Archive for January, 2010

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Sabres vs. Laffs – 1.8.10

January 8, 2010

A mishmash of thoughts from tonight’s game.

- I’m glad I made it here in time for the game. A late dinner plus working late equals chaos before the game.

- A Hecht breakaway is a truly rare event. It’s a shame that the puck didn’t go in the net, but oh well.

- Miller is apparently getting quite upset as he’s getting bumped and disrespected in his crease. I enjoy when Miller gets feisty. Even though it can knock him off his game, just seeing him go over the edge brings another element to his game. It’s the total opposite of his Mr. Cool, Calm and Collected persona that he shows 99.9% of the time. He even took a penalty tonight, after whapping the snot out of Stajan for invading his personal space. Is that Miller’s way of saying “if you chuckleheads won’t keep the crease clear, I’ll do it myself”? If his teammates were Dustin Penner, that would be translated as

“So Ryan, what you’re saying is that you want us to keep your crease clear?”

Miller: “Yes.” (death glare)

- Ewww. I can’t believe Timmy thought he could take a faceoff with that trail of blood on his face. That’s just gross. And that’s from someone who had no problem with the earwax candle myth on Mythbusters.

- Broadcast Oops Award: during the opening shot of the first intermission, Roby’s cup of Timmy’s is clearly on display. It’s obviously not a product placement, as it’s not seen for the remainder of the evening.

- My eyebrows shoot about six inches into the air as RJ starts screaming “backdoor! backdoor! backdoor!” when Myers scores the second Sabres goal. That’s a little inappropriate, RJ. But then again, it’s another entry in the “list of hockey terms that sound dirty but aren’t.”

- Just when I thought nothing could top the hilarious badness that was Soupy’s hyperhydrosis commercials, along comes the Toshiba commercial filmed at the arena. Oy, it’s bad. I know it was probably filmed with real Toshiba employees in the ad, but they can’t act to save their lives.

- For all the puffery written stating that Chris Drury and his intangibles are the hockey gods gift to USA Hockey, there’s something a tiny bit ironic about him not being named captain of this year’s Olympic team.

- The Whip in the second period intermission is actually pretty good. They discuss the whole Wilson/Kessel/media debacle. Roby comes down on the side of players are men and can take a nice dressing down like grown adults. Rayzor goes off on this statement about how players these days are fragile and will go into slumps and/or start crying in the shower. I’m really not sure where he was going with that one, as I really can’t picture anyone sobbing in the shower at the Arena.

- Is someone from the Kiss 98.5 demographic controlling the music tonight? So far, I’ve heard “Single Ladies” and that stupid song by Keyshia. While I do enjoy a good sing-a-long to Single Ladies, I have a hard time reconciling it with hockey.

- Dear Toronto fans: your team scored a goal. This is hardly reinventing the wheel. No need to carry on as if it is.

- Who the heck peed in Timmy’s cornflakes today? He’s been incredibly feisty tonight.

- Miller has to have faced at least 50 shots tonight. Have the Sabres forgotten how to do this little thing called shot blocking? I mean, I know it goes against human nature to willingly step in front of a flying rubber projectile, but give your goalie a break already and block some shots.

- Whatever Lalime said at the end of the game had to be pretty effing good, as they were leaning in and whispering for a long time and Miller was laughing.

- A six game winning streak is nice, but I’m going to be a greedy fan and say “we want seven!” (Watch the wheels completely fall off the wagon tomorrow night against the Avs.)

- Related to my earlier comments about feisty Miller, he’s annoyed postgame with the Leafs saying in their pre-game comments that they’re going to rough him up. It’s not that he has a problem with them roughing him up, it’s that he has a problem with them announcing to the free world like a bunch of big tough guys that they’re going to take a run at the scrawny little goalie. I did like his comment about how if someone is going to cross check him in the back of the head, the very least he could do is take the punch like a man. (Stajan did sell the punch a bit by rolling around on the ice like a wimp.) It’s like Miller turned into hockey’s version of Miss Manners or Emily Post during his interview.

- There are no words to describe Lindy’s tie tonight. No effing words.

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Woof. Woof.

January 7, 2010

This week’s SI has a great article discussing NHL players and their residency periods in their respective coaches doghouses. The explanation of the Penner situation in Edmonton and the difference in his performance really is striking. I had heard rumblings of disappointment in Penner’s play last season, but how many of us had any idea that Penner theoretically was bicycling his way through the Tour deFrance.

I did get a small laugh out of this statement from Penner.

“You have to read between the lines in what a coach is saying,” Penner says. “Sometimes there’s swearing or demeaning stuff, but I’ve always had a pretty good filter. I’m like, What is it he’s really trying to say to me? So, ‘You’re a f—ing idiot’ becomes ‘There’s something I’ve done that he doesn’t perceive to be smart.‘ … You tune in the part about what you can do better and tune out [the rest].”

The bolded statement is particularly ridiculous because it sounds like something straight out of a corporate visualization/positivity seminar.

The SI article is particulary timely because of the TSN story detailing Ron Wilson’s ripping Phil Kessel a new asshole at practice today. (And by “ripping a new asshole” I mean, “having a frank, honest and calm discussion like two mature adults.”) I can’t blame Wilson for being frustrated. The Leafs aren’t doing so well. Kessel hasn’t lived up to the glories he had with the Bruins. But to be fair, Kessel was trumpeted as the saviour of Leafs hockey this summer. And really, who can live up to the expectation of being a franchise’s saviour? (Sit down, Sidney. You too, Ovie. No one asked you.)

But at the same time, I think Wilson was in the wrong by ripping the Kessel and the team in front of the media and then turning around and bitching out the media for having the audacity to a) question him on it and b) even be at practice in the first place. Sure, the media can come across as a pain in the ass (sorry, media in the audience) but it’s nothing personal. It’s their job to be that way. They report on what you do. And if you rip your players at practice, of course they’re going to ask you about it. And duh, it’s going to be eleventy-seven times worse in Toronto where a Leaf sneezing makes news, than it would be in many other NHL markets.

I think that the openness of NHL practices and the locker rooms is one of the good things about the league. Sure, the teams still have their inner sanctums where angels fear to tread, but the media being able to see and report on line combinations, player injuries, interactions and even impromptu games of baseball is much better than what we see in other sports. I mean, aren’t reporters only allowed to see the first 20 minutes or so of Bills practice before being told to scram? Imagine how much richer Bills stories would be if the media was allowed to see the entirety of practice, but league (or team) rules prohibit that.

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Sabres vs. Lightning – 1.6.10

January 6, 2010

Pregame

- Before tonight’s game, I want to express some WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO! and Congratulations to the USA u20 Junior team that beat Canada last night in Saskatoon. The game was wide open and well played by both sides. When the final goal went in the net, you could almost hear the arena deflate. I got a kick out of seeing the joy and happiness on the USA players faces, and the group sing-a-long to the Star Spangled Banner was such a treat. The game got me so excited for next month’s Olympics and for the WJC’s here next year.

I know this video has been making the rounds on the web today, but it’s absolutely fantastic.

I want to hear this chant coming out of the US locker room next month in Vancouver. Can the US team beat the world to win the Olympic gold? They may be underdogs compared to Russia, Canada and Sweden, but 30 years ago a group of underdogs won gold, so it is possible. And they would be completing the US gold trifecta. The U-17 kiddos did it earlier this month. The U-20 kiddos did it. I’d hate to see a bunch of pros get shown up by a bunch of kids. When it comes to the team in Vancouver, all I have to say is that “In Miller we trust.” (Although, what if it’s some fiendish plan by Wilson to ride Miller like Secretariat during the Olympics so that he’s run down during the remainder of the season; which benefits the Leafs?)

First Period

- While the broadcast was comparing rookies Hedman and Myers, I realized that the Lightning might need to do some further photoshopping on Hedman’s roster photo. Those aren’t bags under his eyes, those are suitcases. Myers looked glowing and healthy, while Hedman looks pale and sickly.

- While I’m waxing poetic about the above, Timmy wins the draw and Myers rips a shot top shelf over Smith’s shoulder and everyone stands around all confused because the puck zipped out of the net *that* fast. 1-0, Sabres.

- I’m reading Sully’s thoughts on Roberto Alomar when Jochen Hecht gets a stick on a Rivet point shot and redirects it past Smith. 2-0, Sabres just shy of 1:15 into the game. I wonder if the key to tonight’s game is going to be that I need to be distracted?

- Sweet merciful hockey playing baby Jesus, Smith is just outside the blue paint, makes a chest save on a point shot and the rebound unfortunately (for Smith, at least) falls directly in front of MacArthur, who puts it in the open net. 3-0, Sabres.

- These Sabres must have had their Wheaties before tonight’s game (or they’re all tired of hearing the fans and media bitch), as they haven’t gotten off to a quick start like this in a good long while.

- I miss the Tampa goal while getting my laundry out. 3-1, Sabres.

- Alrighty then, Hedman gets one over Miller’s shoulder. 3-2, Sabres.

