Monday, April 30, 2007

Agony and Ecstasy Pt. II: The Internet Hates Me

My internet connection has been crap all day so who knows when this will finally post. For the record, I wrote this Sunday night.

I missed most of regulation because of my second job – curse you, credit card debt! – but I'm not as upset about that as I'd usually be because I hate watching our struggling power play more than anything else. How, how, how can a power play be so good one season and so darn crappy the next season when there wasn't a drastic change in personnel? Did J.P. Dumont really make that much difference? Are we missing Jay McKee? (Kidding.) I don't get it. I'm ready to blow up the whole thing and start all over. Throw guys who have never played on the power play before out there. Let Ryan play the point. I don't know. I do know this: One, it can't get much worse. Two, we're not going to beat Ottawa/Jersey/Anaheim/San Jose by going 1 for 10 every night.

A few random thoughts:

- Despite the loss, I feel pretty good. It sucks to play for that long and lose but I don't think anyone really expected us to take both games at MSG. Kudos to the boys for pulling themselves together and battling as long and hard as they did – I do love that you can't ever really count them out – but it's probably about time we lost a game like this. We've been living dangerously.

- I can't believe yet another goal review went in our favor. That alone is almost enough to make me believe it's our year. Honestly, I could've seen that review going either way and I'll admit I'm fine with it because it favored my team. But I do agree with Ray Ferraro that the kicking rule should be done away with. Is there really that much difference between a guy using his foot and using his stick? If it goes in the net, it goes in the net. The skater could head it in for all I care. I think Ferraro lost his mind a little with the whole "a review shouldn't take more than 2 minutes" argument though. What are they supposed to do at the end of two minutes, Ray? Poll the war room? Flip a coin? I can't believe Brett Hull was the voice of reason but he was absolutely right – take as long as it takes if it means getting the call right. Incidentally, you should've seen the look on my husband's face when he realized he was agreeing with Brett Hull. I'm sure minds across Buffalo were short circuiting at the sudden disconnect with the usual Hull related thoughts.

- How about Old Man Numminen stopping that shot from going in? NBC's 1800 replays might've been overkill, but it was a heads-up play nonetheless. I love Lydman and Tallinder and I think they've done an outstanding job this series (glove tap to NBC for giving them a little love), but I was a tad disappointed that no one got a stick on the goal that rolled lazily between Ryan's legs and across the goal line. I loved Emerick and Olczyk going on and on about Teppo's "homemade" sticks. Guys, he owns a stick company. He's not whittling them out of the trees in his backyard. Anyway… maybe the Teppo haters will back off for a day. I haven't decided how I feel about Teppo coming back for another season when Nathan Paetsch is waiting in the wings, but I don't understand how anyone can criticize Teppo for what he's done in Buffalo these last couple of years. I don't think it's any coincedence that a couple of our young defensemen have really come along while playing with him.

- Good lord, enough with Jaromir Jagr. If I had to listen to anyone on NBC rave about how much Jagr seems to be enjoying the playoffs this year and how involved he's been in the play this year, I might've put my fist through the TV screen – and I missed the first two periods of regulation. Guess what, NBC? Jagr is not a 19-year-old kid who's playing over his head. He's a 35-year-old veteran who is in the 16th season of his NHL career. We shouldn't be jumping with excitement and praising him for finally playing with a little passion. We should be wondering what the hell took so long! You can tell me he's grown-up and matured all you want. I'm not buying it. It looks to me like he's in a situation where the organization and coach have given him whatever he's asked for. I'm not impressed that he's suddenly happy and excited. Jagr absolutely had a good game today and he's had a very good career but I can't help but feel that he's wasted a lot of talent over the years. If you put his skill into the body of someone with the heart and passion of Chris Drury then you'd have a player worth celebrating. I'm almost afraid to imagine the career that guy would have. Until that happens, shut up.

Even though we lost, I was reminded today that there really is nothing else in all of sports like overtime in the playoffs in the NHL. Nothing. I've mentioned before that I grew up in Alabama, not exactly a hockey-centric area. The Sabres' playoff run in 1999 was my first real dose of the NHL, and the excruciating, agonizing excitement of overtime really helped suck me into the sport. I'll never forget totally ignoring my babysitting duties during the first OT of Game Six, scooting to the edge of my seat every time the Sabres took the puck into the offensive zone and leaping up with every shot or sinking into the couch and covering my eyes every time Dallas had the puck in our zone. I'll never forget jumping in the car and breaking every speed limit between the Hamilton's house and mine in an effort to get home before the second OT started. I'll never forget the knot in the center of my stomach and the devastating suddeness of the loss. Things were going, going, going and boom! Just like that it was all over. Even though the Sabres lost, it was largely the memory of the fun and agony of that night that led me back to hockey when the next season started. Basketball's overtime scoring goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Baseball's extra innings are, with the exception of a walk-off homer, long and slow. Runners move progressively around the bases, the other team often has a chance to tie the game back up. You can see it coming. Same with football. Even though it's sudden death, play generally moves slowly down the field. Overtime hockey isn't like that. Guys fight and scrap, leaving everything they have on the ice, and with one shot, it's all over. Someone's a winner and someone's a loser. It's an amazing high when you're the winner and completely heart-breaking when you're the loser, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

2 comments:

Meg said...

But I do agree with Ray Ferraro that the kicking rule should be done away with. Is there really that much difference between a guy using his foot and using his stick? If it goes in the net, it goes in the net. The skater could head it in for all I care.

I'm kind of on the fence about this. I think allowing goals to be kicked in could be opening a bit of a Pandora's box. I don't think it would be a problem with kicks like the one on Sunday, but not every play would be like that.

Think about what it's like now when the puck is in the crease and play hasn't been stopped. You've got a goalie sprawling and all these guys digging around trying to get the puck around the goalie. It's fine because they're using their sticks. But now we're going to let them kick it in? So you've got the goalie sprawling and players trying to kick the puck in. It seems to me that it's just asking for a Malarchuk-like accident. Quicker whistles might solve it, but do you really want the refs whistling play dead when the puck is still loose?

I know that Ferraro and Hull were quick to dismiss the "safety of the goalie" argument Sunday, but I'm not so sure they were correct in doing so.

I haven't decided how I feel about Teppo coming back for another season when Nathan Paetsch is waiting in the wings, but I don't understand how anyone can criticize Teppo for what he's done in Buffalo these last couple of years.

I think one of the things that gets ignored in the Numminen vs. Paetsch thing, is that Ruff gives Numminen tougher ice time than he gives Paetsch. It's not just a matter of Numminen playing more minutes, but also of him playing against tougher opponents. Paetsch is clearly good enough for a regular NHL gig, don't get me wrong. But I think the idea some people seem to have (and I don't mean you here) that he'll be an exact (or better) replacement for Numminen is incorrect.

KMS2 said...

With every NHL on NBC broadcast and with every word that Hull mutters, I find myself absolutely loathing that guy to point where I'm tempted to trash all of his hockey cards that I own. I couldn't believe he actually asked Briere if he was upset that Ruff was going with 4 lines because it would drive him nuts if he had a coach that did that. Sorry, Hull, not everyone is as selfish as you! Especially, Briere, that guy and Drury seem to epitomize teamwork. Anyway, just had to rant. By the way, I love your description of Hockey OT and how it is far superior to any other sport.