Archive for the 'Derek Roy' 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.

NOT COOL, GUYS.

I had the intention of doing a big long post today about Darcy Regier.  I might still write that post, but I’ve been temporarily halted by a completely disturbing discovery.

Here at The Willful Caboose Headquarters, I do the research for my brainier posts in one of two ways.  I either google things in the form of a question, (Example: “Is Darcy Reiger as dumb and/or as smart as he looks?”), and if that doesn’t work, I usually just make shit up.   My post today was going to be super brainy, believe you me.  Like, mega suuuuper brainy.

I had some questions about Darcy’s trade history and what it might tell us about how he’ll proceed on Monday.  So, first I googled, “Everyone is constantly bringing up the fact that Darcy traded for Briere and Drury as evidence of Darcy’s mad trading skillz, but they always gloss over the fact that the Sabres missed the playoffs for the first two years that both of those guys were on the team.  Of course, that doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of those trades, but it DOES raise the question- Is Darcy capable of turning the Sabres around quickly?”

That google search turned up diddly-poo.  At first I thought it might be time to shift into the “just make shit up” portion of my research, but I decided to go the extra mile in an effort to make my suuuper-mega-brainy post extra legit.  I decided to google Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.  Truthfully, I wasn’t totally positive about that whole, “The Sabres missed the playoffs for the first two years that both Drury and Briere were on the team,” claim.  I thought it wouldn’t hurt to double check.

So, first I googled, Daniel Briere.  I learned that he was a deadline acquisition in 2003.  So, that means he WAS on the team when the Sabres missed the playoffs in both 2003, and 2004.  So far the facts were backing up my claim.

Then, I google Chris Drury.  And this is where I made a TOTALLY HORRIFYING DISCOVERY.

Seriously, you guys?  SERIOUSLY?!  WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH US?

Yes, that’s right.  When you google, “Chris Drury,” the drop down menu provides “Chris Drury back to Buffalo,” AS AN AUTO-FILL.   What this means is that so many people have actually googled, “Chris Drury back to Buffalo,” that now Google just FILLS IT IN AS A HELPFUL TIME SAVER.

This discovery has completely derailed my research because now I’m just sitting here on the couch feeling vaguely embarrassed. I don’t want to write about the history of the Sabres anymore today. I don’t even want to think about the history of the Sabres anymore today.

Buffalo, we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  Constantly looking backwards is… I just… I MEAN, COME ON.  This is Chris Drury we’re talking about.

I want to move forward, and I suspect you do too.  So, let’s take baby steps.  We can do it together.  First step: We’re going to stop googling Chris Drury.  All of us.  We can do this, you guys.   Cold turkey.

We’re never ever ever ever ever ever going to google Chris Drury for fun again.  Ever.

If, for some reason I wind up needing to google Chris Drury for a TOTALLY LEGIT bloggy-type reason, I BETTER not find “Chris Drury back to Buffalo,” in the drop down menu again.  DO YOU HEAR ME, BUFFALO?

Here is an example of an acceptable drop down Google menu:

100% awesome, and not at all embarrassing (at least not for us).

Yearbook Photos: A Retrospective

The Journey Begins:

I think we can all agree that there is something terribly wrong with the Sabres.

The problem is, no one is quite sure what is wrong with the Sabres.   Is it the top six?  Is it the defense?  Is it Lindy?  Are they just not that good?  Were they all concussed over the summer in some kind of unreported team bus crash?  Are they coach killing?  Is Tyler Myers high?  Were Toni Lydman and Hank Tallinder the straws that stirred the drink (no way)?  Is Craig Rivet a robot?  Are they afraid of being booed, and THAT’S why they can’t win at home?  Have Thomas Vanek’s low self-esteem issues given him an eating disorder?  Will I ever bother to learn how to spell Neidermayerierniderer or Mmoorriissoonn?

WHY are they so bad?  WHY?

We go around and round.

All I know is I need to step back from this surface-y examination of the first ten games of the new season.  I need to dig in deeper.  I need to look at the history of each member of “the core”.  I need to understand how we got here, so that at the very least, we might have some hope of saving the younger players.  I need to do what I’ve always done when the Sabres are leaving me feeling lost and confused.

