Archive for the 'Paul Gaustad' Category

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!

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.

Meet Matt Phillips, Super Violist.

I’ve known Matt Phillips, a violist in the Buffalo Philharmonic, for about ten years now. For the first five years I knew him, he was basically just an ordinary violist like the rest of us. Matt was certainly never visibly out of shape, it’s just that he was no more or less athletic than your average classical musician.

At some point along the way, things changed. At some point, Matt started jogging. I say “at some point” because from my perspective, one day Matt was just a regular, non-runner like most people, and the next day he was… running marathons. It seriously seemed like it happened overnight. Even now, if you ask Matt, “So, let me get this straight. One day, out of the blue, you just started running extremely long distances?” he’s just like, “Yeah, pretty much.”

Matt is obviously really good at running. He’s also really good at the viola. He seems to be some new breed. A “Super Violist”, if you will.

First he will try to defeat you by playing the viola, and if somehow that doesn't work, he will beat you in a foot race. Enemies, beware.

Now whenever Matt takes a day off from work we all assume that he’s running a race somewhere. When he returns to work he’s always extremely nonchalant about whatever ridiculous feat of strength he’s accomplished.  I don’t know much about racing, but Matt always seems to place very high, and sometimes he even wins the race. (My favorite story of Matt winning a race is when he won the Erie Philharmonic’s 5k. Orchestras are very supportive of one another, because as an industry there is absolutely no benefit to being competitive. That said, it’s still amusing when someone in one orchestra wins the 5K of another orchestra.)

Why am I writing about this on my hockey blog? I’m glad you asked!

Yesterday, Matt ran in the “Hamburg Character Chase”. If I’m reading the race results correctly, he placed 5th overall, and 1st in his age group. That’s some pretty good running, Matt!

Here are the results. I’ve blocked out most of the other names because I don’t know if it’s kosher to re-post race results, but please scroll down for an amusing surprise.

It’s official. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has defeated the Buffalo Sabres on the field of athletics. When the Sabres feel they are ready to challenge us to a Battle of the Orchestras, we will be ready to defend our turf.  For now… advantage, BPO.

Your move, Sabres.

 

 

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.

A Groggy Thought

If Goose makes it onto the Olympic team, I say we officially change the “U-S-A!” chant to, “U-S-HONK!  U-S-HONK!  U-S-HONK!”

Wouldn’t that be cute?  I hope he makes it.

9 Things

1. What is wrong with the Hurricanes?  I mean, HONESTLY.  If the Sabres had played Lalime instead of Crunchy the score could have been 4-0 going into the third period, but even THAT wouldn’t have been enough for Carolina to overcome their complete and utter third period suckitude.  The third period was breathtaking, especially when you consider the Hurricanes did that last night too.

2. Rick might be right.  We’re not worthy (of Crunchy).

3. Except for Ryan Miller, for the first two periods the Sabres looked T to the E to the R to the R to the I to the B to the L to the E.  That was pukeriffic.

4. I miss Goose already.  *mournful honk*  (Side note: The other day I was hanging out with a percussionist friend and he pulled out his collection of bird calls.  Every once in a while a piece of music requires a bird call of some sort, and as a result all percussionists have a box of odd whistles and honks at the ready.  When my friend pulled out the goose call, I got all wistful imagining a whole arena of people honking away in tribute to Goose.  Now ordinarily I am VERY opposed to noisemakers in the stands, but just once it would be fun.  Especially if we could somehow surprise Goose with a chorus of genuine honks after his next goal.)

5. How drunk was Robi during the postgame report tonight?  Loved it.

6. When you play The Nutcracker you often feel like an animal in a zoo because a lot of parents bring their kids to the edge of the pit to look down at the orchestra. I’m never sure if I should wave at these children, or if I should just ignore them.  Wouldn’t it freak you out if an animal in a zoo made eye contact and then waved?  I don’t want to scare the children.

7. Every time they showed Crunchy during a stoppage of play, he was rooting around in his jersey.  Something about his pads must have been on his nervies tonight.  Did someone forget to add the fabric softener?   You can’t do that to him.  He has sensitive skin.

8. I know that by the time he scored it Vanek’s goal was pretty meaningless, but it was still nice to see.  I miss good Vanek.  I hope he comes back someday.

