

First Period photo:

(photo from upnextinsports.com)

Second Period

- Alright Versus. We. Get. It. Montreal is god’s gift to the hockey world. No need to show a montage of players waxing poetic about the city. But it is kind of funny that you did not include any Sabre waxing poetic about the town.

- Three seconds into the period and Mair and O’Byrne are going at it. Mair has played with a chip on his shoulder since he was waived earlier this season. I have to say it’s nice to see the “old” Adam Mair back, rather than the Mair that was playing pre-waive this season.

- Dear NHL: You get James Freaking Taylor to sing the US National Anthem before the Expletive Deleted Stupid Ice Bowl, but the best you can do for the Canadian Anthem is Daniel Powter, he of “Bad Day” fame, he who was just voted the biggest one hit wonder of this past decade? What did Canada do to deserve that?

- The owl in the Captain Morgan Night Owl ad is kind of terrifying, especially when his head spins around. Oh good, here’s a Miller broadcast bumper to make the terrifying go away.

- Wow, Miller dodges a bullet as a Cammalleri shot goes off the post and skates along the goal line but remains on the blue ice side of the line.

- With the Sabres current face off troubles, I cannot wait until Gaustad’s mad face off skills are back in the lineup. Can’t we get him a bionic Goose knee already?

- Hecht and Hamrlik start swinging at each other when the whistle blows. Hecht doesn’t get mad all that often, but a little fire out of him is nice to see.

- Wow, that Sabres power play was frustrating. O’Byrne blocked three shots and Myers was hesitating something fierce before shooting the puck. Not to mention that Timmykins was just dangling for awhile.

- Just as Montreal returns to full strength, Sekera gets a shot from the point past Halak. The Montreal goalie never saw the puck as he was screened by Hecht.

- First unintentional announcer innuendo: “Kostitsyn was active with his stick or his free hand.” I beg your pardon.

- WHOO! Timmy and Patty Kaleta break out on a shorthanded two-on-one rush. Kaleta taps a perfect pass from Timmy past Halak. When the heck did Kaleta become a goal scorer? Also, while some people think his celebrations are a little over the top, his rationale that they are like that only like that because he doesn’t know when his last goal is going to come is kind of endearing. 2-1, Sabres.

Second Period Youtube Clip

Third Period

- Seriously? The opposition penalty box in the Bell Centre is sponsored by Ugg Australia? That’s something you don’t see every day. Because I know when I think of hockey players, the first thing I think of is Uggs. Montreal scores on the power play as Buffalo is penalized for having too many men on the ice. We’re tied at 2.

- Dear Montreal fans, ole’ing when you’re tied is not acceptable. Save it for when you’re winning. K?

- Second unintentional announcer innuendo: “Roy going down on Hamrlik.”

- WHOO! Hecht and Myers are having open season on Halak with some close in shots, when Lil Timmy skates in untouched and puts the puck past Halak. 3-2, Sabres.

- Fuck me. Cammalleri puts the puck past Miller eighteen seconds after Lil Timmy’s goal.  This gong show is now tied at 3.

- The Sabres have a five-on-three (ooh, dirty) for over a minute-and-a-half. After several attempts, blocked shots, a Vanek/Gill wrestling match and some incensed Montreal fans, MacArthur puts the puck in the corner of the net past Halak. 4-3, Sabres.

- With exactly two minutes left on the clock, Lydman is sent off for a high sticking penalty. Alright boys, go into shutdown mode and Miller, keep your effing legs closed and your glove hand hot. And Miller complies by blocking Cammalleri with aa amazing sliding save from across the crease. It was a stunning save.

- The game ends on an odd note as the clock operator lets at least 10 seconds go by before starting the clock after that super Miller save on Cammalleri. Needless to say the Montreal fans were not happy when the game was ended with almost seven seconds still left on the game clock.

- Tonight was just a fun game to watch. I think we all needed a game like that.

Third Period Video

No, there is not a rhyme or reason to the video/picture selection tonight. It’s been a long couple of days and I’m in the mood for things that will make me smile/laugh.

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