Archive for the 'Tim Connolly' Category

You Say Goodbye, And I Say Hello.

Okay, the initial burst of free agency is over, and while we’re all still holding our breaths for the magical all-our-bad-players-in-exchange-for-Malkin trade of our dreams, it’s time to take stock of the current situation. Who’s in and who’s out?

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OUT: Mark Mancari

Mark Mancari, I absolutely refused to give up on you, and I’m sad you’ve moved on.  I’ll miss you… not so much your playing (which always seemed super fabulous to me, actually), but definitely your tall swarthiness.  Good luck in Vancouver, and don’t party too hard at the Roxy.

Mark Mancari

Now the Sabres don't have a player who looks like he might moonlight as a pirate. :(

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IN: Robyn Regehr

I’m totally, totally psyched that we’re going to have a stay-at-home, punchy defenseman named “Robyn” on the Sabres.  Thanks for waiving your no trade clause, Robyn. Please let me apologize in advance for your new nickname, which is “Sloth”. Yes, you do remind me a teensy-tiny bit of that guy from the Goonies, but I assure you, “Sloth” is a term of affection at my house.  There is no one I’d rather have on my side in case of a Mama Fratelli-related emergency than you, Robyn. Welcome to the team!

"Baby Ruuu-th?"

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OUT: Rob Niedermayer

Dude Nieds, I finally learned how to spell your name, and then you had to go and move to Switzerland.

Well, thanks for that one goal you scored that one time! (No, but seriously, thanks for getting waaaay better in the playoffs. That was awesome. Hopefully some of these scrubs learned a thing or two from you.)

He's the best looking of all the Niedermayers!

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IN: Ales Kotalik

Wait….what?

Um...okaaaay.

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OUT: Steve Montador

This one stings a bit. There are just some guys you like, and Steve Montador is one of those guys. I wanted him to stay, and I feel a little bit like Monty got the shaft. I mean, he was totally a part of the Sabres bridge from suckiness to not-so-suckiness, and it doesn’t feel fair that he got the heave-ho. On the other hand he signed a FAT contract in Chicago, so I think he’ll survive without us just fine. (I fully expect for Monty to start showing up in the background of all the, “Patrick Kane Is On Another Bender” articles on Deadspin. As the designated driver, or course.) Good luck, Monty. Thanks for being all-around awesome, and also for wearing that CHIPS outfit at the Catwalk for Charity.

Shaone Morrisonn and Steve Montador

Nice

IN: Ville Leino

Ville Leino, I have a good feeling about this signing, but man, Darcy took a big chance on you. I know that when Darcy said, “I’d like to offer you $27 million dollars, but only if you like playing center,” the only sane response was, “I don’t like playing center, I LOVE playing center,” but, you better be good at playing center. Seriously.

I don’t really know how to tell you this, but you’re sort of the new Vanek in that we-can’t-afford-anyone-else-because-we-gave-all-our-money-to-you sort of way.

Uh, no pressure or anything though.

This expression bodes well.

OUT: Tim Connolly

Bye, Timmeh. Thanks for… everything. I wish things had ended differently, I really do. Mostly I wish you’d gone to, like, the Panthers or some team like that, so I could safely say “good luck,” but now you’re a disgusting Leaf, so you’ve left me no choice but to say, “I hope you never win again.”

Timmm-mehhh

IN: Christian Ehrhoff

This is the contract that really signaled that this is a new era of Sabres hockey. This contract completely blew my mind. Ehrhoff’s contract is mega-cap-circumvent-y and it (theoretically) extends until the end of time.The assumption is that eventually they’ll just buy him out, but still. It completely rocks my world-view that of all the current Sabres, Ehrhoff is the one slated to be around for the longest. In ten years I’ll be forty-five years old which is impossibly old. Surely I’ll be dead by then, right?

Get used to this face, because we’re going to have hoverboards before his contract is up again.

