Archive for the 'Players' Category

HOT DIGGITY

It’s been a very long time since I felt an irrepressible urge to put up a nothing post on this blog immediately after the final buzzer just so that there is blog evidence that I watched the game. Tonight, I sat alone in my living room and breathlessly clung to my twitter friends as Ryan Miller reminded us for the millionth time that hockey is the freaking best.

1-0, Sabres. Some games are a privilege to watch and this was one of them.

Deadline Day, 2012.

Well, the dust has settled on Trade deadline Day 2012, and it’s left us all stunned, giddy, freaked out, and not a little bit sad (*mournful honk*).

My plan going into today was this: I intended to throw Darcy under the bus and never look back if he failed to trade either Derek Roy or Drew Stafford off the team. Then, I intended to rock the bus back and forth over him until he was just a Darcy-shaped pile of dust (I assume Darcy explodes into dust like the vampires on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when killed).

In typical Darcy fashion he failed to meet my minimum expectations while simultaneously pulling an attractive rabbit out of his hat that I had never even thought to demand. He’s a wily one, our Darcy Regier. I’d call him a master of misdirection, but this wasn’t even that. I’m not distracted from Derek Roy. No, I don’t even care about old Roy-Z anymore (for now). I’m like, “Shut up about Roy-Z, Darcy. I’m trying to watch Cody Hodgson highlights on Youtube over here.”

Let’s try to iron this all out, shall we? Here are the dudes involved:

Acquired: This is Cody Hodgson. He's a Sabre now. He's now our 3rd highest scorer. Most importantly, he's a CENTER which is making everyone weak in the knees.

Acquired: This is Alexander Sulzer, somehow already Photoshopped into a Sabres uniform. He's a Sabre now, also a handsome ginger. He's the ginger-iest Sabre since Brian Campbell!

Traded: Zack Kassian is now a Vancouver Canuck. This is sad for a number of reasons, not the least of which he's one of those professional athletes that looks more like a plumber than a professional athlete, and I like those guys.

Traded: Marc-Andre Gragnani and his incredibly hard-to-spell name are now Vancouver Canucks.

This is the big, bonkers deal has everyone’s heads spinning (including a LOT of heads in Vancouver). Personally, I’m not sure what to say about this other than… whoa. Darcy traded his gigantic maybe-he’ll-turn-into-Lucic No. 1 prospect, and in return he got a young NHL-ready center. This move was risky for both teams, and I suspect we’re going to spend a lot of time over the next few years comparing the fortunes of Hodgson and Kassian. Only time (possibly lots of time) will reveal the true winner of this one, but right now the consensus seems to be the Sabres got the best player in the deal.*high five, Darcy*

The overlooked wildcard here is Gragnani, who has struggled in Buffalo but has a lot of potential. I have no idea what’s up with Sulzer (is he even going to play for the Sabres? Or is he a straight-to-the-Amerks kind of guy?), but he’s handsome enough, so whatever. I’ll take him. (If you need a place to stay when you get here, you can stay in my guest room, Sulzie. As usual, the house rules for Sabres are: 1. No skanks 2. No loud music without headphones unless it involves the viola.)

On the surface, this trade gets a thumbs up. If nothing else, this move is fun just because it happened. With this trade, Darcy has busted out of his “I value my prospects too highly” rut in a big, big way. This is the kind of exciting, dramatic, high-risk move that Darcy-from-two-seasons-ago just wouldn’t have made. This kind of thing is fun, and it’s a treat to have the Sabres involved.

Okay, moving on, with an incredibly deep sigh, and true pain in my heart…

Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. Paul Gaustad *sob* is now a Nashville Predator.

This one is tough.

I think there are times in everyone’s fandom when logic goes out the window and you revert to a more childlike, innocent mentality. This is one of those times for me. I’m an unabashed Paul Gaustad fan, and while the return in the trade was certainly favorable, I’m just plain old sad about losing Goose.

