Sunday, April 27, 2008

I think I've hit a wall in these playoffs. I've hit a wall in life in general the last few days so it's hard to separate but I don't know, it turns out that the playoffs are really lacking without the Sabres. I could probably get invested in one team or another - in all the current series there's one team I really want to lose and one team I really want to win which is nice - but I'm not really finding it all that much fun to get worked up about a team that isn't mine. If the team I'm cheering for loses, I still feel really upset and then I feel upset about being upset about a team that I've been watching for three weeks. If the team I'm cheering for wins, I'm jubilant until I remember that a bunch of players I don't really know get to celebrate in a city I don't live in while surrounded by fans I don't know. It's a huge waste of energy. I haven't quite figured out how to just watch a game without being that invested in who wins and loses.

Jerry Sullivan kind of wrote about this last week . A couple of people emailed me to recommend the column even though I've been avoiding the newspaper and Amy spoke highly of it over at Shots Off the Crossbar. And you know what? It was definitely a goodie. I'm way behind but if for some reason you haven't read it yet, you really should. Sully talks about all the things he misses about playoff hockey in Buffalo and it definitely added to my somewhat melancholy mood. I never disliked Buffalo. I was never unhappy here, I was never desperate to return to Birmingham. But when I finally gave in and fell in love with the Sabres, I fell in love with Buffalo too. Head over heels, no questions asked love. So when hockey's not here the city seems not quite right to me. I've been totally behind Pittsburgh but it bums me out to see their crowd watching the games outside their arena and then think about the Parties in the Plaza last year and how our crowds totally blow them out of the water. I've been pulling for Montreal but watching them celebrate after their Game 7 victory with their singing and their chanting kind of bummed me out. (And I feel pretty secure in the fact that we would at least wait until we won a championship before we started burning the city down.) So I don't know, I'm fluctuating wildly between being totally into the playoffs and being totally annoyed by them.

Still... The Penguins went up 2-0 on the Rangers earlier today and it seems like the Stars are about to go up 2-0 on the Sharks. And I just listened to a pretty entertaining rant from Keith Jones about Brian Campbell which is always good for a laugh. It was basically a collection of "highlights" with commentary like "Morrow's in front of the net and here comes Campbell, late to the party," and "A ton of effort from Ott, not much from Campbell" and it ended with Jonesy screeching, "Yeah, he has an assist tonight but if he doesn't start playing better he should be on the bench where he belongs!" It has been pretty amusing watching people slowly realize, "Wait a second... This guy wants $6 million per?"

So it's not all bad. I guess.


Meg said...

I have so not been invested in this round of the playoffs even though there are teams I want to see win and lose.

I have definitely been enjoying people waking up to the fact that Campbell is not some elite player who unquestionably deserves a long-term, 6-million-a-year contract though. Hmm, maybe Sabres management was making an accurate assessment on the value of a player instead of just being cheap. Shocking!

Jennifer said...

I know what you mean. I was having a crappy day yesterday, watching the Penguins shut out the Rangers (YAY!!!), so what did I do but pull out the Sabres "Better Days" DVD and put that in. Boy talk about bringing on a full blown depression. Next season can NOT get here fast enough for me.

I'm glad others are now seeing what some saw earlier re: Campbell. He's a pretty good player, but not THAT valuable and certainly not irreplaceable.

Anonymous said...

I fell asleep and missed Jonesy's rant about Soupy, so thank you for recapping it. Soupy's a good player, but he's not worth the $6 mil and the bag of skittles that he's looking for. I'd rather see Pommers or Miller get that kind of money.

Lee Andrew said...

Look on the bright side. The Buffalo Bisons would kill the Pittsburgh Pirates.

ElmaGolf said...

I'll go with the ever optimistic cliche that "absence makes the heart grow fond" - we'll appreciate the next playoff appearance even more after being a little spoiled last season.


I'm enjoying the fact that Buffao is keeping up it's reputation as Hockey Town , despite the Sabres' absence.