OUT: Chris Butler

There is NOTHING not to love about Chris Butler. I’ll miss you, Butts. Have fun in Calgary, and thanks for being such a good Sabre. I’m sorry I don’t have much to say about you, but this post is going on forever, and I’m really getting tired of writing it. The good thing about you is that I doubt you’ll mind. You seem like such a good sport about this sort of thing.


Good old Butts.

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So, that’s where we stand. We’ve said our goodbyes, and we’ve welcomed the newcomers. I, for one, am ready for the new season to begin!

Before the Penguins Game

Because of my Twitter sabbatical (only three days to go!), I feel pretty removed from the Sabres chatter around the interwebs.  I’m going to go ahead and assume that even in the sometimes-too-cranky Twitter environment, most people are quite chipper about the Sabres.  You’d have to be a very devoted crankypants to avoid a Sabres-related spring in your step these days.

(Also, it’s extremely beautiful outside today.  Spring is coming, you guys.  For real.)

Considering my incredibly good Sabres-mood, I found myself doing a rather odd thing this morning.  I found myself looking at the upcoming schedule, and wondering when would be a good time for a loss.  “Good” is a weird term when it comes to losses during a playoff push, but let’s face it, the Sabres are not going to win out, so there will be a loss or two in our future.  Maybe it will come tonight.  I hope not.

But, let’s make a promise to one another right now, Dear Reader. Let’s keep this Sabres-related spring in our step, either way.

I’ve never been a big fan of the “Don’t get to high, and don’t get too low,” philosophy.  That philosophy makes a lot of sense for the players, but for myself, I’ve always preferred to accept the low lows as a sort of payment to the Hockey Gods in exchange for the high highs.

But for some reason, this year feels different.  Things feel different around here lately, don’t they? Maybe it’s Pegula, maybe it’s this slow comeback from the brink, maybe it’s that the Sabres have been good in unexpected ways, or, maybe it’s not actually different at all.  Maybe it just feels different because I want it to be different this year.  Who knows.

For whatever reason, I’m not in the mood to live and die with every game. I’m in the mood to have faith in the Sabres.  I’m in the mood to take the long view. I’m in the mood to believe.

Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Let’s stop examining our past, and let’s stop wringing our hands about the future. Let’s ride this thing out, one game at a time. Let’s give 110% every night.

All for one, and one for all.  Live together, die alone.  (And yes… that includes Tim Connolly.  In fact, that especially includes Tim Connolly.)

Huddle up, Sabres Nation!

LET’S GO BUFF-A-LO!

Trade Deadline Day: COMPLETE

You wily bastard.

 

Blah Blah Blah Sabres Blah Blah

I recently read a good post on Black Dog Hates Skunks about the Oilers and how they may or may not handle the trade deadline.  The basic premise of the post is this: If you want to build a better team, keep the good players you have, and get more good players when you can.  This makes sense to me, because it’s logical and sane.  (Incidentally, I really recommend adding Black Dog Hates Skunk to your RSS feed.  Most of his posts are divided into two parts.  The first part is usually a story about himself or his family.  The stories are oddly heartwarming despite the fact that they’re 95% about drinking beer, making babies, or being generally unruly.  The second part is usually about the Oilers, and if you’re like me, and you don’t care about the Oilers, it’s easy to skip.)

I’ll admit, there is a part of me that wants to believe in the “blow it up” philosophy.   Blowing it up sounds satisfying, but what if it doesn’t work?  If you blow it up and you STILL stink, then what?

For the good of the bottom-line, I think it’s important for the Sabres to stay at least semi-competitive.  I don’t think the Sabres would be wise to take the Penguins/Blackhawk route, because, well, sucking that hard would….suck.  No fun.

Anyhooch, Black Dog’s post got me thinking seriously about the Sabres and who I think is realistic trade bait, and who I think the Sabres should keep.  I do think the Sabres should be sellers, but they should sell with the idea of getting better next year.  No need to blow anything up, m’kay Darcy?