I need to look at their roster photos.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I believe strongly that many secrets of a team can be revealed by careful examination of their roster photos.  The situation in Buffalo is complex, and there are no easy answers, so in order to get to the bottom of what ails the Sabres, I believe we have to acknowledge the personal journey of each individual player.

Today is the first post in what will hopefully be a series of posts.  We cannot afford to pretend that there isn’t a problem in “the system”.  Something is going terribly wrong with these players, and it is our obligation to find it, and fix it so that so future Sabres do not have to suffer.  The process is bound to be painful, but it is our duty as Sabres fans to see this through.

Today we investigate Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.

Lets begin.

Derek Roy

2005/06
2006/07
2007/08

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is so much lost innocence and turmoil evident in Roy-Z’s early roster photos.  Heartbreaking.  He was clearly at a crossroads in 2005, and sadly, he took the path which lead to the Roy-Z we know and (kind of) love today.  To my great shock, in 2005 Derek Roy was Montador-esque in appearance.  Plain, nearly disheveled, in 2005 Roy-Z was a young man on his way to the top.  But then, in 2006, came the haircut that would rock the Buffalo hockey world.  Granted, 2006/07 was a good season for the team and for Roy-Z himself, but he was skating on borrowed time.  Let this be a lesson to the young people who read this blog: One ill-advised haircut can ruin your life.  By 2007 Derek Roy’s fate was sealed.  By the fall of ’07, Roy-Z had sunk so low that he clearly believed a carefully constructed fauxhawk could replace the leadership of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.  As we all know now, Roy-Z was wrong about his fauxhawk.  He was so dreadfully wrong.

 

2008/09

2009/10

2010/11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unable to recover from the fauxhawk, the roster photos show that Roy-Z descended deeper and deeper into skeeviness.  While Roy-Z can continue to play hockey at high levels, there is no known cure for his increasingly greasy hair.

Analysis:  Based on Roy-Z’s roster photos, we can deduce that he was not given the guidance he so desperately needed at the start of his young career.  As a result of being overlooked by authority figures, Roy-Z was susceptible to all manner of peer-pressure, the worst of which resulted in a devastating fauxhawk.  To prevent this type of calamity in the future, young Sabres should not be allowed to own or use hair products.  Also, for the good of the innocent rookies, further research must be done to determine if the greasy fauxhawk is contagious.

Drew Stafford

 

2006/07
2007/08
2008/09

 

2009/10
2010/11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It does not take a genius to see what happened to Staffy.  At some point in his childhood, he was bitten by a zombie.  By 2007 his zombie-ism was full blown, and his skin was astonishingly pale.  In 2008 in a sad effort to hide his zombie-ism Staffy attempted to smile in his roster photo, but the results were…disturbing.  By 2009, Staffy’s obvious undeadness could no longer be denied.  Thankfully, in 2010, with the help of zombie experts, Staffy’s condition is being controlled, and there is reason to believe he can one day be a useful member of society the Sabres again. *fingers crossed*

Analysis: In the future, the Sabres should consider asking all potential draftees “Are you a zombie?”  If the answer is “yes,” the Sabres should think long and hard before drafting this player.  On paper, zombies seem like they should be good at hockey, but in reality this is not always the case.

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Stay tuned for future installments of this vitally important study.  We here at the Willful Caboose Research Labs promise that we will not give up until every Sabres is cured, and the team returns to respectability.

That Was Really Awesome

I really wasn’t prepared for how much more awesome the playoffs would feel.  Oh sure, you guys kept telling me, but I guess I had to experience it for myself.   Playoff hockey in person is just astounding.

First of all, the crowd.  Wow.

I’ve bristled a bit all season when I’ve heard people bagging on the HSBC crowd for being too quiet.  As most of you know, this was my first year as a season ticket holder, so even if the crowd was a little subdued compared to previous years, I wanted to love it, and I did.  I loved HSBC Arena and the people I shared the games with this season, passionately and with all my heart.  So, when people kept telling me, “You won’t believe how much wilder the arena can get during the playoffs,” a small part of me was thinking, “Oh please, that’s just the old ‘everything-was-better-a-few-years-ago’ Buffalo thing, talking”  I kind of didn’t believe that the crowd would suddenly change, as if a flip had been switched, just because it was playoff time.

