Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yippie Paille, Mother F#$!@&!

Hockey talk coming, I promise. Keep reading!

So today I was looking over my bookshelf for something to read and I decided on Roald Dahl's Boy: Tales of Childhood, his autobiography. I read this book many years ago when I was a Dahl-loving child but I haven't thought about it in years. On the second page of the book he tells the story of how back in 1877 at age 14 his father fell off a roof and broke his arm. The local doctor was a drunk quack who, in the process of trying to fix the arm, yanked on it until the bone was sticking out through the skin. Orthopedic surgery not being what it is now (now being almost 25 years ago when Dahl was writing this book), they simply amputated his arm at the elbow and he spent the rest of his life carrying around a fork with the bottom edge sharpened so he could cut and eat his food with one hand. The moral of the story is this: I'm going to try being grateful that I live in the age of modern medicine and therefore still have a foot that will most likely work again one of these days. That said, I go in on Friday for new x-rays and if the doctor tells me he's re-casting my foot I'm hopping away as fast and as far as I can.

So... how 'bout them Sabres? I don't know what happened but they're starting to look like a real hockey team. Did they push through the growing pains? Are they finally adjusting to different roles? Did they wake up and realize, "Holy crow, we're not gonna make the playoffs!" Did someone send them a copy of my "I Hate the Sabres" missive? (I'm sure it's that last one.) Is it possible - maybe! - that the Sabres aren't really as bad as everyone's been saying? I say yes! Optimistic to the end!

Seriously, I'm not going to pretend the team isn't missing some pieces. And I'm not going to pretend that losing Chris Drury and Daniel Briere didn't do some damage. That would be ridiculous. But I do think the problems this season have gone way beyond Chris and Danny. For whatever reason it's just been one of those years teams have once in a while where everyone struggles. Chris and Danny don't have anything to do with Ryan Miller being so inconsistent. They don't have anything to do with Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman being up and down. They're not the reason Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov have spent so much time on IR. They have nothing to do with the team losing Teppo Numminen - a loss that I think has been very much underrated - just before the season began. If Ryan had played a little better during the 10 game losing winless streak or if Thomas Vanek converted ten percent of the crossbars he hit or if the defense had been just a little more stable things could be totally different. I don't think they'd be leading the Eastern Conference and I don't think they'd be a Stanley Cup shoo-in, but I do think we'd all be a little less ready to throw ourselves over Niagara Falls in barrels with THE SABRES SUCK scrawled on the side. It's just been a perfect storm of struggle and underachievement.

A few thoughts about tonight:

- I hate playing the Bruins. I know people complain about the Devils being boring but I don't know, I don't mind them, I think because I really like a few of their players (Travis Zajac, Jay Pandolfo, and Martin Brodeur being the big three). I couldn't name you a single Bruin most days - I usually even forget Zdeno Chara plays for them until someone else mentions him - and the games with them are usually snoozers. Oh, and we have to play them 18 times a year.

That said, tonight's game wasn't bad. It helped that we scored first because that kept Boston from going into a defensive shell. Still... We have to play them again this week? What's up with that, NHL schedule makers?

- I can't even tell you how tickled I am about Danny Paille right now. (I also can't tell you how tickled I am about the awesome title of this post. I couldn't decide whether to go with "Pie-Yay" or "Paille" but I finally decided on the latter. Also, I really have to give credit to Mark who suddenly yelled out the title after the game tonight. And if you don't get the reference, rent a movie once in a while why don'tcha? If you follow the link, you'll hear some coarse language so beware.) There was a rumor 'round town last season that Drew Stafford got the first call-up because Paille responded so poorly to being cut out of training camp, kind of pouting about it. I have no idea if that's true - I did probably read it on a message board - but it really colored my opinion of him without me even really realizing it. But he's been super impressive this season. He's one of the hardest workers on the team and he's shown flashes of real skill. I'm thinking we should keep him. As soon as we saw the lines on the screen tonight I said to Mark, "Oooh, I like Paille with Pommers and Yo-Yo. That's gonna work." It's like Lindy and I share a brain, I tell ya.

