Archive for the 'Minnesota Wild' Category

Twitterless: Day Two, “TWO POINTS, MOFOS!”

WE’RE CURRENTLY IN A PLAYOFF POSITION!!


Please read the following disclaimer before continuing:

DISCLAIMER: Almighty Hockey Gods, in no way, shape, or form is this post to be read as an assumption that the Sabres will be in a playoff position at the end of the year.  You are mighty and strong, and we know that you will rightfully smite those who take their playoff positions for granted.  The season is long, and there are still many games to be played.  Anything could still happen, which is why we will always remain faithful to your blessed word.  It is with great reverence to you that we celebrate the Sabres current position in the standings.   Thank you for sharing your wonderful game with us, mere mortals.  We pray to you for continued Sabres success.

For thine is the arena, and the slap shot, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

That said…

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

The Sabres are certainly not perfect (you might want to reconsider the “give up a two goal lead almost every night” strategy, fellas), but they’re ours, and they are so very very lovable these days.  The season IS long, and we still have quite a way to go, but I don’t think it’s wrong to take a little moment to celebrate how far they’ve come.  These guys have battled admirably for many weeks, and while the 8th place slot is just a symbol today (nothing more), I’m really proud of this team.

A few thoughts from the game:

- How freaking great is it that we have a real, honest-to-goodness NHL-caliber goalie to back up Crunchy?  The backup situation has been so fraught with danger for the last few years, and it’s just SO good to realize that Lindy doesn’t have to play Miller every night.  And best of all?  When Lindy doesn’t play Miller, they might still win.

- Perhaps it’s just that the games mean so much more now, but I’ve been very  impressed with these last few games from an entertainment standpoint.  Hockey is fun and fast and exciting again!  (That really might be the difference between November hockey and March Playoff Push hockey.)

- I VERY briefly surrendered to my desire to tweet during this game right after Niedermayer scored.  (I mean, come on. N-I-E-D-E-R-M-A-Y-E-R SCORED!  That’s a totally tweetable occasion.)  But, I promise, I didn’t even check my @replies.  I just got in and got out.  However, the Wild almost immediately scored two goals.  So, fear not Sabres fans, I will not be tweeting again during my sabbatical, no matter how many goals Niedermayer scores before next Saturday.  The Hockey Gods still allowed the Sabres to win, so my indiscretion was apparently forgiven, but I shant make the same mistake twice.

- STAFF-Y!  STAFF-Y!  STAFF-Y!  That was a pretty foxy goal, no?

- Seriously though.  They need to stop giving up two goal leads.

- I’m still surprised to see Boyes out there with Vanek.  Every time I see him, I think, “DAMN!  LOOK AT MAIR GO!”  Unlike the other recent trade deadline day acquisitions, Boyes is, um, actually making a difference.  He is making the offense better, which is obviously exactly what he’s supposed to do. I was thinking the other day about how one of the problems with being a Sabres fan in recent years is this sense that we’re constantly losing good players and not replacing them.  Look at what Darcy just did!  He went out and got us a good player!  Just like that.

- That opening goal with Vanek to Pommers to Montador to Pommers was so so so so so pretty.  SO PRETTY.

- There was a sort of funny officiating moment tonight.  There was a play where the Wild were cycling the puck in the Sabres end (they might have been on the power play at the time), and the puck came verrrrry close to popping out.  The lineman ruled it out, but he did so by going down on one knee right on the blue line and VERY emphatically gesturing “OUT OUT OUT!”  It was very theatrical.  Then, the ref came over and helped the linesman to his feet and tapped him on the butt for good measure.  It was a pretty tough call (I thought the puck stayed in, actually), but I really enjoyed the linesman’s flamboyance.  I like it when the officials are a little dramatic.  This is show business, baby.

Minnesota-Style

Tonight, Sam and I headed out for our annual Christmastime trip to the Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild get trounced.  Last year, the team doing the trouncing was the Red Wings, this year it was the Blackhawks.  While the game was a bust, the company was excellent, and in spite of the grim situation on the ice, there was much laughter and all-around merriment.

I really can’t express how much I love the Xcel Center.  I only have HSBC Arena to compare it to, but honestly, I can’t imagine a hockey arena being more beautiful.  The whole atmosphere is warm and extremely inviting.  This might sound crazy, but the lighting there is somehow softer and more intimate than HSBC.  I can’t really describe it, but if you ever get a chance to see a game in St. Paul, I highly recommend that you do so.

