Archive for March, 2011

5 Things

1. I looooooOOOoooOOOOooved that game last night.  LOVED IT.  Beginning to end, it was thrilling and fun. I thought the game was riveting, I thought the Sabres were great, and I thought the crowd was totally invested.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people stay for the three stars before.  It felt like a playoff game.

2. Speaking of “three stars”… Jhonas Enroth.  Holy Toledo.  A million things have already been said about his wonderful game, and I’ll just say, “I agree with all of that.”  He was a DELIGHT last night.  To find out later that his parents were in town and watching him play in the NHL for the first time, man, it gives me chills.  I sit on the side of the arena where the Sabres shoot once, almost exactly on the goal line, so I had a lot of opportunity to watch Enroth.  I don’t think I’m a particularly good judge of goalie technique, but I was MEGA impressed with his physical demeanor in net.  Something about the way Jhonas shuffled around in the crease during the down times projected absolute calm and poise.  It was such a treat to be able to watch that performance.  Obviously, it was an important (and impressive) win for the team, but it was truly special to see such a young player shine so brightly.

3. I am EXTREMELY glad that we were all totally wrong when we spent the entire first half of the season screeching for Tim Connolly to be traded.  Timmy, I’m sorry I gave up on you entirely.  Thanks for returning to awesomeness exactly when we needed you most.  (This is likely the nicest I will ever be to you, so live it up, Timmeh.)

4. Honestly, I think that last night’s Rangers game was the most enjoyable game I’ve attended this season. It was stressful, it was exhilarating, and most of all, it was triumphant. As we were walking out of the arena Robin said, “That was totally cathartic.” One of the best things about going to the arena is leaving all of my other worries behind and devoting a few hours to hollering about the Sabres.

5. The “leave my worries behind” thing was especially helpful yesterday, because yesterday my worries included coming out to my car in the morning and seeing that all four of my hubcaps had been stolen, along with ALL OF THE LUGNUTS. It turns out that on my Honda Civic you have to remove the lugnuts in order to get the hubcaps off. This is great for the prevention of hubcaps theft, ASSUMING YOU DON’T ENCOUNTER SOMEONE FREAKISHLY DESPERATE FOR 2003 HONDA CIVIC HUBCAPS.  I dunno, maybe 2003 Honda Civic hubcaps were made out of solid gold and then painted a dull silver.

WTF. All four of my wheels looked like this.

Realizing that none of your wheels are attached to your car is disconcerting, to say the least.  Interestingly, my first reaction was to tweet about it.  (Actually, one thing I learned yesterday: Twitter has REALLY enhanced my ability to stay calm and good-natured during lame events. Almost instantaneously, I wanted to turn my extreme-lack-of-lugnuts into a funny story for Twitter. It helped me keep my cool, in a situation that could have VERY easily devolved into frustrated crying. This helped too.)  My second instinct was to call AAA.

Literal (sort of) translation of my conversation with AAA:

ME: Um, I have no lugnuts.
AAA LADY: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.  I’ll send a tow truck.
ME: Um… I don’t think a tow truck is going to help.
AAA LADY: Oh, trust me, they can tow anything.
ME: My car has no funtioning wheels.
AAA LADY: I’ll make sure they send a flatbed.
ME: Uh, unless that flatbed includes a crane and a gigantic pillow to set my wheel-less car upon, a flatbed won’t do it.
AAA LADY: Wait… you’re telling me ALL of your lugnuts are gone.
ME: Yes.
AAA LADY: Well, we don’t deliver lugnuts.
ME: BOOOOOOOOOOOO!

In the end, my dear, wonderful, awesome, crafty, fabulous-in-EVERY-WAY, friend Chuck (“cute boyfriend” of @reigningfrog) came to help me.  He drove my sorry butt to Pep Boys, he gathered up all of the jacks in town, he jacked my car up on FOUR jacks, and he successfully reattached all of my wheels, WITHOUT allowing my car to fall flat on her underbelly onto the ground.

HERO

Having your lugnuts stolen is lame.  I cannot recommend it AT ALL.  What I CAN recommend is having Chuck as a friend.  I consider myself extremely self sufficient, but this one was… a head-scratcher.  I needed help, and I needed someone to laugh with, and Chuck was up to the task.  THANK YOU, CHUCK.

Important and Lovely Graphbits

Today I mentioned on Twitter that I’ve been checking the NHL standings, like, 45,000 times a day.  Almost instantly I got a ton of replies from other Sabres fans basically saying, “Yo, me too.  I can’t stop gazing at the standings.”  I’m not even sure why I’m so captivated by the standings, but man, I’m bewitched.  It’s sounds like you are too.