Goose was my first favorite Sabre.  When I became a hockey fan 5 years ago, part of the appeal of the sport was cheering for these mysterious characters on the ice, and for me, at the heart of that appeal was Paul Gaustad. I just like the guy, and I always have. I think it’s important to have players like this- favorites- players you care about more than you care about the others. Having favorite players makes watching a team more special, more heartbreaking, and more moving.

I don’t write about it much anymore, but before I became a fan of the Sabres, I didn’t like living in Buffalo. I felt weird and out of place here. I’ve never been able to describe it eloquently, but when I became a Sabres fan, I became a Buffalonian, and my entire life took a turn for the happier. Whenever I think of Goose’s time in Buffalo, I’m going to remember what it was like to fall in love with the Buffalo Sabres, and in turn what it was like to fall in love with this city and finally make Buffalo my home. In that way, Goose cemented himself as an all-time favorite for me.

I’ll always appreciate how he conducted himself as a Sabre and a Buffalonian and I wish Paul nothing but the best in Nashville. We will miss him dearly.

HONK!

The Only Way Out Is Through

As Sabres fans we are entering strange territory. It feels a bit like we’ve been launched into space. There is no ground beneath our feet, and personally, I have no idea which way is up.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re at rock bottom yet, and that’s both incredibly depressing and oddly exhilarating. How low can this thing go? What does “low” even mean at this point? Should we be rooting for a draft pick? Is down the only way up?

Who knows.

All I know is that this shit is depressing. As recently as a few days ago I thought we would be fighting against anger. I thought Sabres fans were going to rise up in cartoonish mobs of unreasonable crankiness, pitchforks and torches in hand. Now I know that that was just my Buffalo sports fan inexperience talking. No one is angry. We’re depressed.

We wish. If only it were this easy.

Anger is easy to mock, but depression is a slippery beast. Anger is focused. Depression is murky.

Last night Tyler Myers gave an interview where he was very obviously fighting back tears. He said, “This has been a devastating road trip,” and there was detectable and literal devastation in his voice.

I mean, what the eff, Hockey Gods? WHAT THE EFF. We’re supposed to be able to hate the Sabres when they suck. Last night I wanted to make Tyler Myers a grilled cheese sandwich and then cut off the crust in a way that creates a heart-shape. I wanted to rock him back and forth while whispering, “It’s okay, big guy. You’re going to be okay,” until he fell into fitful sleep. Then, this morning I wanted to put an encouraging note in his lunchbox, and promise him that today will be a better day. I can’t hate Tyler Myers. Hell, I can’t even make fun of him.

ARG! THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE.

Hey… look at that. I turned my depression into anger and then turned my anger into a joke and now I feel teeny-tiny bit better. At least my vaguely unhealthy coping mechanisms are still intact.

Last night before the game there was a not-insignificant part of me that was hoping the Sabres would lose. The reality is that the more the Sabres lose, the closer they are to a good draft pick and the higher the possibility that someone will finally get fired. Those are the facts. So, I just thought, “Go for it Sabres. Do your worst.” I thought I could handle it, but no matter how much my brain understands that losses are more valuable than wins at this point, my heart cannot understand. Rooting against the Sabres is fundamentally depressing. In between games, losing seems like a tolerable outcome, but watching it live is brutal and sad, no matter what. It’s not for me.

NOOOOOO! Fight, Sabres! FIGHT, GODDAMN IT! *sob*

I guess this is how it is now. These are confusing times. We’re lost in the Swamp of Sadness, and all we can do is wade through the muck.

We’ll get through it, Sabres fans. WE WILL.

Stupid sports.

