Archive for March, 2009

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Not To Make Excuses

March 20, 2009

Here’s a quick summary of Paul Gaustad’s interview yesterday with Mike Schopp. Apparently, Goose didn’t realize he was supposed to do a call in, and Schopp was giving him some grief over that. Apparently Goose needs to get a copy of the call-in schedule so he knows what’s going on.

– The penalty kill in last game was good, but threw off ice time allotments for the forwards, as they get cold or not as involved in the game. (What, do they get Shiny Object Syndrome and start scouting out the hotties sitting in the first two rows of the arena?) It’s not an excuse for losing the Ottawa game, as they should have been able to keep a two goal lead.

– They have to take pride in winning the third period, untimely penalties don’t help.

– Schopp asked who in the locker room rallies the troops? Goose kind of danced around this one, saying it’s a team thing. There’s no lack of hope in the team, they control their own destiny, but its a challenging position. It’s the same situation as last year, and hopefully they learned from it. They don’t want to not be in the playoffs again, since that leaves a horrible taste in the mouth. The team is definitely good enough to make the playoffs (and Schopp agreed), but at the same time, the team needs to play playoff caliber hockey (last part added by me).

– All of the Sabres stats are better than the stats of the teams the Sabres have games against before the end of the season.

– The most interesting part of the discussion, I thought, talked about hockey in Buffalo. According to Gaustad, the fact that the fans do care is what makes playing in Buffalo so great. Such a big part of putting on sweater every night is that the fans do care and support them. They play as hard as they can since the fans are behind them. (I’d argue that there’s some nights the team is phoning it in, but I digress.) The players can understand that the fans are getting frustrated.

Gaustad also mentioned that he knows that some fans are in a “bad place” heading into the Philly game. (Has he been listening to WGR or reading the various blogs that are calling for the heads of Darcy and Lindy on a platter and the entire team to be set adrift on Lake Erie in a rowboat and one oar?) The use of the phrase “bad place” just kind of struck me. Makes us fans sound like we should all be one step away from entering the funny farm. (At this point, there was a sound coming over the phone line that either may have been a cell phone hiccup or Goose quietly burping. I couldn’t tell.) Again, even though the fans are in a bad place, the support of the fans during the bad times is what makes Buffalo such a cool place to play. He’ll be out to lunch and someone will come along and wish him well. (Seriously, interrupting players while they’re eating is not cool. Let the man finish his entree and dessert before you go pester him.)

– They wrapped up the interview with a discussion about what seems like the almost constant line shuffling. In “the system”, guys can play with everyone. Part of the line shuffling is trying to find chemistry. Gaustad said he really couldn’t comment on what makes the line shuffling start happening, that this topic is more of a question for Lindy. Both Schopp and Goose joked about conferencing Lindy in on the other line. Now that would have been a fun conversation.

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Ugh.

March 18, 2009

Now that I’ve calmed down a bit from last night’s rampant cussing, let’s take a look at the Sabres/Sens game. I think we all probably can admit that we knew that a Sens game probably wasn’t going to end well for the Sabres, since the Sens were 4-1 against the Sabres this season heading into last night’s game. For whatever reason, they seem to know exactly how to play against the Sabres.

– According to Mike Harrington, Lindy closed the locker room for 15 minutes after last night’s game and tore his team a new one. A well deserved new one, in my humble bloggerly opinion. They blew a two goal lead against one of the leagues worst teams. Come on, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that is not how you make the playoffs. I want to see some frustration out of these guys. For too long, comments to the media have been all sunshine, kittens, puppy dogs, rainbows and the system. I want to see the kind of anger and bitterness that we saw out of Gaustad and Miller after that horrible home loss to Washington at the end of December. These guys need to be ready to kick some ass and take some names within the locker room before they can start kicking ass and taking names against their opponents.

At least the game’s positive elements included some decent play from Tellqvist in his first start in a long while and Pominville proving that he’s not yet dead (just resting), by kicking in a goal and an assist. I also liked the intermission footage of Miller skating around and having some fun with Corsi and the other goalies. I did notice that when Miller is  wearing street clothes on the top and his breezers and leg pads on the bottom, it makes him look very, very, very pear shaped. It really was quite jarring. I also noticed during the interview footage with Miller that Chris Butler’s locker appears to be a folding chair stuck in front of the wall that separates two lockers? Poor guy doesn’t even have a locker stall to call his own.

– Eight consecutive penalties are not how you win hockey games. I mean, sure some of them were chintzy, borederline calls by the refs, but I do know Staffy’s retaliatory elbow against Heatley was just a boneheaded play to make (by a bonehead, no less). On the other hand, Roy got knocked around a couple of times by the Sens and they weren’t called. I have a feeling sunshine’s reputation as a diver proceeded him in this case.