But that’s exactly how it was.  It was as if a switch got flipped.

I think Jessica said it best in the comments a few days ago: “This is the best time of year for fans to lead with their hearts and not their heads.”  That’s exactly how if felt last night.  All of a sudden, everyone was on the same page, cheering for the Sabres.  Everyone was cheering with their hearts instead of their heads.  It was loud and raucous and wonderful.  The atmosphere was incredibly special to me, and even though I’ve been to nearly 50 games over the last three seasons , I think last night was the game I became a real citizen of HSBC Arena.

Second of all, the game. In the immortal words of Rick Jeanneret, “WOW.  DOUBLE WOW.”

There were times last night when I was thinking, “WHO IS THIS TEAM?!  Who are they…and can I marry them ALL?”  A flip was switched with the Sabres, as well as in the crowd.  Playoff hockey really is a different game.  It’s wilder, and harder, and all around MORE AWESOME, which seems weird to say, because frankly, I think regular season hockey is pretty damn awesome already.

Of course I’ve watched the playoffs before, so I know what playoff hockey looks like, but to suddenly see the Sabres, my Sabres, playing real playoff hockey like they meant it, well, it was super cool.  My doubts about how the Sabres would perform in the playoffs were always there just because I couldn’t imagine them playing as hard as, say, the Pens and the Caps played last postseason.  But now, after seeing Jason Pominville (!) lay a hit on Chara with my own two eyes, I’m a believer.  I was really impressed.

The Sabres have looked like a playoff team all season, but last night they looked like a team in the playoffs, and it made me incredibly happy.

I can’t believe I get to go back tomorrow.

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A few thoughts about the game and last night in general:

- I’ve always booed Chara, mostly because it cracked me up.  Truthfully, I’ve actually always liked him, and I really only booed him because it cracked me up.  (Robin and I referred to him for years as “The Guy We Boo For No Apparent Reason.”)  But things are different now.  What a douche.  Last night I booed that guy with genuine malice in my heart.  I will do so again tomorrow.

- A lot of forwards had impressive games, but the one who really amazed me was Thomas Vanek.  He had a few shifts last night that reminded me of last year, when some nights he was the only guy I could see on the ice.  I LOVE it when Vanek is the only player I can see on the ice.  I love it so so so much.  If Atlas is back…..*stops to ponder what it might mean for this postseason if Atlas really is back*……man oh man.

- Last night during the first period for awhile I was thinking, “Gee, the Bruins are hitting REALLY hard, I don’t know if the Sabres can deal.”  And then, a few minutes later I realized that the Sabres were dealing.  Quite capably, in fact.  I was actually impressed with the Bruins last night (rightly or wrongly, I think of them as a passionless team), but I was MORE impressed with the Sabres willingness and ability to push back.  Screw you, Bruins!

- Derek Roy played a terrific game.

- Toni Lydman is the best.

- I heard Julien’s postgame comments in the car on the way home, and I was very unimpressed.  Basically all he said was, “Well, I thought we played well enough to win.  Hopefully we’ll win on Saturday.”  Thems fightin’ words!

- I also heard Ryan Miller’s postgame comments on the car on the way home, and I was, as usual, very impressed.  The thing that he said that I loved the most was about the second period (which was fairly puke-tastic).  He said something like (I’m paraphrasing), “If we do this right, we’ve got two more months of hockey.  Not every period is going to go our way.  The important thing is that we were way better in the third.”  That’s pretty much how I felt about the second period too.  Yeah, the second period was WAY lame (that’s where having Crunchy comes in SUPER handy), but they pulled themselves back together, and they WON THAT SHIT.  The Sabres are now 31-0 when entering the 3rd period with a lead this season.  31-0. That’s THIRTY ONE WINS, and ZERO losses.  This team knows how to lock it down.

- Sabretooth rappelled from the rafters, you guys!  I’ve always assumed that maybe it was actually Daniel Briere in the Sabretooth suit back when he regularly rappelled, because that tradition seemed to disappear after the Briere-era.  It’s something I’ve always been sad I missed.  Was it always just a playoff thing?  At any rate, I might have squealed out loud when I saw the spotlight on Sabretooth way up there.

