A few thoughts:
- Wow, Dallas was... not impressive. After all the hullabaloo from the Buffalo News and Lindy Ruff (They're so big! So physical! So athletic! So beautifully led!) I was expecting more. I've often wondered about the teams who have a powerplay worse than ours (okay, in fairness to Dallas, they're ranked one above us). I guess our powerplay really isn't the worst in the history of man. Who knew?
- Nice to see good goaltending make a difference. Ryan Miller was definitely looking a little cranky last night - loved the reenactment of the tripping penalty for the ref and the spearing of the guy who was hacking away at his glove. I was a little worried because a couple of times he started to do the "Hey, look at that other goalie! Me too! Me too!" routine he likes to do when he plays a goalie who handles the puck a lot but he kept it reined in pretty well. Overall I'd say he did a pretty good job of responding to Lindy's recent remarks about the guy between the pipes needing to be good.
- Lindy was not kidding about Marty Turco's puck handling abilities though. Some of his passes were pretty impressive. I really like Marty. He's one of my favorite non-Sabres in the league and I do wish we saw him more often. He makes me laugh.
- Top Shelf glove taps to Toni Lydman for blocking what seemed like eighteen shots on one powerplay and Jochen Hecht for more or less saving the game with his poke check at the end. Defense is sexy!
- Speaking of defense, I hate to get into the habit of pointing out every little thing Brian Campbell does wrong but come on, Buffalo. He totally forgot what position he was playing on the Dallas goal. (I did let out a good "STUUUUUUUUUUUUU," just for old time's sake.)
- Okay, let's talk about Derek Roy. A couple of days ago I mentioned that Derek Roy was the Sabre that has disappointed me the most this season. The Dallas game (along with the Toronto game) is a perfect example of what I've been expecting from Derek. He was buzzing, he was involved in the play, he was making his linemates better. You noticed him almost every time he was on the ice. He's had spurts like that all season, a string of games when he's had multiple points. But he's also had long stretches of games where he was either damaging the team with irresponsible play or just not there at all. In one of my hate letters I think I mentioned that I expected this year's team to be, at the very least, hard-working, determined, playing with a little bit of a chip on its shoulder. What I didn't say was that I expected a lot of that to come from the team taking on a bit of Derek Roy because when he's playing well, that's how he plays and as we saw tonight, it makes a difference. Of all the guys in that little Rochester core, I really expected Derek to be the one who stepped up to fill in some of the leadership gap. He's been the leader before - he captained the Kitchener Rangers to the Memorial Cup - and in the preseason he seemed eager to be the guy.
In fairness to him however, I probably had my expectations a touch too high for this season, especially since I even admitted in a preseason post that he had a lot of growing up to do on the ice. Between the excessive diving and the never-ending whining about every single call/no call he didn't like, he could be a total baby. It was probably too much to expect him to go from Whiny Baby to Leader of Men in one season. But that's what makes this whole "most disappointing player" debate interesting because it really depends on who you were expecting the most out of.
The good news is, I think Derek has made some progress in the whiny department this year. I can't remember the last time I screamed at him about yapping at the refs. And while I think he'll always be willing to go down for a call, I think that's gotten a little better too. And he has shown flashes of how he's capable of taking over a game and feeding energy into his team. I fully expect his new contract to be good for both him and the Sabres in the long-run. You hear, "He'll be a bargain by the time his contract is up" a lot, but I think Derek really will have been a bargain when all is said and done. (Wake me up when Alexander Ovechkin's contract is even in the same neighborhood as a bargain.)
And on a total side note, those amped up shoulder pads Derek is wearing lately completely crack me up. They make him look even smaller than he already is. He looks like a little kid wearing full gear for the first time.
So yeah, Derek Roy. Disappointing and encouraging all at the same time. It's like the guy behind us at a game last season said. "Derek Roy... Man, I love that little bastard."