Archive for the 'Playoffs' Category

Soothing

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

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

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

Half an hour later we exchanged these photos via text.

Kate

Jessica

Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

_______

Today is a new day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Fuck the Flyers.

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

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

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

- Sabres in 7.

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo! WOO!

Nathan Gerbe Don’t Care

If you want to get pumped up for Game 4, watch this video and every time the narrator says “honey badger,” just replace it with “Nathan Gerbe.”

Look, game 3 sucked. If I could, I’d kick game 3 square in the crotch. But I can’t, so eff it. Honey badger don’t care.

You know what the Sabres have been for the last THREE months? Spunky. Resilient. Tough. Smart. Brave. Loveable. Feisty. We can count on the Sabres.

Fuck off, game 3.

I’m really truly excited for game 4, possibly even more than I was for game 3. Game 3 was all nerves and anticipation and fretting. Game 4? Game 4 is all about biting the heads off of cobras. Honey badger don’t care.

The Sabres just played three months of “must win” games. We’ve got the Flyers right where we want them.

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

Series Score: 1-1, Splitsville

Here is my recap of yesterday’s game.

1st Period

Redonk shenanigans.

One of the weirdest phenomenons of hockey is that sometimes when two teams play truly terribly, the hockey winds up being super fun. The first period was one of those times. Crunchy was pretty bad, as was the team defense, but we almost didn’t mind because everything else was borderline hilarious. (3-3 tie)

2nd Period

WTF, Sabres?

The Sabres were so stupid in the second period that it’s completely reasonable to assume they all took bong hits during the 1st intermission. Thankfully, the Flyers also apparently took bong hits because they only converted on one of their 3498439728349098 power plays. (5-3, Flyers.  But for realz, the score could’ve been 10-3.)

3rd period:

The Sabres seriously almost came back. Which is absurd. (5-4 Flyers, final score.)

Preliminary Analysis: The Flyers won because they were sliiiiightly less incompetent than the Sabres. But only slightly. It was basically a toss-up.  The good news is that there’s been exactly zero evidence in this series that the Sabres can’t hang with the Flyers. The bad news is that the Sabres basically lost the game for themselves and if they had played this game with only one or two brain cells they could be coming home with a 2-0 series lead.

What we’ve learned: It’s hillllllarious when Goose upends Briere for no apparent reason at the face-off dot. Also, the Sabres and the Flyers appear to be almost the exact same level of awesome/lame. But, when both teams play nearly perfectly, the Sabres win, and when both teams play terribly, the Flyers win.

Final Analysis: The Sabres are slightly better at being really good, and the Flyers are slightly better at being really terrible.  I’ll take it.

Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Suck it, Flyers!

Series Score: 1-0, Sabres!

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

He's a poet, that goose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So far, so so so good.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

Here We Go!

You guys, I think I’m still sort of reeling from the news that the Sabres freaking MADE THE PLAYOFFS.  The fact that we now get to watch them in the playoffs just feels like an absurdly wonderful/terrifying bonus.

I am determined, DETERMINED, to enjoy this.

Let’s just give 110% and try to have fun out there.  We’ll meet back here tomorrow and swap stories.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Lets Go Buff-a-lo!

A Few Thoughts On the East

Remember a few days ago when I bitched that, “I hate the playoffs this year,” all pout-y like?

I was out gallivanting last night, so I didn’t watch either of the games, but when I saw the scores I got sucked right back in.  I think that’s one thing I should try to remember about the playoffs.   They take a million years to unfold, so there’s plenty of time to lose and then regain interest as the rounds progress.  I was so grossed out by the Sabres that it took me a few weeks to get back into “casual observer” mode, which is necessary if you are going to attempt to watch games played by teams that you largely hate.  Now that I’ve had a little period of time to recover from the Sabres, I’m pretty amused by the goings-on with the rest of the Eastern Conference.

What the heck is going on here?

Habs: I’m a Sabres fan, and a decent person, so I don’t really like the Habs, but dang it, those little guys are scrappy!   Unless you hate the Habs with a burning passion (I don’t), I think you have to be at least a little intrigued at this point.  I’m incredibly jealous of Canadiens fans.  Cheering for a team that is massively overachieving seems like one of the most appealing things in all of sports fandom.  What could be more fun than that?

(I feel compelled to make a small but totally embarrassing confession here.  This is DEFINITELY might just my playoff goggles talking, but I loooove me some Hal Gill.  He’s gigantic and handsome, and I know his nickname is “No Skill-Gill,” but I don’t care.  I like it when Hal Gill is happy and doing lots of interviews.  I also have a soft spot for Brian Gionta, which I’m not even TRYING to curb because I think a crush on Brian Gionta compliments a crush on Hal Gill very nicely.  It’s as if my playoff goggles are practicing Feng-shui.)

Flyers: Look, I know you guys hate the Flyers, and I’m certainly not in love with them or anything, but COME ON, you HAVE to be rooting for them at this point.  I know it burns to see the Flyers succeed, but try not to focus on that.  Just focus on how uncomfortable, freaked-out, and nervous the Bruins must be right now- poised at the precipice of complete collapse.  Don’t think of it as “cheering for the Flyers” think of it as “cheering for the humiliation of the Bruins, specifically Chara.”

