Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Went to a Hockey Game!

I thought I was excited about hockey season already, but when I turned onto Washington Street yesterday and suddenly saw swarms of people in hockey jerseys headed towards the arena, I thought my heart was going to float right out of my chest. Even the sight of Leafs fans made me happy. When I think about how I didn't even know hockey existed for most of my life and then think about how much I really and truly love it now, I almost want to cry. If that sounds pathetic, well, I guess I'm pathetic. And proudly pathetic at that.

Just as I was taking this picture, that kid in the bottom corner came literally skipping into view. That's exactly how I felt.

Some thoughts:

- I will admit that Tyler Myers looked pretty darn good. As everyone has said at this point, he skates really well for someone who's so tall. And he looked remarkably comfortable for someone who was playing in just his fourth preseason game. But it's still preseason hockey. He's still playing against some people who won't be on a NHL roster in games that don't really matter. It's still 4 games which is a far cry from 82. I've seen Lindy Ruff say in a few places now that he thinks Myers has the skills to play in Buffalo but that the team is still debating whether he can handle an entire NHL season. As impressive as Myers was, if there's any doubt he's not going to be ready for full-time play this year, I'd still prefer he stay in juniors another season. He's 19, the Sabres are actually probably not going to be in contention for the Stanley Cup this season, and while I'm in the minority, I think there are plenty of things he can get out of another season in Kelowna both tangible (working on positioning and decision making, increasing his weight) and intangible (more experience as the top dog in his defensive corp and on his team, potentially more serious playoff experience). And the second he plays that 10th NHL game, the clock to RFA/UFA status starts ticking. If he turns out to be half of what people are expecting, he's going to cost a small fortune when that time comes. Why start that clock until you know Myers is absolutely ready? Why rush it? After seeing him in person, I'm really excited about his future. I want him to be awesome and maybe he will be. But he has time to get there.

- The Mike Grier-Paul Gaustad-Jochen Hecht line was awesome. I'm not exaggerating when I say they were the best line out there Wednesday night. They were working hard and creating lots of chances. I could see them sometimes being frustrating because they might create chances none of them can finish, but the way they work is going to result in a lot of ugly goals. We haven't gotten nearly enough of those the last couple of years. Jochen looked much more like his old self than he did all of last season which is a very good thing. I so want him to have a good year.

- If you've ever wondered what it's like to go to a game with Kate from The Willful Caboose, well, it's pretty much like reading her blog. We had almost this exact discussion during the game.

- Using the special Twitter code, Kate and I got $20 each and got seats in the fancy 200 level. Kate sat in that section during a game last season and has not stopped talking about it since. She often referred to them as the Hot Fudge Sundae seats because the section has servers who will deliver your refreshments, including hot fudge sundaes, to your seats. I was really, really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, the servers were evidently in preseason mode too because while I did eventually find a menu (on the floor), a waitress never appeared. By the time I finally gave up and went to get something myself, everything in the 200 section was closed. Outrage! As Kate said, "We paid twenty American dollars for these seats!"

The view was definitely good.

- I don't remember exactly what the circumstances were now, but there was one point in the game where I absolutely would have punched Derek Roy in the face if he'd just skated a little closer. Too much dipsy doodle, too much passing. If Hank had left two years ago, the odds are good I would have bought a Derek Roy jersey. Thank god I was saved from that fate. I probably would have burned it in effigy by this point. Ride his ass, Griersy. I want him to be awesome.

- This isn't related to the game, but for the record, I hate the potential forward lines of MacArthur-Connolly-Pominville and Vanek-Roy-Stafford. I think Vanek and Connolly have to play together. Don't try to hide Vanek from the other team. Put your best set-up man with your best goal scorer and let them go. Expect them to produce no matter who's defending them.



Erin said...

You forgot about the best part of the game Heather....seeing me!! Duh!

We had the waitress service, you must be aggressive and flag them down!

Mark B said...

I totally agree about the lines. It not only seems to be showing NO confidence in Thomas to beat the other team's shutdown line, but it also seems to be wasting Timmy's play making ability. Now MacArthur has shown a nose for the net, but he also goes 10 to 20 games of slumping and landing in the dog house. Can't agree with Lindy on this one.

I am excited about Jochen-Goose-Griersy, though!

I think they should at least keep Myers up for nine games (which is what I think they will do), just to give him the pro experience of practicing with the guys and maybe play a few games. Then you'll have a better feel of how he will handle the real thing.

Just about a week away from the season. Wow!

dave in Rocha said...

"Put your best set-up man with your best goal scorer and let them go."

True, but then again you don't want to find yourself in the (now former) situation that the Sens did with Spezza, Alfie and the Criminal. If you shut them down you win the game easy. My guess is that Lindy is thinking that Timmy can coax more skill and scoring out of Gris, and I can't say I disagree. That kid should be in the 25-30 goal range.

Besides, since Gris DOES tend to disappear for games at a time, do you really want him paired with Roy? It'll only make things worse! Just imagine the extreme floatitude we would see out of a Gris-Roy-Stafford line. Sabre fans are sharpening their pitchforks now over the thought.

That said, I wouldn't hate Vanek-Timmy-Gris and Pommers-Roy-Stafford.

Heather B. said...

dave, good points, especially on the potentially bad combination of Roy and MacArthur. I think I'd try your Mac-Connolly-Vanek lie before completely giving up on Timmy and Van together though.

Katebits said...

WOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Hockeyhockeyhockeyhockeyhockey.

I wish we could go to an easy breezy pre-season game in the Hot Fudge Sundaes every night.

joe said...

Hey, have you ever thought about asking the Sabres for press passes? I remember when I was an intern at WGRZ and had to go with the camera guy to cover post-game, Some of the outlets covering the game I had never even heard of before. Just curious.

PS-preseason stinks and the Hecht, Grier, and Goose line is my favorite line on the team.

Heather said...

Joe, I tried to get credentialed for the Sabres game in DC last year. The Caps were fine with it, the Sabres put the kibosh on it. While they didn't tell me this directly, my understanding from talking to a few people is that independent bloggers are not welcome. I wouldn't be interested in covering every game that way - I love being a fan too much - but I thought it would be fun to experience once and that it would make for a few really cool blog entries. But no dice. The Sabres are party poopers.

joe said...

Of course the Sabres don't want you on their turf. They have the hard hitting internet show, "The Sabres show." Great creative title BTW.

That stinks, there's got to be something you can do...maybe have all your readers email the Sabres brace and demand you have credentials!

The Sabres do like to go out on Elmwood, maybe you can ambush them and ask questions about their team.

I hear you about just being a fan. It sucks covering a team you like. It becomes work and you stop caring for the team.

True story, some of the people at my old internship who had to cover the teams, wanted the Bills or Sabres not to make the playoffs because if they did that meant they had to work a lot more..once I heard that I was like this ain't for me.