A little of this, a little of that...
-- My only real concern after the Sabres opener was the lack of offense from the top six forwards. The third and fourth lines made a much larger impression and while I love 'em, that's never a good thing. Thomas Vanek in particular has to be more of a presence. He simply cannot go through too many games with one shot on goal. He was outshot by Jochen Hecht and Chris Butler. Henrik Tallinder had a shot on goal for crying out loud. I think it's too early to be overly concerned but I think the situation bears watching. While offense hasn't been a huge problem the last couple of seasons, I think you could argue that timely offense has been. The Sabres' offensive numbers have been helped by a handful of blowouts. In one and two goal games, our record has been less than impressive the last two seasons. (30-34 in one goal games, 23-23 in two goal games in 2008-2009 and 2007-2008 combined.) We need the six guys on the top two lines to score and score when we really need it.
-- Our power play is painful. I suppose it's my lack of history with power play or the fact that I've never played, but I honestly do not understand why it's so difficult to put together a halfway decent power play. You have MORE people on the ice than the other team! I know pretty much every clogs shooting lanes and blocks shots now but still. MORE PLAYERS!
-- On a sidenote, wow, what a baseball game that was tonight. It was just starting when I headed out to babysit for the night and I was sure it would be over before I got home. I was delighted to get home and find it tied in the bottom of the 9th. Lots of crazy goings-on. I think it goes without saying that I love, love, love hockey, but baseball is the sport that's weaved through the fabric of pretty much my entire life including my most formative childhood years. (Indicated by the genuine giddiness I felt every time the TBS broadcast showed Andy Van Slyke shifting the Detroit outfielders.) It's pretty much the opposite of hockey in every way and that's what I love about it. With the exception of a walk-off homer, baseball is a much slower build. The count gets deeper, the bases get more crowed, the base runners got closer and closer to home, the crowd gets more and more excited. I think the NHL playoffs are the toughest grind in pro sports physically and probably mentally... but I do love a long, close postseason baseball game.
-- I don't know if you guys have heard about this 30 for 30 thing ESPN is doing - I rarely watch ESPN and somehow I've been inundated with it - but it sounds pretty cool. Thirty filmmakers, some recognizable, all talented, have done 30 one-hour documentaries, each one about a certain sports person or moment in the last 30 years. If you check out the website, you can see a list of all the upcoming documentaries - I plan on watching them all - but I bring it up because the first one, which premiered tonight, was Peter Berg's King's Ransom which was about the Wayne Gretzky trade, how it came to be and how it affected Edmonton, Los Angeles, and the NHL. I'll always love Peter Berg for bringing me the fabulous Friday Night Lights and I found King's Ransom to be absolutely riveting. I missed pretty much all of Wayne Gretzky's career so even the game footage in the documentary was fascinating for me. I would really encourage any sports fan, but especially hockey fans, to find a rebroadcast of it. Here's a short preview:
-- Is it wrong that I didn't really miss Adam Mair? I kind of forgot about him. In the "Let's clear roster!" space sweepstakes, I suppose I vote for waiving Nathan Paetsch. I think it's silly to even talk about waiving Henrik Tallinder or Toni Lydman. Whether you like them or not, whether they're part of your long-term plans or not, they're NHL caliber defensemen. They're also both likely to have trade value later, especially if they pull together good seasons. Every playoff-bound team can use a stay-at-home defenseman. I'm less sure what to do with the forwards.
-- Still not Thursday? Are we sure?