So I know I promised some further thoughts about Thursday night's game but I'm just not sure what else there is to say. Charlie Brown just about covered it. It was hands down the worst game I've seen in person and one of the worst games I've seen the Sabres play since I started watching. At one point one of the girls in my group said, "They don't even want the puck," and that certainly appeared to be the case. The Sabres in no way resembled a professional hockey team. I'm confident that my class of first, second and third graders and I could have handily beat them the way they played Thursday night.
I'm not jumping off a ledge yet but the last two games are eerily similar to the worst of last season: talented players trying to coast through games rather than working hard and then making excuses about not sticking to the system and being too cute at home. For the last time, you morons: NONE OF YOUR FANS CARE ABOUT HOW PRETTY YOUR GOALS ARE! WE WOULD JUST LIKE YOU TO APPEAR TO GIVE A RAT'S ASS ABOUT WINNING A GAME! WE REALLY DON'T CARE IF YOU BOUNCE THE PUCK IN OFF YOUR STUPID, STUBBORN HEADS AS LONG AS IT GOES IN THE NET! (AND NOT YOUR OWN NET, DUMMIES!)
Lindy Ruff has gone line change crazy. I don't know. On one hand, I do like Lindy leaping into action but I'm not sure about doing that much fiddling. Seems like it just gives these putzes another excuse to play poorly. "We're playing with different people wah wah wah." I have no idea how I would arrange the lines but I do know that I would put Tim Connolly with Maxim Afinogenov. I think they've always played well together and Timmy is one of the few people who really seems to be able to read and keep up with Max. I hate to defend Max too strongly but I really, really think part of his trouble the last season and a half has been that he's not playing with people who really complement him.
Annnnd while I was making the above complaint, Thomas Vanek puts the Sabres up 1-0. Absolutely gorgeous pass off the boards from Andrej Sekera and Vanek puts those world class hands to good use, completely deking out Mike Green who got a pretty good pimp job in the pregame. I don't see the Caps enough to know how skilled Green is in the defensive zone but this is why I'm always suspicious of offensive defensemen.
Oh, GOOD LORD! I've gotten used to Harry Neale but I cannot stand when he mixes up Paul Gaustad and Jason Pominville. They look nothing alike. They're nowhere close to the same size. They don't even come close to playing the same kind of game. It's insane. At any rate, the Sabres put on some good pressure and Jason Pominville ends up in the net. Nice try, Pommers but you gotta have the puck with you if it's going to count.
Donald Brashear totally nails Henrik Tallinder in the face. Not cool, dude.
Danny Paille makes a pass to Gaustad which gets tipped into the crowd and some jerk yanks the puck out of a kid's hand and doesn't even have the good sense to look sheepish about it. Not cool, dude.
Tim Connolly really is infuriating. I've been complaining loudly to people around me that the Sabres shouldn't even bother putting him in the line-up because the team was doing fine without him (emphasis on was) but good grief, he really is talented. He just carried the puck down the ice, got tripped but kept possession of the puck and flipped a pass behind him while lying on the ice. That's... pretty good.
And then on a 5-on-3, Timmy decides he's going to stick handle through all the Caps. It doesn't work. Harry helpfully reminds him that you don't need to stick handle through people when you have a two man advantage. Usually I wouldn't encourage anyone to listen to Harry but that does make sense. The Sabres recover and do a great job of moving the puck around and actually getting some shots through before Derek Roy does his best Jochen Hecht and banks it off the goalie's back to make the score 2-0, Sabres.
I'm looking down, trying to send a text message when Jason Pominville busts out of his slump and makes the score 3-0. Mark bought me a little Tracfone just in case I ever find myself lying alone in a frozen parking lot with an appendage twisted in the wrong direction again and while I still never, ever use it for phone calls, I did recently discover that texting is pretty fun. I'm terrible at it though. It look me the last 6 or 8 minutes of the first period to send two texts, neither of which was very long.
I can't tell you what's going on in the broadcast but I can tell how how The Godfather ends since that's what we're suddenly watching. Sweet, straight-arrow Michael is no more. Whoops! Spoiler alert!
Wow, it's nice going into the second period with a 3 goal lead, isn't it? It would be nice if we actually play hard this period too.
