Archive for December, 2007

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Shoutout Gone Wrong

December 23, 2007

From this morning’s Buffalo News:

Winger Ales Kotalik took about 20 stitches to his forehead when he was struck by a puck during warmup. Paul Gaustad took a shot that bounced off the crossbar and nailed Kotalik.

“The cut was almost down to my skull,” he said.

Goose, I do appreciate that you were trying to send me a Christmas shout out by having a shot go off the crossbar, but injuring Kotalik while doing so is not a good way to go about it. Please keep that in mind for future shout outs.

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Buffalo – Philly: Take 2

December 22, 2007

What an absolutely amazing hockey game. Both teams were not afraid to throw the body, both teams had multiple brain farts that resulted in the other team having scoring opportunities, both goalies played phenomenally, and the game went into a shootout. If more games were played with this level of intensity and drama, hockey would be a more popular sport in the USA.

– Hecht proved once again that he’s worth every penny of the contract extension he signed earlier this season. He scored the game winner last night and the game tying goal tonight. (I did catch that Lindy had four forwards and a Spacek on the ice for the game tying goal. Risky, but effective.)

– What was Marty yapping at Goose about? He went after Goose immediately in the second period. Kudos to Goose for not taking the Marty bait.

– Philly gets a round of applause for getting two shorthanded goals in 55 seconds. Two shorthanded goals in one game is a feat in itself, let alone two shorthanded goals that quickly. Richards’ shortie was an absolutely beautiful goal. He was the trailer on the play, and Miller made the save on the first shot, but the rebound went right to Richards, who half wristed-half slapped it past Miller.

– Miller’s third save in the shootout was the kind of save I love seeing goalies make and be successful at. The total body sprawling-limb-flailing save is one of the wildest out there, but when it works, its a good thing. Miller’s – and the team’s – dance of joy after the game was really cute to see. I don’t think I’ve seen Miller ever smile so wide before.

– Andrew Peters time on ice watch: tonight’s game showed a 300% increase over last night. Peters was on the ice for a whole 1:33. I would be willing to bet that some of his teammates had shifts that were longer than 1:33.

– The intermission feature about what to get Lindy for Christmas was pretty cute. As someone who loves to hear about the inner workings of the team, something like that did shed a little bit of light about Lindy and what his players think of him. They obviously think he has bad taste in ties, needs to lighten up (which was a little ironic coming from Crunchy of all people), likes dry erase markers (and throwing them apparently) and drawing on the dry erase board. Goose’s gift ideas of a mustache trimmer / comb, Patches thought about a car and Peters’ idea of his rookie card were just goofy enough to be the kind of thing you actually do give at a workplace gift exchange. Ok, maybe not so much the car.

– I have to go watch it later, but one of the Sabres message boards said that HNIC’s Satellite Hotstove mentioned that the NHL might be back on ESPN next year. ESPN’s realizing the upswing of the NHL in the USA. Apparently, the NHL section of ESPN.com gets more hits than other sections, including NASCAR. I know that stat doesn’t mean much, since a “hit” isn’t a clear term, and other things like unique visitors, time spent etc, determine popularity, but maybe the sport will finally get off the ultimate fighting-fishing-hunting channel.

Now we all settle into the Christmas break. I hope the Sabres relax, heal (Timmy and Staffy) and have a happy Christmas with their families and/or each other. They next play Ottawa on Boxing Day. Lets hope that holiday name is not oddly prophetic.

And finally…

You know Marty, that’s not a very nice thing to do to Pommerdoodle. Even if he did try to gnaw on your skates. Some pommerdoodles have been known to have a shoe fetish when left unsupervised.*

* I was reading dog ads at petfinder.com and the “shoe fetish when left unsupervised” came from the ad of a very young basset hound. I’ve fallen in love with the phrase.

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Keep Your Enemies Close – Buffalo v. Philly Round 1

December 21, 2007

So tonight was the heralded return of Marty and Danny to Buffalo. I have to admit, they – along with their teammates – did put on a heck of a show.