- Raffi Torres!  All of a sudden!  Raffi Torres!

- I have two minor quibbles about the crowd last night: 1. I DISAPPROVE of goalie taunting until the goalie has DONE SOMETHING DUMB.  For goodness sakes, people were busting out the “Tuuuuka, Tuuuuka,” when the game was still scoreless. I didn’t think Rask did anything that warranted a goalie taunt last night, but I will admit that in the third period when the score was locked at 2-1, I did feel a strong urge to join in.  “Tuuuuuka, Tuuuuuuka,” seems like a VERY satisfying thing to chant.  Hopefully he’ll have a bad game tomorrow and I’ll be able to taunt him with a clear conscience. 2.  I realize that chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A is really just our way of chanting “We love you Crunchy!” but the Olympics are over, AND BOSTON IS IN THE UNITED STATES.  We need a better, “Yay for Crunchy” cheer.  (May I suggest, “Yay for Crunchy!”)

- Tyler Ennis really is good.  He came close to two highlight reel goals last night.  One of these nights he’s going to score a beauty.

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.

Let’s Blow This Baby Up

I’m kind of a drama queen when it comes to the Sabres (although oddly, I’m not a drama queen in any other area of my life), so I felt a little bit of vindication when I made my morning blog rounds today.  It seems I’m not the only person who thought that that was THE WORST HOCKEY GAME IN THE HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE.  I mean, I’ve seen the Sabres suck plenty of times before, but that game last night was an abomination.  I’m not sure that either team successfully completed a pass all night.  I will forever remember that game as ten guys standing in the middle of the rink kicking the puck around randomly with their skates.  For all I know, they didn’t even USE hockey sticks last night.

But the details about last night are neither here nor there.  The main point is that the Sabres are not a good hockey team.  I’ll admit, I’ve lost ALL patience for waiting around for this particular group of guys to pull it together.  It’s not going to happen.  Drastic steps must be taken.

I’m not ordinarily the type of blogger to play the role of GM.  I don’t feel very confident with my hockey analysis, but this situation has inspired me to go out on a limb and write a serious post about what I would do if I were the GM of the Sabres.  In my opinion, this team needs a major shake-up.

Here are the moves I would make:

Tim Connolly should be retired and sent to a farm to live out his remaining years grazing peacefully.  It’s the most humane solution at this point.

Drew Stafford should be traded for Evgeni Malkin.

Derek Roy‘s talent should be surgically extracted and implanted into Paul Gaustad.  This is a dangerous scheme because there’s a risk that Goose could be infected with some of Roy-Z’s personality as well as his talent (that, of course, would be disastrous/tragic), but I’m sure we can all agree that a Goose/Roy-Z hybrid would be a useful player to have around.  I think it’s worth the risk.  After the talent transferring procedure, the now talentless Derek Roy can become Goose’s personal assistant.  Everyone wins….except Goose, who now has a talentless Derek Roy following him around all the time.

Ryan Miller needs his glass eye removed and replaced with a real eye.  He’s done pretty well with one glass eye, considering, but it’s clear that he needs two good eyes to compete in the NHL.  He might as well get his wonky eyebrow re-cocked while he’s at it.

Jason Pominville needs to be taken off the point on the power play.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman need to be sent out into the deep forest and each be given a match, a single bottle of water, and a penknife.  They have 48 hours to hunt and kill the other.  Whoever comes out alive gets to keep his job.

Thomas Vanek should be paid $7.1 million dollars per year for the next six years.

Clarke MacArthur should be traded to the Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

Max Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik should be melted down and then recast as Christmas tree ornaments which the Sabres wives and girlfriends can then sell in the concourse to benefit charity.

Andrew Peters should be waived and Adam Mair should start actively practicing punching people and being punched in return.

Patrick Kaleta should be sent to Portland, and Danny Paille should start actively practicing being really, really annoying.

Nathan Paetsch should be traded for Nicklas Lidstrom.

Craig Rivet should be returned to the San Jose Sharks.  This is a mercy trade made of behalf of Rivet who is probably looking at his old team with extreme longing right about now.  This poor dude was living a perfectly happy life in California a few months ago, and now, through no fault of his own, he’s the CAPTAIN of this train wreck.  Poor dude.  I want to set him free.