– Off topic, but there’s a small part of my cold, cold heart that wanted the blind guy to sing “Jesus Take the Wheel” during last night’s Idol show focusing on the Grand Ole Opry. (I’ll just sit over here quietly at the stop for the bus to hell. Don’t mind me.) To actually talk about last night’s Idol, that seismic event you felt was Johnny Cash rolling over when he heard what Adam Lambert did with Ring of Fire. On the positive side, Kris Allen was fantastic with To Make You Feel My Love. Randy Travis was just a sweetheart while “mentoring” the contestants, but if that was his wife sitting next to him in the audience last night, oh dear. And that’s all I’ll say about that. On the negative side, Danny Gokey just needs to STFU already about the dead wife and stop with the Jesus singing and lesbian science teacher glasses.

– Congrats to Marty Brodeur for winning his 552nd career game. Check out the ESPN video for how loud the crowd’s “Marty, Marty, Marty” chants are during his interview with MSG. It’s chilling, but in a good way.

To give you an idea of how long Marty’s been around, check out this YouTube video from the Sabres/Devils series back in the mid-90s. Brodeur as a young pup versus Hasek. Good times.

Apologies for the shitty video quality.

– Another off topic, but how cool are the US baseball guys at the World Baseball Classic. Yahoo! has a great story about them inviting a wounded US soldier into the clubhouse after the win against Puerto Rico last night. Classy show guys, classy show.

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Hate. With a Capital H.

March 17, 2009

I really hate the Sabres right about now. They blow a two goal lead, get called for a ridiculous amount of consecutive penalties and manage to lose to Ottawa 4-2. I hate them.

More tomorrow, when I’m not trying to figure out how many different ways to say “I hate these fucking guys.”

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Books Off The Crossbar – Saved

March 15, 2009

I cannot find the words to adequately express my thoughts on the Sabres collapse last night. So far, I’m working off of different variations of “I hate them all” and “Goodbye playoffs, hello golf course.” That’s not enough to base an entire entry on, so please enjoy a brief book review.

Since late last year, John Buccigross’ column has regularly featured snippets of writings by the late Jack Falla. I was intrigued enough to pick Saved up at the library a couple of weeks ago and finished it the other night.

Saved is told from the point of view of JP Savard, Boston Bruins goalie. On the ice, he’s trying to put together a Cup winning season before heading into his big free agent contract year. Off the ice, he’s trying to find the right woman, dating a string of women who are mainly identified by their name and occupation (Sherri the Equestrienne, Julie the Account Exec, etc). It is only until Cam Carter, Savard’s best friend and teammate since college, re-introduces him to Faith, their old friend from college, that Savard’s off-ice life begins to even out. On the ice, we follow the ups and downs of a typical NHL season: injuries, losing streaks and the wackiness perpetrated by front office bean counting. It also details the struggle a player undergoes to come back from injury, both the physical rehab aspect and the mental struggle to know what to do with yourself while you’re hurt.

There were a couple of moments out genuine out loud laughter while reading this book. Savard notes that the Bruins third jersey looks like it contains the image of “Winnie the Pooh’s stoned grandfather.” In making this observation, he rightly states that third jerseys are nothing more than money grabbing schemes by the front office (and that the people who fall for them are idiots). Savard also notes that his girlfriend’s wardrobe could double as the Montreal Canadiens power play, as it consists solely of French designers.

Any hockey fan will appreciate this book. Falla, who covered the NHL for Sports Illustrated in the 80s, has an intimate grasp of the details of the game. The writing is rich and detailed and Falla includes a lot of hockey history to flesh out some of the characters’ thoughts and actions.

There’s one quote from the book that has stuck with me. “The first rule of life, love and hockey is the same rule – you’ve got to play hurt.” Ain’t that the truth?

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Friday Funnies, Take 2

March 13, 2009

It’s Friday the 13th and a full moon. So that means there’s all sorts of fun stuff flying around on the internet tonight.

First, Puck Daddy links to a newspaper article (!) about Joe Thorton’s underwear and how amazing they make his tushie look. The National Post is a major Canadian newspaper and it’s waxing poetic about players and their drawers. Could you imagine The Buffalo News writing about any of the Sabres and their drawers?

Then again, maybe articles about the Sabres and their underoos might just boost those dwindling circulation numbers, especially amongst the female demographic. (Just kidding, I would never suggest that the Buffalo News undermine their editorial credibility by writing about something like hockey players and their intimate apparel.)

