Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If You Know the Rangers Suck, Clap Your Hands

Yay, we can play really boring, mind-numbing, soul-killing hockey too! Go us!

Seriously, I cannot tell you how happy this game made me. I felt really good about our chances against Montreal in the opener and spent all day at work telling my co-workers to chill because we could totally hang with the Candadiens. For what I believe are understandable reasons, I also felt pretty okay about our chances against the Islanders. But for reasons I mentioned in my last post, the Rangers made me nervous. They're an extremely defensive team and playing against them requires a discipline and patience that the Sabres just never showed last season. While it's not the most exciting hockey to watch, I don't care. I flatly refuse fans who claim they'd rather watch a run-and-gun team lose than watch a defensive team win. That's ridiculous. A win is a win is a win.

I think playing the kind of hockey the Sabres played tonight shows a remarkable leap in maturity from last season. They had the talent to do this last season but from what we heard, it sounded they just refused to do it most nights. Lindy Ruff certainly talked about being more responsible without the puck and every once in a while we saw flashes of it - I remember one really defensively strong game against Boston toward the end of the season - but for the most part the kids appeared to be intent on playing the way they wanted to play. Maybe having an extra long off-season to dwell on just how well that worked out for them made an impression.

I think it also shows the importance of some veteran presence. I will admit, I completely underestimated the impact of that lack of leadership on the team at the beginning of last season but for a young player there has to be a difference between hearing a coach tell you something and hearing a fellow player tell you something and probably more importantly, watching a fellow player perform a certain way. After it became clear that there was a real leadership void last year, I said right up until his return in the very last game that the guy whose loss was being completely underrated was Teppo Numminen's. I don't think it's any coincidence that the entire team is playing calm, focused hockey with him back in the line-up. A little new talent has almost certainly made a difference too but Teppo's influence is everywhere. And to think there were people who thought we could just replace him with Nathan Paetsch, no problem-o. I'm really glad Darcy and Lindy brought Teppo back for another year.

So yeah. I was pretty optimistic even before the season started... but after seeing the Sabres gut out a game like tonight's, especially minus their best two-way forward, I'm officially excited to see what they do this season.

Some other odds and ends coming up later.


Life_As_A_Redhead said...

OK, I can't comment on the game because I didn't watch. I can however, comment on this -

"fans who claim they'd rather watch a run-and-gun team lose than watch a defensive team win."

You have got to be kidding me. I agree with YOU Heather b. I DO NOT watch to see my teams lose! I watch them to see them win. If that's strangle hold defense. So be it. I will appreciate it for what it is.

Mark B said...

I noticed a play late in the game last night where Teppo very calmly poke checked someone and cleared the puck out of the zone. It's obvious how important he is to this team, no matter how old he is.

Oh yeah. Does anyone think Paul Mara is a little bent out of shape? "If he were a man...". LOL!

Jill said...

Love your title! Made me laugh! I am clapping!

bowlofpork said...


If you know the Rangers suck, then clap your hands!

**Clap Clap**

If you know the Rangers suck, then clap your hands!

**Clap Clap**

If you know the Rangers suck and they'll never win The Cup, If you know the Rangers suck, then clap your hands!

**Clap Clap**

Also, you might find this amusing... Last night I'm watching the Rangers feed (damn proximity to NYC!) and Sam Rosen blurts out "Buffalo is a great defensive team!" Joe Micheletti almost choked on his giggle, then heartily agreed. I'd say that's one hell of a turn-around from last season!

Vanek's Hair said...

How great for me to flip between that game and NLCS game 5!!

Dan Paille needs a longer term contract. What a beast. OK, it is a three game sample size. How great is it that the Sabres are playing solid defence? Particularly with Henrik Tallinder struggling so much. He'll snap out of it. (Please?)

In any event, I cannot wait to buy the DVD entitled: "The 2008 - 2009 Buffalo Sabres, 98 - 0, the Perfect Season"

Heather B. said...

Matt, that was so beautiful, it almost brings a tear to my eye. I'm fond of the pre-lockout version that the Ookies taught me:

If you know the Rangers suck, clap your hands!

If you know the Rangers suck, clap your hands!

If you know the Rangers suck, $80 million ain't enough

If you know the Rangers suck, clap your hands!

And yeah, last season if someone was calling us a great defensive team I'd tell you he was one of those clueless talking heads.

Vanek's Hair, I dunno. I had a long talk with Hank about his play when we met but I'm beginning to suspect he was distracted by my dazzling blue eyes. He was better this last game so hopefully he's getting it together.

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