The Obligatory Tantrum

There’s losing, and then there’s having-the-guy-who-ran-your-goalie-basically-call-you-a-bunch-of-pansies-while-everyone-in-the-NHL-nods-their-head-in-complete-agreement. The Sabres opted for the latter last night, which is a shame because even good teams get creamed 6-2 every once in a while. A typical 6-2 loss is something we could handle with grace (I mean, not all Sabres fans could handle a 6-2 loss with grace, but most of the sane ones could), but a 6-2 loss AND allowing Milan Lucic to completely emasculate everyone both on and off the ice? NOT COOL, SABRES. NOT COOL AT ALL.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch much last night because I was playing a concert, so I’m not exactly in a position to analyze/throw-overblown-tantrums about this game. For the sake of this post I briefly considered watching the DVR recording this afternoon, but I quickly came to my senses. I mean… no. I watched 3/4th of the Bills game today, and that was quite enough soul-scorching suckiness for one Sunday afternoon. (BTW, thanks for nothing, Bills. Geez.)

But since when has a lack of, “watching the game,” or, “knowing what I’m talking about,” stopped me from loudly proclaiming my opinion? NEVER! That’s when! Why start today? So, here’s what I think, in convenient, easy-to-read bullet points.

  • EFF YOU AND THE WHORE YOU RODE IN ON, MILAN LUCIC.
  • Seriously Sabres, that was lame.
  • Most people reading this blog know that I’m not a big fan of fighting in the NHL. In fact, if I had my way, fighting would be eliminated and instead of everyone freaking out about how so-and-so should’ve clobbered Lucic (which may or may not have led to success), we’d be freaking out about how HARD the Sabres defense SUCKS ASS.
  • It’s not that I don’t think it would be satisfying to see someone clobber Lucic, but it seems to me that the best way to handle someone like him is to calmly score on the power play, and then WIN THE GAME. Then, after the game you can be all, “Yeah, that guy’s a dick. It’s a good thing we’re so much better at hockey than those clowns.” In my opinion, punching is not the only correct response in a situation like that. Winning convincingly also works. Sadly, instead of turning steely, the Sabres turned spastic, and everything went to hell.
  • Although… I’d like to point out that the game did not immediately go to hell after Lucic’s hit. The Sabres played 14 minutes of decent hockey between the hit and when Boston tied it up, and another 6 minutes after that before the [feces] really hit the fan. There isn’t much evidence to suggest that the hit or the lack of “stepping up” lead directly to a team meltdown. It’s seems to me that playing terrible hockey was the Sabres biggest mistake last night.
  • Last night I was reminded of Game Six of the playoffs when Mike Richards completely boarded Tim Connolly, thus providing the opportunity for the Sabres to SUCK ON THE ENSUING POWER PLAY IN HUMILIATING FASHION. (I think there might’ve even been a 5-on-3 involve with that play if my memory serves me right. [And my memory probably doesn’t serve me right because I was both drunk and extremely desperate to forget after Game Six.]) That play and the ensuing power play was where I think the Sabres lost that Flyers series. Again, I’m no proponent of hockey violence, BUT, in the absence of punching, you sure as hell better not get all scared and emo about your game. If the Sabres are going to get all, “hold me mommy, I’m scared,” every time something hardcore happens, they’re doomed to repeat Game Six forever. (Only, in the future it won’t be Ville Leino scoring against us in OT, because sadly, he plays for us now.)
  • What I’m trying to say is this: You have two choices, Sabres. 1.) Be really good at hockey and make teams pay for being a-holes by winning, or 2.) Punch Milan Lucic into submission. (I’m not going to lie, punching Milan Lucic into submission sounds really hard to me too. I’d go with option #1 if I were you.)
  • I have no idea what’s wrong with Tyler Myers (AGAIN), but now he’s getting his stink on Sekera, and HE MUST BE STOPPED. BENCH HIS SKINNY ASS, LINDY.
  • And since we’re talking about the defense, you know who probably would’ve been willing to get his butt kicked by Lucic in the name of “revenge” last night? MIKE WEBER.
  • We learned last night that the Sabres are a bunch of weenies, but despite the tone of this post, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. The season is still really young. The Sabres are still settling into the New World Pegula Order. Ryan Miller is still all wonky and not right (the hit to the head probably didn’t help with that). This was no ordinary loss. Losses of this magnitude don’t come around every day. Mid-November is the perfect time for a loss like this. If Lindy is really the coach that everyone believes he is, he’ll find a way to turn this loss into an overall win. A loss like this can galvanize a team. I’m not ready to predict that this loss will galvanize the Sabres into positive change, but I do believe it’s possible. This was, if nothing else, a gut-check game. Maybe the Sabres needed this humiliation and maybe (just MAYBE, I’m saying) it will ultimately do them some good. *fingers crossed*