Second, Ryan Miller updated his blog, probably just to quash the speculation about the status of his ankle. (Buffalo fans and media speculate? Us? You must have us mixed up with someone else.) Anyway, Miller reports that he’s taken up swimming in the arena’s current pool to keep up his fitness levels while he recuperates. I’m getting the giggles over the image of Miller in the locker room in his goggles and “board shorts” while the rest of the guys are prepping for practice. (Only someone that is really into fashion would call them “board shorts” and not swim trunks, trunks or a bathing suit.) I’m sure some of the boys have made jokes that all Miller is missing is his inflatable duckie life preserver, his water wings and a bathing cap.

For the record, I cannot swim a lick. I was the one clinging to the side of the pool for dear life during the swim test portion of check-in at Camp Seven Hills during my younger days. So I fully admire anyone that can swim 30 second intervals with only a minute rest in between.

And who would have thought that there was a pool (albeit a small one) inside HSBC Arena? I swear, I learn something everyday. And isn’t hearing about a player swimming more interesting than hearing “he’s riding the bike?” The way the bike is emphasized by teams and coaches, these guys are thisclose to being Lance Armstrong (well, minus the testicular cancer and allegations of PEDs). Hearing that a player is doing his best Michael Phelps imitation is definitely something different.

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Friday Funnies

March 13, 2009

– While looking at the restaurant list for WNY Restaurant Week 2009, I stumbled across this little gem that is the newest establishment to settle in Dowtown Buffalo. Someone has a really great sense of humor and a good understanding of Sabres history.

– Sabres.com has a new “Y0ur Sabres Delivered” posted, focusing this week on the new guy, Dominic Moore.  While most of the questions are pretty basic, he did share that Ryan Miller is helping him out with directions and stuff. Moore does report that while Miller isn’t good with the street names, he’s good at knowing where to turn left or right. This tells me that Miller may have adopted the Buffalo style of giving directions. You know, we don’t give directions by saying “go three-tenths of a mile up Hertel and then turn left onto Starin and then go a half-mile until you hit Tacoma.” We follow the let’s use landmarks as directional notations. Directions commonly include phrases like “turn left at the Burger King. If you’ve hit Forest Lawn, you’ve gone too far.” It’s how we are. It sounds like Miller’s a good direction giver, so at least we don’t have to worry about Moore ending up lost on the East Side.

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It’s Not Going to Be A Good Day, Is It?

March 12, 2009

Just a theory I have based on the fact that it’s 8:30 and I’m already seriously aggravated.

– I found out this morning that I’m getting pulled into a meeting this afternoon with a client and I have no earthly idea what I’m supposed to be talking about in this meeting. Somehow, I doubt the Sabres futility lately would be an appropriate topic. Fun, but irrelevant and inappropriate.

– I was listening to Sirius on the way in, and the one jock was pissing me off during their discussion about Kelly Clarkson. Apparently, KC told USA Today that she’s not ready to have kids and doesn’t think she ever will be. Nothing wrong with that statement. However, the jock on Sirius was ripping her a new one, insinuating that Clarkson is less of a woman for not wanting to have children. Give me a break. She recognizes that she has some shortcomings and as things stand now, she doesn’t want kids. That doesn’t mean that in a few years as her situation changes she won’t want them, but it doesn’t make her less of a woman. A woman’s self worth and value should not be tied up in her babymaker.

– And finally, the report in the News this morning about the State Legislature’s motions to give more time off to government employees is enough to send any non-governmental employee over the edge. I don’t see a problem with giving time off for breast, colon or prostate cancer screenings, but giving time off so that employees can give blood or go to their children’s school events. People that can’t give blood for medical reasons or don’t have children wouldn’t be able to take advantage of these ops. Not to mention that the perks of being a government employee already include ample time off. I’d also be interested in knowing how more time off can be given and not affect the bottom line or employee performance. And, in this economy, where government is already coming under fire for their salaries and benefits, they want to have more of them? Give. Me. A. Break.

– To move on from the aggravating to the non-aggravating, please go and read Bucky’s story on Richard Zednik. It’s a really moving article shedding some more light on the events of that day. Ryan Miller and Brian Campbell’s comments are especially chilling. Tonight would be one time that I would not mind if an opposing player got a standing ovation at HSBC Arena.

Catch me later for some thoughts on the Slugs v. The Mouth Breathing Troglodytes (tm MJ), live tonight from HSBC Arena. (I won’t be seeing it in HD, as someone in my house’s need to watch Survivor and Greys in HD trumps my need to watch hockey in HD. Oh well, I survived without hockey in HD before.)