Archive for January, 2011

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Oh Photographer, You So Clever

January 30, 2011

Getty Images has the official NHL All-Star portrait gallery up and I honestly think these photos are SO MUCH better than the traditional “stand here and hold the stick and look awkward” photo theme that the NHL will usually resort to. The sparkles add an extra reminder that these guys are All-Stars (see what I mean by the photographer being clever), while I have yet to figure out the reason for the jersey nightlight in the background.

I really don’t have much to say about All-Star weekend. The draft was a new concept and seemed to be well received by the players. I’d like to see it stick around. The best part of the weekend was the goalie race between Cam Ward and Tim Thomas in the fastest skater competition. Goalies trying to skate fast in all their gear will never not be funny. Goalies falling down (but not getting hurt) while skating fast in their goalie gear will also never not be funny.

The actual game was nothing more than a game of shinny played between grownups who know what they’re doing. It will never be more than that, since there is nothing on the line but pride, and no one wants to get hurt. It’s all fun. It might not do much to attract new fans, but should it have to?

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Potential All Star Break Activities

January 29, 2011

So with the NHL on break until Monday (and the Sabres off until Friday – what kind of malarkey is that?), most players have departed for places far and wide for assorted debauchery good clean fun. So what is there to do for those players still left in town? We here at Shots Off the Crossbar have brainstormed a list of both physically and mentally stimulating activities that will allow a player to relax and recharge his batteries before coming back to engage in a playoff push (or high draft pick push).

- Participate in their child’s education by acting as a room dad at school – handing out juice boxes, participating in story time, reminding the kids that eating crayons is bad, lecturing little Timmy that violence is never the answer unless you can avoid getting sent to the penalty box for it.

- Tackling the “honey do” list.

- Reading the Buffalo News archives and making a list of how many times Bucky Gleason references the following: “Kennedy,” “Briere,” “Drury.” This activity should be done over the course of a year’s worth of columns, as any longer may cause the player’s head to spontaneously combust from the sheer volume of content generated from the exercise.

- Firing pucks at a tiny circle on their garage door so that they can keep their aim steady for the “shoot the puck through the photographer’s hole” contests held during practice.

- Shopping for the perfect Valentines Day gift for the wife, girlfriend or favorite lady friend(s).

- Reading “War & Peace.”

- Catching up on their favorite blogs, both of the hockey & non-hockey types.

- Educating themselves on the American political system by watching The West Wing.

- Making notes on how to enact an Aaron Sorkin “walk-and-talk” with a teammate while wandering around the arena.

- Writing the Great American Novel. They will receive more credit if they continue the story past “It was a dark and stormy night.”

- Taking Sabretooth for a trip to the groomers for his mid-season fluff and fold.

- Concocting a fiendish plan to lure the opposing goalie out of the net so that Rob Niedermayer can score a goal.

- Making sure that they have an emergency suitcase packed in case they are traded to points far flung upon the arrival of the new overlord, savior, owner.

I promise there may be hockey content and discussion on this blog at some point soon.

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The Onion Sportsdome Uncovers a Nefarious Plot

January 26, 2011

I don’t think I’m too late to the party on this one, but go watch this video from the Onion Sports Dome.

(In case you don’t have a great connection, the Onion Sports Dome uncovered a nefarious plot in which Gary Bettman paid Tallinder, Miller & Brendan Morrow $800 each to fake kidnap him for publicity reasons.)

Who cares whether the plot makes sense. It’s hockey! Getting national attention on a satirical sports show!  And for once, there’s no Crosby or Ovechkin presence! Please join me in a Snoopy dance as someone in the “media” realized that the NHL exists outside of these two!

That’s progress, my friends.

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Sabres vs. Islanders: A Story in Pictures

January 16, 2011

There were some really good photos taken at last night’s Sabres/Isles game. Please click on the captioned link to go and see the photo in question on ESPN.com.

Won’t someone be Lalime’s friend and save him from the oompa-loompa-y looking lady standing next to him?

Oh F*$#! I just killed Miller. Now they’re going to send me back to Portland. I’ll never see the NHL again.