In addition to being pretty, Xcel Energy Center also has a wide variety of interesting beers and snacks.  We started the evening out right by ordering up a couple of gigantic Summit Pale Ales.  (Just as a side note, I totally convinced the new guy working the taps to pour us a giant micro-brew when the giant “Bomber” cups were clearly only intended to be used for the 22 ounce bottles of beer.   When I ordered our beers the kid said, “Well, I think the Bombers are only these Corona bottles, but I suppose I could just pour the Summit into the big glass.  I don’t see why I can’t do that.”  I quickly replied, “You should TOTALLY do that.  Do it!”  and he did.  I still haven’t figured out why 22 ounce beers have to come out of a bottle at the arena.  What’s uo with that?)  Later on, once I had a nice little buzz going, I realized that what I wanted most in the world were some mini-donuts.  Fortunately for me, the Xcel center sells mini-donuts.

21

Don’t even try to claim you don’t want to eat mini-donuts while watching hockey, because no one is buying it.

The game was….almost comically bad.  The Wild were not good.  At all.  Sam was in very high spirits considering, and I have to say, I was impressed with the overall spunkiness of the crowd.  At the game I attended last year the Wild were defeated by of a ruthlessly effective Detroit team, but tonight they were just plain B-A-D, and the crowd was UNimpressed.  There was booing of the home team after ALL three periods, and derisive cheering for the random lackluster Wild shot on goal.  I think of Minnesotans as very manicured and polite, so it was interesting to hear them let loose in giddy frustration.  While the crowd was clearly displeased, it also never lost its fundamental friendliness, and I was downright impressed with the camaraderie between fans.  I really hope that someday I get to see a spirited game in Minnesota, because I’d love to be apart of a celebrating Minnesota crowd.  The crowd deserved much better than what it got tonight.  On a personal note, it was fun to realize that although I’m a Sabres fan through and through, there is something fundamentally “Minnesotan” about how I express myself at a game.  I felt very at home with the Wild fans.  (Sadly, I also felt very at home with the Wild’s level of hockey.  Heh.)

The Blackhawks are really zippy and fun to watch.  Even Soupy.   I was not-so-secretly hoping that a disastrous Soupy spin-o-rama would lead to a Wild goal, but it was not meant to be tonight.  I even found myself kind of missing old sweaty Soupy.  When he’s not falling apart for your team on the ice because of his contract negotiations, he’s not so bad. Ya know?

The Hockey Gods really seem to want me to see hockey from a very specific angle this season.   When I got my Sabres tickets this year, I got half of them from a Sabres mini-pack, and half of them from Lizzie B’s season tickets.  I was very surprised to discover that through sheer coincidence, all those seats were in the same section (310).  I thought it was very charming to settle into our seats tonight and find myself with a familiar view.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this season has been staking claim to a specific part of the arena, and I’m amused that this claim seems to extend beyond HSBC Arena.

3

Upper deck, home team shoots twice.  This is my territory.

All in all, great night.  Thanks Sammy McSammerson!


Sabres @ Wild 10/23/08

Pregame

Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  The Sabres are playing the Minnesota Wild!  I may have lived in Philadelphia after college, and I might be a Buffalonian now, but I am a Minnesotan at my core.  Good-natured passive aggression runs through my veins.  I am a Minnesotan by birth, but I am a Buffalonian and Sabres fan by choice.  Let’s go Buff-a-lo!
Favorite Sabre: Thomas Vanek is holding strong in this category.  His sudden transformation from Slag-Faced Whore to foxy Mr. “You can count on me” Pants, has taken me by surprise.
Least Favorite Sabre: Craig Rivet’s knee. What a jerk.
Prediction: The Wild will try to trap us to death, Ddeerreekk Bbooggaarrdd will demolish Andrew Peters, the final score will be 2-1, and CrotchetyOriginalSam will ignore the entire thing because his beloved Phillies are playing game 2 tonight. (Not that I blame him a bit.)
Twin Cities related thing representing my hopes for this game: Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture from the Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden.

spoonbridge-and-cherryI love how this giant sculpture hovers over Minneapolis, all delicious and adorable.  Um, I have no idea what it has to do with hockey though……Oooh!  I know!  The spoon is the Eastern Conference, and the cherry is the Sabres sitting AT THE TOP BEING AWESOME.  Oh, that’s deep.  That’s a $100,000 liberal arts education talking, folks.

