So that game really blew. I was there and here's what I remember about the action on the ice:
- Dmitri Kalinin taking a roughing penalty. It was definitely a penalty but I was kind of tickled since Tri doesn't usually get fired up like that.
- Henrik Tallinder blowing a gasket about a penalty and slamming his stick on the ice. Very uncharacteristic and I'm a little surprised he didn't end up getting an unsportsmanlike conduct call on top of the initial penalty. On the one replay they showed at the arena it looked like it was a penalty so I'm not sure what Hank's beef was. I'm assuming he thought the Blue Jacket player was holding his stick.
- Derek Roy sucking it up big time. Derek, you do not make it easy sometimes. (More about him at another time.)
Annnd... that's about it. This game was pretty unmemorable and kind of boring and almost every Sabre was completely invisible. The only semi-analysis I'll make is that the Sabres are really going to have to find a way to play against teams that bottle up the neutral zone and/or collapse around the goalie because they're going to see a lot of that this season. Opponents are going to do whatever they can to avoid a run and gun track meet.
Oh, actually I'll also say this: This game was a perfect example of why I think the RAV line should be broken up. When Vanek, Roy, and Afinogenov are playing well, they're great but when they're struggling at all, they completely drag each other down. Max starts playing the "I'm going to score this goal all by myself!" game and Derek immediately follows his lead. Vanek doesn't seem to do that quite so much but with his two linemates playing all by themselves, he's left on his own. That line was absolutely brutal tonight on both ends of the ice. When Derek plays with someone who's more defensively responsible - or just responsible period - it seems to trigger something in his brain and he plays more responsibly too. He and Max together? Bad combo.
Hank and Toni (BFF!) at skate-around, pretty much the highlight of the game.
Fortunately, even though the game was a bust, the company was great. After hearing all week about the fun everyone else was having, I finally managed to meet up with Kate (of The Willful Caboose) and Pookie and Schnookie (of Interchangeable Parts) and we had a total blast. We started the evening with dinner at local institution Chef's. Mark and I had been there once before and while I wasn't a huge fan, I hated to sound negative since I'm really not a huge fan of Italian food to begin with. I will admit to being a little relieved that none of the girls seemed particularly taken with Chef's either. I'm convinced that my meatball sub was a piece of bread, a layer of meatballs, and then an entire block of cheese melted over the top. They are not stingy with the cheese at Chef's. But hey, I suppose it's one more thing we can check off on the "Things to Do In Buffalo" list. That said, Daniel Paille, it might be time to try some new restaurants in Buffalo because there has to be something better out there.
After dinner we headed off to the game which, as we've already established, was not very enjoyable. It didn't take long for us to zone out and start talking about totally random things like who's funnier looking, Drew Stafford or Ryan Miller, Ryan Miller's playlist, how handsome Paul Gaustad is in real-life, and how bad Derek Roy sucks. For the record: I think Stafford is way funnier looking but I think I was in the minority. We all agreed that Ryan spent hours poring over his CD collection trying to find exactly the right songs and most likely had lengthy, in-depth reasons behind each selection. And the Derek conversations all went something like this:
Pookie and Schnookie: God, Derek Roy sucks.
Me: Stop it, he can totally be good, I swear! Just not you know, tonight!
We were right behind Ryan's net for two periods so we spent a lot of time watching him. He's pretty fascinating. At one point he was clearly upset with his teammates - I think it was Schnookie who said it appeared that he was telling them to check somebody but there was definitely general disgust, atleast momentarily. My favorite part of the night was when he skated over to the ice guy during a TV timeout and carefully explained what needed to be done to the ice in the crease. After the guy cleaned it up, Ryan skated back over and inspected the guy's handiwork so closely that his nose was practically against the ice, decided something was lacking and used his water bottle to fix up a spot by the post, which he then seemed to obsess about for a while. Goalies are great, Ryan Miller is even greater.
Other than that, the highlight of the game was the guy behind us who was clearly drunk by the halfway point of the first period and completely fixated on Pookie and I knowing where Sabretooth was at all times. (Pookie: I don't mean to alarm you, but there's a large tiger behind you. Do not make any sudden movements.) Oh, there was also the small boy in front of us who decided to rally the Sabres by stripping off his shirt and twirling it over his head. And there was the laughing and giggling over the signs I made for the occasion:
The wording and the lettering did, unfortunately, bring to mind small-town strip joints. Sorry, Hank!
Both of these signs were inspired by comment threads at IPB. "Tally Ho" is the affectionate - I think - nickname given to me by Kate and Pommerdoodle is the nickname given to Jason Pominville. In case the sign doesn't make it clear why, it's because he totally looks like a labradoodle puppy.
I also made this one but unfortunately, didn't get much use out of it tonight:
It turns out that I really enjoy making signs more than I enjoy holding them. I felt kind of stupid. I think to really pull off a sign you need to be either under the age of 10 or a committed puck bunny, two things that I am not. Kate slumping in her seat to hide behind the signs in embarrassment didn't help either. Also, it's a plus if your team isn't sucking it up on the ice. So mostly the signs just got trampled on during the game but it was worth the work for how amused we were by them.
We ended the night with dessert at Butterwood, a dessert restaurant in Williamsville. We sat in traffic for what seemed like an eternity, frightened that Butterwood would close before we got there and we would go home dessert-less, but the way did finally clear and holy cow, everything was very tasty. The IPB girls have photos of our plates up if you'd like to see them. We all ordered something different and shared. I had the molten lava cake with a smattering of fresh fruit and a little scoop of vanilla ice-cream. The way the waitress explained all the elements of each dish made me feel like I was on Top Chef but it was pretty cool. I even got an explanation of the powdered sugar which cracked us all right up.
So despite the wretched hockey game, it was a delightful evening. After we dropped Pookie and Schnookie off at their hotel, Kate and I were talking about how their blog is very representative of who they are. If you've read Interchangeable Parts, you've met Pookie and Schookie. I would also say the same for Kate and The Willful Caboose. I have no idea if that's the case for me, but I think that's probably a large part of why both of those blogs are so much fun to read - Kate, Pookie, and Schnookie are writing from their own perspsectives with their own voices and personalities rather than trying to be something they're not. Anyone who ever has the opportunity to hang out with any of them should definitely seize the day.
Ryan Miller's Playlist.
I don't remember hearing The Verve but bravo, Ryan. I like that one.