"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?
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.)