Just in case you’re somehow not bewitched, here’s how things currently stand:

Don't look away... or blink. Stay focused.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  The playoffs are finally starting to feel like a real thing- something that might actually happen.  We still have a LONG way to go, and Lord knows nothing is set in stone (did you hear that, Hockey Gods? WE’RE NOT TAKING ANYTHING FOR GRANTED), but the Sabres have put themselves in a good position.  Things are going well.

If you’re like me, you’re also quite fascinated by the graphs at Sports Club Stats that track the Sabres chances of making the playoffs.  Right now, according to Sports Club Stats, the Sabres have a 91.6% chance of making the playoffs. That’s pretty good, especially considering that they had less than 6% chance on January 1st.  They’ve come a long way.

 

This is a very appealing shape for a graph like this to be.

I’m still a fairly new fan, so I haven’t had any experience with charging towards the playoffs like this.  This is exhilarating.  I’m going to go so far as to say this is more fun than last year, when they made the playoffs with ease.  The Sabres have clawed their way back into the hunt, and I’m incredibly proud of them.  This season has been almost disorienting, and I mean that in a really, really positive way.  There’s nothing quite like sloooowly realizing that you need to reconsider everything you thought you knew about your favorite team.  Sometimes it feels great to be wrong.

One of the things I really like about this graph is how it’s such a complete picture of every twist and turn of the season so far.

But we haven’t crossed the finish line yet.  There is still such a long way to go before they actually make the playoffs, and then, well… we’ll see.

You can do it, Sabres!

:)

Every Game Is Like a Snowflake: Horrible and/or Awesome In Its Own Unique Way

Last night, before the Canadiens game:

Sigh.  I’ve had a rough day already.  I don’t think I can handle a Sabres loss with grace tonight, especially if the game has the slightest tinge of oopsies-we-crapped-our-pants-instead-of-winning to it.  It’s not that the Preds game bothered me that much (I erased it from my accepted reality banks, after-all), but… I just can’t deal tonight.

Maybe I’ll listen to the game on the radio instead of watching it on tv.  That seems safe.  Or, I know!  I’ll wait until 7:30 to start cooking dinner, that way I’ll be occupied during a lot of the first period.  Or, I could start calling people and inviting them over to my house so I don’t end up watching a stinker alone.  Games are always less painful with friendies nearby.  The absolute ONE thing I must MAKE SURE I do not do is sit down in front of the television alone and with my laptop open to Twitter.  I’m just not up for that tonight.

At 7:30, on the nose:

Hm.  I seem to be sitting in the comfy chair in front of the television with my dinner fully prepared, repeatedly clicking “refresh” on Twitter.  This is exactly the situation I was trying to avoid.  I get an “F” at avoiding easily avoidable situations.

After the 1st:

Hey, the Sabres look pretty good!  I’m proud of them for coming out all orderly and non-sucky after their stunning collapse against the Preds.  I kind of wish the Sabres had scored on one of those 45 power plays though.  But whatevs.  Crunchy looks good so far.

After the 2nd (1-0, Sabres):

Dude. This game is intense. How about Tenacious G! He’s unstoppable. It’s fun to see a guy come alive like this, especially one we’d all written off.  Good work, lil’ Gerbs.  We’re sorry we tried to leave you for dead earlier this season.

I am a liiiiittle worried that the game is only 1-0.  The Sabres would’ve been wise to score more goals.  I am SO not in the mood to listen to people bitch on Twitter about how Miller lost this game even though the forwards only scored one goal.  I’m not saying I think Ryan Miller is incapable of shutting out the Habs, I’m just saying it’s a bad “Plan A”.  Let’s see if we can’t score Crunchy some more goals, m’kay boys?

I really want them to win. I really, really want them to win.  I think I might actually cry if they lose.

I’m scared, fragile, and alone, with only Twitter for companionship.  THIS IS EXACTLY THE SITUATION I WAS TRYING TO AVOID.

During the 3rd

This is scary.

THIS IS REALLY FUCKING SCARY.

I’m going to PUKE!  I’m jumping around!  I’m yelling at no one! When did the regular season get this stressful?!

