Archive for the 'Ryan Miller' 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.

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!)

Lots More Brains

Hold onto your brains, Sabres fans, because we’ve got four more years of Drew Stafford roaming the dark streets of Buffalo ahead of us. We must be vigilant, or he will (of course) eat our brains.  (Don’t hate Staffy for trying to eat your brains. It’s just his way. He’s only doing what comes naturally.)

TWC has obtained the transcript of Stafford’s negotiations with Darcy Regier:

Darcy Regier: We need to negotiate your contract, Staffy.

Staffy: Moooooore braaaains

Darcy Regier: Yes, yes, I know. You like brains.

Staffy: Moooooore braaaaains.

Darcy:  Try to focus, Drew. How much money do you want to play hockey?

Staffy: Mooooore braaaains.

Darcy: Drew… do you like being a Sabre?

Staffy: BRAINS!

Darcy: *sigh*

Staffy: BRAAAAAAAAAINS

Darcy: Seriously, dude. Stop talking about brains for ONE SECOND.

Staffy:

Darcy: Thank you. Now. Here’s my offer.

(Darcy slides a piece of paper across the desk to Staffy. Staffy picks it up, reads it, then sneers.)

Staffy: (roaring) MOOOOOOORE BRAAAAAAAINS!

Darcy: Now hold on just a second Staffy. That’s a good offer.

Staffy: MOOOOOOOOOOOOORE BRAAAAAAAAAAAAINS

Darcy: Well… how many brains do you think you deserve?

Staffy: Four million braaaaains per year for four yeeeeearrs. 16 million braaaaaaaaains total.

Darcy: Fine. Whatever. Just promise me that after you sign this contract you’re not going to start talking about how you wish you were a rockstar instead of a hockey player again.

Staffy: (cocks head) Red Seal Peach?

Darcy: No. No more band. Just hockey.

Staffy: (nods)

Darcy: Okay. We’ve got a deal.  Now get out of here you furry bastard.

________

I honestly don’t know what to make of this new Drew Stafford contract.

If the Sabres get 3o goals a year out of him for the next four years, this contract will be a steal. (And just think! Four more years of the “morrrrrre braaaaains” joke!) On the other hand, Staffy has always been really inconsistent and injury prone and blah blah blah  … you know what? Let’s not think too much about the other hand.

Hopefully this all works out, and from now on we get focused, awesome, hattricky Drew Stafford and moody, frequently-injured, I-just-want-to-rock Drew Stafford is in hibernation until his retirement from hockey.

_________

Having nothing to do with anything: For some reason when you google “Drew Stafford furries” this picture of Ryan Miller comes up in the image results.

Bieberfever

I have no recollection of Crunchy having that haircut. Yikes.

Soothing

In the aftermath of game six, I was mega-glum. I bet you were too. That game was a swift kick to the softest, fleshiest part of my sports soul. I walked into the arena with an open heart and a joyful spring in my step, and I limped out, wincing and clutching my chest.

That game was so rough that after it was over, Jessica and I opted to go home to our respective houses rather than even put one toe in the Harbor Club. This is unusual behavior, but neither of us had the heart to look on the bright side.  If I had to rank my friends in order of those most likely to say, “Eff it! Let’s drink and be merry! The disgusting Flyers will die miserable and alone, but they will NOT interrupt my gallivanting schedule,” Jessica would be right at the top of that list.  So, it’s a true testimony to our heavy hearts that we couldn’t even muster the strength for one postgame “Beer of Commiseration”.

On the sad walk back to our car, we joked that we were going to go home alone and “angry eat” something extremely unhealthy.

Half an hour later we exchanged these photos via text.

Kate

Jessica

Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

_______

Today is a new day.

Today, my hockey train-of-thought (and really, is there any other train-of-thought during the playoffs?) has been a series of pleasant realizations:

- At no point yesterday was I angry with the Sabres. (Okay, maaaybe I was a little angry with Brad Boyes for a few minutes.)

- Ryan Miller has been downright heroic this series. I don’t think it’s even debatable. There are people who are going to point at him and blame him for the lost leads in game 5 and 6, but those people are stupid. Also not debatable. If you took Ryan Miller and put him on the Flyers, this series might have been a sweep. Crunchy has almost single-handedly made this a series.

- The following Flyers can fall down a well for all I care: Mike Richards, Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, Dan Carcillo.  This isn’t so much a “pleasant realization,” as it is a helpful focal point for my feelings of disgust and rage. If they fell down a well, I would probably stop by and toss them food and drink so they wouldn’t starve to death, but I wouldn’t help them escape, and I’d be 100% willing to taunt them by repeatedly asking about their recent divorces.

