Friday I complained about the Sabres defensemen not being involved enough in the offense so far this season. Last night against Carolina two goals were the result of d-men putting the puck on the net (Toni Lydman's shot tipped in by Tim Connolly and Teppo Numminen's goal) . I'm pretty sure that makes me a genius.
Outside of that, I'm not sure there's a lot to say about last night's game. Kevin and Kate both remarked on how nice it was to see the Sabres win easily and it really did feel that way, didn't it? For the first couple of minutes we were worried because the Sabres didn't seem very intent on getting the puck out of their end but once they did, they never really seemed in danger of losing.
I say "we" because Kate (of the Willful Caboose) and I watched the game at Gambler's house. Gambler is the writer of Desperation Hockey and has long been on my to-meet list. I'll always remember her as one of the first people to comment on this here blog which is pretty cool. Gambler and her parents were all delightful and I was sorry to have to leave early to pick up Mark at the airport. I've said this before but one of my favorite things about blogging and hockey fandom in general is how many really neat people and friendships it's led me to. Gambler took a bit of a blogging hiatus during the last half of last season while she was spending a semester in the Land of Jochen Hecht but she's back at it now and if her blog isn't on your list of favorites, it should be.
The Gambler family also introduced me to hockey in HD. Yes, here at Top Shelf HQ we live in the sports dark ages. We started out watching in standard TV because the HD channel was having audio problems - first there just one guitar riff playing over and over and then the dubbing was off. We did eventually end up watching despite the dubbing issues. Rick Jeanneret was just a few seconds ahead of the play which was oddly comforting at times. As Gambler said, "It's like he's visiting from the future and assuring us, 'Don't worry, Sabres fans. That shot's going high and wide.'"
But the HD, oh the HD. If I hadn't gone straight to the airport to pick up Mark he just might have come home to a new television. I didn't even realize just how amazing the picture was until the mystery guitar riff returned and we flipped back to the standard picture. It looked kind of like this:
During the course of the game, we started talking about Drew Stafford and Kate and Gambler asked me how Mark was feeling about his Stafford jersey these days. I told them that not that long ago he'd confessed that he thought maybe Stafford had been a rebound favorite player choice after Chris Drury left and I mentioned that I'd once felt the same way about Tim Connolly. I had a very brief but intense love affair with Timmy and I have a CONNOLLY jersey (red and black) in my closet to prove it. Timmy is very out of character for me. On the list of Heather's favorite players he was preceded by Jay McKee and followed by Henrik Tallinder so he's the obvious answer to the question "Which one of these things is not like the other things?" Not only did I end up moving on from him, I ended up turning on him pretty hard. Jeez, what an absolute waste of a three year contract.
And then games like the Carolina game happen and even though I know Timmy is one second away from a career-ending injury at pretty much all times, I'm just blown away by him. When he's missing months at a time and then taking a while to get back in game shape and then going back out of the line-up again, it's really easy to forget how talented he is but jeez, he is so gifted. When he's playing like he did last night... he's just beautiful. He makes everything look so effortless. Thomas Vanek, as gifted as he is, looks like a gorilla on skates sometimes, chugging down the ice. Timmy looks like he's never breaking a sweat, gliding down the ice and then flicking his wrists a few times and pulling off something amazing. When he actually shoots the puck once in a while, his game can be pretty awesome.
Re-signing him is a terrible idea. It's terrible. He'll never make it through a whole season in one piece and that means he's taking up a roster spot someone else could be using. Him popping in and out of the line-up is disruptive to line chemistry and a distraction to the rest of the team. When he does get back from IR visits it takes him so long to look like himself again.
And then games like last night happen and I start thinking well, maybe he's worth re-signing to a really small contract. What's a million dollars or so for one year? Maybe he would be healthy for the whole year. Maybe he would be worth it. Maybe he'll finally get the happy ending that his talent deserves.
Hockey does funny things to your brain sometimes, you know.