All that to say, my schedule is about to get a lot busier so I'm not exactly sure how the blogging is going to go for the next few months while I readjust to an academic life, especially this semester when I'll be doing school and work full-time. The fact of the matter is, I love, love, love this blog and being an active part of the Buffalo sports community so I'll probably find time. Most of my classes this semester are internet courses so it's quite possible a large portion of my study time will consist of me flipping between a tab with my class lessons and a tab with Top Shelf (and a tab with Twitter, and a tab with Gmail, and tabs with other Sabres blogs...) so there might not even be a noticeable difference. But in case there is, well, now you know what's going on.
I missed the seemingly very exciting first period, but based on what I did see, I can firmly say this was one of the most awful hockey games ever. That was some ugly, crazy, sloppy hockey. That said, wow, Mike Robitaille and Rob Ray need to settle down a bit. Yes, it was a gross game, no, playing like that is definitely not going to work in the playoffs. It was one game and really one of the few games the Sabres have played like that this season. Let's be happy we won and move the heck on.
While watching tonight's game, I pulled out a lap desk that I hadn't used in a while. I was using this desk a lot back when I first started really watching the Sabres closely, and I was tickled to realize I'd written a couple of notes to myself on it. There were two or three guys whose numbers I just could not remember. I knew their names, I knew their positions, but I just couldn't make them stick in my head enough to really recognize them when I was watching. So I made a little cheat sheet. Take a look:
In retrospect, I find this list pretty funny because if you put a gun to my head and made me pick my favorite three Sabres of the last few years it would probably be Jochen Hecht, Henrik Tallinder (duh), and Toni Lydman. They haven't always been the best Sabres. Heck, at times they've been the worst. But for better or for worse, they're my boys. For whatever reason, they've just burrowed into my heart.
I've been thinking about Jochen Hecht in particular a lot lately. While I hated the way he played last season, I also hated the way fans were trashing him. I thought people were very quick to forget how steady he'd been for pretty much his entire career in Buffalo. He was one of the few players in 2007-2008 who looked like he cared at all about anything on the ice. I also felt like the "Now he has his big contract" accusastions never fit him. He had what was arguably his best year as a Sabre after he signed his extension. If he was going to relax in the comfort of money, I think that would have been the time to do it. So I don't know what happened last year. I don't know if he just suddenly lost his confidence and found himself in a spiral he couldn't get out of. I don't know if there was something going on outside of hockey that had him distracted. I don't know. But he was lost on the ice and distraught and sullen in interviews. When he gave interviews at all.
I do know that he's one of those guys whom I feel for when he's struggling. Some guys I just want to kick in the shin, some guys I mutter and curse at, but a few - like Hank, Jochen, and Toni - just make me sad. My heart hurts watching them flail. I want to hug them and tell them it'll be better soon. The rejuvanation of Hank is my favorite story of the season, of course. But the rejuvanation of Jochen is a very close second. I missed seeing that little half smile last year. It's good to see it again.
And just for your enjoyment, here's something else from my lap desk. I have a feeling this was more of a mindless doodle.
I was evidently 12 at the time. Also, I have Soupy cooties.