Mark Mancari, Nathan Gerbe, and Tim Kennedy should all be given trial jobs with the Sabres, but they should be FORBIDDEN from socializing with any of their elder teammates.  Everyday after practice they should be chauffeured to their grim apartments at the Extended Stay America off the 290, and supervised for the remainer of the day.  If any of them even glances wistfully at Chippewa St, they should be automatically fired/executed.

Teppo Numminen should be compelled to retire so that he may begin some sort of job which involves him standing behind the bench with James Patrick looking foxy in a well tailored suit.

Jaroslav Spacek should call a press conference and then bite the head off the pigeon so that we never have to hear about that dumb thing again.  (This isn’t so much of a personnel move as it is a personal request from me to Jaro.)

——-

So that’s what I would do if I were GM.

Awkward

Katebits: Hey Thomas.

Vanek: (with a nod) Katebits.

Katebits: You’re the first star of the week!  For the entire NHL! Congratulations!

Vanek: (coolly) Thanks

Katebits: ….um, your playing has really been….

Vanek: ….awesome?

Katebits: Well, yes.  Um, listen Thomas.  I feel like I owe you an…I just….um…..about all that “slag-faced whore” stuff last year…..I mean….you know that was all in fun, right?  You’re a Sabre, so….you know….I’m on your side.  Always.

Vanek: (with air of indifference) Yeah….I guess.

Roy-Z: Don’t listen to her!  She’s mean!

Katebits: (glares at Roy-Z) Listen….all that mean stuff I said last season.  It was for your own good.

Vanek: (eyebrows raised) Oh really?  How so?

Katebits: Um…..

(uncomfortable silence)

Katebits: My point is that it’s been a pleasure watching you play hockey these last five games.  As you know, I’m a fairly new hockey fan.  I’ve never really seen a player be so dominant.  It’s amazing.

Vanek: Thanks Katebits.  I appreciate it.

Katebits: So…..are we cool?

Vanek shrugs, winks, and saunters away.

Roy-Z: (giggling and pointing at Katebits) Oooooh.  Burn.

Katebits: Shut up, Roy-Z.

Tough Love Works!

Dear Sabres,

I’m pretty sure my firm guidance is what set you on course for your amazing night, and with respect to that, I’m going to offer the you a sober “congratulations” (translation: OMG!OMG!EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!). Now, you know as well as I, that this team has had several “turning points” only to be plunged back into mediocrity the next game. (translation: THIS TIME IT’S FOR REAL! WE’RE NEVER GOING TO LOSE AGAIN!) You mustn’t allow yourselves to focus for too long on this particular win. (Translation: HIGH FIVE, STAFFY! HIGH FIVE, ROY-Z! Ah hell, HIGH FIVE, VANEK! WOOO-OOOT! WOOT! WOOOOOT!) While tonight was a positive step forward, you still have a long way to go. (Translation: WE’RE ON OUR WAY, BABY!) I must insist that you don’t allow this game to go to your heads. (Translation: Seriously though. Don’t get cocky.)

With (tough) love,

Katebits

PS: Private to Derek Roy: I forgot to take you off the bench on my fantasy team tonight. Your 4 point night was awesome for me, the Sabres fan, and bittersweet for me, the manager of the Fancy Bits. I am a fairly superstitious manager and fan, so I assure you, your fine play while sitting on the F-Bit bench did not go unnoticed. If allowing my fantasy team to tank is what it takes to motivate you to play hard, fine. Until further notice, you’re benched. But don’t get lazy Mister, because the minute you start sucking, the Fancy Bits are going to play you all the time.

PPS: Private to Drew Stafford: Against all reason and statistical analysis, I have kept you on my fantasy team. Tonight you made the F-Bits proud. I’m pleased to announce that you are the Fancy Bit of the Week. Congratulations!

Googled

Like all self-obsessed bloggers, I keep a fairly careful eye on my blog stats. The most fun of the all blog stats, is of course, the list of search terms that bring people to my site. In the daily sea of “Ryan Miller girlfriend”s and “belichick hoodie”s is a delightful list of random, and not-so-random search terms.

