Archive for the ‘Optimistic Ramblings’ Category

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Playoff Predictions and Thoughts – Round 1

April 13, 2010

If you’re looking for factual, statistical analysis, you’ve come to the wrong place. This post is going to be based on nothing but what my murky crystal ball and tralalalafeelingbits tea leaves say.

Let’s start with the East (with my east coast bias and all)

#1 Washington vs. #8 Montreal

I’d love to see Montreal upset the Caps. Seeing Ovie go home with his tail between his legs would make me so happy. I cannot stand the way the media fawns over him like he’s the second coming. And I don’t like his style of play. Sure, he’s aggressive, but at times he’s often reckless ( just ask Brian Campbell). Sure, Montreal has noted Crunchy breaker Scott Gomez, but Gomez’s transgressions do not match up to Ovechkin’s. If we look at fanbases, sure Montreal fans can be annoying (that damn “Ole” song) and have a tendency to act like they’ve never been there before (rioting after the first round a couple years ago), but it sure beats whining and calling other fanbases classless because they haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid and see your star player as the league’s lord and savior.

On the positive side of things, Montreal kicks Washington‘s ass in the mascot department. Youppi just rocks. The Habs saved Youppi from being sent to a farm in rurual Quebec, for pete’s sake! It’s a mascot rebirth and a well deserved second life for an awesome character. If you need a giggle, go to the Habs site and make Youppi dance and cheer. Hilarious.

All of that said, unless Montreal pulls off a miracle (or Washington gets too cocky), I think the Caps will win in 6.

#2 New Jersey vs. #7 Philadelphia

Judging from what I know about the Devils from reading Interchangeable Parts, I should be running far far away from picking the Devils in this series. But hello, they’re playing the Flyers. The Flyers were the ones whose management was forced to sign Chris Pronger so that a grownup would be in the room. Their captain held a media blackout because he didn’t like what the media was saying about him. And for some reason this season, they appear to be cursed by the ghost of Pelle Lindburgh, as Flyers goalies were dropping like flies in the latter portion of the season. (Admit it, you all thought the Flyers would have to put an orange construction pylon in the crease at some point.) And while Brodeur has his moments, Brodeur trumps Boucher.And if the Devils offense pulls their collective heads out of their collective arses, they could be dangerous.

In the battle of the mascots, New Jersey wins by default, since Philly doesn’t have a formal mascot. And NJ Devil still trumps Philly’s unofficial mascot of asshole fans.

Prediction: Devils in 7, but Pronger makes a stupid, useless and injurious gesture at some point.

#3 Buffalo vs. #6 Boston

This matchup seems to be the one that the professionals think has the biggest chance of garnering an upset. Goaltending in this series is a push, as Miller/Lalime cancel out Rask/Thomas, unless Thomas becomes sieve-like, then the advantage swings towards the Sabres. The Bruins were last in the league in scoring, but were deadly when it came to penalty killing (you all heard about the three shorties on one power play on Saturday). The Sabres defense is killer, when it’s not having it’s moments (Yes, Rivet and Sekera/Butler, I’m looking at you three). The Sabres have some slight injury problems, as Stafford, Hecht and Connolly all are members of the walking wounded. But the kids called up from Portland have done so much more than be a band aid over the bullet hole of their absence.

In the battle of the mascots, it’s a close battle between Sabretooth and Blades. While Blades has a kickass series of commercials, Sabretooth is on Twitter. How he manages to tweet with those large furry paws, I still do not know. I have trouble navigating Twitter on my iPod touch and I have normal sized fingers. While Sabretooth has his own house, Blades has his own biography on the Bruins website. But you know what pushed Sabretooth over the edge here? The fact that Sabretooth rumbled with the Geico gecko. I presume the tiger won. Heh.

Prediction: Sabres in 6. (Because when a sabretooth battles a bear, the ‘tooth wins every time.)

#4 Pittsburgh vs. #5 Ottawa

Is there any doubt that I’d love to see Pittsburgh win this one? Crosby and Malkin trump Alfredsson and Spezza. And Ottawa has Chris Neil, who never met a dirty hit, play or turtle that he didn’t like. Pittsburgh also gets hockey and doesn’t hokey it up too much, ahem Ottawa.

In the battle of mascots, Spartacat trumps Iceburgh…even though the cat is in good need of a mane trim.

Prediction; Pens in 5.

And now onto the Western Conference…

#1 San Jose vs. #8 Colorado

A notorious playoff choker versus an eighth seed? Push.

That said, I think San Jose is going to overwhelm the Avs. Something tells me this is the year they throw off the mantle of playoff choker.

In mascot land, Bernie the St. Bernard is much warmer and fuzzier than SJ Sharkie. If you were a kid, would you rather have a cute & cuddly St. Bernard give you a hug or a Jaws wannabe?

Prediction: Sharks in 6.

#2 Chicago vs. #7 Nashville

I’d love to see the Predators go far in the playoffs in order to see JP Dumont’s playoff beard develop into it’s full lumberjack beard. In my opinion, I feel like this series might be the one with the biggest upset potential if Nashville can find a way to manage Chicago’s offensive firepower. However, I have a soft spot for Chicago thanks to some lovely ladies on Twitter, and the Hawks addicting goal song got me to go out and buy a Fratellis CD. Also, Tommy Hawk is a much more “original” mascot than Nashville’s Sabretooth wannabe, Gnash.