To Ryan Miller: You can do it!  I believe in you!
To everyone else on the team: HE CANNOT DO THIS, YOU GUYS!  YOU HAVE TO SCORE MORE GOALS.  ARGH!  SCORE A GOAL!  SCORE A GOAL!  SCCOOOOOORE ANOTHER GOAL!  *BARF*

THIS GAME IS KILLING ME. IT’S TORTUROUS. THIS IS SO MUCH WORSE THAN THE SITUATION I WAS TRYING TO AVOID.  I DID NOT NEED A GAME THIS STRESSFUL TONIGHT. IF THEY DO NOT WIN THIS GAME I THINK I’M GOING TO LOSE MY MIND.

After Tenacious D scored his righteous empty net goal (2-0, Sabres): WOOOOOOOOO!!  TENACIOUS G is the greatest Sabre EVER!  WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

30 seconds after Gerbe’s empty net goal:

Oh god.  It’s the dreaded two goal lead.  Come on you little bastards, you only have to hold on to this two goal lead for 30 seconds…. IF THIS TURNS OUT TO BE A RYAN MILLER SHUTOUT, OR THEY FIND SOME WAY TO GIVE UP A TWO GOAL LEAD IN 30 SECONDS I AM NEVER WATCHING HOCKEY AGAIN.  I REALLY MEAN IT.  NEVER!

30 seconds later, at the end (2-0, Sabres)

WOOOOOOO!  Hockey is so wonderful and I love it so much.  This game was horrible, beginning to end, but it was totally worth it in every way because now I am filled with a sense of well being and smug peacefulness.  My hockey team is wonderful, and I will sleep well tonight.

The next morning:

I would suggest that winning a game like the Sabres did last night is the best case scenario after a meltdown like the Predators game.  Sure, it would’ve been fun to see them score 8 goals again, but I’ll be honest, those big blowouts make me a little nervous.  It’s fun when it’s easy, but it’s not actually as convincing.  Give me a hard-fought, intelligently played chess game if you want to convince me that you’re mentally tough.  The Sabres were genuinely impressive last night.  Miller looked great, but the team was brilliant in front of him.  Crunchy didn’t have to work that hard, because the Habs were never allowed to gather any steam. 

But I stand by my assertion that that game was torturous.  This shit is getting stressful.  I, for one, am grateful for a few days sans-Sabres.

So, congratulations on your nearly perfect road game, Sabres!  Now, please leave me alone for a few days.  Thank you.

We See That Which We Want To See

I’ve seen the Sabres lose in alllll sorts of ways, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them lose quite like that.

It happened so fast, and so inexplicably.  Usually during a meltdown at SOME point I start to have that feeling of dread, but I’m telling you, I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.  There was NO sense of impending doom.

Here’s my recap: I watched 57 good minutes solid hockey, but then I must have blacked out for about 3 minutes and ten seconds, because suddenly I was standing in my living room with my hands on my head, grasping fistfuls of my own hair, in the international pose of, “WTF JUST HAPPENED?!”  And I was watching Crunchy skate off the ice so fast it was like his little hockey pants were on fire, and my twitter feed was full of people having conniption fits, and I might have been bleeding out of my eyes a little bit.  I dunno.  It was a bad scene.

Even though I watched every minute of that game, I still don’t really understand what happened. (And please, do NOT take that as an invitation to tell me what happened in the comment thread. Ignorance is bliss. I’ll go ahead and assume that some combination of Sabres completely sucked ass for a few very unfortunate minutes.)

So, after the game I was all distraught, befuddled, and sad.  But suddenly, in my darkest hockey-hour, I had a REALLY good idea: I’m NOT going to be distraught and befuddled and sad.  I’m just going to go on living my life in a normal, orderly fashion.

I know!  I’m like Buddha-on-the-mountaintop over here!

That loss was stupid, it made no logical sense, and I do not accept it as part of my reality.  The End.

It’s Ted Black Appreciation Day!

Regular attenders of Sabres home games know that the water that comes out of the bathroom sinks at HSBC Arena is not merely cold. That water is otherworldly. No water has ever been as cold as HSBC water. Ever. (Not here on earth, at least).

I’ve bitched about this issue once, or two million, times on this blog. I even put it in the Sabres Suggestion Box.

Please watch this super cute video made by Jessica Pegula. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, just skip to the 2:28 mark.

YES.  YOU HEARD THAT CORRECTLY.

That was Ted Black, President of the Buffalo Sabres, acknowledging the cold water situation.

!

