Monday, December 7, 2009

We Did Play the Rangers, Right?

I intended to say more about the Rangers game today, but after a few hours I found I couldn't remember a single thing about the Rangers game.  I don't remember Chris Drury, I don't remember Ales Kotalik, I barely remember the final score.  Was the game that boring or was I just not paying close enough attention?  I was Christmas shopping during the game (God bless, so it's possible that I just wasn't paying attention.

-- Jason Pominville tried to appease me with a good game right after I complained about him last week, but I am not feeling him at all.  For some reason I always bristled at people complaining that Jochen Hecht and Henrik Tallinder weren't worth the money they were being paid even though I knew that was true, but I have no such problems with criticism of Pominville.  In fact, I wouldn't mind more of it.  Let's feed him to the lions.

-- It seems in poor form to complain about the offense after a loss that was preceded by oodles of goals, but I am still a little concerned.  Not freaking out but concerned.  Stats suggest that offense has not been a big problem for these guys the last few years, but I think timely offense has been a problem.  The Sabres are still lacking that player who can take over a game when needed the way Danny Briere often did when he was here.  I don't know if it's a question of talent or a question of will, and I don't know if those players are born or made, but it's something that might need to be addressed yet.

-- But a big woo-hoo for the penalty killing units.  I knew they were playing well, but I had no idea they'd leapt to third in the league (as of this writing).  That's awesome.  I was having this debate with someone the other day, but if you have to have a very strong offensive team or a very strong defensive team, I'd go with the defensive side.  (Ideally, you'd be awesome at both things, but we'll lower the expectations a bit for now.)  I think defense and goal-tending are much more likely to make a difference, particularly in the postseason when all the regular seasons rules and penalties seem to get tossed out the window.

-- I was always a bit of a Dmitri Kalinin apologist - hey, someone had to be.  I thought he was far better than most fans gave him credit for being.  His biggest weakness however, and probably the reason he's not in the NHL anymore, was his inability to deal with a mistake.  One mistake and he'd come completely unraveled and it would take him 5, 6, 10 games to pull himself back together.  He just didn't have that even keel, that mental toughness.  One of my biggest concerns about Tyler Myers playing in Buffalo this season was how well he would deal with the mistakes that a 19-year-old rookie defenseman was sure to make, but so far he's equipped himself very well in that area.  In the last handful of games he's had a couple of mistakes end up in the Sabres net, but you wouldn't know it from the way he played the rest of those games.  Cool as a cucumber so far, definitely a plus for a blue-liner.

-- Of course, he gets the benefit of playing with Henrik Tallinder who has been really good this season.  Just saying.  In case you hadn't noticed.


Vanek's Hair said...

I am with you on the concerns with the offense. That has been my problem with the Sabres all year. A lot of times when they score, it seems accidental. A shot from the point that bounces off three sticks, a leg, an arm and a ref. You are dead on that they lack a player who (for instance Saturday v. the Rangers) scores or sets up a goal in a game where the Sabres were getting nothing done on offense. I know they had almost 40 shots, but like many games when they have high shot numbers, I find myself saying "Why don't I remember any"

Mark B said...

I too agree with you about our offense. Does anyone in our top six rank as a difference maker, someone you count in the last minute of the game? Or strike any fear into the oppostion? I don't think so. Vanek could be that guy, but he still hasn't taken that step.

Anne M said...

I also agree about the offense. I would like to see someone step up. I notice that Roy is wearing an A at least some of the time (maybe all the time; I try not to look at him too much because I hate him). Some timely freaking offense from such a leader would let me forgive that a little. (please note: sarcasm in effect in this paragraph)

I think a big reason Myers doesn't lose it after he makes a mistake is that Ruff doesn't ream him out or bench him for the rest of the period/rest of the game/rest of the week. So he feels that the coach has faith in him. I'm getting the feeling that Myers falls into the pet category for Ruff. There have always been players who never or almost never lose ice time due to mistakes (Roy & Pominville come to mind on the current roster), and other players who are punished for a single mistake (Tallinder & Vanek seem to get this treatment more often). No player is going to play a perfect game all the time, but my #2 problem with Ruff is this inconsistent treatment of what seems like similar behavior. (#1 is NOT PLAYING THE BACKUP GOALIE ENOUGH. I know he sucks. Get over it. Lose a couple of games now, or fall apart at the end of the year/in the playoffs because Miller is totally gassed. Take your pick.)

Heather B. said...

Anne, I almost said that I felt Myers was probably partly dealing so well because Lindy was showing so much faith in him which was not the treatment Kalinin got after a mistake, but I didn't get anyone to get fixated on me defending Kalinin two years later. So I'm glad you said it. :)

Anne M said...

Happy to oblige, Heather. VH & I stuck up for Kalinin a lot a few years ago. :)

Vanek's Hair said...

It came up. Can I just engage in a little Buffalo blasphemy and say perhaps Lindy Ruff is as much a problem as he is the solution?

I absolutely agree that Myers is likely playing with confidence that players like Vanek, Tallinder or in the past Kalinin or Afinogenov never had the benefit of. Specifically that he will never be publicly embarrassed by his coach. Whether it is embarrassment of public beration through the press (is beration a word?) Or the embarrassment of obvious loss of playing time. Myers needn't worry about being benched for the turnover he had Saturday (led to a goal) and it was not the first time a Myers turnover ended up in the Buffalo net.

I was also close to being personally offended at the post game press conference last week when Lindy Ruff said Lalime was sent to Portland for playing time because he was unable to get playing time in Buffalo. Ruff acted as though he was a bystander in the whole lack of Lalime playing time. I really didn't like that.

As a personal preference, I am not a fan of gasbag coaches who want everyone to fit into their little way of doing these.

As for Kalinin, I've said it before and I will repeat it, possibly to my grave. The Sabres do not beat substantially less talented Islanders and Rangers in the 2007 playoffs without Kalinin. He was their best defensive player in those series.

Holy ***** was that a rant. I am the gasbag I detest.

Heather B. said...

VH, it would be awfully hypocritical of me to criticize someone else for being a windbag. Especially since I'm about to ramble...

As a personal preference, I am not a fan of gasbag coaches who want everyone to fit into their little way of doing things.

You complained a few times last season about Lindy trying to force players into a system that just doesn't work for them, and I've been thinking about that a lot lately in regards to Derek Roy.

He hasn't been annoying me nearly as much this season as he has in the past which leads me to believe that he's not making some of the dumbass mistakes he used to (stupid drop passes, tons of turnovers, trying to stick handle through everyone on the ice) at least not as often, but he's definitely not been as spark-plugy on the offensive side of things either. I think he has the skill to be a good two-way forward - he's shown flashes of it in the past - but maybe he just doesn't have the will. That sucks because, again, he has the skill, but I have been wondering if forcing him into the system is squashhing his offensive ability and creativity. He did a lot of stupid things the last two season, but at least he sometimes made up for it by doing really awesome things too. Now we just have kind of a blah Derek Roy and let's face it, blah is not what we need from him.

I don't know, I haven't thought it through completely. Just something I've been noodling a bit.

He was their best defensive player in those series.

I posted this photo photo back in May 2008, and it's still THE play I remember from that postseason.