Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hockey Is Coming! HOCKEY IS COMING!

Sabres Edge is suddenly being updated more regularly, there are real hockey stories in the newspaper, has new videos and interviews popping up all the time ... Hockey season is finally, FINALLY almost upon us! This time next week I'll have seen real Sabres in real uniforms practicing on real ice! Glory hallelujah!

- According to the linked story above, part of Lindy Ruff's plan for the season is to not suck so badly in the first couple of games. Great idea! Those of you who were around last season will remember that I whipped myself into a total frenzy defending the Sabres during the summer, insisting they were still a talented team, sending emails to every talking head in the business who dared to suggest otherwise. I can still feel the slow, sinking depression I felt watching Mike Comrie - I HATE THAT GUY - skating around the Sabres like pylons like it happened yesterday. I am fully behind the plan of winning the first two games. Or at least not playing like garbage. That'd be good. Then maybe I could say I was right, just a year ahead of schedule.

- One of the questions that keeps popping up is which defensemen are going to start with the big team. I think it pretty much has to be Henrik Tallinder, Toni Lydman, Craig Rivet, Jaroslav Spacek, Andrej Sekera and Teppo Numminen in the top six with Nathan Paetsch sliding in at number seven. I think Sekera earned his shot at the top six with his stellar play at the end of last season and will play there, for better or for worse, unless he really, really, really struggles. I think he's clearly a defensemen of the future whereas Paetsch spot is, for now, a little more up in the air. Sekera is not going to sit in the press box. Neither is Mike Weber who should start in Portland for the same reason. Both of those guys need to be playing every night wherever they are. I'd love to see Weber make the jump with Sekera but I can't really see any of the other guys getting bumped and it can't hurt for Weber to be the top dog in Portland for a while. Besides, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt and Weber gets his shot. If he plays well in that situation then we have a debate on our hands.

- As of this writing, I'm going to 14 Sabres games this season. Fourteen! Pretty impressive for someone who was barely paying attention to hockey a handful of years ago. For all my squawking about how we should put ourselves on the season ticket list, I'm really not sure I could go to too many more games. I love being in the arena but I also love sitting on my couch at home and watching on TV. Easier to pace and hide in the other room during high moments of stress.

Now that I've got this whole home game thing under pretty good wraps, what I'd really like to do is start going to some away games. I've only seen the Sabres in one other place - Atlanta - but that was before I really liked hockey. I remember being impressed by the number of Sabres fans - that was right after the '99 Cup run - but I definitely didn't appreciate it the way I would now. The guy in the face paint who screamed "LET'S GO BUFF-A-LO! YEEEEEAAAAAAAH!" seemed a little scary at the time. Now I would have no choice but to return his call.

So here's the new plan. Starting this season, Top Shelf is going to start venturing out to other NHL venues. This season I think I'll tackle Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Boston. Now I just need someone to buy the tickets, provide car/air travel, and pay me for any time off from work. But otherwise, I think it's a great plan! (Okay, I drifted into sarcasm there but I really would love to do it. If by some crazy chance an opportunity presents itself, I'm so there.)

- Note to the Sabres: This whole Puck Drop thing sounds like it could be fun. So... maybe you get let us in on a few more details? Like... I don't know, who's going to be signing autographs, where, and for how long? Or maybe something really basic like what time practice starts? That would be helpful for planning my Saturday.

- My new commute to work takes me on the Skyway. As I was coming home today, just as HSBC Arena was coming into view on my right, this song - no lie! - started playing on my iPod. Hockey is coming! HOCKEY IS COMING!


karen said...

I hope that orchestra had fun - what an awesome rendition!

Beth M. said...

I so love your enthusiasm. I am feeling the same way right now!!

Pookie said...

Road tripping for hockey games is so much fun! I can't recommend it highly enough! Especially when you tell people at work you're driving 7 hours one-way to see a 2 1/2 hour hockey game.

(By the way -- seeing a game in New Jersey would be a lot of fun! There's free lodging in a pretty pink princess room!)

S.A.M. said...

I'm with Pookie road trips (and cheering for the road team) are super fun!

I'd really like to see a game in Pittsburgh, mostly because I've never even been there at all. Hmm..

If you ever need a road trip buddy, let me know! I'm always up for a drive, and I have a car who loves hockey road trips. ;)

amy said...

I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt and Weber gets his shot.

I know this is more than likely to happen, considering our defense the past couple years has been held together with nothing more than spit, duct tape and some rubber bands, but I can't help feeling like we're tempting the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing. Let's hope they all stay healthy, because the battle for that 6th and 7th spot on D could be really entertaining.

