Archive for March, 2010



Some Advice

Dear Sabres,

I know I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to you recently, so maybe I’ve lost some authority with you, but I URGE you to listen to me now.

Are you listening?

Everyone?

Pommers?  Are you listening?

Okay, good.

Now listen carefully…..

I cannot help but notice that you are scheduled to play the Lightning Bolts tonight.  Do NOT underestimate the Lightning Bolts.

I was recently in Tampa where I saw the Lightning Bolts play the Penguins, and while the Pens won the game, the Lightning Bolts did not go down without a fight.  They were surprisingly feisty actually.  The Lightning Bolts skated around, and hit the Pens, and generally acted like they intended to win the game.  The Lightning Bolts were especially good in the first period.  Sabres, if the internet is to be believed, the first period recently is when you like to skate around, not hit anyone, and generally act like you do NOT intend to win the game.

If you’re not careful, the Lightning Bolts will be up 10,000-1 in the first period.  That is not a situation that anyone is in the mood to see.

It is my recommendation that you 1. Do NOT take the Lightning Bolts lightly, and 2. Attempt to win from the very beginning of the game.

I know you can do it.

Good luck tonight,

Katebits

I’m In Florida

I’m neck deep in traveling, and working, and eating peel n’ eat shrimp on a regular basis, so I am WAY out of the Sabres-loop.  I was vaguely aware that there was a game tonight, and when I checked the score at intermission, I saw that it was 3-0.

When I checked the score at the end of the concert it was 3-2 with two minutes remaining, so I assume the Sabres made it interesting.

There was some talk of the BPO playing Sabre Dance as an encore on this tour, and I STRONGLY believe that had we played it tonight (and it would have coincided perfectly with the last two minutes of the game), the Sabres would have won.

Our bad.

Puttering

You know what I almost never do anymore but that I should do more often because I really enjoy it? – putter around the house while the game is on.  I had about ten thousand things on my to-do list tonight, so I never really committed to sitting down and watching the game.  I just wandered in and out of the livingroom all evening and it was deeelightful.

How about that Tyler Myers though, eh?  One part of the game I DID catch was him skating the puck all over tarnation and then nearly scoring by leaping over a sprawled out Turco.  He didn’t score, but he looked so amazing not scoring that Rick was all, “That’s just fun to watch.”  I had to agree.

Thanks Sabres!

BPO Blog!

Tonight I need to take a little break from my Katebits-persona, and invite y’all on over to a new blog, where, if you are so inclined, you can get a glimpse of my BPOKate persona.  BPOKate is pretty much the same as Katebits, except that instead of talking about hockey, I’ll be talking about the BPO Florida tour, and instead of tomfoolery and swearing, there will be tomfoolery and ABSOLUTELY NO swearing.  This is an officially sanctioned BPO blog, so I suppose I’ll have to be somewhat dignified, but who are we kidding?  There is only so much dignity where I’m involved.

On Thursday the BPO embarks on an eight-day, five-concert tour of Florida.  Obviously, this is awesome for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that I get to go to Florida on Thursday WOOO!), but it’s awesome for the internet because you get yet ANOTHER way to track my every move.  God forbid I leave the house without blogging every last detail.

So, if you find yourself even remotely curious about the triumphs and shenanigans of an orchestra tour, please stop by The BPO Florida Friends Tour Blog.

If you prefer your BPO tour news Twitter-style, you can follow me or a number of my truly funny and awesome colleagues.   BPOKate, BPODaniel, BPODinesh, or BPOJanz.

I’m not sure what the tour will mean for my hockey blogging.  You guys know how I am.  I might find a way to watch every game and blog every day, or you might not hear boo from me until next week.  We’ll see!

Is Patrick Kaleta the Straw That Stirs the Drink?

Once again, I had bigtime plans to use statbits to prove a point (in this case, my point is that the Sabres cannot win unless Patrick Kaleta is in the lineup), and once again, STATBITS HAVE FAILED ME.