I'm enjoying the validation of the Sabres' assessment of Campbell (Meg said it pefectly). Perhaps when the ranters spew off their string of "heart-breaking losses", they'll drop Campbell off the list (same goes for Grier, Dumont, McKee, etc. etc.)

I'm enjoying Sullivan's "Two Goal Lead" article repeatedly imploding in his face, as the Flyers blow 2 goal leads every other game, and the Rangers tacked on a 3 goal antithesis to Sully's claim.

I'm enjoying watching Sean Avery get exposed for the turtling punk he is. He'll gladly get in a goalie's face, but as soon as Laroque came within 20 feet, he buried his head in the black & white safety pillow of the linesman (did he get that move from Neil?). By the way, how strong is Drury's supposed leadership when his team is resorting to bush league techniques (first Avery, now Shanahan?)? I don't care if it's "technically" legal, it ain't hockey. A forward floating around on the offensive side of the Red Line while the puck's in his own end is "technically legal," but it's not hockey. Simple solution -- offensive player in the crease is "fair game" for whatever slash, poke, or wedgie the Goalie wants to give him.

I'm enjoying watching the intensity ratchet up in Montreal. Timmonen & Umberger want to taunt the Habs? I'm thrilled Kostopoulos gave him a face full of "Who's Laughing Now?"

Sure I miss the Sabres, but it's still great to watch (and sure beats watching baseball)!

twoeightnine said...

Campbell's a good player who can't handle any pressure be it playoff hockey or playing for a contract. My Chicago friend is dreading the day the Blackhawks sign him to a $40 million contract and I keep on telling him it'll be okay, the 'Hawks don't know what the playoffs are.

I love the networks playing up the Penguins fans outside the arena like it's something new. There's like 200 people there. The final game last year I stood in the plaza with more than 10,000 people.

Mark B said...

I think part of your problem is you became a die-hard fan during 2005-06 when the upswing was occurring. I guess I've just been here before with the Sabres and enjoying the stress-free entertainment of the playoffs without them.

But then again, I would take my blood pressure elevating to see our team back in this thing. I agree with ElmaGolf that it will feel so great when we return to the playoffs next year. I think we'll all appreciate it more!

Katie said...

I agree, Heather. No matter how exciting the NHL playoffs are - it feels so empty when I'm not in the Plaza watching them. Especially when I see the tiny crowd in Pittsburgh compared to what it was like here last year - I miss watching hockey outside with 10,000 new friends.

And now I'm extra mad that I fell asleep before I got to hear Keith Jones's ranting. For some reason, it feels so vindicating to see other people finally come around to realizing that this is just how Soupy plays defense...which is not very well most nights.

I'm enjoying Sullivan's "Two Goal Lead" article repeatedly imploding in his face

Great point, elmagolf! I suppose Drury must have forgotten to turn on the magic "intangible" switch that night.

Heather B. said...

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one having some trouble. Maybe it's just a phase. Mark's right that I'm definitely spoiled. I remember the team not making the playoffs before but this is the first time I've really cared.

Look on the bright side. The Buffalo Bisons would kill the Pittsburgh Pirates.

They probably would.

Timmonen & Umberger want to taunt the Habs? I'm thrilled Kostopoulos gave him a face full of "Who's Laughing Now?"

Elma, Guy Carbonneau's quote about that cracked me up. If you didn't hear it, it was something along the lines of, "Yeah, it was a cheap shot. He deserved it. You scored a goal, now go back to your bench." It made me miss Lindy.

I was beginning to think maybe I was just remembering the crowds outside HSBC bigger than they really were but I looked at pictures last night. Dude, we rock way more than Pittsburgh :P

Gambler said...

I love the networks playing up the Penguins fans outside the arena like it's something new. There's like 200 people there. The final game last year I stood in the plaza with more than 10,000 people.

Hey, 289, I was there, too! (Broke my heart.) But seriously, that was a real crowd. And what's with this "sitting on the lawn" shit? Try standing on concrete for three hours, that's real dedication. Sigh.

