I think every fan has atleast one That Guy as in "If someone has to beat us just don't let it be that guy." I have a few but at the very tip-top of my That Guy list is Mike Comrie. I hate Mike Comrie so much that I usually just refer to him as That Little Bitch and evidently have done it enough that most of my internet buddies know exactly who I'm talking about when I say it and use the shorthand "TLB." Man, I just want to punch him square in his smug little, Hilary Duff kissing face.
Listen, I know it stinks that we lost again, but you guys and gals on the message boards needed to settle right the heck down. Was this game great? No, it was not. Was it a death knell to the entire season? No, it was not.
Here are a few good things for you to ponder:
- The special teams looked better. The PK was very strong overall and while the PP was up and down and could still use more shots on goal, it did sustain some kind of pressure/possession for most of the time.
- Play in the third period was greatly improved. There was less "I'm going to get this goal if I have to do it all by myself!" going on and more dumping and chasing. The team had 17 SOG in the third period and created a lot of good chances. It was just one of those nights where the puck wouldn't go in the net. It won't be like that every night.
- When the team needed a goal Captain (of the Month) Hecht provided one. You could argue that it took a flukey hop up and over DiPietro (who played really well in both games) but it got to that point because of Jochen's determination to get to the net with the puck. I'm looking forward to Kotalik's return and a line of Stafford-Hecht-Gaustad. At the very least, those three are going to be fun to watch because they're all such hard workers.
- The defense didn't look quite so much like a train wreck. Tallinder looked more like himself, Campbell turned in a fairly solid game, and Kalinin was very good in both zones while soaking up Lydman's minutes as well as his own. (Haters, feel free to hate on, okay?) And hey, Spacek is on pace for 82 goals this season! I'll admit that there are things that could definitely be improved in this area. How about clearing the puck after Ryan comes up with a big save and is flat on the ice? Oh, and maybe you guys could keep the idiots on the other team out of Ryan's crease? On one hand, I was glad to see Tri take a penalty for hacking at the guy harassing Ryan after the whistle but on the other hand, it was a pretty mild hack. Knock somebody down! But overall I think you'd have to say the defensive game was better.
As much as I'd like to pretend that the loss of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere means nothing, they were the go-to guys for the last couple of seasons. That doesn't mean the team as is is lost forever. It does mean that they'll need some time to sort out how they fit together on the ice and off. The season is 82 games long. Last season the Senators had a wretched first half and ended up playing for the Cup. A little patience if you please? Let's give the guys a month or so before we decide they're going nowhere. As my pal Kate said while we we commiserating about opening weekend, "It would have been awesome to have a great start, but I would rather have a great finish."
A few other random notes:
- Drury and Briere are good hockey players, okay? They're going to score points. There's no rule that says every point they score is one less the Sabres are going to score for the season. It is entirely possible for them to play well AND for us to play well, maybe even at the same time. I really don't need a daily update on how they're doing. They're not on my team anymore so I DON'T CARE!
- The Sabres website is now listing all the songs played over the PA during games at HSBC which is pretty cool. Even cooler though is that some of those songs are being selected by a player every night and are noted as player selections. This has the potential for awesomeness. My life is already much improved knowing that somewhere in the world, Jochen Hecht might be getting down to Nelly. I picture Jochen as a terrible, terrible dancer. Make sure you bring your earplugs on Toni Lydman night, Sabres fans!
- My heart felt all light and happy when they announced Teppo Numminen during the official player introductions last night even though he wasn't there to skate out on the ice. Seems like hard feelings all around to me.
- Scott Niedermayer, you are screwing with my fantasy team. Please do something - anything! - soon.
And I'll close with this personal note to Tim Connolly (because I know the players huddle around their laptops just waiting for me to post): Timmy, please tighten your chin strap and wear a mouth guard. Your helmet currently barely qualifies as buckled and that's not going to cut it when some ass-wipe barrels into your head. Your helmet is going to go flying and you're going to make contact with whatever you hit - the boards, another player, or god forbid, the ice - with your unprotected, bald skull. You're going to get carried off the ice on a stretcher and I'm going to cry like a little girl. And here's the thing Timmy... I feel like this is probably going to happen. Players can talk all they want about having respect for each other and the league can talk all they want about cleaning up the game but they're all full of it. Someone somewhere is going to take a run at you and I really hope you get back up after it happens. Don't be stupid about this, okay? Don't let some idiot with no self-control end your career.