I did all sorts of hard hitting analysis/death-defying statbit crunching this evening only to learn that the Sabres’ record with Patrick Kaleta out of the line-up is…..(drum roll please)……dumdumdumdumdum……9-9.

This is another instance of statbits painting a picture that is WRONG WRONG WRONG, because anyone with eyes, ears, and a wonky brow can see perfectly well that Patrick Kaleta is an important cog in the wheel.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t always loved Patrick Kaleta.  He’s a pest, and he’s good at his job.  I find the whole pest profession to be undignified and difficult to cheer for, but you know what?  He’s our pest. The statbits might not prove that the Sabres are helpless without him, but those of us who closely watch the Sabres know the truth: Patrick Kaleta makes enormous contributions every night that he’s on the ice.  Patrick Kaleta keeps the other team a little off-kilter.  Sometimes he draws penalties, sometimes he scores goals, and sometimes he hits Ovechkin hard enough that it makes sitting though a dull loss at the arena worth the time and the money spent.

Last night during overtime, Derek Roy missed on a glorious scoring opportunity, and before I was even done tweeting, “I’m a little glad Roy didn’t score there. I’m not in the mood for another ‘I made a mistake but then made up for it’ postgame interview” when Kaleta scored the winning goal.

I did not hesitate to feel good about a Patrick Kaleta goal.  He did the deep knee bend, and the douchy hand twirl, and I felt happy for him, and happy for me as a Sabres fan.

Kaleta isn’t perfect. He’s not particularly good at hockey, and he’s not really hot, or funny, and he’s probably not eligible for Mensa membership, but his hard work on the ice means something, and he is one of us.  He’s a good Sabre, a good Buffalonian, and somewhere along the way I realized that I enjoy cheering for him.

I hope he has better luck with the injuries from here on out, because I believe strongly that the Sabres are a significantly better team with Patrick Kaleta in the line-up.  Statbits can suck it.

Crunchy Never Fails To Amuse

One thing I like about being a fan of hockey players is getting small slivers of information to chew on.  Sometimes just a little information is better than a lot.

A case in point is this quote from Ryan Miller from the Sabres Edge regarding his participation in the closing ceremonies:

I tried to have fun with the whole Olympic experience and that’s why I went and did it. I kind of planned on doing it from the start if I had the chance. If we played in the game, I wanted to do it. No matter the outcome, I was going to be there.

I had to do drug testing and I had about five minutes to shower and get into that outfit which took a little bit of work because everything was explained on a pamphlet and you tried to do everything right so you didn’t look out of place. It was a fun experience to be part of an Olympic moment not just with my event. It was something bigger where people were celebrating the whole Olympics.

How much do you love the mental image of Crunchy trying to get dressed while consulting a pamphlet?  Personally, I love it quite a bit.

(But there is no way I’m buying that Crunchy went into his wardrobe change unprepared.  I bet he read and re-read the pamphlet for weeks leading up to the big day.  Hell, I bet he had certain parts highlighted and underlined.)

Statbits

I’m definitely not one to think too much about stats, but periodically I get a little lost on this page on NHL.com.  I meandered around there for a few minutes this morning and here are a few things that jumped out at me:

First, the Bad News. (I’m a bad news first kind of girl.  Save the best for last.)

  • The Sabres Power Play is 22nd in the league at 17.1%.  So, we’re not just imagining that the power play is kind of sucky.  I feel like every fanbase in the league complains about their team’s power play, but Sabres fans actually DO have a bit of a point.
  • The Sabres are 24th in the league in “Shots Against Per Game“.  That one scares me a bit.  Good thing Crunchy is so good!
  • The Sabres are 22nd in the league in faceoff win percentage.  Sad times at the dot.

The Good News:

  • They allow the 5th fewest goals per game.  Good work Crunchy!
  • They are currently 10th in the league in points.

