Oh, boys. You didn't have to be all dramatic on account of me.
That was a totally bizarre game. The first period was okay - not completely terrible but not good at all. And then the second period was garbage. One of the worst periods I've seen all season. I'm not a booer (I have no problem with others booing, it's just not my thing) but I very well might have been the only person in the entire building not booing. It was ugly and totally deserved. And then Lindy barked at everybody in the dressing room ("DID YOU GUYS FORGET THAT HEATHER IS IN THE BUILDING? SHE'S ON CRUTCHES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!") and the third period was awesome. Twenty minutes of awesomeness from the second the puck dropped until the final horn sounded. It was the Sabres' season in a nutshell.
As annoying as it is to see the team play great hockey for 20 minutes yet again, it was a totally awesome game to be at especially after missing so many games. Live hockey again was amazing. I missed it all so much! I missed the crowd of people on the escalators, everyone chattering about the game and reasonably happy since nothing bad has happened yet. I missed checking out all the random and varied jerseys. (Dude, a Lindy Ruff SLUG? No, that is not okay.) I missed watching Henrik Tallinder skate back and forth near center ice, sometimes forward and sometimes backward. I missed the cheesy but adorable video intros and the crowd cheering when the team hits the ice for the first time. I missed the crowd feeling and breathing and yelling and oooohing and ahhhing together for two and a half hours. I missed chanting, "LET'S GO BUFF-A-LO!" I missed screaming, "Derek Roy, you are KILLING ME!" I missed jumping up and high-fiving everyone around me after a goal. I missed Sabretooth and that stupid drum and maybe even the puckbunnies and their stupid "Royzie Is My Boyzie" signs. I missed people shouting stupid things that don't always make sense (he can't shoot with his back to the goal) but knowing that they're shouting it because the team or player is DRIVING THEM CRAZY. I missed leaving with a happy, satisfied crowd with people occasionally bursting out in WOOOOOs and YEEEAAAAAHs. I missed leaving downtown Buffalo in a line of cars, a chain of HONK-HONK-HONKHONKHONKs echoing through the night. I missed HOCKEY.
- I wasn't entirely sure it was Jochen Hecht who got the goal originally but as soon as the PA announcer said, "The Sabres third goal, his twentieth of the season - " I started whooping and hollering and pumping my fist. I don't think anyone else in my section understood why which is disappointing but I guess we all have those little things that excite us. I said a couple of months ago that no matter what happened, I wanted to see Yo-Yo get that elusive twentieth goal. Yo-Yo tried to talk down how much it mattered to him in his postgame interview but he was totally grinning so I don't think I really believe him. (Aside to Gambler: Of course I made good on my promise. I'm pretty sure I saw him mouth, "I love her too! Do you know if she's watching? When is she coming home anyway? I miss her! I hope she loved Germany!")
- Derek Roy was killing me. If he made one more drop pass to someone in a white jersey I was going to storm the bench and he was going to get a crutch shoved in a very uncomfortable place.
- I went to this game with some girls I work with/used to work with. In September or October Monica broke a couple of toes which healed funny and she ended up having surgery and pins inserted not that long ago. In November (I think) Sue slipped on a patch of ice that was hidden under a pile of snow and seriously messed up her back and knee and had numerous surgeries. And of course in December I messed up my ankle. (Kathy somehow managed to make it this far unscathed.) Monica has her pins out and is off crutches but still has a noticeable limp. Sue is still on crutches. I'm still on crutches. I'm sure we looked awesomely ridiculous hobbling around the arena together. Despite our disabilities however we jumped up and celebrated every goal although by the time we all got to our feet everyone else was sitting down again.
They're a fun group because they all like hockey and the Sabres but they're not super super obsessed with it which is occasionally a nice change of pace from watching games with Mark. If Mark had been at this game that second period would've been absolutely miserable because he takes terrible play like that much harder but we just started talking about other things instead. It's also kind of fun because I'm pretty clearly the most knowledgeable in the group so I get to feel super smart. Someone else used my ticket to the last game with them and Kathy said, "There were new numbers and none of us knew who they were! We needed you!"
- Okay, so I was wrong about Hank's hat trick. Hopefully none of you really put money down on that one.
- I'm pretty stoked about the idea of Teppo Numminen coming back if he's fully cleared and can get back in shape in a reasonable amount of time. I suppose it's likely that after being off all season he could potentially make some mistakes but I think it's just as likely that one of the baby d-men makes a major mistake. And in that case, I'd trust the guy with 1200 plus games under his belt to deal with that better than one of three babies who have a combined 45 or so games. Between Campbell's trade and the various injuries most of the pairings have been pretty scrambled anyway and it's only going to get worse as guys come back from injuries (if they do) so I don't know if chemistry is a huge issue. Although I will say, having finally seen them instead of just listening to them on the radio, Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber looked fine and they both played more than twenty minutes.
- I'm more conflicted about Tim Connolly. I think when he's in and on he definitely brings something amazing to the ice. And despite poking some fun at him the other day I do believe that he's in a ton of pain and I do appreciate that instead of just shutting it down for the season he's doing what he can. But chemistry is such a weird thing and knowing that he's going to be popping in out and out of the line-up is tough. Asking the other forwards to play with different linemates from game to game especially in the playoffs when you really need players to be jelling is kinda tricky.
In closing, I would just like to say that today - well, yesterday at this point - is Top Shelf's birthday. That's right! One year ago today (yesterday) I wrote my very first entry - click on the link if you're feeling sentimental. At the time I wasn't entirely sure I had enough to say about hockey to fill a blog but it turns out that I actually can't stop talking most of the time. I just want to say thanks to all of you who've come here to see what's on my mind and let me know what's on yours and linked to me over the past year. I can't believe how many really cool people I've met - online and in real-life - through blogging in a single year.
(Heather's favorite Beatle: George)