- Holy crap! According to Sully, Timmy has played in 84 consecutive games without getting hurt. Without wanting to jinx things, does this mean we have to retire any and all jokes regarding to Timmy residing in a plastic bubble or being held together with spit, bubble gum, duct tape and the grace of god? What else will we have to snark about when it comes to Timmy. Oh, wait…

- Gaustad and Malone exchange some belated holiday wishes in front of the Sabres bench. How nice.

Second Period

- Staffy scores on the power play to make it 4-2, Sabres. I’m a little bumfuzzled by the camera dudes decision to show during this goal celebration a group of girls holding a “Smile for me, Roysie.” sign. These girls were all of 12, mind you. I suppose it’s a good thing they were only requesting a smile and not a meeting behind the Zamboni after the final horn.

- While I’m trying not to sound like a heinous bitch in response to something posted on my Facebook page, Lecavalier scores on an out of position Miller to make it 4-3, Sabres.

- WHOOO! The population of Pominville increases again! Lydman’s backhand is lost in the crease and Pommers taps the puck past Smith. The play is reviewed because there is some debate as to whether it went in off a skate or Pommers stick (and it’s amazing how crotchety the crowd sounds when it’s announced that the play is under review). We’re treated to many zoom ins on the crease and as the play is shown on the Jumbotron, Lindy starts gesticulating from behind the bench. After a ridiculously long review, the play stands. 5-3, Sabres.

- Dear Ryan: please do not do this thing called “puck handling.” It never ends well. You were lucky that bad turnover didn’t lead to a Tampa goal. Thank you from the management here at Shots Off the Crossbar.

- Myers falls down just inside the Tampa zone, which leads to a Tampa 3-0n-1, with Lydman as the one. Lydman manages to get his stick down and stop the rush as Tampa tried to make one pass too many. Where have we seen the one pass-too-many schtick before?

Third Period

- I would love to have a purse made from the fabric that is Kevin Sylvester’s tie. The color and the print is kind of a one-color Vera Bradley type style.

- I miss a good chunk of the early part of the period as I’m on the phone with my grandmother. So sorry for the lack of detail, but family comes first.

- For what I think might be one of the few times this season, Gaustad is not leading the league in face off percentage. He is 0.3 percentage points behind David Steckel (61.9% to 61.6%).

- Aww, the fans do the count up cheer. I love hearing that cheer. And let me also add my voice to the chorus that “we want six!”

- Ohlund clanks one off the post behind Miller. I think Miller owes that post a nice shiny buffing after the game as a thank you for that one. And…that sounds kind of dirty now that I think about it, but I don’t mean it that way.

- Montador is prevented from getting an empty net goal by Foster with minimal time left on the clock.

- The win tonight is the Sabres 5th consecutive. Can they make it six in a row on Friday against the Leafs?

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Sabres vs. Habs – 1.3.10

January 3, 2010

Well, that was fun! Not much to say about today’s game, other than I was a little reluctant to flip over to the game because the Bills game was so much fun to watch.

- Miller played his ass off tonight. And it wasn’t a normal “Miller plays his ass off to save his team’s collective ass” effort, it was a “Miller plays his ass off while his teammates play consistently in front of him” effort. I was slightly intrigued by a comment he made during his postgame interview with K-Syl. Miller mentioned that tonight’s game was him backing up what he said in the room the other night. It’s been pretty well documented that Miller was one of the more vocal players during Friday’s postgame meeting, but I can’t help but wonder if one of his teammates made a comment questioning Miller’s right to speak up, considering Miller has let in three goals early in the last two games. If that was the case, then Miller did back up his comments. If that wasn’t the case, and I’m reading into things, then we’ll just pretend the last paragraph never happened and I have a really active imagination.

- Montreal fans booing Rivet equals Buffalo fans booing Drury and Briere. Hockey fans never forget.

- Does anyone know if the upcoming long road trip for the Sabres means that RJ is going to take his annual vacation? Or is he holding on the vacation until the Olympic break?

- Since this is the official halfway point of the season, did anyone else really think the Sabres would be leading their division, let alone second in the conference? And look at how they’ve done it: a Top 6 that isn’t necessarily firing on all cylinders at the same time, injuries to key players (Vanek, Gaustad, Butler, Roy), and a couple games with Patches/Sekera playing forward. They’ve also had the benefit of Ryan Miller playing out of his mind, Lalime finding his confidence buried in his equipment bag, and Adam Mair discovering that being waived sucks and he’s going to put his heart and soul into being a hockey player again.

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