– I will admit to being concerned at the start of the game when Lindy said he was encouraging the team to physically start with the Flyers. That usually doesn’t end well, as sometimes the Sabres have the reputation of playing like a bunch of panty-waisted doilymakers. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised tonight. A graphic put up with about 5 minutes left showed the Sabres and Flyers were pretty much dead even in hits.

I was also surprised by the play of Spacek. Yes, he did take a couple of penalties (which were questionable), but if it wore orange and black, he was hitting it. He had a great hit on Briere, igniting the crowd. And his hit on Upshaw, led to the funny moment of the night: Briere taking on Spacek. It was a bit like Henery Hawk taking on Foghorn Leghorn. Except Foghorn has a Czech accent in this case.

I say boy, I say…

– Poor Thiebault. Not only does he take a puck to the bits earlier this season, the poor dear manages to get injured sitting on the bench. One of the Philly players was shoved into the bench and Thiebault caught the guy’s stick in the snout. He was taken to the dressing room, and was available if Miller got hurt, but RJ said he was “resting comfortably” for the remainder of the game, and did not return to the bench.

– Miller again played a great game. I’m not really sure what else I can say about Crunchy’s play. I’m running out of adjectives.

– Harry Neale must be reading IPB and their thoughts on the one true Marty. At the end of the third period, he called Biron “Brodeur.” While both Marty’s are loveable, the tall, lanky Marty with the amazing blue eyes plays for Philly. The roly-poly Marty plays for the Devils. They are not interchangeable!

– Andrew Peters TOI watch: 20 seconds. Second lowest forward was Adam Mair with just over four minutes. Then again, I hope after that disaster of a fight in the first period, Peters was hiding under the bench, getting Lindy coffee or filling water bottles, necessitating the low ice time. Peters got his ass handed to him because he was too busy trying to get his equipment off to evade the punches. It’s frustrating to watch some nights.

And finally, its not Sabres related, but it’s cool. Sidney Crosby got his first Gordie Howe hat trick last night. Roby pointed out during the Sabres broadcast that today’s star players don’t really have to put up their dukes and fight anymore, that teams make sure they have one or two guys to handle the rough stuff. However, Roby also did say that sometimes a leader needs to step up and take a fist to the nose and drop the gloves to light a spark under the team. I think Sid’s trying to do that right now.

And now, the fighting styles of Sidney Crosby:

ETA: go check out Brad Riter’s blog Buffalo Main Event for photos of Miller’s mask for the Ice Bowl. Its pretty frickin sweet! You have to blow up the pictures to get the full detail, but the artwork is beautiful.

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Oh, Marty

December 21, 2007

How I’ve missed you and your wit. From Sabres.com
Biron was holding court in the hallway outside the visiting team’s locker room. It was all in good fun as Marty yelled to each Sabres player as they went on the ice for the team’s morning warm-up.

The best exchange came when Biron went to the visitor’s bench area to see what was happening.

Biron: “Hey, Goose. I see that shot. High-blocker. I’ll be ready for that.”

Paul Gaustad [Laughing]: “I’m going to go five-hole on the next one.”

Biron: “Yeh? … you’re not good enough to do that.”

First off, Marty, you get an angry honk from me for making fun of the Goose. Second of all, I would probably fall off my chair if Goose scored either five hole or blocker on you. You’re just tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing by taunting Goose.

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Once On This Island

December 20, 2007

A goalie stole a hockey game. How does one steal a hockey game you might ask? Well, he plays his ass off, bails out his defense and only lets one of 43 shots enter the net. Any night you leave the rink only letting in one goal on 43 shots (a success rate of 2%), you should be able to call it a good night.

However, I would have to call last night’s Sabres game an ugly win. Aside from Miller’s amazing performance, there were a few more things that stood out, but not all of them were good:

– Roy’s injury. The Sabres say its a shoulder stinger, with an MRI showing no damage, but his playing status is uncertain for the weekend. Roy was playing pretty well the past few games. His energy and spunk were missed on the ice.

