Friday, December 11, 2009
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.)