9. Now look, I loooove NYC, but I am SO INCREDIBLY SICK of the “rah rah New York City” commercials that we have to watch on MSG.  We live in BUFFALO, MSG.  Buff. a. lo.  It’s DIFFERENT than NYC.  Quite.  Stop showing us commercials with a bunch of people beating their chests about The City.  We. Don’t. Care.  If a commercial doesn’t contain Cellino, Barnes, Yancy’s Fancy, Hurt in a Car?, or knotted ropes representing veins IT’S NOT FOR US.

5 Surprises of the New Season

1. The Sabres are good at hockey! Whaaaa?  Up is down, and black is white.

I’ve read and heard a LOT of discussion about whether fans are “buying in” to the new Sabres.  Everyone is asking themselves the hard questions.  Do I believe these guys are for real?  Or, having been burned (hard) in the past, am I skeptical?  Do I believe?

My answers: Yes, yes, who cares.

The Sabres have been weirdly good at hockey so far.  I use the word weird because…..dude, I did NOT see this coming, and at the same time I’m not even slightly surprised.   The changes that Darcy made this summer seemed so inconsequential in the face of what appeared to be major problems, but somehow everything feels different.  They’re playing hard, they seem defensively responsible, and the scoring is balanced.  (The one major difference between this year’s fast start and last year’s fast start is that last year Thomas Vanek basically singlehandedly scored all the goals in the month of October.  This year, everyone is chipping in. [Seriously, TV had TEN goals in October last year. Wowza.)

I’m in no rush to declare that I believe this team is “the real deal,” but I’m oddly proud of them. (Surely my fandom is playing some role in this hot start, right?  The Sabres have been reading this blog for years, and that’s why they’re suddenly good.  They’re taking my advice!  My advice has consistently been “stop sucking,” and they’re FINALLY taking it.)  All I know for sure is that I’m really enjoying watching the Sabres play hockey.  Hockey is awesome.  Good hockey is, like, megaSUPERawesome.

2. Goose is a FACEOFF WIZARD!

My Goose Appreciation sometimes clouds my judgment.  I actually think I’m a little harder on Paul Gaustad because of my affection for him.  I’m overcompensating.  Truthfully, I’m always a little surprised when he turns out to be good at hockey.  I’m like, “Goose’s job is to be all handsome and blinky and to occasionally attack various Devils….YOU MEAN HE’S NUMBER ONE IN FACEOFF PERCENTAGE TOO?!”  Be still my heart.  (About the “blinky” thing:  Something about the way Goose blinks amuses me.  Whenever I watch a Paul Gaustad interview I wish someone would edit in a sound effect every time he blinks.  Goose’s blinks should sound something like this.)

3. The Hurricanes totally suck!

I was looking at the standings this morning (What?- looking at the standings is fun when the Sabres are 8-1-1!) and I was shocked to see that the Hurricanes are the suckiest sucks in all of Suckville for some reason.  I doubt it will last, but it’s still funny.

4. Mike Grier seems nice.

I wasn’t a fan yet during Mike Grier’s first tour of duty as a Sabre.  All I really knew of him was the way he left the team, which in the retelling sounds kind of diva-ish.  I always imagined Mike Grier tossing his hair on the way out of town, as if to say, “Not only do I not love you anymore, I never loved you in the first place.  Buffalo.”  I know, I know.   His reputation is one of a hard working, grinder, leader-y type, but I think I half expected him to pout his way through the season.  He’s been such a pleasant surprise.  One of the funnest things so far this season has been watching his very charming and smiley goal celebrations with Tim Kennedy.  Mike Grier is exactly who this team needed.

5. Tim Kennedy is badass, but not in the way I expected him to be badass.

I thought Kennedy was going to be a slick, speedy, pint-sized goal scorer, a la Danny Briere, but instead he’s a feisty, sometimes punchy, seems-right-at-home-on-the-third-line, defensive minded, pint-sized grinder.  I will give Lindy Ruff full credit for this one.  Putting Kennedy on a line with Grier and Hecht was a very clever move.

TWC Top-to-Bottom Review: Paul Gaustad

(This is the fifth post in a series which will evaluate the Sabres organization, one man at a time.  Larry’s Quinn’s internal review is the Official Worst Top-To-Bottom Review EVER.  I’m conducting my own review, to show Larry how it’s done.)

Name: Paul Gaustad, aka Goose

Position: Forward

Number of years remaining on contract: Three more years!  Three more years!  Three more years!

Cap hit: Who cares.

