Friday, October 30, 2009

Have I Mentioned That I Love the Sabres?

I've spent the last few days going through my archives for a side project and I was reminded how crazily I blogged about last year's strong start.  I spent a lot of time complaining about how hard it was to write about a team that was winning all the time.  What was I thinking?  I was practically begging the Sabres to start sucking.

Well, forget that.  This year I'm embracing the love.  I'm hoping the Sabres continue to win, of course, but in case they don't, I want to be happy while I can.  No one on the team is really driving me crazy right now, I don't think, but here are the five Sabres I love the most right now:


Yeah, anyone who's read Top Shelf for oh, a day or two could have seen this coming.  But for the first time in a while, Hank is actually earning my devotion.  He's remembered that he's a pretty darn good NHL defenseman.  Tyler Myers deserves a lot of credit for that but maybe, just maybe, Hank deserves a little credit for Myers' transition going so well.  Judging by some recent quotes from Myers, he feels it partly is.  At any rate, I was starting to forget what it was like to love a player without having to constantly defend that affection so hey, whatever the reason, thanks for getting your crap together, Hank.


Maybe I was just still new to hockey or something, but I really don't remember Mike Grier making much of an impression on me last time he was in town.  But now?  Yeah, the guy is making an impression.  It seems remarkable that throwing one or two different people in the mix could make such a huge change in an entire team, but so far it's happening.  I'm now fully onboard the "Grier's Intangible" train.  I have no idea what he's doing or saying behind the scenes, but there's no question that he's giving it all he's got when he's on the ice.  That alone is a lesson for a lot of last year's Sabres.


When I sat down to write this post, Matt Ellis wasn't really on my mind.  But when I started to really think about it, he was right there.  Another guy who just plays hard every night no matter what kind of ice time he's getting.  He knows his role and he fills it ably and willingly.  I know he's a really popular guy with many Sabres fans, but right now, I'd be having never seeing Adam Mair on the ice again.  I want Ellis in the line-up.


I saw Tyler Myers get drafted in person, you know.  You can probably see him better in the above photo if you click on it, but there he is shaking hands with Darcy Regier while Lindy Ruff looks on.  (I was reminded today that the Sabres traded up a spot in order to get him.  Some fans around us were wondering why they went to the trouble to move up one little spot, and I assumed they really wanted to make sure they got Myers.  How smart does that look right now?)  Look, I freely admit that I had a ton of doubts about Myers playing at the NHL level this year, and I still think we're likely to see him wear down a bit as the season unfolds.  But I also freely admit that I was mostly wrong about him.  He's skilled, he's calm, and he's so amazingly confident.  When he does make mistakes, he seems to put them right out of his mind which has not been a strong area for the Sabres the last couple of years.  I know I'm not the only person in Buffalo who is awfully excited about this kid.


Like I said yesterday, it's so easy to take Ryan Miller for granted, but jeez, he's playing some great hockey right now.  If he plays like this all season, we're a lock for a playoff spot and maybe even a round or two.  He's smart, he's articulate, he's thoughtful, he's open, and he so clearly wants to be the best he can be.  How can you not love that?

Let's be happy and positive together.  Who are you loving so much right now?


joe said...

What's wrong with Clarke MacArthur?

dave in Rocha said...

Ok, first, when was Matt Ellis ever in Life magazine? If he wasn't, then what's up with the watermark on his picture?

Second, to answer your question:
- Butler: Remember, he has still only played less than a full year's worth of games, yet he leads the team in icetime.

- Montador: No, he's not dropping the gloves and he's not laying guys out with Carrubba-like hits, but he's A) tough and scrappy and B) likes to headman the puck and join the rush. Works for me.

- Kennedy: Fearlessly throws himself into grave danger in the corners and around the net. Not only has he lived to tell about it, but he's putting up some points too.

- Lalime: He always seems so happy for Miller when he skates out to Ryan after yet another victory.

- Gris: I have to join the growing chorus and say that he's no longer a "prospect we hope pans out", but instead is "a real nice player we hope keeps it up".

Bowl of Pork said...

Just something I noticed the other night at the Rock. Grier was one of the first to hit the ice for warmups and was definitely the last the leave, making sure he said something to every single player as they stepped off both in warmups and at the end of the game. Obviously I don't know what he was saying but more than one guy left looking like he was mulling something over seriously.

brian s. said...

1) Vanek - I know he's not playing well, but there's still no one else better.
2) Myers - he's so composed and fun to watch
3) Miller - I disagree with you Heather. If he keeps playing like he is now we can book a trip to the Finals. I don't see anyone beating him in a 7 game series if he only gives up 1.5 goals a game.
4) Kennedy - another one that is fun to watch and is hustling all the time
5) Butler - because you hardly ever notice him

Shelby Rose said...

I don't think I love any specific players right now. What I DO love is how the team can roll lines and they are scoring from every single line. This is something we have missed quite a lot the past two seasons. I'm glad to see scoring coming from everyone.

Mark B said...

Along with the guys you mentioned (who I totally agree with), I'm going give some love to Staffy and Goose.

Most here probably know I bought a Stafford jersey after 06-07 when Drury left and I needed a new favorite player. For two years, he looked like a different player from the guy who was called up during our President's trophy win. He was aloof and seemed to coast more than not. Well, the player I really liked originally may have returned. He's playing with more drive as he goes to the net. And he's seemed less arrogant and cocky in his interviews, as if he's gained some humility.

And Goose is a true leader. Whether is's winning a critical faceoff or sticking up for Ryan, he's such stand up player. Some thought his contract was an overpayment last year, but he's truly one of those intangible players.

Kathleen said...

Matt Ellis won my heart the minute I saw this interview:

If I recall correctly it was during one of the team's whiny, sloppy, apathetic slumps, so to see someone talk about how happy he was to grind his way through every game and do whatever he could to help the team, well... all the construction paper hearts in the world for Matt Ellis. Guy even sounds excited about being treated like a human punching bag.

I'm astonished by Tim Kennedy's scrappiness (scrappy-ness? oh whatever). The kid is like a Jack Russell in the big dog side of the park. I'm a little worried about him remaining in one piece, but it's impressive nonetheless.

Clark MacArthur has been so on fire I can hardly remember why I took such a dislike to him. Kaleta... has offensive talent. Huh. And I'm thrilled to bits over Goose's faceoff prowess. It is utterly delightful to peruse the NHL stat page and have a Sabre holding strong at the very top of a category. It's even more delightful that the Sabre happens to be Paul Gaustad.

Yeah, last night we got a scare, and they've had some sloppy periods here and there, but it seems like they've finally figured out how to pull two points out of the little holes they put themselves in. I can't pick who I love the most. Lindy Ruff is my favorite Sabre.