Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We're Number 8! We're Number 8!

I feel very strongly that Sabres fans got to see something really amazing and special tonight. Something that is far too awesome for words. Something we may never see again:

That old Mike Robitaille Hockey Night in Canada feature.

Seriously, that thing was incredible. I wanted to change the channel but Mark wouldn't let me and I'm so glad he didn't. That house? Those clothes? That hair-do? And my personal favorite, that kickin' reel-to-reel stereo? Totally sweet. I hope somebody YouTube's that baby. Anybody who watched the game outside of the Buffalo feed really missed out.

Okay, okay, the game...

- How about Thomas Vanek, eh? He's been so strong over the past few games that I wasn't the least bit surprised to see him explode like that. The way he's slowly moved toward this makes me feel like he really is finally starting to get his head on straight, starting to get more comfortable in his role on the team this year. It's probably too soon to say, "I told you so," but it's ridiculous that so many people have been so ready to declare him a bust at just-turned 24, in year one of a seven year contract. In the past few season there have been a fair number of very young players who have come in and made a difference immediately - Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews - but most stars need time to figure things out. Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, and Daniel Alfredsson, just to name a few, took a few seasons to pull it all together. I know Vanek's contract puts him in a tough spot but let's not forget how young he is and how much talent we've already seen from him. Anyone who can watch him and Derek Roy over the past couple of weeks and say it was a mistake to keep them is crazy.

- One of the little things about hockey that bothers me: Why doesn't a shot that hits the crossbar count as a shot on goal? It hits the goal! It's an inch from being in the goal! I don't get it.

- Ottawa was definitely a little flat but I think this was also what Ottawa looks like without their top line clicking - a good but not great hockey team. Rob and Roby said all this in the postgame show so I know I'm repeating them but you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that I said the same things to Mark during the game. (I did!) If Ottawa runs into a team that can contain their top line OR if their top line goes cold, they're going to struggle. They're capable of rolling over every team in the conference but I certainly don't see it as a given especially with their unpredictable goaltending.

- Ottawa's flatness has to be credited at least a little bit to the Sabres because they played a very good defensive game. The Senators scare me and while I was definitely nervous about going into the third period with just a one goal lead, there weren't a lot of scoring chances that really made me groan. Big glove taps to Henrik Tallinder (yay!) and Toni Lydman in particular.

- What the heck is Tim Connolly doing with his facial hair? I told him last year that the fu manchu was a bad idea. Seriously, do you think that looks good, Tim?

- My list of Sabres who are better than Brian Campbell:
Ryan Miller (this one seems obvious)
Derek Roy (this one too)
Thomas Vanek (even while struggling Vanek has put up some points and been much improved in the defensive end)
Jason Pominville (developing into a very good two-way player)

Players who might be considered less skilled than Campbell but who are more valuable to the Sabres:
Jochen Hecht (good defensive forward, always works hard, so consistent)
Henrik Tallinder (the best defensive d-man on the team and for me, that will always be more valuable than offense in a d-man)

Players who might be considered less skilled than Campbell but who have been more valuable to the Sabres recently:
Daniel Paille
Patrick Kaleta

Brian Campbell is fine but the more people blow him up, the more I find myself disliking him and picking apart his game. Please, please let's settle this one way or the other as soon as possible so we can stop talking about him.

- Is it completely naive of me to think we could move up at least two or three more sports in the standings? Too optimistic?

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)


Ryan said...

Roby circa 1975 was awesome. I'm hoping they put it on the Sabres site, I'll do another weatherman post.

I think the whole "shot on goal" thing comes down to a shot being on the goaltender, not the net itself. It's splitting hairs, I know, but think of the phrase as "shot on goaltender" and I guess it makes more sense. Maybe they don't want saves the goaltender didn't really make to count in SV% and GAA and stuff like that. I'll check the rulebook they have in the Sabres Store later on...

Also, I want 6th. Two spots. That's all. Who doesn't want to start against the 9th seed?

Bowl of Pork said...

I'm sort of surprised Spacek didn't make your list of players better than Campbell. He isn't as flashy, but I think his play is much more consistent and he's put up a decent amount of points this season too. (9G 14A vs. Campbell's 4G 37A)Plus, he actually plays defense. A lot of it!

Sam said...

- Is it completely naive of me to think we could move up at least two or three more sports in the standings? Too optimistic?

Nope. As of right now, 10 pts are all that separate the Sabres fromthe Conf . leading Sens. 10 pts. That's 5 wins. And only 5 pts separate the Sabres from the 4th spot. It could happen!! :):) Especially if they keep playing like they have been lately.

And I agree. The piece on Roby was fantastic and HILARIOUS! I laughed like a loon. I think the best was Rayzor's reaction. He couldn't seem to stop laughing. Awsome.

What a fun hockey night for Buffalo.

Heather B. said...

Ryan, I get that goalposts aren't part of the official rule, I just never really understood why. Not wanting them to count in the goalie's statistics kind of makes sense though. It's the best explanation I've gotten so far at least!

Matt, I wouldn't fight putting Spacek on the list although I do think he and Campbell are more comparable than Campbell and some of the guys I did put on the list. Plus I was trying hard not to come down too hard on Campbell since I think I'm really losing perspective on the issue at this point ;-)

Sam, the standings are ridiculous right now. I hadn't really looked at them that closely when I posted but we could end up in first, we could end up in last. It's crazy!

And you're right - The cut back to the studio where Rob was laughing so hard he was almost crying was excellent, almost better than the Roby piece itself. Good stuff all the way around.

Anne said...

Picking top Sabres is so tough, because it changes sometimes game to game, I mean we all have our favorites but even our favorites have off nights and make bone-headed plays. Except Tallinder of course.

I'm such a nerd, because I always have questions about things like hitting the crossbar so I downloaded the NHL Rulebook onto my laptop...ok, I'm a huge loser. But it settles a lot of arguments like when my sister's boyfriend was arguing with me about what the rules for icing. (I was TOTALLY right).

I don't think its unreasonable to think that we could move up, but sadly, we could also move back down, I mean the standings are just THAT close. There's no telling how this thing will play out when all is said and done.


Meg said...

I would actually argue that Campbell is better than Spacek, so I'm glad you didn't put him on your list. :)

Maal said...

Why doesn't a shot that hits the crossbar count as a shot on goal?

A shot on goal is only a shot if the goaltender was the only thing that kept it from being a goal. Thus, a dump-in that slides into the crease and the goalie covers, but would have crossed the goal line = SOG. 96 DOINKS off the post = no SOG.

Mark B said...

"Rob and Roby said all this in the postgame show so I know I'm repeating them but you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that I said the same things to Mark during the game. (I did!)"

It's true, she did say this!

What a game last night! But we really need to follow it up with a win against a bad Leafs team tonight. What an awesome time of the year: Sabres on a unbeaten streak, the trade deadline coming up, the playoffs less than two months away...yipee!

Vanek's Hair said...

That Roby feature, particularly with the background music looked a bit like a 1970's adult film.

I would put Hecht on the players better than Campbell.

coolman856 said...

Ask and ye shall receive. Well, I didnt do it, the Sabres did but it is up on the Sabres website.