Archive for December, 2008

Resolute

I’m a big believer in the ritual of the “New Year”.  I find the concept of “fresh starts” very reassuring, so every January I make long, complicated lists of resolutions, most of which are happily forgotten by February.  For me, the joy of the new year is in the making of goals, not in the accomplishing of goals.  The accomplishing (or not accomplishing) can come later.  Today and tomorrow are all about the dream.  I’m a dreamer at heart.

I really wanted to do some type of year end wrap-up, but last night’s game seems to have paralyzed my ability to articulate coherent thoughts.  The game last night felt like the end of something, which I suppose makes today a beginning, but it all feels backwards and decidedly unpleasant.  This is not how New Year’s Eves are supposed to go.  In regards to my hockey fandom, I’m stuck somewhere between the tired old year and the promise of the new year.  I’m trapped between blinding frustration and determined hope.

I don’t really know how to write about the Sabres right now, but I’ve been reminded all day of the expression, “We cheer for the logo on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.”  I’m taking a small comfort in the fact that, if nothing else, we’re going to outlast this particular team.  Someday they’ll be gone, but the Sabres will still be here.  Maybe this group of guys will pull it together, and maybe they won’t.  Being a fan will have it’s ups and downs, no matter what.

Someday, the Sabres will be good again.  I promise.  (And I say this with almost 18 months of hardcore fandom under my belt, so you know you can trust me.  I’m a wise old hockey sage, okay?)  Someday the Sabres will be good again, but New Year’s Eve is not the time to dwell on how we’ll get from here to there.  Tonight is all about the dream.

Everyone have a safe and joyful evening.  Thanks for sharing the Sabres with me in 2008, and I’ll see you next year!

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

Sabres vs. Capitals 12/30/08

Pregame

Because of my December work schedule and my holiday travels, I haven’t been paying super close attention to the Sabres lately.  I feel zero obligation to blog from a position of actual knowledge, so I’ve been happy to publish post after post of “Hey, the Sabres SUCK!”  Now, I’m not saying that the Sabres don’t suck, but i recently realized they are currently sitting in playoff position. I know.  It makes no sense.  Furthermore, the Sabres are only THREE POINTS behind the Penguins in the standings.  Before I looked at the standings last night I honestly would have guessed that the Sabres were in twelfth place.  Either I’m being too hard on the Sabres, or the rest of the Eastern Conference is truly, spectacularly bad.

My point is that I’m going to try to be a bit more upbeat about the Sabres, because even if they ARE as bad as I feel like they are, there are still many teams worse than them.  Plus, even though I complain mightily about them, I still love them.  If they’re just a bunch of scrubs, at least they’re our scrubs.

Favorite Sabre: I’ve been loving Drew Stafford lately, but today is Goose’s triumphant return after getting his brain scrambled, so I gotta go with Goose tonight.
Least Favorite Sabre: Henrik Tallinder.  I’m sorry Heather, but they just showed the Ovechkin highlight from Friday night and that’s a hard one to get over once it’s been burned into your memory.
Prediction:  The mighty eighth place Buffalo Sabres easily defeat the Capitals 8-1.

After the 1st (2-0, Capitals)

Summary of thoughts: Hm.  Immediately after I declared my intention to love the Sabres more, they play like….that.  Interesting. On a side note, I’m a little concerned about how the Sabres will do in the playoffs this spring.  Assuming the standings stay exactly as they are now (which is a SUPER safe assumption, I think), the Sabres will be playing Boston.
Most/Least Favorite Sabre:  I love them all equally.  *shifty eyes*
High point: Uh…..no one died on the ice?
Low point:  Minutes 1-20.

After the 2nd (3-0, Capitals)

Low point: No one died on the ice.

At the End (4-2, Capitals)

Summary of thoughts:  That was….unpleasant.  The postgame interviews were the best part of the game.  Tonight was a total meltdown.  On the ice, in the locker room, and in my blogging.  M-E-L-T-D-O-W-N

Epilogue: They finally beat me.  I have nothing to say except for “OMG”.  Omg, dude.  Omg.


3 Things

1. I’ve had just about enough of this.  WHAT is wrong with Goose?!  When is he coming back, and where can I send my get-well flowers and the beak warmer I knit for him?

2. I can’t stand to pay too close attention to the standings when the Sabres are being so listless, but last night I took a peek, and I was SHOCKED to discover that if the playoffs started today, the Sabres would be in.  What the ?!   Am I being too negative around here?  I can’t beLIEVE that there are eight teams worse than us in the Eastern Conference.   Seriously.