- Hey, at least we’re not rooting for the Canucks.

- Yesterday afternoon the Sabres were down Roy, Hecht, Pominville, Sekera, and for half the game Tim Connolly, and they made a great game of it. That means the Sabres played the second half of that game with Gaustad, Niedermayer, and McCormick as their top three centers.  The Flyers played with Richards, Briere and someone-else-who-I’m-too-lazy-to-look-up as their top centers. To call this series a mismatch at forward is an insult to people wearing plaid shirts and polka-dot pants everywhere. And yet, the Sabres are right there, taking this series to game seven.

- But. Roy-Z might be back on Tuesday! ROY-Z! Think all the way back to when Roy-Z first got injured, and we all thought the season was over, and he told us that he was hoping to be ready for the second round of the playoffs. Oh, how we laughed and laughed at Roy-Z back then. Roy-Z was right, and we were wrong. Hooray!  (Incidentally, Heather and I had a good chuckle the other day joking about how when he said it, Roy-Z probably didn’t believe the Sabres would make the playoffs either. Hopefully he hasn’t been sitting on his ass for four months eating bon-bons and assuming he wouldn’t have to play in the playoffs. Can’t you see Roy-Z all fat and lazy, playing video games, being all, “Wait… WHAT?  They actually MADE the playoffs?! And now you expect me to PLAY?! *looks down at flabby legs* Um, I might need a few days to find my skates.  Also, my stomach hurts. I don’t think I can play. And, um, I think my grandmother died and I have to go to her funeral. And I might be concussed.  Yeah!  I’m concussed! I should go to the quiet room, NOT play in the playoffs. FUCK! Is Pronger going to be there?!”)

- Fuck the Flyers.

- The Sabres were down and out, and then, through a series of minor miracles, beginning with Pegula and stretching down through every rank of the organization, they rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Every single playoff game is a gift.  And now?  Now we get a game seven. Bring it. For reals. If you could go back in time and offer a first round game seven to your December-self, your December-self would be so overjoyed he/she would probably try to make out with your current-self.  (FYI, that’s a variation on a joke of future and past selves that Jessica often tells. She’s a keeper.)

- This team has been a joy to watch, and I’m proud to root for them. Even if they lose on Tuesday 10-0, this season has been a success, and I love them. This sense of peace is something new for me as a fan. The Sabres have already earned my love. It’s a done deal. I hesitated to write about this because in some ways by saying, “I’m okay with them losing” it sounds like I expect them to lose.  But I swear, that’s not the case.

- If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching this Sabres team for the last four months, it’s that we shouldn’t count them out, ever. They might be mismatched, and they might be young, but they have more heart than the Philadelphia Flyers.  Time and time again, the Sabres have found a way to win. And as overpowered as the Sabres forwards are, there is really no overstating the shittiness of the Flyers goaltending. The Flyers are better than the Sabres, but they have a glorious vulnerability in net. The Sabres have given us no reason to doubt them. They deserve our respect.

- Sabres in 7.

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo! WOO!

Series Score: 1-0, Sabres!

In regards to the game last night, I think Goose said it best:

He's a poet, that goose.

I’m in full playoff mode now.  For me, the best way to experience the playoffs is to consume as little analysis as possible. This happened to me last year too.  Suddenly I’m TOTALLY disinterested in thinking rationally about the Sabres. At this point, if you’re not, like, “RYAN MILLER IS A HERO AND I WOULD DIE TO DEFEND HIM,” I’m like, “STFU, loser. I will karate chop you.”

The playoffs are a lot simpler than the regular season. In my not-at-ALL humble opinion, all we should be doing is “WOOOOOOOOOO!”ing and “BOOOOOOOOOO!”ing. Everything beyond that is just a distraction. Personally, WOOing and BOOing requires my full-time attention. Every game requires a full day of anticipation, and a full day of reflection/celebration/recovery. We have to stay FOCUSED.

Don’t let Twitter, or The Buffalo News, or various local radio stations convince you that this is a nuanced situation. It’s not. Cheer like hell for the guys with the swords on their chest, and hate the living crap out of the guys in orange. That’s it.

Once I simplify the process, the rewards seems sweeter. I don’t want to waste my time worrying pre-game over whether or not Kaleta should play, or if he should be a scratch. When he scores, I scream at the top of my lungs and I high-five everyone within reach. And nothing else matters.

I wish I could bottle the feeling I felt after Kaleta score his goal so that I could periodically sip from it throughout the year.

When the playoffs are good they’re incredible, and when they’re bad… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Heh.

So far, so so so good.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!


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