Career high point: Standing next to Katebits in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Career low point: Seeing Katebits buy frozen macaroni and cheese.  Oh wait, no…that’s my low point.

2008/09 Grade: A+  (What can I say? The Sabres were graded on a curve.)

Areas of strength: HONKing, faceoffs, tall handsomeness, working hard, scoring breakaway shorthanded goals against Carey Price while Katebits is in attendance at the game,  do-goodiness, HONKing, cleaning the junk out of the trunk of his Stratus to increase his gas milage, looking like a baby giraffe on ice skates, scrabble,  standing in front of the net, leadership, HONKing, stick-to-it-ness, punching jerks in the face, goofy goal celebrations, all-around-lunch-pail-ery.

Areas of weakness: a bit on the physically fragile side, not super point get-y, refuses to wear a visor, …too handsome?

General Comments: Just when you think you can’t stand ONE MORE MINUTE of ONE MORE GAME played by this GOD AWFUL collection of GUTLESS PUKES….there’s Goose, carefully rearranging his teammates before the puck drops, and you remember- oh yeah!  I DO like the Sabres.

Just when it seems that there is NO HOPE for these guys, Goose gives an interview absolutely vibrating with rage- and you think, oh thank goodness, at least ONE GUY in that locker room cares as much as the fans care.

Just when you think you might not feel like recycling a tin can, there’s Goose, reminding you that a tin can can power a television for one hour.  It makes no sense whatsoever, but because Goose said it, you know it must be true.

Just when you think that blue and gold make PURPLE, Goose is there to remind you that blue and gold make green.

Just when you think you’ll throw up if you see one more picture online of Derek Roy drunk and rolling around on a public sidewalk, you see a picture of Goose, planting a tree, or talking to a classroom full of kids, or attending an event designed to promote high self esteem in young girls, or helping a little old lady across the street, or getting a cat out of a tree, or teaching a leper to read.

I’ve always been a big Paul Gaustad fan, but at times this season, he served as the lone bright spot- a flickering reminder of the way things must be if the Sabres ever want to be good again.  Be more like Goose, you jackasses.

REQUIRED SUMMER HOMEWORK:

1. Keep your beak clean, Goose.  HONK!

Good Seats

Last night Heather and I took in a game from the 6th row, sitting directly to the left of the tunnel to the visitors dressing room.  This was quite a different perspective for me, because I usually sit up in the balcony with the riff-raff.

Things you notice when sitting in the 6th row that you don’t notice in the balcony

- The rink looks TINY and the players look MASSIVELY LARGE.

- Right above the tunnels to the dressing room behind the benches, there is a pane missing from the glass.  I’ve never noticed that before on television, but let me tell you, when you are sitting directly behind the missing pane of glass you’re suddenly hyper aware of the fact that it’s not there. Heather and I totally could have died at that game.  We’re lucky to be alive, frankly.

- The hockey players are really, really, really good at ice skating.  I found myself hugely distracted by their fancy footwork.  When you’re sitting that close the speed seems incredible.  The fact that they are leaping around doing goofy little pirouettes while pushing a little black disc around with a stick just seems insane.

- We got a lot of time to check out the Ducks while they were standing around near their bench, so, here is my highly professional report on them:  I don’t care how much you scoff at his 70′s porn star mustache, George Parros is hot.  I’m worried that maybe I think he’s hot because of the mustache rather than in spite of it.  Which, when you think about it, brings up a whole cornucopia of other disturbing issues, not the least of which is that I caught myself wondering if Netflix carries any 70′s porn in its inventory.  I dunno.  The Parros thing was kind of confusing.  Ryan Getzlaf is reeeeally ugly (even before Goose demolished his face).  Rob is better looking than Scott.  Chris Pronger reminds me of blond guy who played the villain in all the 80′s high school dramas- the guy who got knocked out by the Karate Kid.  That guy. (I’m actually not sure if this idea was planted in me by another hockey blogger, or if I came up with that likeness myself.  Either way, it’s totally true.)

- Derek Roy really is just a wee little fella.

