In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts! Seriously, is it December yet?
Tonight Heather ranks the Sabres. Please note: These rankings are not based on performance or talent. This is strictly my personal preference.
1. Henrik Tallinder - Honestly, do you people actually read my blog? If you need more details, read this post.
2. Tim Connolly - I know he's fragile, I know he's one hit away from being done for good... but I just love watching him play. He's the one guy on the team whose talent just amazes me. His movements are always so fluid and his vision is incredible. I admit, I'm often trying to rush him to do something with the puck because he holds it and holds it and holds it... but a lot of times when he finally does something with it, it's perfect.
3. Derek Roy - Again, anyone who's read Top Shelf for more than a couple of weeks has probably stumbled across what I like about Derek. He can be completely infuriating, but at his best he's a feisty, hustling, talented little spark plug. If he grows up a little, he'll be more firmly planted here. As it is now, he fluctuates on my list although he never falls very far.
4. Jochen Hecht - Jochen Hecht is the offensive equivalent of a Tallinder or a Toni Lydman. He's not flashy, he doesn't stand out, he's not going to score a lot of goals. But he quietly does a lot of important little things. I said this a few days ago, but every team needs atleast one Jochen Hecht. You don't usually notice him when he's there, but you'd totally miss him if he were gone.
5. Brian Campbell - I admit, this is largely based on personality. I don't think Soupy is the defensive disaster some fans seem to feel he is - though offense is clearly his strength - but I really just like him. I like that he smiles all the time. I like that the players around him are almost always smiling too. And I really like that he always seems like he's having so much fun on the ice.
6. Toni Lydman - Can you tell I have a weakness for the soft-spoken, occasionally overlooked, defensive-types? Because I totally do. After kind of a rough start, Toni has been a rock. I also love his slow-talking, self-effacing interivews.
7. Ryan Miller - I'm working on a post about Ryan so I won't say too much here other than that I think he's an interesting cat. He's grown on me a lot over the last year or so, and I enjoy listening to him talk because he's so open and honest. And he is, of course, maturing into a pretty good goalie.
8. Teppo Numminen - I miss Teppo and I'm convinced the kids do too. Steady and soothing on the ice, funny and good-natured off it. Any old guy cool enough to go see Justin Timberlake with his much younger teammates is a-okay with me.
9. Dmitri Kalinin - I feel a very big sister-like affection and protectiveness for Dmitri. I guess I understand why other fans find him frustrating - he can unravel like nobody else. But I also think he's often the scapegoat. When he plays well it's overlooked, the second he makes a mistake everyone wants to put him on the first boat back to Russia.
10. Adam Mair - I do enjoy the way Adam usually plays hard on the ice. What he doesn't have in skill he tries to make up for with hard work. But again, I like Mairsy mostly for his personality. I loved him having the P.A. announcer thank the fans in Mair's Office for their support at the end of last season. I loved him saying he'd be back in Buffalo this season, no matter how much he got paid and no matter what his agent said. And I love him for actually following up and coming back. He also looks remarkably like the boy I had a massive crush on throughout high school.
11. Paul Gaustad - I like him for reasons similar to Adam Mair. Hard worker, willing to do what it takes. Definitely going to be one of the leaders of this young team, I think. Also a pretty handsome guy although the buzz cut was definitely a mistake.
12. Jason Pominville - I almost put Pommers in the ten spot because he's definitely grown on me this season. He's a consistently hard-worker, he's been important to the team from the second he was promoted, and he seems like a really nice kid. I'm trying to move past the whole puckbunny favorite thing, Pommers, I swear.
13. Thomas Vanek - Thomas is also growing on me. I think he's sincere about wanting to be an important part of the team for the next seven years and I think he'll ultimately be comfortable being the go-to guy. He's not going to be Alexei Yashin. Eventually I expect him to move up on this list, but for now, he's kind of hanging out in the middle. On a personal level, I was very neutral on him - didn't love him, didn't hate him - until the last few weeks.
14. Drew Stafford - I like Drew and I do think he's going to be a good player and an important part of the team, especially in the future. But I don't love him, not yet atleast.
15. Maxim Afinogenov - On the ice, Max has the ability to frustrate me like no one else. Why I can overlook Derek Roy's negatives and embrace his positives while not doing it for Max is something I can't explain. In my mind, Derek isn't as inconsistent as Max, I guess. I don't know. But yes, Max drives me bonkers. He has so much talent, but he just can't seem to get a handle on how to best use it and unlike some of the younger guys, he's been around long enough that he should be farther on down that road. He'll be great for a stretch of games and then fall apart and he's always been that way. Argh! Off the ice, Max is a total enigma so he doesn't pick up many points there.
16. Jaroslav Spacek - I'm pretty neutral on Jaro. I don't love him, don't leap to his defense. But I don't hate him, and even last season he didn't bother me as much as he clearly did some people. I will say this: Best interview ever. Between his accent, the timbre of his voice, and the speed at which he speaks, he is amazing to listen to. In that regard, I totally adore him.
17. Daniel Paille - I've really liked him in the past few games, but I don't have much of an opinion of him overall. I need to see more.
18. Ales Kotalik - Oh, Al. I want to like you, but I'm just over the whole thing. I'm over people talking about your potential. I'm over people talking about how great your shot is when you use it. I'm over hearing about how you can use your body when you feel like it. I'm over seeing you play lights out for a few games and then disappearing for the next stretch. I really need you to be more consistent, okay?
19. Nolan Pratt - Pratt's been on the team for about twenty minutes but I'm boosting him up from the bottom some for no other reason than the fact that he cross-checked a guy off of Ryan. Thank goodness someone is willing to do it. (Guys! Ryan is important! Protect him, please!)
20. Clarke MacArthur - I like this kid and his big smile and his little tiny curly head.
21. Michael Ryan - I admit, part of me feels like Michael Ryan shouldn't be on the team and that if he hasn't stuck at the NHL level by now, he probably isn't going to. But he's a fast little guy and he definitely plays hard. If he had a touch more skill he might be the leading goal-scorer because he creates a lot of good opportunities for himself and his linemates. I also love his accent.
22. Nathan Paetsch - Eh. Not much of an opinion here. Did I mention that I miss Teppo?
23. Jocelyn Thibault - I like what I've seen of T-Bone's personality but that's really not much. He has plenty of room to move up but I'm going to have to see more. Shutting out opponents helps though so let's keep that up, buddy!
24. Andrew Peters - Seriously, why is he still here? He seems like a perfectly decent guy, I guess, but he contributes nothing hockey-wise. Nothing.