Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lindy, If You're Reading This Blink Twice

Saturday morning I said right here that Maxim Afinogenov and Derek Roy needed to be broken up. Saturday night they played on different lines. Coincidence? I'm not so sure. (Hi, Lindy!)

Seriously, I was glad to see that move made and I think Max and Drew Stafford both looked better on their respective lines tonight. Max and Tim Connolly have played successfully together before and Tim and Ales Kotalik have established chemistry as well. I have mixed feelings about Pominville being buried on the third line with lesser skilled players but he does play well with Jochen Hecht and Jochen can set him up pretty well. I'd definitely like to see these lines stick for a few games to see how they gel.

Let me preface this next statement by saying that I'm in no way suggesting this caused the Sabres to lose because they were totally flat in the first period which is pretty sorry considering how poorly they played the previous night but... the officiating tonight was horrid. It was chintzy and worse, it was inconsistent. (At this point the only consistent thing about the officiating is that it's inconsistent.) Nathan Paetsch got called for interference for body checking a guy coming in for a shot - which some of us have been dying for a d-man to do for about a year now - and just a few minutes later a Montreal player played Max exactly the same way and there was no call. In fact, Max ended up getting called for roughing. And how was the puck that bounced in off of Toni and Ryan not negated by the Montreal player tripping Toni in the first place? I'd be curious to know how much time in this game was spent 5-on-5. And while I'm not fully into the "The NHL Hates Buffalo" conspiracy, I don't think the Sabres made it through an entire powerplay without getting called for something that evened things up.

It was really one of those games that you hate to lose because I'm not sure they really deserved to. Like I said, they were pretty flat in the first period, but they picked it up as the game went on and I wouldn't say the Canadiens outplayed them. Montreal got all the bounces tonight - those are some crazy boards they have behind the nets - which happens sometimes. It stinks but there it is. Hopefully the team looks sharp from the beginning against Carolina on Wednesday though. I'll admit, I'm a little nervous about that one.

The one thing that does really continue to bother me is the way no one seems too concerned with opposing players running and whacking at Ryan. I don't care if you have to take a penalty, the next guy who touches Ryan should get a beatdown, no questions asked. (And no, bringing up Patrick Kaleta is not the answer.)

On a totally different subject, I guess there really is some debate about whether the Sabres involved were in on the joke in the Sportsnet video I linked to a few posts back. I mentioned that in my original commentary although I was mostly joking. If you watch though it is debatable. Something about the way Tim Connolly fake laughed and looked around made me think he was wondering whether the interviewer was being serious or not. The storm-offs are obviously fake but maybe the guy interviewed them and then explained what was going on and filmed the endings. I don't know, I guess I can kind of understand why the players were annoyed. (If they were. I haven't heard any of them comment on it.) If you have to sit down and do a billion interviews, you probably don't want to be wondering if you're being jerked around. And the subject matter probably didn't help because I'm sure every one of those guys was tired of being asked about Drury and Briere before preseason even started. That said, I don't know how you watch the finished product and not think it's both complimentary to the guys left behind and really, really funny. Honestly, considering how poorly most of these guys act in commericals and stuff, it's probably funnier with them not knowing what was going on.


Meg said...

If nothing else, I certainly thought they played better yesterday than they did Friday. And some of the calls, like the one on Max were definitely interesting. I don't's not surprising really that the team is starting slowly, since that good start last year was pretty much an aberration in the time I've been watching the Sabres (admittedly not that long) and you would expect something of a transition period with all three letter-wearers from last year gone (if hopefully temporarily in Teppo's case).

I also think that all those people who thought Paetsch could easily fill Teppo's minutes are seeing how wrong they were--something that frankly should have been obvious based on things like the quality of their competition last year. Of course those same people mostly never wanted to see Kalinin in a Buffalo uniform again and I think he's by and large been pretty damn good so far this year, including last night.

There are definitely problems that need to be addressed though, and I agree with you on the aggravation of seeing Miller harassed constantly and wanting to see these lines given time to click.

I think there are people who are too quick to judge the team after seven games and it'll take time to know what we've got this year (although I think it's safe to say that there are clear issues with the physical play).

Katebits said...

I didn't see much of the game last night, but I saw a little bit of the second period during my concert's intermission. I noticed that the lines were all funky and I figured Lindy had been reading Top Shelf again.

As far as the video goes, I would LOVE to hear from the players. I agree that the reactions of Miller and Connolly are a bit too convincing to have been staged, but even if they weren't informed of exactly what was going on, they were certainly in on the joke before filming ended. I think the video is hilarious. I hope that they all have enough of a sense of humor to roll with such a cute bit.

Heather B. said...

I don't's not surprising really that the team is starting slowly, since that good start last year was pretty much an aberration in the time I've been watching the Sabres

Mark (I think) was just saying this same thing. I haven't looked it up yet but he was pretty sure the '05-'06 was at .500 for the first couple months of the season. Some fans on the message boards are giving Lindy a hard time about saying it's going to take 15 or 16 games for the guys to get things figured out, but it makes sense to me for the reasons you mentioned. I think we'll be fine without Chris and Danny but it is different, on the ice and off.

I also think you're absolutely right about Paetsch and Teppo. I can't pinpoint one specific play where Paetsch screwed up off the top of my head, but he's definitely looked a little overwhelmed.

I'm hoping the team will end up finding a good balance between defense and offense. Maybe if they get a few more games like the Atlanta and Washington games under their belts it'll really click that good defense makes for a better game and doesn't mean losing all offensive opportunities. This might be something they work on all year though. We'll see.

I really, really want them to do a better job of protecting Ryan though. I know they're not a physical bunch and honestly, that doesn't bother me as much as it does some people, but Ryan's the one guy they really need to stand up for. Usually I hate retaliation-like penalties, but if you have to sit in the box to get your point across, do it.

I hope that they all have enough of a sense of humor to roll with such a cute bit.

That's why I was a little surprised to hear rumors that they were unhappy. It's funny, guys and I think it makes them look likable to be involved in something like that.

Meg said...

I'm pretty sure Mark's right about the start of the '05-'06 season. I think things really started humming along after November.

And yes, I'd be ok with a retaliation-type penalty to protect Miller as well. I mean, letting your goalie get run is just one of those things you're not supposed to do, isn't it?