Harry just said Rob Ray's name in a way that I can't duplicate in print but he sounded like a possessed robot and it immediately cracked both of us up here. Since I can't duplicate it it seems pretty stupid to even waste my time telling you about it but hey, it's my blog. Harry than goes on to say something completely indecipherable about team efforts and Mark says, "Sometimes listening to Harry do a game is like talking to my grandfather when he had Alzheimer's."
The Sabres very sexily kill off a 5-on-3. Yay, penalty killing! Ryan got an assist from one of his posts but came up with some really nice saves of his own as well. Derek Roy and Andrej Sekera also looked particularly feisty. We look like a real live hockey team!
During a TV timeout we flip to see who's on CBC and discuss which we'd choose: the Rangers, the Maple Leafs or death.
The Caps take a dumb penalty and Harry reminds them that the difference between anger and danger is only one letter. I get a good laugh out of that because we have a poster that says that hanging in our cafeteria at school. The kids, like the Caps, do not seem to get the message.
The Sabres don't seem to be working up quite as much offensive pressure this period - though they have been spending some time short-handed - but they don't look terrible either. I'll take that. And just as I type that, Harry says the Sabres are being out shot 12-1 this period so I know I'm not making that up. Still, we haven't given up any goals so I'm not going to freak out.
With roughly 3 seconds left in the period Vanek scores to make it 4-0. Another really nice goal. He initially bounces the puck off the Cap in front of him but picks it right back up and puts it in the net.
I run off to get some Coke and pretzels. ("These PRETZELS are MAKING me THIRSTY!")
The Coke and pretzel run takes longer than expected due to inefficient cashing at Walgreens and I miss the first four minutes. Sorry. I return just in time to see Sergei Federov take a hooking penalty. Which our power play does nothing with.
Sekera tries to give up Ryan's shutout by turning the puck over to Michael Nylander right in front of the net but the goal post does its work again and the Caps are still scoreless for now. I am a little leery of how much time the Caps seem to be spending in our end of the ice however.
I love these new Please Stop Smoking commercials. They are way better than the guy last season whose leg was so decomposed he could smell it. My favorite is the one that just aired with the guy getting out of bed in the morning. The part that really kills me is him sitting on the back of the toilet, pulling the toilet paper off the roll while looking at it with a perplexed expression. Although I do also really like him ironing his shirt while he's wearing it.
Harry tells us that Vanek now currently leads the NHL in goals and points after his showing tonight. He didn't score his 11th goal until December last season. Game 34. I like this season better.
Danny Paille and Patrick Kaleta combine for a very nice goal to put the Sabres up 5-0. Paille made a sweet move to get around the Cap player in front of him, passed it off to Kaleta and then went straight for the net. Kaleta pulled in the pass and gave it right back. Mark and I were discussing earlier how we think Kaleta has more skill than a lot of people give him credit for. He's never going to be (good) Derek Roy but he's not Andrew Peters either. He has a long way to go but I think he's already improved as a hockey player since he first came up last season and might have a little more room to grow.
I noticed Thursday night that the Sabres are now using Arcade Fire's Wake Up as the goal celebration song. I do like the song a lot and it has the sing-a-long quality you want in a goal song with all the oooooh-ohs but it's pretty slow and dirge like for a celebratory song, isn't it? Something peppier please, Sabres.
(That's probably the last time you'll hear me comment on a song made in the last ten years that wasn't on country radio or a U2 song. I only know this one because word on the street during U2's last tour was that it played right before U2 came out so I wanted to know what it sounded like so I knew when to get excited. To this day, it reminds me of U2. But I do like the song. Also, I just checked tonight's player playlist - the typical blah choices - and Sabres.com staff, Loose Yourself? Really? That's one of my spelling pet peeves.)
It's not the Caps night. I don't know if they just miss Alexander Ovechkin (who wouldn't?) or if it's just one of those nights where nothing works. Vanek comes within inches of a hat trick but can't dig the puck out from under Theodore's right leg pad.
Thirteen Sabres have a point tonight. That's pretty good.
RYAN MILLER GOT A SHUTOUT! I REPEAT, RYAN MILLER GOT A SHUTOUT! AND A REAL ONE, NOT THE RYAN MILLER KIND!
Roy-Z and Pommers scored, the Sabres remembered how to play defense, Lindy looks happier, Mike Robitaille goes on and on about Roy-Z's supple hands, Tim Connolly appears to still be in one piece and the Rangers gave up 18 goals to the Leafs in the final minutes of the game for a loss. It does mean the Leafs winning but all in all, a pretty good night.