– Timmy’s leaving the game due to technicolor yawning. Timmy’s foresight and vision on the power play were definitely missed after he left the game. Considering the Islanders were headed to the penalty box pretty often, the Sabres should have scored more on the power play.

– The injuries to both these guys also forced Lindy to shorten the bench, as he was down to 10 forwards. Despite the already short bench, he only played Peters for 2:55. So in essence, Lindy shrank his bench to 9 forwards / 3 lines. Goose, Hecht and Pommers all lead the forwards with well over 20 minutes of ice time each. I realize these numbers are high due to all three playing both the power play and the penalty kill, but is it good to have three forwards in the 20s, the rest in the high teens, and Peters down at the end of the well? (I realize Adam Mair did not break the 10 minute mark, but he was in the box for 5 minutes, so I’m assuming his number would have been higher had he not had that penalty.) How does something like that not contribute to resentment in the locker room? The guy makes his paycheck playing less than 3 minutes a night, while the rest of the team is out busting their ass. The mind, she is boggled.

– I mentioned Adam Mair in the last paragraph. His defense of Hecht last night was great, and he throughly cleaned Jackman’s clock. The rest of the team should take note that that is how you stand up for a teammate and put it into practice, especially when someone is harassing Miller.

– Max, Max, Max. I was ready to kill you in the first part of the game. You were dipsy-doodling and reverting to the Max of old, not the Max of the past few games. However, you did redeem yourself with the game winning goal. Please don’t revert back to the Max of old. K?

– I also thought the Sabres might really have been screwed for awhile in the third period. There was one point where Mair, Pomminville and Tallinder all limped off the ice after blocking shots. Its great that the team is finally getting the memo about blocking shots before they get to Miller, but you never want to see guys get hurt and miss time because of it.

– As of right now, the Sabres are in the playoffs. They’re currently tied with Philly, which makes this weekend’s home at home especially interesting. I’m really torn about how I should feel about the return of Marty, Danny and Rory. I mean, if Rory had looked down in Carolina in 2006, the Canes wouldn’t have scored and it might have been a different result to end that season. I’m not a fan of those who boo Marty, since the guy really did nothing wrong. He wanted a chance to go play and he got it. And besides…he’s Marty. You can’t boo Marty. Its just wrong. But Danny is a whole different story. He claimed to have wanted to stay in Buffalo, but he stepped into the role of slag faced whore, took the money and ran. That is definitely hateable. But then I hear stories about how his Briere Bunch foundation is still sending money to Buffalo charities, and how he’s a pen pal to a Western NY kid, and I really don’t know how to feel. Damn you MSM for making me feel conflicted!

– Speaking of Marty, this WGR audio clip is amazing.

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Ice Bowl Ramp Up

December 19, 2007

Yes, I know its not called the Ice Bowl, but calling it the Amp Energy Winter Classic is too long to type. So Ice Bowl it shall be.

The Buffalo News asked the team if they would play the game if weather conditions were like they were in Cleveland for the Bills game. To a man, the players answered yes. As they rightly pointed out, its not called the Ice Bowl for nothing!

The amount of press the NHL is pumping out regarding the game is impressive, and I know its only going to get stronger in the days to come. I was browsing NHL.com this morning, and saw that actor William Fichtner is contributing a blog for the site. I’ve loved William Fichtner since his role in Armageddon, and up through his role on The West Wing.

His first entry is about what to do in Buffalo.

My favorite portion of the blog is the beginning. He hits the nail on the head about what makes Buffalo such a great spot:

So first things first – if you’ve never been to Buffalo, you’re in for a treat. It’s a great city, a great place to go and have a good time. We have good food, good bars, great people, and great sports teams. And just about everyone is a fan. There is nothing pretentious about the city at all, it’s just a good place to go, have a plate of chicken wings and a beer, watch the Sabres and relax with a good crowd.

Amen.