Instead of a teddy bear, Miller sleeps with a goal stick. I wonder if he was actually knocked out or was he just taking a moment to catch his breathe and re-orient himself again?

Please tell me someone else sees the humor behind a flight of stairs being labeled “No Exit.” Where else would a staircase lead you?

No Tyler, I don’t think holding your breath until the Sabres win is a viable strategy.

Sweet Jesus at the craft store, how difficult is it to spell Niedermayer correctly? This is the second game that the spell check has failed for Rob. If I were him, I’d be worried that this was a sign that I would be shipped out of town soon for a manatee that could play the third line.

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Sabres vs. Flyers

January 11, 2011

I haven’t blogged a game in a while and figured I should try something different around here.

- The Versus announcers get a cookie for mentioning that Lindy won his 500th game on the Sabres last road trip.

- The NHL released it’s list of players eligible for the All-Star teams at the end of the month. No Sabre was represented on the team, save for Ennis, who only gets to compete in the skills competition. I’m not really surprised that no Sabre made the final team, considering their play as a cohesive unit has been decidedly un-All-Star like. However, a small case could be made for Leopold (and a pre-injury Roy) to have made the team. Oh well, our guys will get a few days off to rest and recover from any upper/outer/inner/lower body injuries that we may not be aware of.

Looking at the list of players named, if I were picking a team and this were a perfect world, I would go with the following players:

  • Crosby – I’ve fully hopped aboard the Crosby bandwagon, but at least I brought snacks!
  • Kesler – He scores goals, is a defensive forward and looks good in his underpants.
  • H. Sedin – He’s a good assist maker. Every team needs someone who can pass and share the puck.
  • Duchene – He can teach the rest of the team the bangity-bang-bang dance.
  • Kane – I even have change ready for cab fare, so we won’t have to worry about any pesky cabbie punching incidents.
  • Nash – He has an Oscar the Grouch on his kitchen table so he won’t be lonely eating breakfast. It’s an old video, but it’s still adorable.
  • Corey Perry – See, even I just can’t call him “Perry.” The boy has performed well for my fantasy team this year.
  • St. Louis – Every litter needs their runt.
  • D. Sedin – Having only one Sedin on the team would be like having peanut butter without jelly. They’re a matched set.
  • Sharp – I like Chicago. And he’s pretty.
  • Erikkson – My fellow Dallas blogger friends can’t be wrong about this guy and what he brings to the table.
  • Elias – Because I refuse to have both Ovie & Crosby on my team. There’s not enough room for that much ego around here.
  • Byfuglien – He’s been pretty kickass this year.
  • Letang – Crosby needs a friend on the team.
  • Burns – The beard in his roster photo is an all-star on it’s own
  • Weber – His shot is killer.
  • Lidstrom – A solid performer worthy of the title all-star.
  • Chara – He can be the Schwarzenegger to St. Louis’ DeVito.
  • Fleury – Crosby cannot travel without his airplane seat mate.
  • Hiller – Again, another sturdy performer for my fantasy team this year.
  • Thomas – After disappearing last year, he came back this year with a vengeance.

- While I was writing the above list, Gaustad and McCormick score for the Sabres. I know that our big name guys need to work on their scoring issues, but having the muckers & grinders like Goose & McCormick step up definitely helps things out. Especially Goose. I mean, this is his first goal since December 9th. He needs to score more often than that.(Get your heads out of the gutter, please!) According to the stats, Goose is at one-quarter of his goal performance from last season (4 now, 12 last season).

- Tonight’s in-game snack is hummus chips from Target. They’re good, but I feel like they need to be served with some tzatziki or some other dipping sauce in order to get the full effect.

- After the first period, McCormick was a fight away from a Gordie Howe hat trick and set his career high for shots in a game. Damn, if this guy isn’t the first star, I don’t know who would be. A goal, an assist and six shots is more than our top six sometimes accomplishes in one game and this mucker goes ahead and does it in one period.

- The Versus crew describes one of Miller’s sprawling saves as a “flying V.” I’m sorry, if you are of a certain age, a goalie save is not a flying V. This is a flying V.

Ducks fly together!

Sorry. Where was I?