The Goalie Controversy Situation

I’ll admit, up until last night I had a constant headache from the non-stop, dramatic eye rolling I was doing every time I heard the words, “goalie controversy.” While I still don’t think we’re anywhere near “controversy” territory, I’m forced to concede we have definitely ventured past the, “nothing to see here,” phase.

Lindy gave Enroth one of Miller’s starts. That is genuinely interesting.

Aside from my minor concerns that Miller will give Enroth the shiv at his first opportunity (watch your back lil’ Enroth), I doubt this will wind up being a big deal. But… at this point you never know. If I had to bet money on what will happen next, I’d bet that Miller kicks ass on Tuesday, and then everything goes back to normal (meaning, Lindy goes back to his prearranged goalie schedule, Miller plays pretty well in general, Enroth plugs along winning at every [far apart] opportunity, and the Sabres fanbase and media continue to squawk argue debate about which goalie is better for the franchise.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “problem” of two good goalies. Obviously, having two good goalies is not an actual problem, but it sure does make the conversation surrounding Ryan Miller a lot more intense. Unless Miller is perfect, there will be calls for Enroth from the fanbase. When Miller is really, really, really far from perfect (as he has been his last few starts), those calls become a roar; a roar audible from the players’ bench in the arena, actually.

In my opinion, in this environment, it’s really difficult to have a reasonable conversation about the goalie situation, which is frustrating, because this situation is absolutely chock-full of interesting angles:

Will Enroth’s strong presence push Miller to be better, or will it further throw him off his game? How is Miller going to respond being benched? Would one bad game from Enroth throw water on the whole conversation? Will Enroth ever actually PLAY a bad game? At what point does Enroth start stealing starts with regularity? How is the the goalie situation effecting the locker room at this point? Is Miller injured? Can Lindy use Enroth to essentially let Miller work through whatever is ailing him (mentally or physically) and then restore the normal goalie rotation? Does an NHL roster HAVE to have a clear #1 and #2 goalie? Is there some way for Lindy to just play the hot hand for an entire season? How much is this “goalie controversy” fan/media generated, and how much of it is actually real? Do you think Enroth and Miller are friends? How much would the new players effect locker room chemistry and could this be effecting Miller’s performance? What on earth is up with this? Is it possible that the players’ previously indisputable support of Miller could be eroded if Enroth’s strong play continues? How much is everyone thinking about Tim Thomas and Tukka Rask these days? And probably the most interesting topic in my opinion- Can Lindy coach himself through this goalie situation?

In my opinion, Ryan Miller’s personality comes in at about #45 on the list of “relevant talking points.” Basically I think you can boil that entire topic down to this: When the goalie plays poorly, the fans get mad at him. When he’s not apologetic enough, that gives people “justification” for their anger. That’s it. That’s the entire thing. It’s not more complicated than that, and it’s not particularly unique to Ryan Miller or to Buffalo. Sure, there are certain elements of Miller’s personality that don’t mesh well with Buffalo’s personality, but basically, people are mad at him because he’s not playing well. It’s not rocket science, and we probably don’t need to bust out the Freudian analysis.

I do understand that a player’s personality effects how the fans feel about him, and that in turn effects the conversation surrounding whatever is happening on the ice. I understand why so many people are preoccupied with Miller’s postgame demeanor, I just think that if we continue to dwell on this aspect of the situation we’ll be missing the forest through the trees.