We’ve got a few categories of players:

Players that I would consider addition by subtraction:

Hecht
Connolly
Rivet
Grier
Niedermayer
Lalime

The only players on this list that any team would even CONSIDER taking off our hands would be Connolly and maaaaybe Grier.   Trouble is, even when healthy, Connolly has been terrible this season, and his stock may have totally plummeted.  If Connolly is still trade-able it’s because GMs are morons….which, you know….they kind of are.  So, *fingers crossed*.  But let’s err on the side of not-getting-our-hopes-up, and assume that all of these players will finish the season as Sabres.  Bummer.  The good news about these guys is that with the exception of Hecht, all of their contracts are expiring this summer.

Untouchables:

Miller
Myers
Vanek
Sekera
Roy

Yeah, I know.  None one of these guys are having particularly great years, but I have faith that they’ll all be worth it in the end.  Even if Myers and Miller never return to 2009/10 form, they’re still very handy players to have around.  I initially thought maybe Darcy should dangle Sekera, but I think he’s developing into a nice little player.   Why should we assume a draft pick is going to be any better at hockey than Sekera?  All of these guys fall firmly into the category of “keep your good players,” if you ask me.  

Babies we should definitely keep:

Ennis
Weber
Adam
Byron

Ennis and Weber have performed admirably this season, and I was impressed with both Adam and Byron during their call-ups.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of these guys play more. These guys fall into the category of “keep your best prospects”.

Veeeerry Interesting players:

I’ll discuss them one by one.

Montador- I think the Sabres should definitely try to keep Montador.  He’s a solid defenseman, he’s surprisingly points get-y, he gives good interviews, and he somehow manages to be hot even when he’s NOT wearing his teeth.  Plus, the Sabres have been bleeding defensemen every summer for as long as I’ve been a fan, and frankly, I don’t think it’s working out too well.  Montador is pretty good.  He’s thrived in Lindy’s system.  Let’s keep him.  If Darcy is not already trying to negotiate with Montador, he’s stupid.   HOWEVER, if the Sabres already know that Monty wants to move on next year, I have to think he’d have some trade value.  In that case (although I would definitely shed a tear), Monty should be traded.

Gerbe- As recently as three weeks ago we all would’ve happily put Gerbe on a bus to Anywhere-But-Here.  Don’t deny it.  You know it’s true.  But little Gerbs is doing us a real solid by stepping up his game recently.  He’s proving that in the right conditions, he can be a productive NHL player.  I saw enough of him in the first half of the season to be veeeerrry skeptical of his abilities, so, I say let’s try to get something, anything, for this guy while the getting is good.

Butler- Someone took Paehcsehtchesch from us last year, so I think someone will take Butler.  Once upon a time I truly loved Butts, but he’s definitely on Lindy’s “unsalvageable” list, so if he can be traded, he should be traded.

Stafford- If he can stay healthy for the next month, I think Staffy is definitely our most valuable trade asset.  He’s big, he’s shown definite signs of being offensively gifted, and he’s got at least one more year of RFA status after his contract expires this summer.  Plus, he’s having a career year.

Staffy has NEVER played with consistency, in the past he’s PROVEN that he can be lazy and distracted (I mean, he’s said OUTLOUD in INTERVIEWS that he might prefer to be a rockstar.  I love you, but for FUCKS SAKE, Staffy!), plus he’s easily injured.  How would giving Stafford a contract now be any different from when Darcy gave Connolly his contract two years ago?  In reality, it would be worse, because at least Connolly had shown signs of near brilliance in previous years.  All Staffy has shown us with consistency is inconsistency.  Signing Staffy now would be the textbook definition of “buying high”.   (And, again, I direct you towards this post at Hockey Rhetoric which compares Stafford to Kotalik in a MOST unsettling way.)

