Wednesday, December 30, 2009

That's the Good Stuff

When Kate sent me an email this off-season asking if I'd like to buy some of her season tickets, the first game I grabbed was the December 29th game against Pittsburgh.  I wanted to see the Penguins play in person, something I hadn't managed to do for the last couple of years thanks to poor timing and broken bones, and the 29th also just happens to be my birthday.  A little present to myself.

So when that third Penguins goal went in and Ryan Miller flung his helmet down the tunnel while Patrick Lalime skated some warm-up circles, I was pretty cranky.  It's silly, but we're all fans here and sometimes as fans we let our teams dictate our moods.  I was really frustrated because it was becoming clear that the Sabres are doo diddly when Ryan Miller isn't on his game.  There's nothing wrong with that really - as Kevin kind of said in a post earlier today, all teams are built around somebody and when those somebodies don't play well, their teams suffer - but I don't know, it was very defeating to watch.  And on my birthday, darn it all!

And then god bless him, Drew Stafford saved the day.  I'm sure this game was super exciting to watch on TV, but I'm so happy I was there because it was just one of those games where you could feel everything.  When Drew Stafford skated around and around while the scrum in front of Pittsburgh's net was being reviewed, you could feel how big that penalty shot was going to be.  You could feel how much he knew it.  You could feel how much he wanted it.  You could feel how much we wanted it.  It was one of those moments when player and fan are almost as one, and when he put that sucker in the net - with an assist from Marc-Andre Fleury - you could feel everyone - on the bench and in the crowd - let out a breath and think, "Okay.  One more and we're back in the game."

Kate wrote a post a few weeks back about the view from our seats, and I'm about to pretty much repeat what she said.  (Sorry, Kate.)  Here's what we see:

They're awesome seats, but we're at the end the Sabres shoot on once.  That doesn't really bother me since I'm a freak who'd rather watch defense and goaltending, but it means the Sabres score a lot of their goals at the other end of the ice, and it's tough to see the actual goal sometimes, especially when there's a huge pile of bodies in a scrum in front of the net.  A split second or so before we know the puck is in the net, the crowd behind the net leaps to its feet, arms raised.  Sometimes they leap up without the puck having gone in and then sit right back down, but when it does goes in, the celebration weaves down around the rink, like the wave but less annoying because it's spontaneous and heart-felt, until it gets to our section.  It's very, very cool.  Because Jason Pominville's shot was from farther out, we could see it pretty well, but from our end it was hard to tell if it hit the crossbar inside or outside of the net.  But we knew when the leaps and waves continued around the ice.

It was just... I don't know, it's hard to explain.  It was one of those shared moments that really makes being a sports fan what it is.  All the journalists who wonder why we continue to support teams who don't win championships are missing those moments.  I'm sure John Vogl and Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan watch games like this one and understand how important that win could be for a team, but they don't feel it, not the way we do.  It doesn't send them dancing out into the streets.  I don't know if the Sabres will win the Stanley Cup this season or not, but I know that no matter how the season ends - in ecstasy, agony, or somewhere in between - I'll remember this game.  I'll remember Kate assuring me via Twitter that the Sabres were just setting things up for a dramatic birthday come from behind victory.  I'll remember Drew Stafford skating around center ice, fresh off a healthy scratch, waiting to take a shot that could - and did - change the whole game.  I'll remember watching 19-year-old Tyler Myers unhesitatingly knock down Evgeni Malkin (who looks HUGE in person, btw) in the waning seconds of the game.  I'll remember the celebration dancing through the crowd until it hit section 120 and I'll remember Mark and I talking about the other fun games we've seen live the last couple of years (and I know this one will get added to the list).  I'll remember the whole team squeezing together in one big huddle after the final buzzer, staying that way just a  few seconds longer than usual because they felt it too.  Relief, excitement, pride, joy, all of it.

Tomorrow we can debate the more intellectual side of the game - the lack of effort in the first period, whether this is really Drew Stafford coming on or just another flash of what he could be, the still kind of frightening power play - but for tonight, thinking about, enjoying, soaking in the good moments is enough.

Let's go Buff-a-lo!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Top Shelf Christmas

This is the same lame, lazy post I read three days ago.