_____

The great thing about the situation in the East is that no matter who emerges victorious, it’s safe to assume they’ll be completely demolished in the Finals.  So, while it feels dirty and wrong to cheer for any of the remaining teams, I think there’s very little risk of permanent psychological damage here.

So, fuck it.  Go Flyers!

What We Should Have Done

Like all Sabres fans, I’ve spent the better part of today wondering, “What went wrong?  How did this happen?”

Before this series began, I didn’t know what to expect.  This was my first experience with the fast pace of the playoffs, and even though the series outcome was ultimately disappointing, I think I learned a lot.  For example, I can now definitively tell you, based on my experience as a fan, that getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs BLOWS.  I canNOT recommend that your team get eliminated by a division rival in the first round.  No siree.  If someone asks you if you’d like to see your team lose to the Bruins in round one, you should say, “NO,” loud and clear.

This might be confusing for some, so I’ve compiled a list of possible scenarios and suggestions for how you should react should any of these scenarios arise.  Hopefully, if you follow these scripts, we can avoid this kind of devastating loss in the future.

___________

Scenario #1

Tim Connolly: Hey, Sabres fan!  How would you feel about watching me skate around doing nothing for an entire playoff series?
You: BAD.  PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.
Tim Connolly: What if, after it was all over, I told you I was comPLETEly healthy?
You: What?  No!  If you suck you better be hurt!
Tim Connolly: Nope!
You: No thanks, man.

___________

Scenario #2

Chara: Hello, Buffalo!  I hear your babies are tender and delicious.  I would like to eat them in front of you.  Is this alright with you?
You: No, Chara.  You may NOT eat our babies.

___________

Scenario #3

Lindy Ruff: I have a job for life!
Darcy Regier: It’s true, he does!
You: I’m not cool with this.
Lindy Ruff: And that’s why you’re BENCHED.
You: You can’t bench me.
Darcy: Yes he can.  You…benched.
Lindy Ruff: And you know what else?  Scoring goals is for weenies!  CASE CLOSED!
You: I am 100% opposed to you right now.

___________

Scenario #4

Boychuk: I’m going to take out your best player.
You: ….Mike Grier?
Boychuk: NO NOT MIKE GRIER, THOMAS VANEK!  I’m going to hobble Vanek.  What do you think of that?
You: I am NOT IN FAVOR of that, you unbelievable bastard.

___________

Scenario #5

Jochen Hecht’s pinky: I am a delicate flower.  Long and tapered.  So pretty.
You: Are you required for playing hockey?
Jochen Hecht’s pinky: Surprisingly, yes.
You: Here.  Take these steroids.

___________

Scenario #6

Thomas Vanek: I’m going to singlehandedly win this series for the Sabres!
You: Hell yeah you are!  WOOO!
Thomas Vanek: ….unless I get hurt.
You: Are you going to get hurt?!
Thomas Vanek: Yeeeah.  I am.
You: NO!  BAD PLAN!  THAT’S A BAD PLAN!

___________

Scenario #7

Torres: Hello.
You: Uh, hi McCormick.
Torres: My name is Torres.  I was good in Columbus.  Darcy traded for me at the deadline.
You: Whatever, McCormick.  Whatever.

___________

Scenario #8

Crunchy: Hey, fan.  I think I’m going to shave my beard into a mustache.
You: That is a GREAT idea.
Crunchy: I know.  But…I hate to tell you this, but my mustache won’t make the powerplay any better.
You: I find that hard to believe.
Crunchy: Believe it.
You: Well then, I think you should shave your facial hair into a shape that WILL make the powerplay better.
Crunchy: Good idea!

___________

Scenario #9

Derek Roy:  Remember how we never gave up leads during the regular season?
You: Yeah.
Derek Roy: What if during the playoffs, we DID give up leads?  Wouldn’t that be exciting?
You: No.  Absolutely not.  That would NOT be exciting.  NO.
Derek Roy: So, we should give up leads then?
You: NO, DO NOT GIVE UP LEADS.
Derek Roy: I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying, so I’m just going to go ahead and let the Bruins catch up.
You: NO.  DO NOT DO THAT.
Derek Roy: Okay then.  Giving up the lead, it is.
You: NO! NO! NO! NO!  KEEP THE LEAD.
Derek Roy: Leads are lame.  I hear you loud and clear.
*this is when you should strangle Derek Roy*

___________

Scenario #10

Hockey Gods: Would you rather miss the playoffs altogether, or watch the Sabres get creamed by a division rival?
You: I want them to make the playoffs.
Hockey Gods: Good call.  Stay strong, Sabres fan.
You: Do I have any choice?
Hockey God: Nope.

___________

I hope this helps, dear reader!  Next year we’re going to have to work together to avoid getting knocked out in the first round.  If we stick to the system, we can succeed (…next year).


…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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