Okay, I've calmed down a little bit so I think it's safe to talk about the game for real. And while Ryan was terrible on both Clarkson's goal and in the shootout - what has happened to him in the shootout? - I know he's extremely tough on himself and I doubt he went to bed very happy after that game. That said, Ryan has to be great when his team needs him to be great. It was a big deal that the struggling offense managed to put two by Martin Brodeur. He needed to lock it down and he didn't.
In his postgame conference Lindy said, "We have not had ham and egg. We've had a lot of ham, had a lot of egg but we haven't mixed it up very well." While his choice of metaphors is... interesting, I get what he's saying and I actually said the same thing not that long ago. For whatever reason, the Sabres just cannot get every part of the game clicking at the same time. If the defense plays well, the offense struggles. If the offense looks good, the defense or goaltending struggles. It's so frustrating to watch because we've seen that both units can play well but the ineffective unit just completely kills what the other unit is doing.
Okay, I can't talk about this game anymore. Let's move on. Some random thoughts:
I was glad to see that Lindy Ruff finally kind of called out some players by praising the guys who have been killing themselves the last few games - Daniel Paille, Clarke MacArthur, Adam Mair, Mike Ryan - and saying that the guys who are not currently in the line-up - Derek Roy, Tim Connolly, Maxim Afinogenov - need to play better than they have been. I thought it was curious though that Brian Wheeler said on his blog on Sabres.com that Lindy was not saying "some guys need to play better or they're benched" but was saying "players need to play better for us to be successful." Now I'm willing to admit that Brian Wheeler probably has a better feel for Lindy since I'm assuming he actually talks to the man and I, unfortunately, do not, but that seems like an interesting interpretation of his words. Of course maybe I'm blinded by the fact that I hope that Lindy did mean "some guys need to play better or they're benched." Is Clarke MacArthur a better player than Roy, Connolly, or Afinogenov? No, probably not. Is a hard-working, enthusiastic MacArthur more valuable on the ice than a lazy Roy or an overly dipsy-doodling Connolly? Yeah, I think so. If they're playing hard and just not connecting - Jason Pominville and yes, Thomas Vanek - fine. If they're making the same mistakes over and over and over because they refuse to do something different, show them the pressbox for a game or two and see what happens.
I love them. I do. I'm really tired of all of them. I'm so tired of them that I changed my desktop wallpaper to a non-Sabre which is unprecedented during hockey season. At this point I would be fine with Lindy, Mike Robitaille, Rob Ray, and James Patrick starting the next game.
What was up with Brian Campbell getting the C for the game instead of one of the guys wearing the A? Although I will say - and it pains me a little to do so - he did have a couple of really nice defensive plays tonight.
Speaking of which, while Campbell probably deserves to be the All-Star rep for the Sabres - I'd say Jochen Hecht has been our best player but I know he doesn't stick out enough compared to the rest of the league - I think that a) he wouldn't have made the squad if there didn't have to be a rep from every team and b) he wouldn't have made the squad if there was more appreciation for what defensemen are primarily supposed to do which is, of course, play defense. How else do you explain Anton Volchenkov sitting at home? And yes, I am partly complaining about this because I know fans and some media are going to use the All-Star selection as ammo in the on-going "WE MUST SIGN CAMPBELL NOW!" arguments and that's ridiculous. Yes, it's very nice that he was selected by the players, I'm glad everyone knows who he is but that said, All-Star games mean nothing and don't belong in a discussion about how valuable a player is or isn't.
Why is Paul Hamilton the only guy who ever asks questions during postgame interviews with players? There are tons of people standing there with microphones, but Paul's the only one who ever talks. Is he pushy? Are other guys happy letting him handle that? What's the dealio?
And how badly did Paul Hamilton want Teppo Numminen to say he was angry with the Sabres and/or the Sabres' doctors in the most recent interview up on Sabres.com? Every question ended with, "Are you angry with the Sabres?" (Okay, it was two questions but still!)
And speaking of Teppo, while I know everyone is up in arms about the possibility of the Sabres mistreating yet another player, I think when you're talking about a guy's sternum healing, it's best to err on the side of caution. That's, you know... kind of serious. Geez.
In closing, I would just like to announce that I hate that frakkin' Reebook Edge pop-up ad on NHL.com. While trying to get the Sabres blog link for this post I inadvertently rolled over it atleast six times. I'm not buying your stupid jersey, Reebok. Leave me alone.
(For the curious, my new wallpaper.)