You gonna update this thing, or what?

Well, actually, no, I thought I'd take a few days off.  I know you've never done the holidays with us before but it's busy.  Chicken finger pizza, sponge candy and The Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, big family shindig on Christmas, my birthday next week,  New Year's Eve.  I mean, it's crazy!


Come on!  Do you really want to read about the Caps game?  It was disgusting!


Fine!  Playing like garbage + crappy power play + stupid penalties (that d-bag Ovechkin) = godawful game I'd rather just pretend never happened.  Happy now?


You know, I don't like your attitude.  I think you're forgetting which of us is the dog and which of us is the human.  Just for that, I'm breaking out the hat.  Yes, the hat.  You will wear it and you will be happy about it and you will wish everyone a merry Christmas and mean it.

Crap.  Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hockey Math

Playing the Leafs + Playing poorly (Winning despite playing poorly) = hi-freakin-larious.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Hockey Cheer

Theoretically I suppose I should be disappointed about the Sabres losing in a shootout Saturday night, but I was actually feeling pretty chipper afterward. Maybe it's the holiday season, maybe it's only having two days left of school before a week and a half vacation, but I was in a very generous mood. They didn't look out of place against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, they played really well in front of Patrick Lalime who in turn, looked pretty good for the second consecutive start. They have a nice little cushion in the Northeast Division. They earned 5 out of 6 points in a busy week. It's all good, Sabres fans.

Two minor complaints.

One, we're on Versus AGAIN? I don't hate their coverage the way some fans do (though I would appreciate the occasional replay of SOMETHING), but this is like, the 8th week in a row. Versus, I love both guys, but I'm going to need you to come up with some talking points beyond "Ryan Miller will probably be the Olympic starter" and "Tyler Myers is super tall."

Two, our power play is ineffective. Watching them try to score is like watching this poor little puppy try to get back on his feet. Except not nearly as cute. Or cute at all really.

On a completely unrelated note, I really, really, really want Paul Gaustad to make the U.S. Olympic team. That's my hockey Christmas wish.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Few More Head Shot Thoughts

So I fell asleep during the second intermission last night and didn't wake up until 8 a.m. this morning. Long, busy week at work caught up with me, I guess. That means unfortunately that I don't have a lot to say about last night's game other than, I love when Toni Lydman scores and for him, the more ridiculous, the better. I'm sorry I missed all the post-game stuff because post-goal Toni is always one of the best interviews of the year. He's clearly happy but always hilariously self-deprecating. I'll have to poke around today, but if anyone knows of some good Toni video or audio, please let me know.

For now, I mostly just wanted to thank everyone for linking, pointing out links to, and commenting on the last entry. I really appreciate that the comments here tend to be well thought out and respectful, even the dissenters. If you left a comment early in the day, I'd encourage you to go back and check out any you missed. But because I know some of you won't, here's a slightly re-worded bit from the last comment I left:

For me, this isn't just about Patrick Kaleta. It's about every player who is unappreciated and therefore unprotected by the NHL. It could be because he's a douchebag, it could because he's not a star or doesn't have any name recognition, it could because he plays in a market no one cares about. Whatever the reason, I'm tired of there always being an excuse to look the other way. We've heard league officials go on incessantly for the last couple of seasons about how much they want to get head shots out of the game, how concerned they are about concussions. I don't understand how people can talk like that and then look at a hit like Ruutu's which was directly to the head, realize the victim didn't return to the game and was suffering and neck and vision problems the following day, and shrug and say, "Well, it wasn't THAT bad." The hypocrisy involved is my primary problem.

PKB wrote an interesting post at Hockey Rhetoric about what he would change about the discipline system, and I think most of his points are good ones. There are a couple of things I'd add.

The first thing I'd add is that I think it's time to stop thinking too hard about intent. For one thing, I think very, very few players line up a hit with the intention of hurting someone. You can almost always honestly say, "He didn't mean for that to happen." For another thing, like Kate said in one of her comments, measuring intent is way too hard and leaves too many loopholes. I hate to keep coming back to the rules for high sticking, but I think they apply. If Jochen Hecht hits Ian White in the face with his stick, whether he meant to do it or not, Jochen will be penalized. We've all seen high sticks that were clearly accidents - probably most of them are - but they're still penalized because stick infractions can be dangerous. Why should shots to the head be treated any differently? They're far more dangerous, both in the immediate and in the long-term.

