Isn't it crazy how you can be completely exasperated with a sports team one moment (Mark said to me earlier this week, "Hockey is making you very violent") and then just completely overrun with affection for them the next moment? That's how I feel right now. Henrik Tallinder played well again, Maxim Afinogenov had one of his best games of the season, the penalty killing was awesome and game-changing, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford both look like hockey players again and Paul Gaustad, dear sweet Goose, had two goals, earning a solid 20 cents from Grandpa Goose. Nice. The Sabres played hard tonight - two games in a row - including in the third period! I almost don't know what to make of it all. A few quick thoughts before I head to bed:
- I have no stories about Milt Ellis and Dave Andreychuk because they were both before my time (I do remember Andreychuk in his last stint with Buffalo but I don't know if that really counts) but I've always thought it's really, really cool that Sabres Hall of Fame inductees get a freakin' SWORD! Think they'll ever give a blogger one of those? Because I really want one.
- Nice glasses, Darcy.
- Very rarely do I complain about officiating. I generally think that calls even out over the course of a season if not over the course of a game. Some things get missed, no big deal. Good teams kill off the penalties and seize their opportunities to score when they get them. But tonight the officiating was abysmal with the primary problem being the inconsistency. When I'm frustrated because I can't tell what's going to get a call and what isn't, I imagine the players have to be feeling the same way. I'm pretty happy that the Sabres were able to put aside any frustration about calls/no calls and focus on the game. They should be able to do that but focus hasn't been their strong point so far, eh?
- I'm afraid Patrick Kaleta is developing a reputation. Even if you put aside tonight's poor officiating, he's been on the rough end of more than a few calls the last few games. I'm not sure what do with that. The way he plays right now, he's not going to be nearly as effective if he's gaining more penalties than he's drawing. I'm also really tired of the TV broadcast showing us HUGE HITS than consist of him hitting 90% boards and glass and 10% player. I get that he brings a physicality to the ice that very few Sabres do and I know he has opponents looking over their shoulder at him but I don't know, my personal jury is still out on him, I think.
- Wow, it sure is nice to win a game - two in a row now! - that Thomas Vanek didn't score a goal in. I was afraid we were going to have to live and die with him all season. Nice to know someone else might step up and put it in the net when Vanek cools off for stretches. (Short ones, Thomas! I am NOT giving you permission to stop scoring goals.)
- John Curry played well tonight. I don't know enough about goaltending to comment on technique and stuff like that but he kept the puck out of the net a lot and that's what counts, right? If I'd voted, he would've been one of the three stars tonight. He and Sidney Crosby kept the Penguins in the game.
- Sidney Crosby is really good at hockey. I know, this is in the amazing insight that keeps you coming back here. Both of his goals were pretty impressive though. I love when guys knock the puck out of the air and he absolutely blew Ryan Miller away on his second goal. As much as I usually like Sid however, I did enjoy his stick slamming snit fit. In fairness to him, it was a very quick whistle and I'm sure he was frustrated at the missed opportunity. That said, hey, screw you, Sid. Ha!
- Back in 2006-2007, I joked that the Sabres started spiraling when one of them caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and pointed out to the team how ugly they looked in their jerseys now. But you know, we're 2-0 now in the new third. Makes you think. Even hockey boys need to look good. I'm still not a fan of the silver piping - it's not the color so much as the style of the piping not meshing well with the simple, classic striping on the sleeves and waists - but it's unquestionably better looking than the slug. In case I haven't made myself clear, I'll be very, very happy when the slug moves into oblivion. The ugly piping is keeping me from rushing out and ordering a new jersey right this very second but when the time comes to replace my current vintage, I'll gladly wear one of these.
- Overall a good win for the Sabres. I'll gladly take it.
Wow, when did it get to be 2:57 in the morning? Hope this post makes sense.