3.  After I got back to Buffalo, I swung through Wegmans so that I could pick up some milk for my coffee tomorrow.  While I was there, I saw Barnes, of Cellino and Barnes.  Then, I had this conversation with the kid who rang up my groceries:

Kate: Hey look.  Cellino is over there by the garlic.
Checkout Dude: (looks over)  That’s Barnes.
Kate: No, Cellino is the bald one!
Checkout Dude: No, Cellino is the one who had to go away for awhile.  Barnes is the bald one.
Kate: Huh.  I guess you’re right.
Checkout Dude: Ryan Miller came through my line about an hour ago…
Kate: You’re telling me an hour ago I could have seen Ryan Miller, but all I get now is Cellino?!
Checkout Dude: No, I’m telling you that an hour ago you could have seen Ryan Miller, but all you get now is Barnes.
Kate: Harsh.

Minnesota-Style

Tonight, Sam and I headed out for our annual Christmastime trip to the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild get trounced.  Last year, the team doing the trouncing was the Red Wings, this year it was the Blackhawks.  While the game was a bust, the company was excellent, and in spite of the grim situation on the ice, there was much laughter and all-around merriment.

I really can’t express how much I love the Xcel Center.  I only have HSBC Arena to compare it to, but honestly, I can’t imagine a hockey arena being more beautiful.  The whole atmosphere is warm and extremely inviting.  This might sound crazy, but the lighting there is somehow softer and more intimate than HSBC.  I can’t really describe it, but if you ever get a chance to see a game in St. Paul, I highly recommend that you do so.

In addition to being pretty, Xcel Energy Center also has a wide variety of interesting beers and snacks.  We started the evening out right by ordering up a couple of gigantic Summit Pale Ales.  (Just as a side note, I totally convinced the new guy working the taps to pour us a giant micro-brew when the giant “Bomber” cups were clearly only intended to be used for the 22 ounce bottles of beer.   When I ordered our beers the kid said, “Well, I think the Bombers are only these Corona bottles, but I suppose I could just pour the Summit into the big glass.  I don’t see why I can’t do that.”  I quickly replied, “You should TOTALLY do that.  Do it!”  and he did.  I still haven’t figured out why 22 ounce beers have to come out of a bottle at the arena.  What’s uo with that?)  Later on, once I had a nice little buzz going, I realized that what I wanted most in the world were some mini-donuts.  Fortunately for me, the Xcel center sells mini-donuts.

21

Don’t even try to claim you don’t want to eat mini-donuts while watching hockey, because no one is buying it.

The game was….almost comically bad.  The Wild were not good.  At all.  Sam was in very high spirits considering, and I have to say, I was impressed with the overall spunkiness of the crowd.  At the game I attended last year the Wild were defeated by of a ruthlessly effective Detroit team, but tonight they were just plain B-A-D, and the crowd was UNimpressed.  There was booing of the home team after ALL three periods, and derisive cheering for the random lackluster Wild shot on goal.  I think of Minnesotans as very manicured and polite, so it was interesting to hear them let loose in giddy frustration.  While the crowd was clearly displeased, it also never lost its fundamental friendliness, and I was downright impressed with the camaraderie between fans.  I really hope that someday I get to see a spirited game in Minnesota, because I’d love to be apart of a celebrating Minnesota crowd.  The crowd deserved much better than what it got tonight.  On a personal note, it was fun to realize that although I’m a Sabres fan through and through, there is something fundamentally “Minnesotan” about how I express myself at a game.  I felt very at home with the Wild fans.  (Sadly, I also felt very at home with the Wild’s level of hockey.  Heh.)

The Blackhawks are really zippy and fun to watch.  Even Soupy.   I was not-so-secretly hoping that a disastrous Soupy spin-o-rama would lead to a Wild goal, but it was not meant to be tonight.  I even found myself kind of missing old sweaty Soupy.  When he’s not falling apart for your team on the ice because of his contract negotiations, he’s not so bad. Ya know?

The Hockey Gods really seem to want me to see hockey from a very specific angle this season.   When I got my Sabres tickets this year, I got half of them from a Sabres mini-pack, and half of them from Lizzie B’s season tickets.  I was very surprised to discover that through sheer coincidence, all those seats were in the same section (310).  I thought it was very charming to settle into our seats tonight and find myself with a familiar view.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this season has been staking claim to a specific part of the arena, and I’m amused that this claim seems to extend beyond HSBC Arena.

3

Upper deck, home team shoots twice.  This is my territory.

All in all, great night.  Thanks Sammy McSammerson!


Small Victories

Sometimes, when nothing is going right with the Sabres I play a little game with myself.  I pick some random part of the game and I place a totally nonsensical importance on that exact moment.