SUPER Good News:

  • The Sabres have the 2nd most effective penalty kill in the league.  I knew the PK was foxy, but I honestly didn’t realize how foxy.

The News that is SO Good it Truly Blew My Mind, And That I’m Almost Scared To Call Attention To For Fear of Jinxing Them:

So, there you have it.  Some statbits.  Do with them what you will.

Phew!

Well, that wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever seen, but I will TAKE it.  I feel like the Sabres (and all of their fans) really needed two points tonight.

Hooray!

The Season is Long

UPDATE: I made a minor revision in order to clarify my point in this post.  I’m not sure my revision was even remotely successful, but such is life.  Heh.

______________

My first real season as a hockey fan was 07/08.  I’m sure you all remember climate of the hockey scene in Buffalo at that time, so I’ll spare you the recap.  It was…kind of cranky.  Our captains were gone, our team was heartless and lame, and everyone was pissed off.

During that year, even though I was completely emotionally invested in the Sabres, I really did not have any perspective on the pacing of a full hockey season.  Why would I?  I had never watched a full season before.  I thought every win was the beginning of the Cup run and every loss was the beginning of the end, and I reacted accordingly.  “Don’t get to high, and don’t get too low” was pretty much the OPPOSITE of my personal motto.  Every game was game 7 at my house, for 82 straight games.

Of all the things I’ve learned about hockey since April of 2007, the pace of an NHL season has been the most difficult for me to grasp.  Only now, towards the end of my third year doing this, do I feel like I’m starting to wrap my brain around the scope of a hockey year.  I have a history of watching hockey now (albeit a short history), and so now I have a basis of comparison. My hockey history obviously can’t compare to a lifelong fan’s, but I’ve got a hell of a lot more to work with today than I did at this time two years ago when I first watch my beloved Sabres approach the stretch run.

There were two teams that really made a big impression on me in the spring of 2008, my first playoff push as a fan.  Recently, and with some amusement, I’ve realized that I am constantly comparing the Sabres to these two teams.  I use these teams as measuring sticks when I feel like I’m losing my sense of perspective on the season.  I compare the Sabres to these teams to remind myself not to get too bogged down in each game.

I present to you, the curious cases of the 2007/08 Senators, and the 2007/08 Flyers:

I watched the 2007/08 Ottawa Senators with morbid fascination (aka: total glee).  If you recall, that was the year after they steamrolled the Sabres in the ECF.  They signed most of their core players during the offseason, and then they got off to a blisteringly hot start.  They certainly looked like they were on their way to another year of serious Cup contention.  But then, somewhere around New Year’s, the wheels fell off the bus, and they started sucking, HARD.  For a long time no one really paid much attention to their suckiness because their position in the standings masked how poorly they were playing, but eventually everyone was all, “What’s up with the Sens?” and by the time late March rolled around there was a real possibility that they would miss the playoffs altogether.  The Sens did make the playoffs, but they were swept, in humiliating fashion by the Pens in the first round.

(Keep in mind that this was also the season that Ray Emery was causing all sorts of trouble in their locker room.  If the Ottawa press’ shadowy insinuations are to be believed, Emery was doing lines of coke off the chests of his teammates between periods, and mowing down senior citizens in his Hummer every time he got behind the wheel of a car.  Emery might have been part of the problem with the 2007/08 Sens.  Heh.)

In 2007/08 the Philadelphia Flyers were a playoff bubble team.  If I remember correctly, for the first half of the season the Sabres kept pace pretty well with the Flyers, but then at some point the Flyers pulled away and they looked poised to cruise into the playoffs.  BUT THEN, oh, but then.  In February ’08, the Flyers had a ten game losing streak. I remember this distinctly because the Sabres had had a ten game losing streak of their own earlier in the season.  Remember, during the Sabres losing streak I was still in the “every game is game 7″ newbie-fan mindset, so you can bet your bottom dollar that that  losing streak has been scorched into my memory for all time.  I’m sure most of you barely even remember it, but I will never forget January 2008.  Ever.