When we rail against Darcy for overvaluing his draftees, we’re talking about guys like Drew Stafford.  I, for one, feel quite comfortable taking the risk that Staffy will go and be awesome for someone else, because honestly, I don’t think he’s going to be awesome for someone else.  I think he’ll be a 15-20 goal scorer for the rest of his career.  He’s useful, but he’s not special.   If the Sabres want to change, they have to ACTUALLY change some of the players (and not just defensemen).  They have to let players go. I think, for better and for worse, Staffy is emblematic of the post-2007 Sabres.  Stafford is part of the “core” that has proven beyond a DOUBT that they can’t get it done. Let’s move him while he’s hot, get something in return, and never look back.

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If there’s a player I didn’t mention it’s because I think he’s providing value to the Sabres in one way or another.  (I wasn’t entirely sure how to categorize Pominville until I remembered how terrible the penalty kill was when he was injured at the beginning of the season.  Remember that?  That was not cool.  We may be paying Pominville too much, but he’s definitely providing value.  I never ever ever ever want to watch the PK without him again.)

And on a sidenote, I have no idea what’s come over me in the last few days and compelled me to write such serious posts.  It’s very unlike me.  Hopefully I’ll return to whimsy and bullhonky in the very near future.  Thank you for your patience.

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.

Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge, and Other Disgusting Atrocities: A Story in Two Parts

Part One: Last night, Crotchety Original Sam and I tromped out into the icy mess that is St. Paul for our annual Minnesota Wild game at the Xcel Center.  In past years this trip has ended in despair and tears.  (Just kidding, Sam and I ALWAYS have fun, even when the home team sucks rhino ass.)  Guess what?  THE WILD WON!  I’m pretty sure that they were so impressed with my new North Stars t-shirt that they played extra hard.  The Wild are QUITE zippy and fun.

Anyhooch, there we were, wearing sassy retro NHL t-shirts and watching the Wild win, when suddenly during the second intermission, came the “Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge.”  The jokes immediately started flying about the name of this competition and the fate you would suffer if you ate a Chipotle burrito.  (Worst name of intermission game EVER.)  The game involved contestants rapidly identifying pictures of celebrities up on the jumbotron.  The winner would win free burritos for a lucky row in the arena.   I was immediately preoccupied with imagining the meeting at Chipotle headquarters that created this game (“I know, let’s call it “The Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge!”  “Do you really think it’s a good idea to associate our burritos with sudden death, boss?”  “Oh SURE!  Sudden death refers to the GAME, not the food!  I like the name!  It’s folksy!”) to pay much attention to the contestants, and Sam was busy recounting a South Park episode which graphically detailed the terrible fate that would happen to your digestive system if you ate a Chipotle burrito.

But that’s right!  You guess it!  At the end of the contest, section 202, row 9, OUR ROW, was the lucky recipient of the Sudden Death Burritos!   Of all the hundreds of rows in the arena, we had won!  Now, I hate sudden death as much as the next gal, but I LOVE free burritos, so needless to say, I was PSYCHED.  A few minutes later, a pleasant Minnesotan came by and handed out our burrito coupons.  It was joyful.  We were triumphant.

But that’s where the fun ended.

The Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge is a SHAM, people.  First of all, it’s NOT a free burrito, it’s a “buy one get one free”.  It’s HALF of a free burrito.  Second of all, THE COUPON EXPIRES AT THE END OF 12/09.   So, after all of that rigmarole, all I got was a “buy on get one free” coupon that I have to use in the next fifteen minutes before it expires.  I think this is WRONG.

I think this is SO wrong, that I intend to give this coupon to my most hated enemy so that he/she will first have to BUY a burrito only so that he/she will suffer from the SUDDEN DEATH caused by the free one.

(Truthfully, the whole thing was hilarious.  Loudly complaining about our prize brought our row together for lots of laughs.  I suggested that we all throw our Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge Buy-One-Get-One-Free credit card gift certificates onto the ice in protest, but sadly we decided that it would be difficult to hit the ice with a coupon from the upper bowl.)