Things are actually getting interesting around here. There is so much to talk about that DOESN’T involve dissecting a player’s personality and then speculating wildly on what tell ourselves we know about him.

I’m an ardent Ryan Miller fan (what can I say? I love his unique brand of crankiness), but I can’t deny that I’ve grown increasingly intrigued by Enroth’s strong play. I’m a little surprised by my willingness to consider that Enroth might be the Sabres’ best option. If Enroth is the better goalie for the team right now, then… maybe he should play until he’s not? I dunno. Regardless of where you fall in the Miller vs. Enroth debate, I think most reasonable people can agree that if Ryan Miller is at the very top of his game, the Sabres will be in good shape. With that in mind, does Lindy gear his goalie decisions towards getting Miller back on track? Or does he just go with the best chance of winning on any given night? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’m certainly eager to see what Lindy does next.

I wouldn’t call any of this a “controversy”, but Lindy definitely has a situation on his hands. Consider me officially intrigued.

Down the Line

I promised myself that I wouldn’t start analyzing the Sabres until they’d played ten games, but I can’t hold myself back because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I just want to line the Sabres up, and walk down the line, ruffle their hair one-by-one, and tell them each why I love them so. You know what?  That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I doubt the actual Sabres are willing to stand in a line for me, so you’ll just have imagine the hair tussling.

____________

The Sabres, presented in the order in which I think of them, which is probably a pretty good indication of the order of their awesomeness:

Thomas Vanek- Thomas Vanek, I’ve written many, many, many times about how incredible it is to watch you when you’re “on”. You’re just spectacular. But this season feels a little different. You seem so joyful out there. Joy is the one thing that has always been missing from your game. I’ll admit, your visible frustration on the ice has always made me a tad hesitant to really believe in you as “The Guy.” I’ve been joking for YEARS that you need therapy, and I’m starting to believe that maybe this summer you finally got some. (And just FYI, if I were running a professional sports team, sports psychology would be a requirement for every single player on my payroll, so, my insistence that you get therapy is really nothing personal. I only bring up the therapy with you because of all the Sabres, historically you’ve seemed to be the most crazypants. I guess that part is a little personal.) At any rate, as I wrote last night on Twitter, when you’re cool, everything’s cool. So, keep up the good work, and do whatever your therapist says. That guy/lady is a genius.

Jason Pominville- Jason, you’re a Sabre who I’ve always loved unconditionally, so it’s super fun to see you being all captain-ly and top-line-y. I don’t know how you do it, but you are the only hockey player I’ve ever seen who somehow manages to look adorable no matter what you’re doing. That’s a compliment (of course).

Ville Leino- Last night was extremely good for our relationship, Ville. After your pretty pass to Pommers for the goal, I wasn’t just happy for me, I realized I was genuinely happy for you. That doesn’t happen with every goal (for example, I don’t think Derek Roy has ever scored a goal that made think, “Oh, I’m so happy for Roy-Z!” His goals are just the garden-variety, “Hooray! The Sabres just scored and this makes me, Katebits, feel joy in my heart). Ville, I want you to be an awesome Sabre, and I feel extreme confidence that you WILL be an awesome Sabre, so just hang tight, buddy. You’ve got this. (Also, you and McCormick were strangely good together last night. That was weird, thrilling, and totally unexpected.)

Ryan Miller- *fist bump and chin nod of eternal respect*

Drew Stafford- How you doin’?

Tyler Myers- *gets on a step-stool in order to ruffle Tyler’s hair* Hey there big guy! You seem to be either totally awesome or totally terrifying. Last night you were totally awesome and it was really good to see. Just try to be awesome most nights. But don’t worry. The team is better this year. Not everything will go straight to hell if you have a few bad games in a row.

