Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I totally admit it. I had pretty much given up. The Sabres weren't playing badly really but they only had a one goal lead. And then Henrik Tallinder got boarded and collapsed in a heap. (That gut-wrenching scream you heard around 7:48 or so was me.) And then the Flyers tied up the game. And I don't know, I was ready to throw in the towel. Andrej Sekera was killing penalties, Toni Lydman was playing on the powerplay. Our best defensive forward and best defensive d-man were out with injuries. I was ready to admit it just wasn't going to happen this year. I even had a post half-written in my head about how it might be a good thing in the long run for the team to miss the playoffs. And then it turned out that Sekera was playing pretty well. And Max came out of nowhere and started playing like he's capable of playing. And they won. The little rat bastards won and now I'm hopeful all over again. They're gonna be the death of me, these kids.

Don't get me wrong. I think if Jochen Hecht doesn't get back soon and if Hank is out for any extended time, we're pretty much screwed. At this point the team does not have a lot of games to fritter away. But it was good to see the boys take control of the game and push it out of Philly's reach.

According to Versus, the Sabres didn't really earn much of anything in this game. Every penalty was "sold" to the refs (which is not to say that the officiating was stellar because it was not and Philly got the worst of it) and every goal was because the Flyers screwed up. They didn't look great on any of the goals but they weren't responsible for the perfect tape-to-tape passes up the ice, the Sabres were.

And that never-ending interview with new NHLPA head Paul Kelly was awful. It was boring. He speaks in a monotone and he didn't say anything interesting. (Hockey players are "true human beings." As opposed to fake ones? Droids? Cylons?) And it took place over the play! I know it's a regular complaint that people make about Versus but good grief, guys, there's a game going on! Wrap up the interview or squeeze Boring Cliche Guy into the stops in play. Don't ignore Max going in on a breakaway. I doubt there are a ton of non-hockey fans tuning into a Tuesday night game on Versus but if they are, what are they supposed to think of a game that's so unimportant that the guys calling it can't be bothered to pay attention to it? Kelly also talked about the Sabres playing a blue-collar, physical style of hockey which proved that he hasn't seen much of the Sabres.

This is getting off-track but one of the unexpected side-effects of blogging has been how much more confident I am in my own opinion even when it doesn't line up with what other people are saying. I haven't really been following hockey for that long and often in the past if someone disagreed with me I automatically assumed they knew more than I did and were seeing something I was missing. One of the startling realizations I've had this season is that just because someone is in a position of power or is on a national broadcast, it doesn't make them right about everything. I know that is a super obvious thing but I don't know, it took a while to get through. Brian Engblom (just as an example) may be very knowledgeable about hockey and have insights to it that I don't since he is a former player, but he doesn't watch every game that every team plays. He can't! There's no reason for me to assume that he knows the Sabres better than me since I choose to torture myself by watching every single game they participate in. So when Keith Jones said tonight that Steve Bernier has the potential to be a fifty goal scorer I got really excited. And then I remembered that last week he called Brian Campbell one of the best open ice hitters in the NHL because he's seen two or three hits played over and over and realized that he might have no idea what he's talking about.

And speaking of opinions that don't often line up with others, I hated Dmitri Kalinin being scratched tonight. I hated it. It worked out okay in the end but I hated it. He and Nolan Pratt had become a very good pairing and then Campbell was traded and he switched partners. Now he's playing with someone who plays a totally different kind of game than Pratt and was maybe playing against competition that was a little tougher than he was accustomed too. To pick him out as the scratch seemed unnecessary to me. I will go to my grave arguing that Kalinin has too often been the scapegoat for poor play from the team during the past few years. He gets very little credit when he's playing well - even if he's one of the only ones playing well like during the first couple rounds of last year's playoffs - but the second the wheels come off everything comes down on his head. I would love for the Sabres to re-sign him. I think he's a solid defenseman who can chip in his fair amount on the offensive side, especially when paired with a partner he's comfortable with. But I also feel like it might be best for him to end up somewhere far away from the expectations Buffalo fans have that he'll never live up to. Maybe some fanbase out there can just be satisfied with Tri being the defenseman he is instead of fixating on how he's not the defenseman they wanted him to be.