Moral of the story: Eff you, Chipotle.  Eff you right in the ear.

Part Two: At the end of the Wild game, we scurried back to Sam’s house to watch the Sabres game on DVR delay.  I changed out of my North Stars t-shirt and into a Sabres sweatshirt (I really did this), and we settled in.  Sam got to see my oh-so-delightful-I’m-sure transformation from a happy-go-lucky Wild fan to a nearly-abusive-to-the-players Sabres fan.

A few thoughts on the game:

I think it’s okay to be legitimately concerned about the following things:

1. The overall  lack of energy.  At no point did the Sabres seem pissed at Ruutu.  At no point did anyone seem to care that Roy took an elbow to the head.  At no point did coming from behind seem to create any legitimate momentum.  The Sabres might be better this year, but they’re still lacking in the “fiery passion” department.

2. Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford.  Remember when we all used to wring our hands and saying things like, “Oh, if only Tim Connolly could stay healthy THE SABRES WOULD BE UNSTOPPABLE.”  Did anyone ever stop to consider that someday Timmeh would be able to stay healthy and that he would simply….suck? I don’t even know what to say about Staffy.

3. I know that they got a power play goal, but the power play still looks like a half-eaten Sudden Death Chipotle burrito.  Which is to say, very bad.

4. I’m pretty sure that Lindy put Vanek first in the shootout to reward him for playing a good game, but it was ill-advised.   I know, hindsight is 20/20, but Lindy OBVIOUSLY flew too close to the sun on that one.  Sadly, all the confidence-building good of the game was probably erased when Thomas failed (for the 50 millionth time) to score in the shootout.  Very unfortunate.

The following things are legitimately good:

1. At the start of the game, I said to Sam, “The following players MUST have a good game: Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville” and then they both scored!  I will try this trick again today.

2. Steve Montador is getting hotter by the day.  Is it just me, or does he always seem to be charging around creating offensive chances and being generally foxy?  Private to Monty: My car mats ALWAYS need shaking.  IfyouknowwhatImean.

3. We should be happy they got a point. That was a bad game, but they’re still leading the division.  I have no experience with the ebb and flow of a successful season.  As a result, I think my spazziness after the bad games is probably a tish excessive, and for that I apologize.  Being a Negative Nellie is not my real-life style, so, let’s be thankful for this point.  Let’s love this point like it’s the best point in the world.  Last year the Sabres missed the playoffs by two points. Maybe this point that we inexplicably squeezed out the Ottawa game was one of those points that we will really need later on.

Moral of the story: There is another Sabres game in a few hours.  I’m going to forgive them for yesterday, but if they look like disinterested poo again, I’m sending my Sudden Death Chipotle Buy-One-Get-One-Free credit card coupon to the Sabres locker room.  That’ll teach ‘em.

TWC Top-to-Bottom Review: Tim Connolly

(This is the forth 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: Tim Connolly

Position: doggy-style

Number of years with the Sabres organization: That depends.  In regular, human years, Timmy has been a Sabre for eight year, but in Tim Connolly Years (TCYs) he’s been a Sabre for 24 years.  (TCYs = 3 normal human years.  Sad, but true.)

Number of years remaining on contract: Again this depends.  In human years, two.  In TCYs, six.

Cap hit: $4.5 million slaps to Jerry Sullivan’s face.

Career high point: casting a love spell on Darcy Regier.

Career low point: Repeated hits to the head.

Areas of strength: on-ice craftiness, getting people to yell, “SHOOOOOOT” during the power play, gossip production, the uncanny ability to win people over after they have SWORN they will never fall for it again, quilting, hockey vision, managing to be allllllmost a point-per-game player…but never quite, polar bear pelt couture, and forcing bloggers to come up with a ridiculous number of ways to describe his fragility. (“He’s made out of cocktail napkins and pipe cleaners!”  “His bones are 90% sponge candy, and 10% angel hair pasta.”  “He’s held together with scotch tape and Lindy’s old mustache clippings.”).