When the Flyers had their OWN losing streak it was infinitely comforting to me.  “See,” I told myself, “other teams can suck as hard as the Sabres!  I am not suffering alone!  Other people, Philadelphians no less, are suffering just as I have suffered.”  And it made me happy.

But then those little Flyers bastards made it to the Eastern Conference Finals that year!  Not only did they NOT miss the playoffs, but they got within striking distance of the Cup.  WHAT THE EFF?!

______________________

So, here I am, two years later, a wizened and grizzled fan compared to the girl who first started writing this blog.  According to the standings, the Sabres are much better team now than they have been at any other time of my serious fandom.

As the Sabres continue to flounder, game after game, I find myself referring back to my old standbys.

Are the Sabres the Sens, or are they the Flyers?

Certainly there is some middle ground, and most likely the Sabres will fall between those two extremes, but the Sens are pretty close to my idea of the worst case scenario for the Sabres and the Flyers the best. In reality, the worst case would be missing the playoffs all together, and the best would obviously be winning the Cup.

Barring some sort of epic collapse, the Sabres are going to make the playoffs, but, the 07/08 Sens taught me that epic collapses do happen.  If the playoffs started today, the Sabres would be swept in four games.  For sure, right? Barring some sort of epic collapse, the Sabres are going to make the playoffs, but if the playoffs started today, it feels like the Sabres would be swept in four games.  One and done.

Thankfully, the playoffs do NOT start today.  They have a month to figure this out before the playoffs start, and the 07/08 Flyers taught me that as long as you enter the playoffs with your head screwed on straight, anything can happen.

We’re going to learn a lot about this team in the next month.  In the next month we’re going to find out if this team has the character to fight their way out of a near crisis.  We’re going to find out if Lindy can coach this team out of trouble.  This month we’re going to find out if Darcy’s deadline moves were crafty enough to spark some change on the ice.  This month we’re going to find out if this is a slump, or if the start of the season was a mirage, and this is who they are.

I still believe this team can be competitive in the playoffs, but time is running out.  They have to turn this around, and they have to do so convincingly before the playoffs begin.  The season is long, but it all boils down to this.  If they turn it around in the next few weeks, anything can happen.

I want to believe in this team.  I want them to be the 07/08 Flyers.

*fingers crossed*

Welcome, New Guy!

Hey, look at this guy.  He’s a Sabre.

“Hey ladies.”
*finger guns*
“My name is Raffi Torres.  I am now Buffalo’s lead scorer.”
*wink*

Nathan Paetsch is now a Blue Jacket, and Clarke MacArthur is now a 3rd and 4th round draft pick, so we must say their eulogies.

R.I.P:

Nathan Paetsch, your face is pleasingly round, and you always seem so polite and cordial.  Your ability to play almost any position on the ice will be missed, as will your helmet that you had Chara autograph after he dented it with a slapshot.  We wish you well in Columbus.  Good luck with the co-eds and the ice girls.  Please send Rick Nash my best.  Thank you for your service to the Buffalo Sabres.  Amen.

Clarke MacArthur, you have frustrated me many times over the years, and your ridiculous hair makes you look perpetually stoned.  You do, however, have a good nickname.  “The General” will be missed.  We wish you well in Atlanta.  I’ll look for you in the Atlanta airport when I fly Delta.  Good luck with the traffic and the heat.  Please send Max Afinogenov my best.  Thank you for your service to the Buffalo Sabres. Amen.

____________________

In other news, we probably all owe Darcy Regier a wee bit of an apology.  He DID something!  Yay!

So, Darcy, sorry we all doubted you, and thank you SO MUCH for not re-signing Henrik Tallinder and telling us it’s the same as a big trade.  Seriously.  This is so much better than that would have been.


…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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