I just read that Hank's definitely not playing tomorrow. Ugh. I'm unhappy. Who's gonna defend Ovechkin? And seriously, that wasn't boarding? And while I hate throwing around the word "classless" - a lot of behavior I've seemed deemed as classless is simply people pulling for their team/against the opposing team - a crowd booing a guy wobbling off the ice is pretty classless. What a bunch of douchebags. If you don't want to cheer, don't cheer. But don't be a douchebag and boo. Also, I'm still convinced that first goal was actually Hank's. I never saw it touch Pommers. (That wasn't boarding? Am I being too sensitive? Because I'm totally willing to admit I might be a little sensitve on this one.)


Anonymous said...

Kelly also talked about the Sabres playing a blue-collar, physical style of hockey which proved that he hasn't seen much of the Sabres.

I was half-paying attention to what Kelly was saying, but I almost dropped my knitting when I heard him say that. The Sabres haven't played a blue collar style since before the lockout. They've worked with the speedy little small guy style for awhile now. Unless he meant that Buffalo's a blue collar town and the team represents them or some such mularkey.

Anne said...

One of the startling realizations I've had this season is that just because someone is in a position of power or is on a national broadcast, it doesn't make them right about everything. I know that is a super obvious thing but I don't know, it took a while to get through.

I know! It took me until basically college to realize that and I've watched a lot of sports in my youth. Last night I spent half of the intermissions yelling at Brian Engblom for just being wrong, so wrong. I don't really remember what he said, but I rewound it and laughed at it because it was so terrible. Kind of like that San Jose blogger who insisted that Brian Campbell ran our PP...uhhhh. I think Timmy Connolly might have some thoughts on that. Yeah, "blue collar" isn't even the style of the City of Buffalo anymore, our biggest industry is computers and IT, well done Versus.

Meg said...

I don't think you're being too sensitive, Heather. A boarding call wouldn't have gone amiss there.

coolman856 said...

Also remember these are the same people who booed Santa Claus. They never had a sense of decency well ever.

Meg said...

Heather, Paul Hamilton thinks that the refs not calling a penalty for the hit on Tallinder an embarrassment and referred to the NHL as a garage league because of stuff like that. So I'd say you definitely aren't being sensitive in thinking that should have been boarding.

Amanda said...

It was boarding, no doubt.

I agree with you for the most part about Kalinin. He's had it rough here, and I think a change of scenery would do him a world of good (Taylor Pyatt, anyone?).

I too wonder who will drape themselves all over Ovie like a tablecloth at a cheap Italian restaurant? I'm thinking the job is going to fall to Spacek, who isn't fast enough to keep up with Ovie.

shelli said...

I don't even remember how many times I asked my husband "Are they BOOING him? Seriously, are they BOOING Tallinder?" Classless is WAAAAAY to nice of a term for that kind of behavior.

And that Kelly guy was definitely annoying. Shut up, already!!! We're watching a game here, dumbass!

Mark B said...

I understand what you're saying about Tri, but I have to give a big shout out to 'Rej Sekera. For a guy who is only playing his 15th pro game, he looks so sure of himself out there. He's the new Soupy in training.

I'm guessing Lindy tries to really jack up Tri's confidence and puts him out there with Toni tonight. Hopefully that doesn't burn him, though!

Vanek's Hair said...

A boarding call was warranted on the Tallinder hit.

The Flyers fans booed when he skated off. In other news the sun rose from east today.

I loved the tease during one of the periods where the studio would analyze whether or not the Sabres got sufficient value in return for Campbell. Too bad I couldn't be in front of my TV for that analytical conversation. But of course they would have a solid factual basis for their anaylsis. It had been three entire NHL games. I also was looking forward to them breaking down the skill set and performance of the draft pick. After all, we have no idea who it is.