The second thing I'd add is that I think it's time to stop factoring the resulting injury into discipline too much. If the victim isn't going to play again all season and you want to make the sentence for the hitter stiffer then I guess that's okay. But the fact that the victim gets up and skates away from a dangerous hit doesn't make the hit any less wrong. It just makes everyone - victim, hitter, and league - real damn lucky. In addition, with all the research about concussions showing that the worst effects might not show up for years, the real damage on a head shot can't be seen with human eyes. It's time to get over the idea that no damage was done because the victim isn't bleeding or nursing a broken bone.

When a player gets away with one hit because he didn't mean to or it didn't do any serious damage and his next hit leaves someone like Sidney Crosby, or Alexander Ovechkin, or Jarome Iginla crippled on the ice, the NHL can throw the book at the guy and it's going to be too late. The damage is done. A star player will be gone, the NHL will be buried in a media shit storm they'll never get out of, and a lot of fans including me, will never look at a hockey game the same way. At this point, the NHL desperately needs to deter the kind of hits we're seeing more and more of and that means punishment should be harsh and it should come BEFORE the worst of the damage.

Go Sabres.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Patrick Kaleta Needs His Brain Too

A few other bloggers have already discussed the Jarkko Ruutu hit on Patrick Kaleta and the lack of a suspension so I was going to pass on the whole thing, but it's really bothering me, and hey, I started this blog partly to express my opinion.  This might be a little all over the place.  We'll see.

I, like most fans, have grown accustomed to rolling my eyes at the NHL's erraticly applied discipline, but the lack of a suspenion here makes me genuinely furious and the more I watch the hit, the more upset I get.  Ruutu skates past Kaleta's body and hits him solely and directly in the head.  If that's not a head shot, what the heck is?  Every excuse anyone has ever used - the players were both moving at top speed, the victim turned his back at the last second, the victim had his head in a bad spot - can be tossed out because none of them apply.  And you know what, I'm sick of those excuses anyway.  Good grief, wake up, NHL.  If you can demand a player be responsible with his stick, demand that he be responsible with his body too.  Quit trying to make things safer by adjusting the equipment and do something to change the behavior.

The Bob McKenzie commentary on the Ruutu hit has been commented on in a few places too, namely Bfloblog and Sabres Edge, but I think it bears repeating that it was awful.  I understand McKenzie was saying Ruutu should be suspended and was merely speculating that the league might not do so, but almost everything else he said was garbage.  For him to report that Kaleta came back in the game when he didn't play a single second of hockey after getting hit is the epitome of irresponsibility in reporting especially since that was a major part of his argument in why the league might not hand out a suspension.  There is zero excuse for not getting that right and there is zero excuse for no one correcting that on the air.

What offended me much more however was McKenzie's tosssed off comment about never knowing whether Kaleta is really hurt or not.  Look, I'll be the first person to agree that Kaleta is no angel on the ice.  I've questioned his game many times over the last couple of seasons.  I think overall he's been much more responsible this season, but I understand that he earned his reputation fair and square, and I understand that those reputations, once developed, are hard to shake.  But one thing I've never seen Kaleta do is milk an injury.  To hang that kind of reputation on a player who doesn't deserve it is ridiculous.  Again, extremely irresponsible.  He missed a lot of time last season with neck problems so yeah, his head going into the boards might have done some damage.  Then again, in TSN's world, Kaleta went back in the game.

This evening James Mirtle linked to a story in the Globe and Mail about a study of former athletes' brains and how there's now proof of hockey concussions leading to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, basically degenerative brain disease.  The hockey player in question, Reggie Fleming, was in his 70s and played before helmets and improved safety equipment, but considering how hard some of that improved equipment is, how much bigger the players are now, how much faster the game is, I don't know how anyone can read this article (which I recommend you do) or others like it without being concerned.  Some of the effects of concussions mentioned are sensitivity to light, noise and motion, emotional outbursts, inability to concentrate, loss of memory, depression, and potential links to Parkinsons, strokes, and dementia.  Even the less severe symptoms are scary.  Think about how hard it would be to get through a day if light, noise, and motion bothered you.  The story states that the NHL has officially reported more than 10 concussions while unofficially, there are reports that number is more than double.  I'm gonna go with the unofficial number there.

