Around 3:30 or so Tuesday morning I woke up with flu-like symptoms. I spent the next number of hours stumbling between the bedroom and the bathroom. I then sat six rows from the ice at the Sabres-Ducks game Tuesday night (because not even flu-like symptoms override the fact that I paid a lot of dough for that seat). I was trying to breath on Chris Pronger but I must have hit Patrick Lalime instead. Clearly I am to blame for this whole goalie debacle we have going on here right now so Darcy, if you get really desperate I can be in Carolina tomorrow night. Just say the word.
My instinct is to panic a little after that loss but I didn't see much of the game, not really. As I mentioned, Kate and I were in the sixth row. I've never been able to get Mark to agree to sit that close so when Kate suggested it back at the beginning of the season I jumped at the chance. Mark's primary complaint - "You can't see anything from up there" - is pretty accurate. We were sitting almost right beside the Duck's tunnel so the other end of the ice was tough to see and if the puck was in the corner on our side down there we could see anything at all. We were also too close to the jumbotron for that to be a natural place to look so I often forgot it was there. I still haven't see the Paul Gaustad-Ryan Getzlaf collision because it was in our blind spot although I did get an excellent view of Getzlaf dripping blood all over himself as he left the ice. I could've patted him on the head, he was so close.
Still, from what I saw, the Sabres weren't that bad at first. They made a couple of big defensive mistakes that hurt them but those mistakes aside, they did a really nice job of tightening up in front of Patrick Lalime and limiting Anaheim's chances, at least at the beginning of the game. The wheels started to come off after they allowed the short-handed goal and it wasn't great after that but we probably should give it a few games before we all throw in the towel. Lalime does have to get into a rhythm, and the team does have to get used to playing in front of a goalie that probably isn't going to save their skins every time they make a mistake. The only thing that did worry me was how rarely Lalime seemed to make a stop without giving up a rebound - it felt like he didn't make a clean save all night - but I've never really noticed if that's the case with him all the time or if it was just bad last night. I guess the question is not only if they pull it together but how quickly they pull it together. Time is not on our side here.
But like I said, it's hard to judge based on watching half the ice. What I did notice is what amazing skaters even the average NHL players are. I know that seems obvious, but when you watching 2,3, 4 games a week, I think it's really easy to start taking that for granted. Every once in a while I remember, "Holy crap, these guys are on ice-skates!" Sitting up that close and seeing how quickly they're moving and cutting and stopping and starting and how their feet just move so easily, as if it's the most natural thing in the world, is really something to see. I'm especially taken with the defensemen. I could watch them do that move where they skate back a couple of lengths, swooooop around in a little half circle and then start charging forward all night long. I've said it before but I really think one of the main reasons I was taken with Henrik Tallinder is because he's such a graceful skater. Everyone thinks of hockey as kind of a rough and tumble game but there really are such beautiful things tucked inside it. And no, I do not mean Hank's dimples. Although they are quite appealing from that distance.