And while he didn’t say this directly, I’m pretty sure I detected an undercurrent of, “Your hands will never be cold again, Katebits” in the twinkle of his eye.  (Incidentally, I’m not the woman who approached Ted Black about the bathroom water at the game on Sunday.  I absolutely would have whined to him about my cold hands had I seen him there, but I didn’t.  If you’re the woman who bravely alerted Mr. Ted Black to this important issue, you should call me because obviously we’re potential BFFs/soulmates.)

I’ve written a lot in the last few weeks about how different everything feels as a Sabres fan since Pegula took over.  Really, it’s almost like rooting for a different team.  Never in a million years, not in our wildest dreams, could we have predicted that the new Sabres ownership would be so responsive, so enthusiastic, and so INSANELY CHARMING IN EVERY WAY.  I mean, really.  It’s pretty much ridiculous how well they’ve been doing.  They’re, like, comically good at this.

Terry Pegula is the billionaire who writes the checks, but Ted Black is the man who is actually reading the suggestions that we leave in the suggestion box.

I never had the simmering anger towards Larry Quinn that so many of you had, but even I have to admit, the difference between Larry Quinn and Ted Black is stark. (I suspect that Larry Quinn would personally glue my hands onto a glacier before he’d read my suggestions.)

So, let’s review the evidence:

1. Reads and responds to our suggestions
2. Has basically said ALL the right things WHILE using a tone of voice that makes us believe him
3. Seems waaaaay nicer than Larry Quinn.
4. Cares about our cold hands

There is only one logical conclusion to make: Ted Black is a dreamboat.

HERO.

It’s Ted Black Appreciation Day!  *throws confetti*

I’m not exactly sure how warm water in the women’s restrooms will lead directly to a Stanley Cup, but I have complete faith that it will.  WE’RE ON OUR WAY, PEOPLE.

Thank you, Ted Black!

Killer Instinct

Last night’s game was disappointing.  Not only were the Sabres shutout at home (and we didn’t get to hear Jeremy White’s goal song!), but they lost the opportunity to put the hated Carolina Poopicanes down for good.  Instead of being SIX points behind the Sabres, now the Poopicanes are only TWO points behind the Sabres.  LAME!

We could chalk this loss up to “You can’t win ‘em all,” except that they did this against the Leafs too!  When given the opportunity to take the Leafs out last weekend, they didn’t.  LAME!

Wake up and look at the evidence, people!  The Sabres have no killer instinct!  LAME!

Fortunately, Lindy Ruff is on it.  The Willful Caboose has obtained exclusive footage of Sabres practice.  Lindy Ruff has a plan to turn these guys into killing machines.  YAY!

Here we see Jason Pominville practicing his “killer instincts” in an exercise designed by Lindy Ruff.

Aw.

Pommerdoodle will be a cold-blooded killer in no time!   YAY!

_______

Everything is under control, Sabres fans.  Stay the course.

 

This Is A Special Time to Be A Sabres Fan

I had the great pleasure of attending the game on Sunday with my friends Laura, Nate, and their adorable toddler, Lucas.  We sat at one of those little tables in the Harbor Club.  We had table service all evening, and Lucas had a little extra space to wiggle around.  The value of these perks canNOT be overstated.  I think everyone in our party agreed that sitting at a table for a game is AWESOME.  What you lose in proletarian camaraderie by not sitting with the riff-raff, you MORE than get back in chicken fingers and ice cream sundaes delivered to your seats.

What I’m trying to say is if you are a single man between the ages of 30-45, and you have seats in this section of the arena, you should be my boyfriend.  Actually, let’s expand the age range to 25-60.  These are special seats.  Ah, what the hell, you only live once… If you are a man OR a woman between the ages of 18-100, and you have seats in this section of the arena, call me. You won’t be sorry.

Since Lucas is the best 2-and-a-half-year-old boy IN THE WORLD, this is pretty much what he did for the entire game. He stood on his chair, leaned against the glass, and watched the game (he also danced when there was music playing). When the Sabres scored, he would scream and high five everyone. Actually, he did that when the Sens scored too, but he'd quickly take it back when we gave the goal the thumbs down sign and told him, "Sens are yuck!" They're raising this kid right, I tell ya.

I don’t very often do recaps of my experience at the arena anymore, but I feel compelled to write a few words about this particular afternoon, not just because I was sitting in fancy seats, but also because the atmosphere in the arena has been great recently.  It’s really difficult to quantify the change in attitude, but there’s no doubt it’s there.  The team has been playing very well, and the fanbase has been invigorated by the ownership change, and you can feel it in the arena.

