Friday, December 11, 2009

Hank



Okay, yes, the Caps, for whatever reason, gave Henrik Tallinder lots of room to maneuver and then shoot. And yes, Jose Theodore gave up a huge rebound which no one on his team gathered up. But kudos to Hank for taking the puck to the net, recognizing that he had a shot, taking the shot, and then following the shot to the net. I know a few forwards who could watch that clip and take a lesson or two from it.

As the Henrik Tallinder apologist for the last couple of years, I am, as you can imagine, quite pleased with the way he's playing this year. I don't know if it's finally having been injury free for a while or being in a contract year or having the chance to mentor Tyler Myers a bit - probably a mix of all three - but he looks completely at ease on the ice. He's obviously in good shape, he's playing with confidence, he's getting big minutes. I love it. I was thinking the other day about how he kind of lucked into the opportunity. If Toni Lydman had been healthy when the season started, I'm pretty sure Hank would have started in the press box and maybe we'd be looking at a totally different scenario. I don't know. I do know he's seized the opportunity.

It's way too early to have the "What about next year?" conversation, but hey, I'm a blogger. I'm not required to be responsible in any way so... what about next year?

I've always thought the Sabres needed to extend Toni Lydman or Henrik Tallinder. They seem to have a good amount of depth on defense throughout the organization, but most of it is still very young, and I think experience is always helpful. None of our babies have played in the postseason yet, at least not at the NHL-level. As we learned in 05-06, you can never have too many experienced d-men on the roster.

I feel this way even more with the way Craig Rivet has been playing. It hasn't seemed to get much press so maybe I'm alone, but I feel like I'm watching him age right there on the ice some nights, and I think he's hurt Chris Butler's development this year. Not cool. Lydman and Tallinder have more left in the tank and would most likely be safe for a two year or so extension. I'm always surprised when I realize how young they both still are, especially Hank who's 31 in January, not terribly old for a positional d-man. Getting rid of both of them and going UFA is always an option, but I have to admit, I'm as leery of the UFA market as Darcy Regier. Craziness usually lies down that road.

Before this season, I definitely would have gone with re-signing Lydman. He seemed a little more stable than Hank, definitely healthier. But gosh, I don't know. Hank is playing so well. And the wild card in the situation is how well he and Myers are playing together. I think Myers probably has the maturity and capability to learn to play with a new partner if the situation required that, but I'm not sure why you would break up a pairing that's playing so well together when you don't really have to. If we've learned anything at this point, it should be that you can't force chemistry. You can bring in a fancy UFA, but he's not necessarily going to fit. I think there's a faction of fans who feel a guy from the UFA market is always going to be better than the guy already on the Sabres roster, and that might not be the case here.

If I'm the Sabres, the one thing that concerns me, more than it being a contract year, is health. But if Hank gets through this year in one piece while staying at the level of play he's at right now, I don't know, things get interesting. I wouldn't be opposed to a two year extensin with a slight bump in pay.

But like I said, it's really too early to have this conversation (though if you have an opinion, by all means, throw it up in the comments). For now, I'm just really happy Hank is playing well. I'm happy to see him looking so comfortable, happy to see him smiling, happy to hear Lindy saying positive things for a change. I'm happy to wear my Tallinde 10 jersey and have people making nice comments about how he's playing. It seems crazy to be that genuinely happy about someone you've never met and don't reallly know at all and most likely never will, but I am. I'm happy.

On another note, how much do you think Brian Campbell is freaking out about getting booed tonight? I'll bet he's being a total drama queen about it in the dressing room. "Do you think they're going to boo me? Golly, I hope they don't boo me. What will I do if they boo me? Do you think they're going to boo me?" A lot of my vitrol regarding Campbell has passed though I still think he was a total baby the last year or so he was here, and I admit, I'm a little curious to see how noticeably rattled he might get if he is heavily booed. That's terrible, isn't it?

(I know the NHL.com video looks terrible. I'll replace it with a link eventually. For now, I want it up even if it is eating my blog.)

9 comments:

PKB said...

I think it depends on how Sekera progresses and how committed they are to Mike Weber. Also, if this scoring mess continues any longer, I think they'll need to make an adjustment (like maybe cut Hecht's break line). If they'd prefer a more noncriminal alternative, Hank could be a nice trading piece. But if the Sabres want to consider bringing Hank or Toni back, it can't be for longer than 2 years. Any longer than 2 for either of those goofballs and I'm on suicide watch.