S(h)ara said...

And seriously, that wasn't boarding? And while I hate throwing around the word "classless" - a lot of behavior I've seemed deemed as classless is simply people pulling for their team/against the opposing team - a crowd booing a guy wobbling off the ice is pretty classless.

I wholeheartedly agree! People talk about how classless the Sabres fans can be, but to me, that was just disgusting. Hank could have been seriously hurt, and they boo him? That made me sick.

Sam said...

If it wasn't boarding, it was at least a cheap hit. I hope Hank is back soon! And I don't care who it is, you don't BOO a guy who just got hurt and is slowly making his way off ice. That is disgusting!

I love reading your blog Heather, because you're not afraid of your opinions and it's fun to read about what other Sabres FANS think. (the meadia I could do without, and usuaully pretty much ignore) You have a witty, honest, knowledgeable, passionate style of writing and it is refreshing!

Oh and I cringe every time the Sabres are on VS because I HATE not being able to hear what is going on. I've been watching hockey for 14 years now so I know what is going on out there, and could probably call it myself, but I am often doing other things while the games are on. When RJ and Harry are calling the games, I can be out of the room and still hear what is happening. With the VS aces on board, I wouldn't even know it was hockey unless I was staring at the tv. Frustrating. Yes, we've been spoiled by having a good broadcast team but man.. could they be any worse? At least when the games were on ESPN they had decent announcers. And Chris Simon is nasty. I hate that shiny jacket she is always wearing (with nothing under it? sooo unprofessional!) and the dark nailpolish last night? Egads she annoys me. (and I KNOW that I'm more knowledgable and a better interviewer than her but I will probably neveer get her job.. a whole 'nother story that I'll keep out of your blog..)

At least we'll be back to the usual tonight. Ovie and Co are GOING DOWN! (And I hope Max remembers what he did last night so he can play like that again!)

Phew.. didn't mean to write a novel there, I got a little carried away. I really need to start my own Sabres blog so I can stop clogging up your comments page.. ;)

Heather B. said...

I knew it was boarding! I'm glad you all agree! :P

Sam, while I fully endorse the idea of starting a blog, I have no problem with you clogging up my comments page! Especially if you're going to be so complimentary :-D (Thanks! I am glad you enjoy it here.)

Mark made the same observation about RJ/Harry vs. Versus last week when he was trying to do something on the computer while listening to the TV. He couldn't follow the game at all just by listening. We are totally spoiled by having such a strong play-by-play announcer.

Kate said...

Last night I watched the game with my television turned down and the radio on. It wasn't in sync, but THAT'S how much I hate the VS. announcers. I watched the entire game with RJ calling the play about three seconds slower than my television.

Heather B. said...

Kate, do you have a DVR? I can't remember. If you do, you can sync up the radio with the TV. We've done that a couple of times but I took the only radio that picks up a signal in our living room to work and never brought it home. It takes some monkeying around to get the match right but it's worth the trouble.

coolman856 said...

I think that the reason we are spoiled so much with our announcing crew is that the announcers do both Tv and Radio which means that they have to be constantly on the call for the radio. Most teams, actually I think that we are the only one that doesnt, have the seperate TV and radio crews which makes a big difference in how the game is called. If someone is watching the game, they really dont need to be told every step of the play because they should be watching it as compared to a radio listener.

coolman856 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam said...

yeah radio annoucners do tend to be better at describing play but still, it's sad.

and our radio doesn't work in the house (we live at the bottom of a hill) or else I'd totally sync it up.

Sam said...

oh and thanks Heather, I do like it here!

But I think I also need to start a Sabres/hockey blog so my livejournal friends come back to me, they are probably tired of my incessant Sabres babble.. LOl

as soon as I can come up with a clever title..