This particular game was obviously out of the ordinary for two big reasons- 1. It was, in many ways, the first home game of the new ownership.  This was the first chance for Pegula and his team to really put their stamp on the game day experience.  And 2. The Sabres community was still reeling from the news of Rick Martin’s passing.

The news of Martin’s death was handled beautifully by the Sabres organization.  Rick Jeanneret’s recorded message was simple and elegant, and the moment of silence had weight.  It wasn’t just a perfunctory gesture to mark the occasion.  I was impressed, top to bottom, with how, in an extremely short amount of time, the Sabres staff handled the situation.

The game day experience was slightly different in a couple of other ways too.

Everyone got a free program when they came in the door.  I think this is an extremely nice (if not very environmentally friendly) gesture.  The program is very glossy and I enjoyed flipping through it.  I probably won’t take one for every game that I attend, but I do think it makes a nice souvenir for the fans (especially kids) who don’t come to many games.  I always try to stay cognizant of just how expensive it is for a family to attend a hockey game.  I come from fairly modest means myself, and while I was fortunate to get to go to a lot of Minnesota Twins games as a kid, we always did it on the cheap.  We sat in the cheap seats, and we kids knew not to even bother asking for souvenirs.  So, when I see a nice glossy program, with pictures of all the Sabres and all the Sens, it’s very easy to imagine my 9-year-old self treating it as a treasure.  I think I would’ve happily poured over that program as a kid.   Anything that the Sabres can do to make it easier and more fun for families to take their kids to a game, is a great idea in my book.  Not every kid who goes to a Sabres game gets the jerseys and the foam paws and all the bells and whistles, but every kid gets a fun, colorful program.  It’s nice.

Good work, Sabres!

There were a bunch of minor tweeks to the in-game presentation, and I won’t bother listing them all here, but overall I REALLY appreciate that Pegula’s team is freshening up the arena experience.  I’m not one to complain about specific songs, or pregame videos, but I’d love to see a little more variety at the games.  It’s interesting to me to think about this aspect of Sabres production.  I seriously doubt that the Sabres staff was working under the directive to “be boring” with Golisano and Quinn, but it’s cool to see how much a breath of fresh air can make a difference.  It’s possible that the Ted Black and Pegula have already expanded the budget for game-day production, but most of what I noticed in terms of change seemed primarily a product of a new burst of creativity.  If nothing else, the arena staff seems creatively invigorated and that makes me so so so so so happy.  I’ve often thought that in-game arena production, in the right hands, could be something akin to a REALLY awesome blog, just bursting with energy and genuine enthusiasm for the product.  If creativity is given free rein at HSBC Arena, I don’t see any reason why the game experience can’t continue to get more vibrant, funnier, and more exciting.  Presenting the games well is SUCH a good way of growing enthusiasm for the Sabres.

I do want to take the time to RAVE about one thing: after every goal, when they played the replay on the jumbotron they piped in RJ’s call along with the video.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this. It felt like I got to celebrate every goal twice; once when the Sabres scored it, and then 30 seconds later when I heard Jeanneret call it.  That second burst of energy that I got hearing RJ screech, “HE SCOOOOOoooOOOOoooRES!” just ramped up the happiness SO MUCH.  I absolutely LOVED it, and I REALLY hope the Sabres keep doing this.  (And just as an aside, I love the idea that the  players hear RJ’s call too.  I’ve often wondered if the players have a real sense of how RJ calls the game.  They’re on the ice, afterall, while Rick’s working.  I’m sure they’ve heard the odd call here or there as a soundtrack to their specific highlights, but I doubt they really have a feel for Rick Jeanneret.  For some reason, I just love the idea that someday Chris Butler might hear RJ squawk, “THE BUTLER DID IT!” while he’s celebrating a goal on the ice.  Rick Jeanneret means so much to us fans, and I’d love it if his voice become part of the memories that players take away from their goal celebrations.  I dunno, maybe I’m over romanticizing it, but really, I want players like Thomas Vanek to unconsciously associate their biggest on-ice triumphs with the sound of Rick Jeanneret’s voice.  It just seems right.)

I guess that’s all!  I had SUCH a wonderful time at the game on Sunday.  I love Laura and Nate and Lucas, and I love the Sabres. I won’t be at the game tonight, but sure wish I could be.

This is a special time to be a Sabres fan.  The changes we’re seeing, the responsiveness we’re getting to our suggestions, it all just makes me feel great about rooting for this team.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

For All Your Facebook “Needs”

Categories

puck goggles
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.)

Pages


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers