Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Opening Day (For a Bunch of Teams That Aren't the Sabres!)

Why don't we get to play until Saturday? Hmph.

It was a very long day here at Casa de Top Shelf but I did want to throw a couple of thoughts out before calling it a night. Odds and ends commencing... now.

-- I'm really happy Tim Kennedy made the team. I think the roster needs an infusion of excited youth and based on what very little I saw in the preseason, he was the right call over Nathan Gerbe. Judging by Lindy Ruff's comments, I'm sure Kennedy's strong defensive play and penalty killing played a huge part in him getting the nod. He was pretty mellow in the video from today currently posted on, but you'd think he almost had to go home and dance around the house or something, right? Home town kid getting the chance to play on the team he grew up watching? That has to be a really special thing for him and his family. On a related note, I'm really glad Lindy is committed to playing Kennedy in the top two or three lines. He's not going to succeed on the fourth line with guys like Adam Mair and Matt Ellis.

-- Despite my previously noted opinion that Tyler Myers should stay in juniors for a year, I am ready to see what he's got. I was encouraged by his interviews today. He talked about the importance of keeping his game simple and focusing on being responsible in his own end, and I think that's the smart move on his part. I like for my defensemen to focus on actual defense. The offensive side can come later as he gets more comfortable. Again, please don't mistake my reluctance to move Myers up this year for lack of excitement about his future. I hope he's amazing.

-- I am a little surprised at how disappointed I am about Mike Weber not making the roster. Don't get me wrong, I understand why he was sent down. The general consensus is that he did not look good at all in the preseason and I think Lindy is probably on the mark with him looking around him, adding up the numbers, seeing and hearing about Myers and pressing too hard. If Henrik Tallinder does end up getting traded, I don't know what I'm going to do about a new favorite player. I had Weber pegged for that role. That'll take some pondering. Also bummed that Hank is almost surely the d-man who's going to sit while Myers gets his 9 day tryout. I don't like it, but I don't see how it's going to be any other way. (Yes, I realize I'm the only person in the world thinking, "Oh, man, Hank is going to have to sit for Myers? That sucks.")

-- I don't think I like the Roy-Connolly-Vanek line Lindy was pondering in interviews today. Considering that he offered his own criticism of the grouping, I think it's probably something he's still noodling. I would have some concern about it being a line that's not going to do enough dirty work which is what his worry was, but I'm really more concerned that it puts our three best players on one line. I assume that would make MacArthurt-Kennedy-Pominville the second line which doesn't exactly send happy chills down my spine or anything. But they seemed to have some good chemistry in the preseason so I don't know, maybe it would work. Whatever Lindy ends up going with, I do hope he sits on his hands for a bit and gives the lines some time to click. I think it's important for the team to get off a good start - and I'm sure Lindy knows that's important for him too - but don't tinker too much right away.

-- Very, very happy that the Grier-Gaustad-Hecht line seems to be locked in. I definitely have a good feeling about them.

-- I'm going to stick with picking the Sabres to finish 5th in the Eastern Conference although 6th is probably more realistic. I think the Rangers and Canadiens are going to finish below us and I think Carolina and New Jersey have a shot to finish below us too. I never do well predicting the entire conference, but I think I would say Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, New Jersey, Carolina, and Montreal. For the record, I just reeled those off with very little rational though. I do agree with the Tick's assessment that the Sabres still don't have a lot of wiggle room though. We're still very much in a group of teams competing for the last few spots in the EC. If the team goes through a bad stretch of play or injuries, it could be lethal.



Mark B said...

Even though I understand yours and Lindy's concerns about that V-C-R line (Heh, VCR line!), I like the idea of Roy on the wing. I know he's tiny but he can be scrappy when he wants to be. I always harken back to the 05-06 playoffs with him, Drury and Grier.

I didn't realize it until it happened, but I am very pumped about Kennedy making the team. Maybe it's the South Buffalo angle partly, but this team desperately needs new blood to push them. From all reports, he works his butt off. Even when Staffy comes back, I say sit Paille and keep Tim in the lineup as long as he stays solid.

I've been burned with predictions the last two years with this team. I was sure they would make the playoffs and they tanked it. So I will give them the 8th seed. It could be 8th or 9th but I'll stay optimistic somewhat!

joe said...

Have to say I like the roy-timmy-vanek line...if Tim is your legit set-up guy and vanek is your finisher you have to stick them together...and as much as we all hate roy, he's arguably the 2nd most talent player on the Sabres front line...gotta go with your big guns.. I agree with you on Weber, he brings physical play that the Sabres don't have enough of...i've never seen Montador play so as far as I'm concerned how good of a defenseman could he be if he cost 1.2 million.

joe said...

BTW, I've been writing a ton of hockey stuff, I would hope the queen of blog central would check it out and see what she likes. :)

Shelby Rose said...

I would've much rather seen a Vanek-Connolly-Pominville/Stafford first line. I know Lindy said that they're all pretty versatile, and either Timmy or Derek would play the right wing on that line, but I'm just not feeling it. I've always loved how Thomas and Timmy have played together, though unfortunately, it never lasts long because of Timmy always getting hurt.