- Speaking of Pommers and Yo-Yo, they continue to be two of the steadiest players on the team. I'd like to see Jason hitting the net more than he has been, but I'm not sure you can really complain about their overall game. There was a lot of hullabaloo about how losing Briere was going to wreck Pommers but I think he and Jochen have established a pretty nice chemistry too. Everyone who gets plugged in beside them comes out looking pretty good and I think that's at least partly to their credit.

- I hate the kicking rule. I can never tell what's going to be allowed and what's going to be overturned and I don't think anyone else can tell either. I'm partly convinced Toronto just flips a coin. I suppose I get the idea of protecting the goalie from guys mindlessly kicking their blades around, but I don't know, would it really be that much of a problem? I don't care what the puck bounces off of, if it goes in the net, it's a goal.

- This is totally unrelated but I don't get the goalie trapezoid either. I was trying to get Mark to explain it to me the other night and it was a confusing and circular conversation so for me it comes down to this: I don't understand it so it has no use. Let's get rid of it too.

I'll leave you with this bit from the brilliant Mike Harrington. It was taken from his game diary over at Sabres Edge for tonight:

A beautiful passing play gives the Sabres a 2-1 lead. Brian Campbell throws one diagonally to Drew Stafford, who finds Thomas Vanek in front for a tip-in that's his 15th goal of the season. But the play was made at the left point by Henrik Tallinder, who had his shot blocked and managed to outmuscle a Bruin to keep it in the zone and feed Campbell. No assist to Tallinder but he was most responsible for the goal.

I know you're all asking, "Heather? Is it really that easy to earn the tag 'brilliant' from you? Saying nice things about Henrik Tallinder?" To which I say: Yes, yes it is.

Hank Tallinder FTW!


Bowl of Pork said...

Just FYI, post on the reasoning behind the trapezoid coming later today at my place.

Apparently you're not the only one confused.

Anne said...

Lindy is freakin' sweet. He said at the beginning of the season that there are two offensive pairs that will always play together: Roy and Vanek and Pominville and Hecht. Only once did he move Roysie up to skate with Pommer and Hecht and it didn't really work. The only thing missing from those combinations was the solid 3rd man. Clearly, Staffy is the perfect fit for the Roy/Vanek line and maybe Danny Pie-YAY is the fit for Pommer and Yoyo? I like the way that sounds!

Bowl of Pork said...

Ok, I think I hit everything I needed to in this post. Please tell me if you think I'm full of shite... =)

Gambler said...

Heather, this post title just made my day! Please pass my gratitude on to Mark.

Kate said...

Yippee Paille is HILAROUS.

Mark B said...

Re: the title. Once every few years, I have a great idea, brainstorm. Thanks for the props!

The trapezoid? I think what I was trying to explain in our circular conversation is the main reason for it is to prevent the goalies from playing the pucks in the corners. That way the offensive team would have more of a chance on dump ins and henceforth more offense. But sometimes I don't make much sense in person, as you know :-)

Heather B. said...

Gambler and Kate, thank you! Again, all credit to Mark. Kate, next time we got to a game I think that's what I'm going to write on the sign we're then too embarrassed to hold up.

Mark (and Matt although I already told him this at his blog), it's not that I don't understand why the trapezoid exits, it just seems like sometimes goalies wander out but don't get called for it. That's what I don't understand. There was one point last night where Tim Thomas was way the heck out of the crease - Chara saved a goal from being scored - but there was no whistle. Was it because he didn't carry the puck out from the trapezoid even though he was going after the puck? Was it because he never really got possession of the puck? See, I don't get it!

Bowl of Pork said...

The thing is that the trapezoid rule mandates the position of the puck, not the goalie. The goalie can be standing in the corners and playing the puck as long as the puck itself is in the trapezoid. He can also carry the puck from the trapezoid to the front of the net as long as the puck doesn't go into the corner areas.

Bowl of Pork said...

Going further, I dug out my copy of the NHL Official Rules 2007-2008 and found this tidbit under Section 9, on page 87:

"A goalkeeper shall not play the puck outside of the designated area behind the net. Should the goalkeeper play the puck outside of the designated area behind the goal line, a minor penalty for delay of game shall be imposed. The determining factor shall be the position of the puck. The minor penalty will not be assessed when a goalkeeper plays the puck while maintaining skate contact with his goal crease."

Bowl of Pork said...

I forgot to mention: