Monday, October 19, 2009

Catching Up on the Weekend

I went into this weekend really thinking the Sabres needed to come out with four points - as we all know, they let too many points go when playing against non-playoff teams last year - but sitting here on Sunday, I'm feeling pretty unconcerned.  They looked like garbage on Friday night but still pulled out a win.  I'd prefer that they'd looked better but sometimes good teams have to win bad games.  Saturday they looked even worse but hey, it happens.  If I'm trying not to get too excited about the wins, I think it makes sense to try to not get too down on the losses, not until they become a habit at least.  It helps that a huge part of the reason we were down so quickly against the Thrashers was Tyler Myers looking very much like a rookie.  I didn't enjoy watching that, but I think it's only fair to expect to see occasional games like that from a 19-year-old defenseman.  If he stays up - and at this point aren't we all in agreement that he will? - this probably won't be the last game we'll see like that.  Or maybe I'm just so nonchalant because I had kind of a blue weekend.  Saturday was one of those days where I just couldn't get that worked up about my favorite hockey team looking bad.

Some odds and ends:

-- Something I've kept meaning to address is how much I hate Derek Roy with an A.  I really, really want Derek Roy to be a great hockey player and if he turns into a leader on this team, fantastic.  But I'm not down with the idea of giving him an A and hoping he'll grow into it which has to be Lindy Ruff's line of thinking here.  Either give the As to people who have already earned them or just leave it at two As.  Haven't we already established that trying to force maturity onto Roy isn't going to work?  Why would you ever put him in a position where he's actually allowed to gripe at the refs?  At one point I had a very high tolerance for some of Roy's shenanigans, but watching him moan to the ref about a call that he clearly deserved and then continue to shake his head and mumble while he watched the replay pissed me off.  Shut up, Derek Roy.  Shut up, and play hockey.

-- I've stated before that I don't really care if fans boo former Sabres when they return or not.  I'm not much of a booer myself, but fans should be able to react how they want to react.  I think some of the stances certain journalists in the area have taken on that issue the last couple of years - if you boo Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, you're cheering management just to name one - are ridiculous.  That said, I was almost a little choked up at the ovation Marty Biron received when he entered the game Friday night.  It was very clear that Buffalo still has a lot of affection for him.  In a way, I think the tendency to boo former Sabres the last few years made Marty's reception that much sweeter.  I've seen some people question why Marty got cheered when others have been booed and I really think it's as simple as Marty clearly loving Buffalo both then and now.  He was and is rooted in the community in a way that Drury and Briere never quite were.  Maybe they would have been some day, but both left too soon.  That's my take at least.

-- Speaking of Max, regular commenter Vanek's Hair left this comment on the previous post:

Also, I was very happy to see that Max Afinogenov salted away last night's game. That's right. I said it.

I said it too.  Mark took his mom to the Atlanta game and when he got home one of the first things he said was, "I guess you were happy to see Max score."  Yes.  Yes, I was. 

-- As good as I'm still feeling about the Sabres overall, our power play is such a puzzle to me.  It's so frustrating to have Patrick Kaleta, a guy who can draw penalties in his sleep, while also having a power play completely incapable of capitalizing on most of those penalties.  The 5-on-3 against Atlanta was brutal.  If this keeps up, it's going to drive me bonkers for sure.

-- I'm wondering if maybe there wasn't a little bit of certain players buying into their own press.  They got a big win against Detroit, everyone's excited, and they come in Friday playing more loose.  They get away with it because of the Islanders lousy goaltending so it continues again on Saturday but this time it gets them, partly because Hedburg is a Sabres killer and partly because Atlanta might actually be a decent team.  I'm very curious to see how the team comes out for the next game.  Hopefully, this is where guys like Mike Grier and Paul Gaustad step in.  I want to see everyone re-focused.  I feel like we never really do well in Florida (I didn't check the stats on that though) so we'll see.

-- I've always liked Ilya Kovalchuk.  Considering who he's had around him for the last handful of years, his numbers are incredible.  Really makes you wonder what they'd look like if he hadn't spent his career with such a dysfunctional organization.  Ilya's also cute as a little button.

-- My favorite Mike Robitaille-ism is easily the variations of "He's playing like a riverboat gambler."  Never fails to crack me up.


Anne M said...

I loved the reception Marty got Friday night. I would guess he'd have gotten a few boos if he had started in net, but I do think even that would have gotten more cheers than boos. I agree that part of his reception is due to how long he was a Sabre, how popular and down to earth he always was, and how long he's been gone. Maybe also that his departure wasn't about money the way some others have been.

As an unabashed Max fan, I was happy that he secured the game for Atlanta. Especially because he made St. Myers look like the rookie he is while he did it. I have liked Myers so far, but I think some people are getting a little more excited about him than is warranted because he is still a 19-yr-old rookie. It was nice to see perpetual Ruff doghouse resident Max show that.

Also, was booing Max Saturday cheering for management the way booing Drury/Briere was? Just wondering, TBN.

I shouldn't even get started on Roy. He doesn't deserve an A. Full stop. He is not a leader on this team and frankly, I don't believe he ever will be. That's actually okay--not everyone will be captain. I would rather he just focus on fixing his weak areas (diving, whining, occasional laziness) without the added burden of the letter.

Anonymous said...

I agree with close to everything you said here. Most importantly, I want to see Max succeed. He never did anything to make me hate him. He only made me want him off the Sabres.

And Ilya Kovalchuk is probably my favorite player in the NHL. You put that guy on a decent team for his whole career and you'd hear best player in the NHL arguments for sure.

amy said...

Also helping is that Marty was traded and didn't solely leave for monetary reasons. He wanted more playing time, and as much as we all loved the Marty/Miller combo, it wasn't benefiting Marty. And the fact that his last game in a Sabre uniform was the brawl game definitely helps his perception with the fans.

The real test, I think, is how Brian Campbell is going to be treated. This is his first trip back here, right? He was as much a "Buffalo boy" as Marty was (minus the wife and kiddos, at least), but he left for the almighty dollar.

Shelby Rose said...

Ilya is a fantastic hockey player and I loved watching him in person on Saturday night. I didn't like the goals so much, but it's amazing what he can do. While I love Ovechkin, I would love to hear more about Kovy as well.

When the boos poured down on Max after he scored, I happily cheered him on. I never booed former players myself (even when they deserved it) so I decided to give him a little encouragement. I hope he does well in Atlanta.

joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcguffers said...

I totally agree about Derek Roy. I slept through both games on a Nyquil binge, so I didn't know he had it, but it annoyed me so much that they gave it to him for the Toronto preseason game. I even told my father "It doesn't stand for 'A--hole!'" When these guys wear a letter on their chest, they represent the whole team and how a leader should behave. He plays well when he wants to, he throws temper tantrums, he clearly doesn't listen to the coaching staff, and his commercials for Celino and Barnes are irritating. Everything but that last part should disqualify him for the A. *exhales and steps down from soap box*

Anne M said...

I'd bet money Campbell gets booed. Maybe if things hadn't gone as far as they did with him, he would get a lukewarm reception, but I think he had a lot of people against him by the time that all ended. Begging fans not to boo him in his final press conference probably won't help.

TheSharpie said...

I'm glad that Marty got cheers and I think a part of it was what uniform he was wearing. In the post-game he mentioned being booed by Sabres fans while playing for Philly.

Heather B. said...

I'm going to go with Campbell getting booed although it might be more mild than it would have been if he'd played here last year. He was such a disaster before he finally got traded and he went through a period of sticking foot after foot after foot (yes, more than two) in his mouth about his time here. Like Anne said, I think he ended up turning a lot of people off. If he gets lucky maybe people have cooled off some in the time since then but I think he'll still get his fair share.

I think it helps Marty immensely that he still lives in Buffalo in the off-season. Even though he's not a Sabre anymore a lot of people still think of him as part of the community. Same with Jay McKee. Not only were they both here a long time, they're both still here when they can be. We like that.

Anne, I think your point that there's no reason Roy has to be a leader is a good one. I think it's true. If he doesn't have that in him, he doesn't have it in him. Why are we so determined to put it there? Not every player can do that. I feel the same way about Vanek (although for COMPLETELY different reasons). They're probably both better off just being allowed to focus on their game.

Sharpie, I'm sure you're right that being a Flyer didn't help Marty's case the first time around. I also think it didn't help that his first game back after leaving the Sabres was also Danny Briere's first time back.

He plays well when he wants to, he throws temper tantrums, he clearly doesn't listen to the coaching staff, and his commercials for Celino and Barnes are irritating. Everything but that last part should disqualify him for the A.

I don't know, I think that last part is just the clincher. Would Mike Grier make those commercials? No? Then case closed. :P

And finally, I'm glad to see some Kovalchuk love!

Mark B said...

Re: Derek - I think the "A" may have come out of the long discussions Lindy and he had during the summer with the Canadien team. Maybe Lindy came out of that thinking Roy was ready to take the next step as a leader. He may not seem like a leader to us, but we have to admit that we're not in the dressing room. But I see what you're saying. Grier seems like a more obvious choice for a letter. Maybe Timmy if you want one of the core.

Soupy will get booed no doubt.