It is 11:49 as I type this, about halfway through the second period. Thomas Vanek - or is that VON-ek? :::eye-roll here::: - just put the Sabres up by one. I am fried, so I'm not completely sure I'm going to make it through this one. It's been a very long week. The teacher in my classroom had surgery on Monday and will be out for a couple of weeks so I've been working extra hard during the day and classes started this week so I've been trying to get back in the swing of an academic life in the evenings. I made it through the Ducks game just fine, but I'm not feeling quite as optimistic about this one.
I'm fine with that though. Honestly, when I think of late night West coast trips, one of my favorite things is the potential to fall asleep on the couch with hockey in the background. I think I said this at some point last week, but if we had Center Ice, I would fall asleep in front of hockey every night of the season. I love putting on my PJs, curling up with a couple of blankets, turning off the lights and settling in for the night. I love closing my eyes, just for a second, and letting the game kind of wash over me. And then for a few minutes I flit between eyes open and eyes closed, and one second I know exactly what's going on and then in the next second I'm gone and in the morning I can't quite remember exactly when I finally drifted off. Occasionally I miss something good, but hockey is such a comfortable thing that I don't really mind that much. The only thing that would make the situation perfect is if I was falling asleep with the sounds of Rick and Jim in my ears. Those were the good ol' days.
A few thoughts:
As someone who doesn't have Center Ice, I can kind of convince myself that not having our own broadcast for a few games is okay because it's fun to hear other teams' broadcasts. But holy moly, the Ducks broadcast really tested that theory. They were brutal.
The Kings broadcast was much better. (Intermission, not so much.) They seemed somewhat educated about the Sabres, they were even-handed in their calling of the play, they gave credit to the Sabres when it was due, and weren't afraid to admit that Oscar Mueller's goal being disallowed was the right call. I really liked their fascination with Ryan Miller's routine of skating way out of the crease and staring down at the ice during TV timeouts and other long stoppages in play. I thought it was pretty cool for them to point out something like that about the opposition, and it was certainly more insightful than, "Tyler Myers is real tall!" which we've gotten a lot of the last two games.
The one good thing the Ducks team did do was to point out that Myers is far better than Zdeno Chara was at the same point in his career. Back when I thought Myers should stay in juniors (silly me), one of the things that most made me nervous was how quick a lot of people were to compare Myers to Chara because Chara wasn't the Chara we know until after he'd been in the NHL for a handful of years. We've all said this a million times at this point, but Myers has been such a pleasant surprise. For mor on baby Chara vs. Myers, check out this blog post on Die By the Blade. There's some good stuff in there.
Jumping back to Miller, I have really ejoyed how impressed the Western Conference folks have been with his play. You can tell that, as good as his numbers are, it's been a bit of an eye-opener to see in person just how well he's playing. It's another observation that's been stated over and over this season, but Ryank deserves every good thing that's come to him this season and I'm glad to see and hear people around the league really take notice.
Both the Ducks and the Kings broadcasts repeatedly talked about activating defensemen in the offensive zone. I don't know, for some reason that completely cracks me up every time they say it. It makes me picture Lindy Ruff holding a remote with a long antennae and a big red button. In the critical moment he yells, "ACTIVATE DEFENSEMEN!" and pushes the button and they spring into action. It's quite possible that that image is a lot of funnier in my head than it is all typed out.
Next to "Tyler Myers is tall and also good at hockey!" everyone's favorite tidbit seems to be that there have been 150 coaching changes in the NHL during Lindy Ruff's tenure with the Sabres. It's funny to realize that's a stat that other people around the NHL might not know off the tops of their heads and hearing it over and over in Buffalo does make you forget that it's a good stat. I like it.
For the record, I made it through the whole game. While I don't understand being that happy for the opposition (Anne :P), I can see why so many of my Twitter buddies enjoy watching the Kings. They're a fun team. I like them. But while I know most people love the shootout, that game should have ended in a tie. So there.