- I’m so glad that we missed a Gaustad/Hartnall fight to go to a commercial. Really, I know advertisers pay the big bucks to be included in games, but darn it, make sure that all the players are peacefully going about their business before heading off to sell some widgets.

- I understand why the Flyers third goal counted, but at the same time, it’s still a bullhonky rule. Just make any and all goals that go in off skates illegal and we’ll eliminate any ambiguity.

- The Sabres appeared to shift into “don’t give a flying fudge” mode for most of the third period. Sadly, this is a mode that we have seen all too often this season. And it makes little to no sense that it appeared, considering that the first period and a good chunk of the second was a pretty decent game. I would say their give a damn is busted, but that’s an insult to Jo Dee Messina and her song by the same title.

- I’m really beginning to have doubts about utilizing “The System 2: Electric Bugaloo” (aka “Ride Miller Like a Prized Thoroughbred” ) for the remainder of the season. Miller has not looked like himself for a while now. Give him a night off, a good massage and a steak dinner. Let Lalime play for one night. Can we all survive one night without Miller? Can Lalime really be worse than how Miller is playing right now?

- The third period was absolutely brutal, not only because the Sabres blew their lead, but also because the Versus crew turned the Flyers tongue bath up to “Hoover” levels. I know Versus tends to focus intently on whatever team that the Sabres are playing against, but I don’t recall the “analysis” being this bad and one sided before.

So how long until Pegula takes over?

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Stuff, stuff and oh, I don’t know, some more stuff

January 4, 2011

Lots of little things today.

- I admit to watching a fair amount of the World Juniors over the past week-and-a-half. The games have been entertaining and well worth my time. However, the ads shown during the game broadcast have been incredibly disappointing. The “Ovechkin head in a bowling ball bag” terrifies me. Who is the creative director that thought a disembodied Russian head made a good ad? And this ad is repeated at least three times per game, so it’s disturbing in triplicate.

Ad over-repitition seems to be a key theme on NHL Network. I’m pretty sure that I am very close to being able to recite the AHL promotional ad and the USA Hockey “Hockey Weekend Across America” ads. Speaking of the latter ads, Ryan Miller and Patrick Kane manage to cram about 30 kinds of awkward into their :30 ad. (Go to this USA Hockey page, and flip to the second video to watch Miller & Kane.) Miller is nervous and “reading” the ad (and strangely dressed like he’s going to a costume party as a low rent Danny Zuko), while Kane just mumbles his way through the entire thing.  Compare these two Awkward McGee’s to the stellar performance turned in by Zach Parise. Parise is a natural in front of the camera, almost like he memorized the script and practiced it in his bedroom mirror.

I know that the ad repetition occurs because it is difficult to convince companies to buy ad time on a network that appears on a premium tier in a lot of homes. I understand why it is on a premium tier, as most of the nation has no interest in hockey, but at the same time, the network can’t be expected to grow if all it is running is ads from current league or program sponsors.

- Can someone explain to me why tonight’s pre-game story on WGR has the tag of “disaster_accident, sports“? Is it an auto-tag based on the use of the word “Avalanche?” Is WGR hoping that the Sabres meet an untimely end in Colorado? Do they know something the rest of us don’t?

- I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the play of Marcus Foligno during the WJC’s. Dude has played like he is playing for an NHL contract, which in a way, I suppose he is. I would be really happy to see him and Kassian win a gold medal in this tournament. If the USA can’t win it, might as well be the team with the guys that are “ours.” (Sidebar: when I was in college and working summer orientation, Marcus’ older sister was a part of the freshman class that we were orientating and her father accompanied her to orientation. It was hilarious watching the parents of these incoming freshman freaking out that Mike Foligno was in their midst and had a kid their kid’s age.)

- Only in Buffalo does a tweet by a mascot get included in a recap of a hockey game.

- Also, only in Buffalo does a quarterback’s grooming habits warrant coverage on the 5 o’clock news…and not in the sports report. I will say that Fitz’s beard was probably the best part of the Bills season. I haven’t been that impressed with a beard since Scott Niedermayer’s playoff beard a couple of years ago.

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