I've found that the playoffs have really brought out my schadenfreude (or maybe it's being in a German-speaking country, who knows). On the rare occasion that I've actually caught a playoff game, I find I'm much more delighted by the team I hate losing than the team I like winning. Pens win? Okay, I like them alright. Rangers lose? WOOOOOOOO! DIE, SUCKERS! It's... not very healthy, I fear. Also, if all my dreams come true and the Flyers, Rangers, and Sharks all lose (Detroit and Colorado, whatever), I'll be stuck with no one to root against in the next round, and my interest will dwindle even more. I'm a mess.

S.A.M. said...

I totally feel ya here. I was thinking about this earlier. I usually love the playoffs, but I can't seem to get into it this year. The Wings are still in it (and stomping on the Avs so far wahooo) but while I do still enjoy them, and there are a couple of guys from when I first started watching the Red Wings, but they aren't *MY* team anymore. The Sabres have won me over completely and I feel so bereft without them.

And I had the same thought about the fans outside in Pitt. Pshaw to them! I was never able to attend a party in the plaza but I recall the numbers and the scene and it was way more awesome that anything they have. It's cool that their fans are out and about though, that's just good for hockey. :) It just reminds me how there were thousands of ppl in the plaza for the first 2 games last year when it was SNOWING! Or how when I was flying back to Buffalo during game 2 or 3 of the first round, I forget which, and the pilot/whoever was in charge- found the game on WGR as soon as he could get the signal and piped it into the airplane's music system- "tune in to channel 6 for the Sabers game" so we could listen on the plane. SO COOL!

I love Buffalo. ANd I can't wait until the Sabres have returned. In the meantime, I'll try to get thrilled about the Red Wings and rejoice in Rangers losses and feel vindicated when i finally see other people realizing what we've known for a while now- YOU'RE NOT WORTH IT SOUPY!

TheSharpie said...

While I do wish the Sabres were playing for the cup now, the whole "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing is doubly true for me with playoff hockey. This off season, though already long and grueling for Sabres fans, is needed to help us appreciate our team. Remember the first part of this decade? That's why the '05-'06 season was so great -- we were the underdogs, battling to be known, showing the world our passion.

That's exactly why I don't like dynasty teams -- you lose the value of the playoffs and take them for granted.

I will say though that the Penguins are growing on me. Perhaps it's because their AHL affiliate (Scranton-Wilkes Barre Penguins) are a half hour from my apartment. (though they didn't play the Americans AT ALL this year, which was disappointing), or maybe it's because they haven't done anything to anger our city against them. At any rate I find myself rooting for them to win the cup and help me deal with the off-season blues. At least the weather's getting nicer.

twoeightnine said...

Yeah, not a fan of the sitting thing. Last year if you moved to go the bathroom or get a beer you lost your space immediately. That's another thing, no alcohol in Pittsburgh. That lasted for one game in Buffalo. You're a bunch of pussies Pittsburgh.

I didn't get many good pics because I was too busy watching the game but I've got some here.

twoeightnine said...

Fuck no. No Penguins Cup. Crosby will be shooting blanks from all the fellatio.

Anne said...

I thought you'd want to hear that Hank was mentioned in the same sentence and with the same regard as Lidstrom:

There’s no Ohlund, Kronvall, Lidstrom, Johnsson or Tallinder...

It was in an article on the IIHF website about how many Swedish NHLers said "no" to playing for Sweden. Sweden loves Henrik Tallinder almost as much as Heather does.

Heather B. said...

Well, of course Hank was mentioned with Lidstrom! Why wouldn't he be? :-D

(Thanks for sharing, Anne! It's good to see the name "Tallinder" right about now.)

TheTick said...

(Thanks for sharing, Anne! It's good to see the name "Tallinder" right about now.)

It's even one of the names that is fun to say, cheers me right up. Ta-LEEEEEEEEN-der. LOOOOOOD-man.

alix said...

Awwwww! They mentioned Matty Ohlund too. Damn right they're missing him. *Sigh*

I'm totally with you on this post too. I know the Canucks would have been long eliminated by now, but it still sucks.