1. The “delay of game” call against Crunchy last night was one of the most reDONKulous things I’ve ever seen. The few seconds between when he caught the puck and when the ref blew the whistle were just spectacularly awkward. Miller was standing there, waving his glove around and all the other players on the ice were kind of like, “Wait….we’re supposed to…keep playing? But….Crunchy’s got the puck in his glove.” The call was total bullhonky. (Can you IMAGINE if Crunchy HAD put the puck back on the ice?) TOTAL bullhonky. As we all know, Crunchy does not take kindly to bullhonky, so a few minutes later when he had the opportunity to stop the puck and then put it back into play, he made a big show of sarcastically placing the puck back down on the ice. Robin and I had a good chuckle over that. At the time, Crunchy was playing in the net on the opposite side of the rink from where we sit. It takes real talent to convey sarcasm and assiness (while wearing goalie equipment, no less) to people sitting 150 yards away. Crunchy, I applaud you.
2. A week ago I wouldn’t have bet a nickel that the Sabres would ever win again, but last night, in the second period, when the Sabres were still down 2-1, I turned to Robin and said, “Do you think I’d be angering the Hockey Gods if I say that I really think the Sabres are going to win this game?” She agreed that, no, the Hockey Gods could not possibly exact revenge upon a fan for expressing confidence when her team was losing. The game last night was fun because even when the Sabres were down 2-0, the comeback felt inevitable. This was partially because the Sabres have been playing legitimately well for a few games now, but also because the Lightning were just exuding losingness. (Seriously, their suckiness was visibly emanating off the ice in cartoonish “stinky” waves.) Even the bad calls in the third, while providing a nice excuse for the expression of righteous indignation (I’d never heard the “Bull-shit” chant in person before last night), felt somehow silly. Like, “Oh, thanks a LOT ref, now we have to kill THIS off TOO? Bastard.”
3. It’s hard to criticize a coach during a good stretch like this, so I’m going to tread lightly here, but I have something I really want to say. Last week, when the issue of Lindy Ruff’s effectiveness was very much on my mind, I was thinking, “This team needs a coach who will be mercilessly mean.” At the time, Lindy was throwing Miller under the bus for no apparent reason, and making them skate hard every morning, and being an all around a-hole, so I felt weird being all, “Be MEANER, Lindy!” How mean should a couch actually be? It occurred to me this morning that NOW is the time when Lindy should be mean; when they’re playing well. The problem with these guys is that whenever they have a good stretch, they inevitably lose focus. They revert back to laziness and they seem to think that wins should just start landing in their laps. The team only manages to muster up desperation when they are in a truly desperate situation. A few ugly loses in a row, followed by an irate coach constantly being in their face, and voila! It’s hard fought, grinding hockey again! This is a pattern, and I think that as the coach, Lindy needs to shoulder a lot of the blame. For whatever reason, these players don’t manufacture enough desperation on their own, so I wish Lindy would create it for them…by being a raving lunatic. If he can keep them off-kilter and fighting desperately for his approval for the length of a SEASON, not just when the going gets tough, then this team might wind up being legitimately good.
4. Thomas Vanek was breathtaking last night. Truly.