Every once in awhile, I like to amuse Schnookie and Pookie by typing a funny search term into google, and clicking on the link that leads back to IPB. Then, the next day, I’ll get an email from one of them that is like, “Um, are you the one who found IPB by searching for Boxworthy is seriously peeved?”, at which point I deny any involvement in such a ridiculous matter, and everyone has a laugh.

It has recently occurred to me that the Sabres are most likely playing the same game with me. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the Sabres love nothing more than to send me cryptic messages via google search terms. (Hockey players are known to be subtle, computer-saavy communicators.)

This is a screen shot of a list of search terms people used to find The Willful Caboose:

I will now, one by one, address each of these messages sent to me by various Sabres.

A. Hank, if you want to send Heather a message, I suggest you click the link that leads back to her blog, not mine.

B. Derek, you’re being really insecure. You’re a great guy, but I think you’d be a lot happier if you stopped constantly comparing yourself to your teammates. Just relax! (But the answer is Tim Connolly.)

C. Me too, Pommerdoodle. Me too.

And here is my favorite search term put into Google by a Sabre:

I figured as much, Goose, but it’s still nice to hear.

The Girlfriends

Nearly everyday I get hits from people searching for things like, “Jason Pominville girlfriend,” and “Derek Roy girlfriend”. I feel badly that my website is such a poor source of information for these internet sleuths. Clearly, there is a need for information about the wives and girlfriends of hockey players, and clearly my site is not providing my readership with the information they so desperately seek. In an effort to keep my readers informed, the TWC interns have been furiously researching this exciting topic.

If you have ever wondered, “Just who are the Sabres dating?”, your wait is over. TWC has the answers.

Of all of the girlfriends, Derek Roy’s was the easiest to track down. We caught up with her in the classroom in Williamsville where she teaches scrapbooking. Her name is Barbie, and she and Derek have been together for two years. They met at Soho on a magical night in 2005. “I’d had a few drinks!” admits Barbie, “But we didn’t hook up that night, I swear! ” Barbie says that she and Derek have plans to be married in the Spring of 2011, just as soon as Derek picks out the engagement ring. When asked to comment, Derek said, “Barbie? Yeah, she’s fun.”

Math is HARD!

Ales Kotalik has been dating Princess Beatrice of Brattenburg since 1824. Their courtship has been interrupted several times by persistent rumors that the two families are plagued by hemophilia and that a match between them would lead to certain sickliness in the royal line. “We feel that any damage done to royal European lineage would certainly be offset by the degree to which our union would further the cause of world peace,” Princess Beatrice told TWC through a spokesman.

Ales and Beatrice just want to be together.

Jason Pominville’s live-in girlfriend is the three-year-old (that’s twenty-one in dog years) chew toy, Squeakers. Squeakers was a gift from teammate Ryan Miller after Jason’s 2006 shorthanded playoff goal ended the series against Ottawa. Squeakers and Pommerdoodle enjoy hide-and-seek, rough housing, and napping in the sun.

Hands off, guys! She only squeaks for Pommers!

Ryan Miller has been dating a cactus named Josie since late April. “After the playoffs were over I realized that life can’t be all about hockey, you also have to make friends and influence people, so I started dating Josie. Josie is great. When I first met her she was a little distant and off-putting, but since then she has really blossomed. Jo really digs my photography and we just have a lot of fun together. I think it’s important that everyone has someone special with whom to share the meaningful moments in life. Josie is very grounded and undemanding, but at the same time she is very supportive. I’m a fortunate guy.”

Josie only needs to be watered twice a month.

Paul Gaustad has been with the same girl, since he was seventeen-years-old. When asked about the pressures of maintaining a steady relationship while living the glamorous life of a professional athlete, Goose replied, “Love is the foundation of a relationship, standing in front of the net is the foundation of my career, and balance is the foundation of my life. Sure, it’s a lot of hard work, but being in a good relationship is worth the effort. Sometimes, because of the lifestyle, feathers get ruffled, but I am very loyal to my wonderful girlfriend, Miss Foxy Gander.”

Goose likes fat chicks.

***************

So there you have it, ladies! All the news that’s fit to print about your favorite player’s favorite girl!


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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