I like Hank more than Toni, BTW. It seems like Toni when he's at his best does everything okay but nothing very well, if that makes sense. Hank at his best is a flat out good maybe even great player. The problem is both will probably want longer deals. Who knows where the salary cap will be next year though. Some players just end up getting screwed and have to sign contracts they don't want. Hank might just look around at the market and say F' it I'm just going to stay here for whatever they want to offer me, play with Myers, and continue to drink Coors Light with co-eds at the Crocodile Bar after home games.

Mark B said...

I've said it before, but he should continually be on one-year contracts, so he's always in a contract year!

Seriously, though, I wouldn't mind a two-year extension. If like you say, he stays healthy, I can see Myers and him being a real shutdown pair.

Hopefully Soupy doesn't have a nervous breakdown. Maybe he'll spin-o-rama his way out of depression.

Kathleen said...

Okay, yes, the Caps, for whatever reason, gave Henrik Tallinder lots of room to maneuver and then shoot.

Well, to extrapolate on the Caps' apparent attitude about, um, everything, I'd guess they were all thinking "Only our d-men ever score goals. ...wait, what just happened?"

Roby could not give Hank enough love on WGR yesterday morning. I believe the words "unsung hero" were used.


I'm with you on Rivet - and I'm not convinced he's more of a leader than, say, Gaustad or Grier.

I'll bet he's being a total drama queen about it in the dressing room. "Do you think they're going to boo me? Golly, I hope they don't boo me. What will I do if they boo me? Do you think they're going to boo me?"

Aaaahahahahahahahahahahahahah Honestly, though, I'll feel bad if Soupy gets booed (a lot). He's just such a dork. And a fourteen year old girl.

Shelby Rose said...

I think if Hank continues to play at the level he has been, they'll definitely look into extending his contract for a couple of more years. Tyler has definitely helped Hank look and play better this season, and I really hope that his play can continue like this. It's definitely helping his confidence out too. Like PKB said though, it all depends on how the Sabres feel about the prospects. Mike Weber is the only one I can think of that might be ready to come up next year. Of course, I don't know how he's doing with PIM down on the farm...

Caroline said...

I love when Hank plays well too. He was one of my favorite defenseman a few years back and when he was struggling the past few seasons I was really hoping he'd pull out of it. Plus he's a good guy so that's why I'm always happy when he's succeeding. :)

Jaime said...

I saw Hank at Wegman's today. I prompted my daughter to say, "Hi Hank!" and he gave her a big smile.

Vanek's Hair said...

I am glad Hank is playing well. I guess I didn't realize it was a contract year. But I should have known. I am sure his performance does coincide with the desire to be obnoxiously overpaid by some dopey NHL owner on July 1, 2010. Not criticizing Hank. With the exception of Mike Peca, every pro athlete has a career year in a contract year. But I am pleased with Hank's performance. I don't know about extending him too long I am very much against giving big money long term to players on the wrong side of 30. Mainly because I am on the wrong side of 30 and everything hurts after I exercise.

I am going to disagree on Craig Rivet. I really like him. He is not a number 1 defenceman, but he plays a role that the Sabres desperately need, specifcally someone who holds opponents accountable for running Miller. He is old, and in sports, old happens fast. I like the young depth on defense so over the next few years, everything should be ok

Heather B. said...

How IS Weber playing in Portland? Anyone know?

PKB, I agree with your assessment of Hank vs. Toni. When he's good, I think Hank is definitely better. But he'd been so uneven that going into this season, I would've have taken Toni's less spectacular but more consistent performance.

Bringing up length of contract is also a really good point. I was thinking mostly in terms of money, but players have seemed really stuck on getting a lot of years in the last few off-seasons. I don't think I'd give either guy more than 2 years so we agree there.

I am curious to see what the market is for a player like Hank though. He's playing well so that helps, if the Sabres make the playoffs, and he plays well that's even better for him. But even with all that, he's a defensive d-man and they don't usually get the flashy money.

Kathleen, thanks for mentioning the Roby interview. I'll have to go check out the audio vault for that one.

Jaime, that big smile is a bit of a killer in person, isn't it? :)

Vanek's Hair, I'm not ready to put Rivet out to pasture by any means. I agree that his grit and willingness to clear the crease is important, and I'm sure he's filling a role in the dressing room. But I think defensively he's been a bit of a mess this season, sometimes a flat-out dog, and I think Butler's spent a lot of time compensating for him. I suppose we can agree to disagree.

Ebscer said...

I was a big fan of the Lydman and Tallinder combination a few years ago, but at this point I am really ready to see Lydman go. He has not played as well as he used to, and I still like Weber.

Tallinder on the other hand needs to stay in Buffalo and along with Rivet and Myers is one of our top three D men.

Tallinder's goal was awesome. I saw him start to pull away in his own zone, and was wondering what he thought that was going to do, before he skated straight down the middle and scored.