Raise your hand if you knew the second that delay of game penalty was called on Jason Pominville that the Sabres were going to lose this game. Yep. Me too.
Even I, the eternal optimist, cannot deny that that game sucked and blew in so many ways that it's tough to quantify. Choking away a three goal lead? To a team that's missing something like 18 forwards? And on a ten game losing streak? Loose play in the defensive zone? Again? Soft goaltending when it mattered? Letting Danny Briere be the hero? Sweet moses that game was pretty much my hockey nightmare come to life.
- Versus was making my head spin. One moment they'd say something that was actually kind of insightful and right on the nose for people who probably don't watch every Sabres game (Jochen Hecht has been the team's best all-around player, Jason Pominville has developed into a mature, responsible player, Roy is becoming a good playmaker) and then they'd say stuff that was not so right (Campbell and Spacek are the top guys (at certain things yes, but "top guys" with no qualifier is not acceptable), Campbell is an amazing open ice hitter, and I know there was another one but I can't remember it. Trust me though, it was there.)
- I was very wishy-washy on the little turtleneck thing Henrik Tallinder was wearing tonight until someone mentioned it was a neck protector. It may look a little silly but by golly, if it means I'll never have to watch Hank hustle to the bench with blood gushing from his throat, I'm all for it.
- Ryan Miller was not good tonight. He didn't get a lot of help most of the night and there were some great saves mixed in but he has to be better, especially in games that are so important. Sometimes I hate how much fans put on the goalie's shoulders but it comes with the position. I know he has a little stretch every season where he seems to wear down a bit before finally snapping out of it but he needs to snap out of sooner this year.
- I was going to shoot my TV if I had to watch that Alexander Ovechkin 60 Goals commercial one. more. time. Mark pointed out to me that when the player names pop up all over the ice, HULL pops up in the crease which was very amusing... but only the first 37 times. After that I hated Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Captials, the NHL, and Gary Bettman.
- Also, Versus was killing me with the Umberger "poetic justice" bit. Nothing they were calling "poetic justice" was actually "poetic justice." And scoring on a power play is not really scoring in an "unusual circumstance." I hate you, Versus.
- While I certainly will not blame this loss on injuries - that would be ridiculous, especially considering the Flyers were even worse off than us in that regard - I will say again that I don't think Jochen Hecht's absence can be underestimated even though it totally will be. Taking him out means losing our best defensive forward, one of our most responsible players, and one of the guys who never seems to hit panic mode and it means shuffling two lines that have been playing really well together (Roy-Connolly-Vanek, Pominville-Hecht-Player X). I think Jochen is one of the cards on the bottom of the house of cards that is the Sabres roster. Pull him out and the whole thing tumbles down or at least starts teetering an awful lot.
- Some good things: Derek Roy was a beast on the first goal, Timmy made a gorgeous pass on Pommers' goal, Pommers continues to be his steady, reliable self, ummmm... Henrik Tallinder was wearing a neck guard... Timmy was really funny yapping at the Flyers bench... let's see... Oh! Andrew Peters threw a punch! Lindy was screaming and that always amuses me... That's pretty good, right?
- This game was so bad that I can't even fully enjoy the Sens 5-0 loss to the Leafs and that is just not right. Let's forget this game happened and move on, okay?
Tomorrow is trade deadline day and all I can say is thank the Lord. I can't wait for this to be over. I don't think it'll surprise anyone to hear me say I'm firmly on the side of trading Brian Campbell. I think the Sabres are absolutely right to not budge on their most recent offer because Campbell is simply not worth a big money contract. And considering how clearly unfocused he's been for the past few weeks, I have to wonder how well he'll handle the expectations that come with a big contract. Get something for him and then let's all move on and, Darcy, don't even think about calling one of your "Everything is under control!" press conferences because you don't owe anyone an apology for trading an overrated, overpriced d-man. Oh, I know there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth from some quarters about how he's gone and how the Sabres were stupid to let him go and how they should have paid him but I feel pretty good about ignoring those quarters because they are, quite simply, wrong. (As always, feel free to disagree. But you're not changing my mind on this one.) Also I totally want to re-sign Dmitri Kalinin. I would like for Darcy to announce Kalinin's re-signing and Campbell's trade at the same time. It would send some people over the edge but I? I would be very happy.
Dan Boyle's contract? Ridiculous. One, it's awfully close to Nicklas Lidstrom money and while I know Lidstrom probably gave the Red Wings a little bit of a discount, that still ain't right. Two, he got ridiculous money AND a no-trade clause. Really? After all the guys refusing to waive NTCs, GMs are still giving those out? And they're not going to ask the guy to take a little less money if they're included? Three, did I mention that it's ridiculous? Because I don't know if you guys remember but we just had a lockout and part of the justification of the lockout was the need to institute cost control. Which is HI-larious considering that Brian Campbell is probably going to be making Brad Boyle money come July.
Tomorrow - today by the time most of you read this - I'll be strapped to the laptop. Mark has elected me to update him and his co-workers on any breaking trades. Next up: My sparkling commentary on said trades and finally - finally! - my thoughts (and yours) on the shootout.