I'm sick and tired of the star player/scrub double standard.  In the McKenize clip above, Keith Jones starts strong by saying he doesn't care about Kaleta's reputation, but when they move on to the David Koci hit on Mike Green, he argues that Koci should get at least five games because he hit a star player.  That's crap.  I don't even want to hear it.  I understand that Kaleta is not as valuable to the league as Sidney Crosby.  I do.  Crosby being forced to retire due to a head shot would be a huge story and Kaleta would be a blip on the screen.  But head shots and concussions go far beyond the ice and into a player's quality of life, and Patrick Kaleta deserves the same quality of life as every other player in the league no matter how much other fans hate him.  You care about all the players or you care about none of them.  Judging by the NHL's decision here, I'm forced to conclude that they don't care and that almost makes me feel bad for being a fan of their product.

ETA: Just read this story from Mike Harrington, and I'm appalled at the league's attitude that there was no noticeable injury on the play. Are you kidding me? Because Kaleta didn't bleed it doesn't count? He didn't finish the game. He's having neck and vision problems. The fact that the NHL could overlook symptoms like that goes to show that all the talk about head shots and concussions is just that. Talk. Can't see the damage to a brain so it's cool.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You Can't Win 'Em All?

I hate the Sabres!

Okay, I'm kidding. But man, I really wanted to beat the Senators a lot. I was getting ready to rant and rave about how pathetic the parts of the game I saw were (I was babysitting through most of the first, fell aslee in the third), but then I read about the seven players with food poisoning. I know a lot of people will go with the whole, "There's no excuse!" thing but you know, sometimes there is an excuse and as far as excuses go, food poisoning is a pretty good one. A co-worker had a run-in with food poisoning a few weeks back and he was down for the count for a while - dehydrated, exhausted, didn't hold down a real meal for a couple of days. While he's no professional athlete, I'd imagine any and all of the above would make it tough to play hockey. Still, stinks that it happened against the freaking Senators.

Watching this game reminded me of a conversation Kate and I had during a preseason game we attended together. You know those big brush things on the top of the helmet of the Sens logo?  I'm sure they have an actual name, but I prefer "big brush things."

How cool would it be if the hockey playing Sens had those on the top of their hockey helmets? Let me help you out. It would be SO cool. If they got to wear big brush thing helmets, no way Dany Heatley ever demands a trade. To give credit where credit is due, I'm pretty sure this was Kate's idea.  And yes, this is pretty representative of the brilliance that happens when we join forces.

As ridiculous as Jarkko Ruutu's hit on Patrick Kaleta was - there goes our offense - I was cracking up at the Ottawa crowd giving up all thought and just booing pretty much every Sabre who touched the puck. Part of the reason I've never been much of a booer is because I'm just not focused enough to remember to boo every time a certain individual touches the puck. Booing everyone removes that problem completely. They were booing Hank for crying out loud. That's funny.

And in closing, I hear John Tortorella had a classic Tortorella press conference this evening. I haven't seen it yet, but I'll look for it as soon as I get home from work tomorrow. In his honor, here's one of my favorite ridiculous press conferences. Enjoy.

Wait, what were we talking about again?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I take back everything I ever said about not liking Patrick Kaleta's game. He's a rock star.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Sabres are Good

First thing I'm taking away from this weekend is that the Chicago Blackhawks are a really good hockey team. I realized they had a lot of offensive talent, but they're well-balanced on defense too. I think that makes them superior to every team in the Eastern Conference except maybe Pittsburgh who I haven't really gotten a good look at yet this season. I've heard all the scuttlebutt about Chicago needing to win this year before they lose a bunch of important role players, but I admit, I thought they weren't ready to go that far yet. I was wrong. They look very, very good.

