Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Buffalo Valentine's

Valentine's Day is almost over as I write this, but what the heck, it's never too late for a little love, right? My "I Hate" post was written in love - you'll just have to trust me - but maybe it's time for some less subtle affection. Let's get things started with a quote from Ryan Miller about a terrific play made in the Toronto game by a certain defensemen:

"You've got to love Hank," Miller said, referring to Tallinder. "I got lucky."

I do love Hank, Ryan, I do! We are lucky, aren't we? Speaking of which, breaking news courtesy of commenter twoeightnine! A few months ago I linked to a post at Mirtle's in which Mirtle came up with a new formula to rank defensemen based on defensive play. At the time, Hank was just outside the top ten at number eleven. This morning Mirtle posted an updated ranking and not only has Hank moved into the top ten, he's number one, baby! His partner in crime, Toni Lydman, is in at number nine. Number one! You know what's coming, right?

Hank Tallinder FTW!

Here's the official love list:

I love Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman for stepping up their game and shutting teams down. Any night Ottawa's top line goes pointless is a good one.

I love Ryan Miller for taking the team on his back on the ice and becoming its beating heart off the ice.

I love Derek Roy for showing some maturity by responding to his coach's challenge to be better and playing the way I knew he could.

I love Daniel Paille for doing all the dirty work in the corners and along the boards.

I love Patrick Kaleta for bringing energy and fierceness to the ice every single night.

I love Nolan Pratt and Dmitri Kalinin for becoming a steady, dependable pairing and for doing it so quietly that you might not have even noticed.

I love Thomas Vanek for sticking it out and finally looking like he knows he's one of the best hockey players on the ice on any given night.

I love Paul Gaustad for snapping that the media and fans might have given up on the team but the team never gave up on itself.

Heck, I even love Brian Campbell a little for saying he wants to remain a Sabre and I think saying it with sincerity.

I love Jaroslav Spacek for playing hard and making all of last year's complaints about his contract disappear. I also love him for being honest about his performance and the performance of the team even when they stunk.

I love Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville for being the unsung heroes of the team this season. While all eyes were on the players who were really struggling, Pommers and Yo-Yo showed up every night, played hard every night, and hung in there until the rest of the team caught up with them.

I love Lindy Ruff for, as usual, knowing his team. I love him for protecting them, pushing them, comforting them, and challenging them and doing it all at exactly the right time.

I love the Sabres for refusing to give up the season for dead even when a lot of us were ready to. (But not me, of course.)


Becky said...

Yes yes yes!

For all the negative or cynical comments I can summon up, I actually like the team and I'm glad they're finally finding themselves.

Much better play, especially since the All-Star break!

Meg said...

Yay, Hank!

Vanek's Hair said...

Great point about Pratt and Kalinin. Pratt has very quietly been a great pick up. Pretty much every game he has played, I had no idea he was in the lineup. Which is a pretty good compliment to pay a defenseman.

And for all the Kalinin bashers: Remember the Islanders and Rangers series last playoffs where he was the team's best defenseman? Just saying.

Heather B. said...

Vanek's hair, I'm convinced that Van's turnaround can be credited to his recent haircut. How do you feel about that? :-)

Okay, seriously... Dmitri's diving poke check on a Ryan Smyth breakaway during the Islander series last year was the best Buffalo defensive play of the postseason and one of my favorite defensive plays of all-time. Awesomeness.

Vanek's Hair said...

I hate the hair cut!!!!! The flowing blonde hair club mourns the loss of another member :(...

elise said...

I just spent a good 15 minutes playing with the candy heart generator.

Vanek's Hair said...

And yes, I do remember that great defensive play against Ryan Smyth. Picture perfect.

brian s. said...

Heather, here's one you forgot:

I love the Sabres for, once again, giving us a reason to truly believe that anything is possible. This is in direct contrast to earlier in the season when I wanted to but wasn't 100% convinced due to their lack of effort.

Sam said...

Vanek looks MUCH better with the hair cut.

Still hate Campbell, especially after this weekend. Gag.

and I Looove Danny Paille! How many times did they show the 1 goal against Toronto? I could have watched it that many more. It was soooo pretty. And my dude is a +12! That's wild, especially on this time.

and a big YAY for Hank! :)

Sam said...

and er, in the previous comment, I meant "this TEAM", not this time.

it's late.

Can we have the Ottawa-Beating Sabres back? Please?