The Buffalo News is also reporting that HNiC was allowed inside the Aud to film footage for their Ice Bowl pre-game show. Its going to be sad to see what remains of such a proud building with so many great hockey memories. Its a darn shame that over 10 years have passed since HSBC Arena was built and nothing has been done with the old Aud. I’ll believe that Bass Pro is going up when the shovel hits the dirt.

The Aud was a great venue to watch sports in. You were seated close to your neighbor, really building on the community experience. I remember as a kid climbing to the oranges (the Aud labeled their seating levels by color: golds (best) red, blue and orange) and thinking I was going to die, the seats were that steep. I remember the first time I sat in the lower golds and was amazed that I could see the players jerseys clearly; you were that close to the action.

WGRZ edited a great video compilation of all of the different sporting events that happened at the Aud. I was shocked to remember that Hasek played in the blue and gold, that he’s been in the NHL for so long.

This video is probably one of my all-time favorites. Seeing the Sabres greats each take their last lap with the puck around the Aud, with Sabre Dance in the background, its just mind blowing to see the talent this organization has had over the years. And the Let’s Go Buffalo chant in the darkened arena is giving me chills at the moment.

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Citizen Kane Touches His Toews

December 17, 2007

This weekend celebrated the return of Pat Kane to Buffalo. He was greeted warmly at HSBC Arena, with over 1,000 of his closest friends watching the gameday skate on Saturday morning. That’s almost unheard of for a skate during a non-holiday break. I think it shows what kind of community we have in Buffalo. Though he plays for Chicago, he’s one of us. He grew up in South Buffalo, played as much of his youth hockey here as he could, still has a great Buffalo accent, and is appreciative of the start he got here.

This kid – along with linemate Jonathan Toews – is part of the re-emergence of hockey in Chicago. The Blackhawks went from a dynasty to not being able to give tickets away to fill the arena. The talk of the town wasn’t Da Hawks, but Da Bears. Home games weren’t shown on TV, since their late owner felt that people wouldn’t come to the game if they could stay home and watch. I can kind of see his point about not giving away the cow if you can get the milk for free, but its not a viable marketing strategy.

Anyways, this article on ESPN sums up Kane and Toews in a nutshell. They’re two good, wholesome, hard working kids. Kane calls his Chicago home family, the Bowmans'(yes, son of that Bowman) to let them know that he’s going out to dinner with his teammates and will be late. He even plays basement hockey with the Bowmans’ kids.

Toews is a Shattuck boy, with a dash of North Dakota thrown in (sounds like Staffy, minus the leopard print pants). His goal is to learn how to cook, working his way through a few cookbooks.

These two, along with Sid and Ovie, are the future of the NHL. And, it turns out, the future starts now.

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Moving onto some Buffalo stuff –

– Ryan Miller was the NHL’s player teleconference today. He was speaking specifically about his previous experience playing outside in the Michigan State / Michigan game. Miller’s concerned about the cold, and mentioned he might have to echo Jose Theodore and weare a toque outside his goalie mask. (He being too persnickety to wear it inside the mask). I’m just concerned about him getting carpet tape and taping the toque to his mask. Doesn’t he know that tape anywhere near the face can cause accidents? Its all fun and games till someone loses a wonky eyebrow, I guess.

– Miller was joined on the teleconference by Pittsburgh player (and former Michigan State teammate) Adam Hall. Hall is hoping that the trainers put coffee or hot chocolate on the bench instead of water. Miller would just hope for some green tea. Is he trying to keep warm or up his anti-oxidants?

Miller also doesn’t know if he will wear eye black or shades if the game is sunny.

Might I suggest eye black? Those shades look a little bulky to wear under a mask.

– After reading this opening sentence in Saturday’s newspaper, I had to laugh.

There are certain things a person should never say out loud. Like admitting you have the new Britney Spears on your iPod. Or saying how cool it would be to go shopping for jeans with Ryan Miller.

I admit to being guilty of both things. Britney’s new CD is on my i-Pod, and I think it would be amazing to go jeans shopping with Crunchy. The end.