Archive for the 'Tyler Ennis' Category

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.

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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.

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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 Bandwagoner’s Guide to the Sabres, Part Three: The Forwards

The concept of “the bandwagon fan” is very controversial, but I have a fondness in my heart for the new fan.  After all, it was at this time of year that I myself hopped on the Sabres bandwagon.  Every fan has to start somewhere, and often fandom is inspired by the playoffs.  The current Sabres may not feel like a bandwagon-y situation to a longtime fan, but I’m writing this series for the “Katebitses of 2007″; the guy or gal who is suddenly drawn to the Sabres, but doesn’t know where to begin.

Begin here, Bandwagoner!

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We’ve already covered the goalie and the defense, so, today we wade into far murkier waters.  Today, we grit our teeth, roll up our sleeves, and get to work trying to decipher the mystery that is the Sabres corp of forwards.

Part Three: The Forwards

The primary role of the forward is to score goals.  Oh sure, Lindy is going to go on and on about defensive responsibility and blah blah blah, but the fact of the matter is, to varying degrees, these guys are paid to score.  When they don’t score, we are cranky with them.  When they do score, we love them.

-“Lines”

Forwards play in lines of three.  Every line has a center, and two wingers (left and right).  I invite you pay not one speck of attention to who is playing what position.  I’ve never bothered to figure this out, and I don’t think it’s hurt my enjoyment of the game in the slightest.  If faceoffs are what floats your boat (*raises hand*), you should pay special attention to the centers, but other than that, it’s all the same to you.

Some teams have fixed lines, and others don’t.  The coach of the Sabres, Lindy Ruff, tinkers with the lines quite a bit, so you never really know who you’re going to see together on the ice.  Just when you think you’ve figured out the method to his madness you’re all, “…..whaaa?  Is Ellis playing with Vanek and Roy?”  Line watching can be confusing.  When you first start watching hockey, it’s best not to get too bogged down with the construction of the lines, but I CAN highly recommend focusing on the bench to watch them hop over the boards for the line changes.  Board hopping can be foxy, and so can Lalime when he opens and closes the little bench door for the tinier Sabres.

There are several different kinds of lines:

Scoring Lines: The top two lines are the scoring lines, and they are expected to score.  Duh.

Checking line: The checking line is usually the third line, and these guys are often sent out there to neutralize the other team’s top offensive threats.  These guys are certainly welcome to score, and we love it when they do, but really, their job is to slam into the other team and make life difficult for them.

Energy Line: The energy line is usually the 4th line, or as I like to call them, “The Scrubs”.  The Scrubs are not expected to score, and they’re not even really expected to be any good at hockey, but they ARE expected to play really, really hard.  They are expected to play every shift like it might be their last in the NHL (in many cases, it really might be).  They are expected to hit really hard, to not take penalties, not bitch about being a healthy scratch, and, if called upon, to fight in order to protect the “Top Six”.   Personally, I think these guys are kind of a hoot (at a recent game I turned to Robin and said, “Mair and Ellis are stunningly good at keeping control of the puck in the offensive zone for DAYS at a time without ever actually taking a shot on net,” but lots of people get super pissy about them and like to wail continually on Twitter for their dismissal.

Now, onto the actual Sabres players.

Long ago, back when I was a bandwagoner just like you,  my innocent eyes set upon Chris Drury, and my fate was sealed.  It was love at first sight.  My Chris Drury appreciation played a HUGE role in my eventual hardcore hockey fandom.  One look at that thick, dark beard, one interview, and one last-second goal against the Rangers, and I was hooked.  At the time, Chris Drury was the captain of the team, he was the obvious leader in the locker room, and he was constantly scoring clutchy goals.  He was an obvious and perfectly acceptable first favorite player.  Any Sabres fan would have approved.  Chris Drury was an extremely safe choice. (Unfortunately, Chris Drury proved to be a revolting Ranger who is not worth one third of the money he is getting paid.  But that’s a story for another day….)

Sadly for you, Dear Bandwagoner, these are not the simple times of 06/07.  The forward situation is confusing, but I’m here to help.

-The “Top” Six

The Sabres pride themselves on “balanced” scoring (meaning their scoring is fairly evenly distributed throughout the lineup).  Balanced scoring can be a real advantage.  If the other team has no idea which Sabre is the most likely to score, the Sabres can be very difficult to defend against.  But “balanced scoring” might just be a polite way of saying “lacking a true offensive threat”.  I just looked it up, and the Sabres were 10th in the league in scoring this season (I KNOW.  IT BLEW MY MIND TOO), so, they really did score plenty of goals  Because of this “balance” it can be a little difficult to identify our top six.  Players float in and out of the top six based on their performance and Lindy’s whims.

Some teams have Thornton, Heatley and Marleau.  We’ve got these guys.

(But we love them.)  (Mostly.)

Thomas Vanek. Had bad year. I want to love him because he costs $7mil per year and he's all we can afford now. Capable of putting the entire team on his back.

Derek Roy. Ew. Can be awesome, often chooses not to be.

Jason Pominville. Often good. Girls love him, boys can be grumpy about him (just jealous). Cute as a bugs ear.

Tim Connolly. Very good at hockey. Creative player. Most likely has cooties.

Jochen Hecht. He was good, then he sucked, now he's good again. Shy likeability is his trademark. Might be injured for start of the playoffs (girly fingers).

Drew Stafford. Brain-eating zombie? Probably. Concussed. Definitely. Poor guy. "Morrre Braaains" Very rarely plays on top six now that I think about it.