Areas of weakness: body

2008-09 grade: B  (This is the highest grade possible for someone who only played 48 games.)

General comments: I HATE that Darcy Regier signed Timmy to a two year extension.  I LOATHE it.  If the Sabres want to stay loyal to Lindy Ruff, then they need to have room under the cap to bring in some new guys.  By extending Timmy, Regier severely limited his options (outside of a trade) for bringing in the strong, leader-y, Chris-Drury-a-like of our dreams…..and I don’t care WHAT the lunatics say, Timmy’s contract is NOT movable right now.  Not in this economy, not with his injury record, and not with the cap expected to go down.  If Timmy gets hurt, no other teams will touch him with a ten-foot pole, and if he stays healthy, we’re going to want to keep him, so, either way, Timmy (and his cap hit) is a Sabre for the next two seasons.

There is a silver lining with Timmy, though.  He’s ridiculously good at hockey when he’s not broken.  It took me two full seasons of watching Tim Connolly before I understood why everyone is so enamored of him, but I get it now.  I do.  I honestly can’t imagine what it was like to watch him on fire in the 05-06 playoffs, only to see him be hit right back into Concussionville.  That was before my time as a fan, but I feel retroactive empathy for my fellow Sabres fans who had to endure that particular disappointment.  When he’s healthy, and in a groove, Tim Connolly is as good at hockey as anyone in the game. He’s smart, aggressive (Tim Connolly is shockingly NOT soft), and he’s truly crafty with the puck.

(Side Story: Remember that game against the Coyotes when Timmy pointed at Sekera from the faceoff dot and was all, “Hey, Sekera.  Go stand over there,” and then he proceeded to win the faceoff, sending the puck directly to the place he had just instructed Sekera to stand, and then Sekera shot it in for a goal?  …that was super snazzy.)

If Tim Connolly stays healthy, $4.5 million dollars per year will be a steal, but let’s face it….

Timmy is going to get hurt next season, and he’s going to get hurt the season after that.  We’re all going to tear our hair out, and we’re going to curse Darcy Regier for re-signing him, and we’re going to accuse Timmy of all manner of laziness/drunkeness/skating-with-his-head-down/insufferable-fragility.  Timmy’s going to miss enough time that we’ll actually begin to forget about him, and people will start making the old, “Hey, is Timmy still alive?” jokes, and I’ll start suggesting that the humane thing to do would be to send Timmy out to pasture.  And then, just when we’ve almost learned how to live without him, he’ll come back.   Timmy’s going to come back, and after a slow start, he’s going to string together a few weeks of dazzling, sparkling production.  And for the millionth time, we’re all going to get down on our knees, and pray that he never gets hurt again.

We’re going to BEG the Hockey Gods to keep our Timmy safe, because if only he COULD stay healthy……

Tim Connolly is the Hockey God’s joke on us.  He’s a Ferrari with a flat tire.  He’s an un-signed check in your name for a million dollars.  He’s an Amati viola with only three strings.  He’s the super hot guy you found out had a crush on you YEARS after the fact.  He’s the leave-in conditioner that makes your hair look amazing, but smells so bad that it makes your eyes water.  He is simultaneously our biggest weakness, and strongest hope for success.  It’s frustrating, and tragic, and…..please, Hockey Gods….just keep him healthy, TOTALLY HEALTHY, for the next two seasons.

So, we hope for the best, we expect the worst, and as usual, we ask that Tim Connolly get his bones fortified with adamantium.  And that someone wrap him in bubble wrap.  Of course.  Always with the bubble wrap.

REQUIRED SUMMER HOMEWORK:

1. Call Wolverine to find out which doctors in WNY perform the adamantium bone-covering procedure.

2. Get fitted for bubblewrap suit.

3. Shut up and wipe that sneer off your face.  It’s the least you can do, Timmy.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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