- I was paying close attention to Goose’s faceoffs.  I’ve noticed him doing it on television, but sitting so close it’s very noticable how he’s constantly pointing at his teammates and telling them where to stand.  The rest of the Sabres just dutifully shuffled around until they were arranged to his liking.  At one point he was rearranging them over and over.  He’d be like, “Pommerdoodle, you stand there.  No wait.  Timmy you stand there. Okay, now Jaro and Pommerdoodle switch places.  No, no, go back.  No.  Not like that.  Staffy!  Why are you way over there?  Come closer.  NO!  TOO CLOSE!  Yeah.  There.  You stay there, Timmy.  Good.”  It was totally odd, but really fun to watch.  It’s possible he was just switching them around as the Ducks scooted around, but I couldn’t figure out the pattern at all.  To my untrained eye it just looked like Goose was having an OCD moment, and I half expected one of the other Sabres to suddenly be all, “GOOSE!  Snap out of it!  We’re FINE where we are!” but they never did.  They just went where he told them to go without any lip.

- When you’re sitting super close, you occasionally feel like you are looking at animals in a zoo, until all of a sudden one of those animals makes direct eye contact and you get all weirded out.

Things you DON’T notice in the sixth row:

- For the most part, I had no idea what the hell was going on with the game.  I could see most of the surface of the rink, but the net on the far side of the ice was at an incredibly odd angle.  I tried to look at the jumbotron when the play was down there, but the camera was on the other side, so the action on the screen was opposite from what I was looking at.  The end result was that I had a surprisingly difficult time keeping track of the game.  I’m not sure how many games I would have to see from that vantage point before I got used to it, but I suspect it would be a lot.

- I cannot accurately judge how well the Sabres played.  The energy just DRAINED out of the arena once the Ducks scored their shortie, but overall the Sabres didn’t look that bad to me.  They certainly didn’t look great, Lalime obviously could have been better, but other than that….I don’t know.  *shrug*  I was too busy looking at the clear tape they use to keep their socks up to also keep track of their playing.  The Sabres need Miller and Vanek back, ASAP if they want to make the playoffs.  Duh.

- I have no idea what happened with Goose and Getzlaf at the end there.  It happened on the far side of the rink, and I never saw the replay because I was too busy staring in horror at Goose laying facedown and motionless on the ice.  Then, Getzlaf walked right by us with blood and guts everywhere.  It was gee-ross.  I’ve heard some squawking that Goose’s hit was dirty, and if that’s true I will be so sad, and I will always blame Jerry Sullivan for ruining everything.

5 Things

1. You guys need to brace yourselves, because TWC will be doing a little fund raising in the next week or so.  It’s for a very worthy cause, but I still feel a little shy about asking you guys to fork over your hard earned cash.  This post is a little “head’s up” warning: I will begin begging you for money in the next few days and I will not relent until you comply.  There will be a few prizes (hookers, blow, handguns, a couple autographed Sabres pictures, and my undying gratitude), but mostly your motivation will be a combination of “doing something good for children” and “please shut the HELL UP, Katebits”.  Heh.

2.  I am not the type of person to toss the word “miracle” around a lot, but this story about the plane that landed in the Hudson river has really gotten to me.  The pilot is a hero, and the fact that every single passenger survived is, well, nothing short of miraculous.  There have been many amazing images of the rescue, but I’ve been staring at this one all day:

wow

At the risk of sounding very, very cheesy- The way the passengers are standing on the wings makes the plane look like a giant bird cradling the people until they can be rescued.   It’s beautiful, and I’m so happy all those people survived.  Sometimes amazing things happen, you know?

I think this is a breathtaking picture of a truly remarkable event.

3. I was going to do a post about Goose and how much he rocks, but then I saw that Ryan had already said exactly what I’ve been thinking, which is basically, “Goose is pretty kick ass…right?”.  So, I left a long comment about my Goose appreciation on The Goose’s Roost.  If you want to read it, head on over.  I hesitate to heap a lot of praise on Goose because he’s so tall and foxy that sometimes I get confused about why I like him so much, but more and more he seems to be emerging as a real on-ice leader.  Just because he’s tall and foxy, that doesn’t mean he’s not also a genuinely great player to have around.

4. I’m going to the Bandits game tonight.  Hooray!

5. Thanks to a Twitter tip from the fabulous Jennifer, I bought an ABSURD amount of discounted meats and cheeses from Hickory Farms today.  I happen to love salami, but normally I wouldn’t spend my money on this type of thing.  I’m hear to tell you that there is a sheer, absurd GLEE in buying something called the “All Day Celebration Gift Box.”.  Even if I hate every single item in that gift basket, the giggling I’ve already enjoyed over my “discounted meat haul,” is TOTALLY worth the money.   I’m going to be a good guest at the Super Bowl party this year.  :D


…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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