Prediction: Chicago in 6

#3 Vancouver vs. #6 Los Angeles

I have a soft spot for the Canucks. It must be from watching them on HNiC and having the Sedins and Luongo on my fantasy team, not to mention that the Canucks and the Sabres are 1970 league entry twins. Henrik Sedin and his fellow Swedish Canucks have a great scoring touch and if Luongo can stop making like a cheap hooker and keep his legs closed, the Canucks can go far. And the Canucks also have Ryan Kesler, the player whom I most wish Miller would have smuggled home from Vancouver in his suitcase. His gritty determined style is exactly what is needed in the playoffs.

On the mascot side of things, Fin the Whale can’t hold a candle to Bailey the Lion. To be perfectly honest, Fin is kind of terrifying.

Prediction: Canucks in 6.

#4 Phoenix vs. #5 Detroit

Phoenix has got to be the people’s favorite going into these playoffs. The franchise has been through a ton this year with the ownership issues and the constant rumors of being moved here, there and everywhere. If Phoenix manages to knock off Detroit, someone will have to be standing behind Bettman with the paddles at the ready, considering a team that isn’t in a traditional hockey market knocked off the self-proclaimed “Hockeytown.” And really, it’s about time someone knocked off Detroit. I’m tired of them making it to the Cup Finals. As Herb Brooks would say, “screw ‘em.”

Prediction: Coyotes in 7.

*~*~*~*

I wish WGRZ had put the Sabres superstition video from today’s 6pm newscast on the web. The video contained Rip Simonick explaining how previous players had their own little rituals (personal ashtrays, riding to the rink with your right winger on the passenger side of the car, etc) and the current Sabres denying that they have “superstitions,” just “habits.” Hearing about the former Sabres superstitions was neat, and I would have loved to have heard more from Simonick. However, did Channel 2 expect to have the Sabres fully explain their superstitions/habits/rituals? The Sabres know enough to not reveal information that would make them appear completely effing insane to the average person watching the 6pm news (you know, the ones that might not know that sometimes hockey players can be completely crazy about things like that).

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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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Ready For Hockey

September 11, 2008

- After watching this video, I am so ready for hockey season to start. Drop the puck already!

- Why can’t the Sabres do a fun season ticket distribution event like the Pens do? Are they afraid that a player would disappear into a house and never return? That Roy-Z or Pommers would be carried off by an army of teenyboppers?

Sid’s either participating in the season ticket promotion or practicing for his post-hockey career as an Avon salesman. (Does Avon still do door-to-door sales? I only get proselytizers and politicians showing up at my door.)

- Speaking of Sid, he’s going to spend another season at Chez Lemieux.

“I’ve been looking for a place for the last year, but I haven’t found anything I’m quite ready for yet,”

So is he not ready to live on his own or does he just have really picky tastes in houses? Inquiring minds want to know!

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He Really Wants To Be Here, Volume II

July 22, 2008

I honestly think that the Sabres are addicted to press conferences. Today wasn’t so much a “rally the fans after something bad happens and assure them that all is well”, type presser. Instead, we got a happy press conference allowing Ryan Miller to take the stage and explain why he stayed in Buffalo for six more years.

Miller stressed repeatedly that he stayed in Buffalo because the people embraced him, he’s playing with a group of guys that he knows and trusts, and he respects and trusts management and the coaching staff. He also stressed that it wasn’t about the money. If it was, he probably would have gotten the hell out of dodge on July 1, 2009. A guy that’s in it solely for the money, and not the love of the game or winning wouldn’t make a statement like this: I’d trade all the money in the world to be able to bring a Cup to Buffalo with my group of friends and my group of teammates.

That, my friends, is the textbook definition of loyalty. Miller pointed out that he’s spent seven years as a professional, and six of them, he’s played with the same group of guys. Kevin Sylvester mentioned that something like this is roughly the equivalent of graduating college and starting a job working with your college friends. (While that could be great fun, I worked with my college friends when I was in college. It was a miracle we got anything done). I really want these guys to be rewarded for staying together. They’ve come so close in two of the past three seasons. There’s no reason that this year can’t be theirs.

I have to give management a bunch of credit for doing whatever was necessary to keep the core group of Miller, Gaustad, Paille, Vanek and Roy together long-term. It meant that hard decisions needed to be made. We saw the end result of those hard decisions in February when Soupy left town at the trade deadline.

Time out for a second.

Miller’s left eyebrow is cocked higher than his right one. Its bugging the heck out of me because its in the center of my screen.

Time in.

Addressing the “I’m going to sign with Detroit next season” rumors was probably one of the best things Miller could have done. I did like that he pointed out that he’s only felt real loyalty to two teams: Michigan State and Buffalo. Detroit never entered the equation. Most of us knew that those rumors were complete bull, but it was nice to hear those words out of Miller’s mouth (again). So pbbbbbbt to those members of the media who insisted otherwise.

Miller seems happy and optimistic. Management is the same. Gaustad and Paille were enthusiastic when WGRZ caught up with them at a Camp Good Days event. The fans are enthusiastic and somewhat looking forward to the season. I wish we were dropping the puck today instead of in two months.

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