Of this crew, your best bets are Connolly and Vanek.  Vanek has been heating up, and when he gets hot he really is a sight to behold. (He can make that $7 million price tag look like a bargain.)  So, Vanek could be a perfect player to set your bandwagon-y sights upon.  As for Tim Connolly, now this was before my time, but his entire legend was built on one playoff series back in 2006.  Apparently he was amazing until he got his brains scrambled, so I’m figuring he might have high playoff potential now that he’s allegedly healthy.

- Checkers, Grinders, and other assorted misfits

Tim Kennedy. Rookie. Does not look like this anymore. Now he looks like a toothless, greasy hoodlum.

Paul Gaustad. Beloved HONKer. Hard hitter. Funny looking skater. Everyone in Buffalo wants to marry him.

Mike Grier. Is a grown-up. Hard worker. Has probably played a bigger role in returning the team to respectability than he's getting credit for.

Nathan Gerbe. Is currently on the team, but probably won't be come playoff time. That flavor-saver is gross, Gerbs.

Matt Ellis. Got his roster photo taken from waaaaay across the room. Total scrub, but an appealing scrub.

Adam Mair. Less appealing as far as scrubs go, but I don't understand all the squawking for him to be fired. He'll punch you right in the face.

Of these guys, Goose is the clear choice.  Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, everyone will just nod and say “me too,” when you announce that you intend to marry Paul Gaustad.  Mike Grier is another perfectly acceptable favorite, but the problem with him is that he’s only signed through the season and he may very well leave town all, “Screw you guys, I’m going home,” in a few months.  It’s difficult to tell if Mike Grier loves us back. He’s risky that way.

-The Wildcards.

These are the guys that defy categorization.

Tyler Ennis. Might be the next big thing. Might not. *fingers crossed*

Raffi Torres. Darcy gets us one of these guys every year at the trade deadline. Torres is this year's model.

Patrick Kaleta. Pest. Hard hitter. If he were on any other team, we'd hate him passionately. But he's a Sabre, a native Buffalonian, and he's QUITE good at his job, so we pretty much love him. Plus, he seems sweet in a dopey puppy kind of way. Don't try to fight him. You'll just wind up penalized.

Of these three guys, Kaleta is the clear choice.  If you try to talk up Ennis when you’re really just a bandwagon fan, you’re going to sound like a major tool.  If you try to talk up Torres you’re going to get blank stares.  But Patrick Kaleta is the perfect choice for a new fan.  He’s VERY visible on the ice, and almost everyone in town loves him.

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Good golly.  That was a lot about the forwards. I hope that clears things up!

Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to discuss the coaches and management.

7 Things

1. I’m not sure how many times you guys can stand to hear me say “I can’t believe we’re going to the playoffs,” but for realio…….WOOOOO!   As a relatively new fan, I have no frame of reference for this.  The Sabres clinched a playoff berth and they still have eight games to play?  Whaaa?  I haven’t looked at this site at all this year.  Is spring still going to come even if I’m not obsessively praying that other loathsome NHL teams lose so that the Sabres playoff hopes stay alive?

This is just so WEIRD!  The Sabres are going to the playoffs!  What IS this happy hockey-related feeling in my heart?  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

2.  HOW ABOUT THAT TYLER ENNIS?!  Holy buckets.  I’ll join in with the chorus of people who are vocally praying that he stays up for Buffalo for the duration of the regular season.   I don’t quite understand how the roster works during the playoffs (I think there’s an expanded roster?  Something like that?), and I don’t care.  For the time being, let’s make room for Tyler Ennis.

It’s too bad we didn’t see more of Ennis during the regular season because it’s kind of kooky to suggest he should be on the playoff roster at this stage.  BUT, we’ve got eight games to study him and argue about him.  (Provided at least one of our injured players stays hurt.  I would urge Darcy to personally injure one of them if that’s what it takes to buy the time necessary to figure Ennis out.)  Wouldn’t it be fun if he turned out like Tyler Myers?  A fully functional NHLer, fresh out of the draft-womb, just in time for a playoff run?

3. In addition to being good at hockey, Tyler Ennis already has a KILLER nickname.  “Ennis the Menace” is a GREAT name, especially for a small blond player.   Just think of the fun we can have watching his opponents shaking their fist at him and bellowing “Ennnnissss!”

4. Tyler Ennis, if you need a place to stay while in Buffalo, you can totally stay at my house.  You can have your own room, and I’ll cook you meals, and I’ll mostly stay out of your way except to occasionally veto the skankiest puck bunnies.  The only downside is that you’ll have to park your car on the street, I get to keep control of the television remote, no loud music, and I’m going to need you to do some light handyman work around the house.  (How good are you at roofing?)

5. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth about writing a detailed post about Patrick Lalime Boo-Gate, but I’m going to do the internet a favor and keep my thoughts to myself.  I wish the Sabres had done the same.  Heh.

6.  You know who I love?  Ryan Miller.  Also, Goose.  And Pommerdoodle.

7. Maybe it’s just because I’m a girl, and math is hard, but I find all the “magic number” talk to be HUGELY confusing.  Way back in the day when I was a baseball fan (and a child), I had my arms all the way around the concept.  I understood it fully.  But with hockey, and with hockey’s system of points, it makes absolutely no sense.  I’m just taking the internet’s word that the Sabres have clinched a playoff berth.  Truthfully, I don’t get it at all.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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