Second thing I'm taking from this weekend? As good as the Blackhawks are, the Sabres beat them. Minus Ryan Miller, Paul Gaustad, and Mike Grier, all important to the team in different ways. In fact, the Sabres have now beaten two of the top three teams in the Western Conference. I think it might be time to admit that these Buffalo Sabres are you know, good. Fans and media keep pointing to a big game and crying, "This is a measuring stick game!" and then backing off that and finding something to complain about when the Sabres actually win those games.

I think the last couple of games showed that the defense hasn't just been Ryan Miller. It really has been a team effort and it held up even when he wasn't in net. During the Caps post-game, the broadcast showed a really lovely package of strong defensive plays and it featured a lot of different players, both d-men and forwards, and not just the players who we think of as being defensively responsible. I wish it was available online somewhere because it was really eye-opening. Alexander Ovechkin was never in the game and that was largely because the Sabres never let him get in the game and that's been the case with a few stars on a few different teams.

Most of us have been concerned about the Sabres not scoring a lot of goals. Because that's how the most recent successful Sabres teams have won games, that's what we've gotten used to seeing work. But this Sabres team is winning in a different way and I wonder if that's just throwing us all off. I would certainly like more production from our top six, and a genuine, dyed-in-the wool, number one center would be a thing of beauty, but I don't know, can you argue with the stats? We're 30 games into our season. The Sabres are leading the division. They have 9 points on the 9th place team in the conference. They have games in hand on every team ahead of them, enough to theoretically be tied with or ahead of everyone but New Jersey. They've played strong games against a few of the best teams in the West. That's... good. The Sabres are good. Room for improvement in certain areas? Yes, always. But they're good.

Deal with it.

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hank is Awesome, More to Come

So I was going to post last night and it was so late and I was sure I was going to have a snow day today so I decided to post in the morning.  And then I got up this morning, saw the magical words, LACKAWANNA CITY SCHOOLS CLOSED, and thought, "Why am I up when I could be sleeping?"

So while you'd better believe I have plenty to say about the awesomeness of Henrik Tallinder, I'll be saying it later today.  For now enjoy this adorable photo of Nathan Gerbe post-first goal.  I'd click to enlarge for the whole effect.

 Photo by Bill Wippert

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Buffalo Sabres Christmas

This little top six here seems to need a good home.  We'll decorate it and it'll be just right for our team.  Besides, I think they need me.

Boy, are you stupid, Darcy.  Look at that thing.  It'll keel right over from the pressure.  You're hopeless, Darcy, completely hopeless.  You've been dumb before, but this time you really did it.  What a top six!

No, no, no.  It'll be perfectly - oh, crap.  

Well, we got one goal out of it before it completely collapsed.  That's totally cool, right?  :::siiiiiigh:::  I guess you were right, Lindy. I shouldn't have picked this top six. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don't know what hockey is all about.  Isn't there anyone who knows what hockey is all about?

 Sure, Darcy.  I can tell you what hockey is all about.  It's about learning to win and to lose.  It's about good times with friends and family.  It's about community and feeling a part of something even for a few moments.  It's about believing in something in a day and age when sometimes it's hard to believe.  It's about putting aside practicality and logic and daring to dream.  And that's what hockey is all about, Darcy.

 Wow, that was really beautiful, buddy.  It made me remember why I fell in love with hockey in the first place.  I wish all the fans out there could have heard that.  I wonder what their reaction would be.


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.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Magical Powers of Blogging

Yesterday I made my displeasure with Jason Pominville public.  Commenters added Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek to the hit list.  Last night the three of them combined for two goals and five assists, some of them pretty lovely.  I think they're scared of us, you guys.

More commentary later.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ranking the Sabres

The Five Sabres I Love the Most Right Now

1. Henrik Tallinder
2. Mike Grier
3. Ryan Miller
4. Paul Gaustad
5. Tyler Myers

The Five Sabres I Love the Least Right Now

1. Jason Pominville
2. Jason Pominville
3. Jason Pominville
4. Jason Pominville
5. Jason Pominville

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Hank = Happy Heather B.

During the game tonight, I was noticing how quick Henrik Tallinder was to join in the rush and shoot the puck and I tweeted, "I think Hank might score *two* goals this season."  One down, one to go!  And there was even a goalie in the net!

Click to see how happy Hank is. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

More later.