Christian Ehrhoff- I love how you shoot, and I also like how your lips always look like you’re wearing a tinted lip gloss.

Luke Adam- Lu-kie! Lu-kie! Lu-kie! Welcome to Buffalo, kiddo! You’re doing great. Just keep working hard, and when in doubt in the gym or out on the town, do what Goose does. Speaking of Goose…

Paul Gaustad- HONK! Goose, I’d like to encourage you to casually undress in the background of all your teammates’ interviews.

Andrej Sekera- You’re probably my favorite skater on the team. Good job.

Brad Boyes- Um, this is a little awkward. Usually Darcy’s trade deadline acquisitions are gone by now, but… you seem to still be here. Hm…. Oooh, I know! You have a very pleasant-looking face. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, Brad Boyes.

Derek Roy- I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong with you but you haven’t looked like yourself yet this season. Maybe you miss Vanek? I’m not too worried because apparently the Sabres don’t really need you to be awesome in order to win games. I have faith that you’ll pull it together soon. And if you don’t, well… *shrug* We apparently don’t really need you to win games! (That might sound a little harsh. Roy-Z, I think what I’m trying to tell you is: don’t get frustrated. When you suddenly get awesome again, it’s just going to make the Sabres LITERALLY UNSTOPPABLE, but for the time being, your atypical-averageness isn’t really doing any harm.

Cody McCormick- You were surprisingly good with Leino last night! Nice job. Everyone in Buffalo likes to root for you already, but if you can be the catalyst for getting Leino on track, I think we might erect a statue in your honor.

Tyler Ennis- Look, Tyler. I can’t lie. I’m a little worried about you. I’m not like, freaked about you, but I’m concerned. You need to tone down the “dipsy-doodling followed by a blueline turnover.” Just tone it down. Also, could you please clarify something? Is this actually you? That looks a LOT like Ehrhoff’s head on your body to me, but after an in-depth twitter investigation, the consensus seems to be that is IS you. I’m still not convinced. Your thoughts?

Jhonas Enroth- YOU ARE AN ELVISH HERO! Most of the time I forget all about you, but every time I remember you I get an incredible burst of confidence. Seriously. You might change everything this season. That’s how important and awesome you are. You might change everything.

Nathan Gerbe- Rock on, lil Honey Badger. Rock on.

Patrick Kaleta- Hey, Patty. You haven’t provoked my ire at all this season. Good job. Every once in a while, I think you’re Vanek on the ice. That amuses me.

Robyn Regehr- I can’t say I have any strong thoughts or feelings about you, but actually, that’s probably a good thing. You seem cool. Thanks for helping Mylers be less spazzy. I’m not going to ruffle your hair because, a.) you’re pretty much bald, and b.) you seem too dignified for such things. I’ll just shake your hand respectfully, instead.

____________

Ah, that felt great! It’s fun to love the Sabres! I’m a little concerned about the future of this blog (nothing kills The Willful Caboose faster than a complete lack of over-the-top outrage), but we’ll make do.  I’m sure I’ll find something to complain about eventually, but for now, I love these little buggers.

The Jaws Of Victory

I used to have a cat named Trixie. Trixie wasn’t the brightest. Once I watched her bat around an ant for a good ten minutes. (Now that I’ve written that last sentence, I’m wondering if maybe this story says more about me than it says about Trixie.) Anyway, eventually Trixie ate the ant and I was all, “Good work, Trix. You got him.”

But then, Trixie looked over at me all wide-eyed, and she stuck out her tongue, and the ant fell out of her mouth and onto the ground.  I kid you not, THE ANT STOOD UP, BRUSHED HIMSELF OFF, AND SAUNTERED AWAY. I think I heard him whistling a little “don’t mind me,” song as he nonchalantly slipped out of Trixie’s reach.

The Sabres reminded me of that ant tonight. I do not know how they walked away from that game victorious, but they did.

(Actually, I do know how they did it: MILL-ERRRRRRRR!)


…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