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:
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?