———-

I’m still in Minneapolis.  I spent the day with relatives, and then I had plans to go out with friends for evening drinks.  During the time between these two events, I stole a minute upstairs to freshen up.  As I was reapplying a little make-up, I listened to a few minutes of the second period of the game on my laptop.  The score was tied at one, and the Sabres had been awarded 30 seconds of 5-on-3.  Because I hadn’t been following the game up until that point, I had no context in which to place the situation, but I instantly decided the moment had significance for me.  This moment was the game, and for some reason, this game was the season.  So, rather than hold back for fear of making an ass of myself, I twittered this:

picture-4

Then Jason Pominville scored, and for a brief second, it felt like I was a part of it:

picture-3

———-

I know how the game ended.  An ugly, ugly win.  I didn’t watch, but I followed along on my phone at the bar.  Sometimes, when the big picture is no fun, it helps to reexamine my perspective and celebrate the little things.

Sabres @ Capitals 12/26/08

Pregame

Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I had resigned myself to missing all the Sabres games while I’m in Minnesota for Christmas, but due to a miracle of scheduling, I am currently sitting at Sam’s house grinning with anticipation.  I have Sam’s keys while he’s away for his holiday, and Sam has Center Ice.
Favorite Sabre: It’s been so long since I watched the Sabres that I can barely remember who is on the team.  I have a happy, vague memory of some kind of…..duck?  When I’m out and running errands, give a quack for the duck?  (I hope the Duck is feeling better.)
Least Favorite Sabre: I’m having no trouble recalling my distaste for Timothy Connolly.
Prediction:
Hm.  I had a fantastic Chirstmas.  I made a deLICious turkey.  I got fantastic presents.  A fantastic game is too much to hope for under these generally fantastic circumstances.  I’m going to assume the Sabres are about to lose, in extreme UN-fantastic style.
Item representing my hopes for this game: Christmas present

present

Let’s not get our hopes up here.  Most likely this is a pair of horrible scratchy socks, or grannie panties.  When you open it just keep smiling and try to pretend that you’ve always wanted three pairs of gigantic underwear, because it’s the thought that counts.

After the 1st, (0-0)
Mood: Chipper!  With the exception of NEVER being able to clear the puck out of their own zone, the Sabres don’t look like total piles of puke.
Favorite Sabre: Patrick Lalime is being pretty foxy.  Good thing, too.  The score should probably be 15-0, Capitals right now.
Least Favorite Sabre: James Patrick.  According to Chaz, Duck is still suffering from the ill effects of getting hit in the face by a James Patrick shot during a practice a few weeks ago.  James Patrick, you suck.

Summary of Events: It was a pretty uptempo period.  Both teams had a few good chances.  During the Intermission Report, Kevin Sylvester interviews Chris Butler who looks and talks like he’s a seasoned pro.  He’s a rookie?  He must be a late bloomer.  ‘Cause no way that guy is less than forty-five-years-old.

Prediction: I predict that we hear “Let’s Go Buff-a-lo” in the Caps arena, that we see the “It’s pronounced Canada” commercial at LEAST five more times, and that this game will NOT end 0-0.   I know, I know, my powers of clairvoyance are scary.

Item representing my hopes for this game: Oranges
oranges-01

I totally dig oranges, but I don’t think they’re a very good present….Santa.

After the 2nd (1-0, Capitals)

Mood: Highly disturbed.
Favorite Sabres: Vanek, please be okay.  Please.  Please.

Least Favorite Sabre:  Pommers is one of those players who I never blame for anything ever, but he looks like a guy who is never going to score again.
Summary of Events:  Well, that got lame in a hurry.  Ovechkin broke Vanek’s leg, and then some Cap scored from the blue line.  And then Ovechkin scored, but it was waved off because some Cap was sitting on Lalime at the time.  (Incidentally, that’s one of my favorite things ever [as long as it’s not happening to the Sabres, of course]- when the home team scores, the crowd gets all riled up, and then not only is the goal waved off but the home team gets a penalty.  Heh.)
Prediction: Sadness
Item representing my hopes for this game: Granny panties
granny_panties4

Goddamn it.  Christmas is ruined. Again.

At the end (3-2, Capitals)

Mood: As predicted, sad.  Also with a good dose of frustration.
Favorite Sabre: Vanek can score with only one leg and one stump.  Also, Lalime was MUCH better than that score indicated.  The rest of the Sabres better be reeeal nice to him for the next few days, because he deserved better.
Least Favorite Sabre:  I don’t want to talk about it.  I’m fine.  Just leave me alone.
Summary of events: Well, Tallinder and Ovechkin will have a highlight to add to the reels.  Same highlight.  Different reels.
Prediction: The Sabres are never winning again.  I mean it this time.

Item representing my hopes for this team: dirty snow
dirty_snow

Tis the season.

Happy Holidays!

I’m going to shut this baby down over Christmas, so everyone have a safe and happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus, and we’ll reconvene on Friday.

Here’s a picture of a weirdo Christmas tree I made a few year ago out of a branch I found after the October storm.

happy-holidays


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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