Also, from what I've heard on the radio regarding Puck Drop, the doors open at 9, but I don't believe the players take the ice until 10. If they run the autograph session like they did at last year's final preseason game, the players will be spread out around the arena on both the 100 and 200 levels. In order to prevent people from queuing up too early, they didn't announce who was going to be where in the arena until right after the game ended.

All the cities you picked for hockey road trips sound like they could be fun (though you might end up paying through the nose for Toronto tickets). Two other cities you might want to look at for the future include Detroit and Columbus. I've heard really great things about both cities and the hockey atmosphere.

Jennifer said...

North Carolina (which is the only place I EVER get to see the Sabres) is pretty good, too! There are quite a few Sabres fans and it's always fun to booooooo Carolina!

dave in Rocha said...

Speaking of music appropriate for commuting via the Skyway....
- 2nd song on the playlist at the top

Vanek's Hair said...

Hockey (and sports in general) road trips are the best. I make at least 5 - 6 per year. Very much worth time, money and anything else invested. Montreal is a fun place to watch a hockey game, even as a Sabre. So it Toronto. The Vanek's Hair Traveling Road Show is planning on hitting both of those arenas again.

But to damnit to hell for the schedule gods not working the Sabres South Florida trip with mine.

Heather B. said...

Pookie, NJ is definitely on the road trip last one of these days. I can't wait to try out the pink princess room!

Sam, you never know, I may pester you one of these days! Could be fun!

Amy, you're right. I'm going to quit assuming someone on the D is going to get hurt especially since it's often my guy taking the hit. The competition could definitely be interesting and since it usually leads to pretty good hockey from those competing, it could be a plus for the team.

I'd definitely love to check out a game in Detroit. Columbus would have to be a pretty great city to get me to drive there for a Blue Jackets game though at least ahead of some other cities.

As far as autographs go, I really just want to know if everyone is signing or if it's only going to be a select group. Have they announced that?

Dave, good song! I let the playlist play through for a while and ended up downloading a few of them.

Vanek's Hair, I didn't even think of Montreal! I'd love to go there. About how far is it from Buffalo? I really should get off my duff and do some road trips. Buffalo is much better situated for that kind of thing than Birmingham was, may as well take advantage of it.

And hey, I tagged this post just for you (and Lee) and you guys didn't even notice! Hmph.

Anonymous said...

This season I think I'll tackle Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Boston.

NJ better be on that list too. I'd probably even pop for the tickets =)

Heather B. said...

Hmmmm... Between free room and board at the Ookies and free tickets from Matt, I'm thinking NJ just soared to the top of the road trip list :-D

Vanek's Hair said...

Montreal is about a six hour drive from Buffalo. There is a company that has done a reasonably priced bus trip which includes bus, hotel and game ticket. The hotel is the hotel the Sabres stay at. It is a very fun time. I hope they do it again.

peter-usrt said...

Heather becoming a roadtripper, oh yeah!!! :-)(2 arenas down, 28 to go)
Strongly suggest Pittsburgh(while Igloo is still around) and Montreal(bestest hockey city. period imho.)

Happy travels:)

dave64 said...

"So here's the new plan. Starting this season, Top Shelf is going to start venturing out to other NHL venues."

If you are really adventurous, I recommend coming to Raleigh to watch a Sabres/Hurricanes game. I can promise you that if you ask any 'Canes fan who they hate to see come to Raleigh is Buffalo.

One reason: The Buffalo Faithful.

It feels like watching a Sabres/Leafs game in Buffalo. I found it so bothersome to hear "Go Leafs Go!" sitting in HSBC. Easily half the crowd is in Buffalo jerseys, t-shirts, hats or jackets.

They also hate us because we get obnoxiously drunk and start fights in the parking lot. Goes to show you can take the boy out of Buffalo, but you can't take Buffalo out of the boy.

Jennifer said...

dave64, I went to both Sabres games last year in Raleigh and there are a LOT of Sabres jerseys there. There was even a fight a few seats down from us at the one in October between a Sabres fan and a Hurricanes fan. Well, in all honesty, they were both girls, so it was more of a smacking contest, but they both got thrown out of the game, but the guy that was with the Sabres fan came back and finished watching the game. God, I was so proud of him. Don't let ANYTHING get in the way of watching Buffalo hockey.

I am not pleased that I have to wait until the end of February for Buffalo to be at Raleigh, but it will be worth the wait. Let me know if you will be going to them. I'd love to meet up and actually talk face-to-face with another Buffalo fan.