After the 1st (0-1, Sabres)

Summary of events: First the Wild tried to kill hockey, then Staffy was like, “This one is for the mouse potatoes,” and proceeded to score a REALLY foxy goal. As a mouse potato, I thank you Drew Stafford.
Mood: Amused
Favorite Sabre: I TOTALLY knew that Staffy would be back.  I love him.
Least Favorite Sabre: Paul Gaustad’s thumb.
Twin Cities related thing representing this game so far: Downtown Minneapolis skyways

Minneapolis skyway

Sometimes it’s so cold in Minnesota that if you go outside for too long, you’ll die.  So, in order to make downtown useable, they connected all the buildings with connecting walkways that we call “skyways”.  You can walk for 8 miles in downtown Minneapolis without ever going outside.  The skyways are just like this hockey game because……um…..The Wild are trying to… um….freeze the Sabres out, but it’s not going to work because…um….the Sabres can just take the skyway get Staffy to score….?  Something like that.

After the 2nd (2-1, Wild)

Summary of events: Chaos at my house. First, Charlotte the dog was fighting with her guest Katie the dog, then Dan came over to give me keys to his place so that I can feed his cat while he and Ann are in Philadelphia this weekend. Then, in the middle of the chaos I glanced up and Crunchy was lackadaisically allowing a goal to waltz in over his shoulder.  Then I looked up again, and the Wild were winning.  Then, I realized that if I see that commercial where the guy says “Hot girls…..on skates,” even ONE MORE time tonight, I’m going to cry.
Mood: Wary
Favorite Sabre: Still Staffy.
Least Favorite Sabre: Jochen Hecht’s girly finger.
Twin Cities related thing representing the 2nd period: Minneapolis South High School

SouthHigh2007L

A perfectly good school.  My windowless prison.


After the 3rd (3-3)

Summary of events: Crunchy shot the puck right into his own net and then he was all, “Oopsies.  My bad.”  Then the rest of the Sabres were like, “We can’t win a game in which Crunchy scored an own goal, can we?”  So they skated around lifelessly for 15 minutes.  Then Thomas Vanek was like, “HELL YES WE CAN STILL WIN THIS GAME BITCHES!” Then both teams decided that they wanted the guaranteed point.  Then Katebits was like, “Okay, this is bizonkers.  You guys were looking totally lifeless and then out of no where you came back!  I love you!”

At the End, (4-3, Sabres)

AAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!  I can’t believe they won that game!  That was awesome!  Gambler was at that game!  They did it for Gambler!

Seriously!  What just happened?!  The Sabres have 13 points right now.  It took the Sabres until, like, Februray to get to 13 points last season.  WOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Minnesota related thing representing this game: Princess Kay of the Milky Way butter princess bust from the Minnesota State Fair.

statefair_butter1

Much like the Minnesota State Fair, that game was fabulous.

We Need To Talk

Dear Minnesota Wild,

You guys are KILLING me. You are so freaking boring I want to DIE….until the last ten minutes of the game when you somehow ALWAYS end up in a 2-2 tie. Perhaps you and the Avalanche could agree to start the game at the 10 minute mark of the 3rd period. It would save us the fifty minutes of mind numbing, and cut right to the INCREDIBLY EXCITING. I am really into you, but I’d like to see a bigger commitment to keeping me entertained through the first two and a half periods. (STELLAR work in the last half of the third period and overtime, though. Seriously. Well done.)

With love,
Kate

Dear Pittsburgh Penguins,

Carry on.

Kate

Dear Montreal Canadians,

If you guys don’t pull it together and act like the powerhouse you supposedly are, I am going to withdraw my support. I’m serious. Get it done. Or else.

Sternly,
Kate

Dear Washington and Philadelphia,

Please work this out as quickly as possible. You guys playing each other is upsetting.

I don’t care for you guys,
Kate

Dear Devils,

It is up to you to defend the game of hockey. I know you didn’t want or ask to be in this position. You just wanted to play a quick and easy first round and then go home, but the Hockey Gods have spoken. You are the defenders of good, and the Rangers are the defenders of evil. You are only down 2-1 in this series. There is still a lot of hockey left to be played. I know that you aren’t very good at hockey, BUT NEITHER ARE THE RANGERS. At this point, it doesn’t even matter if you win or lose the series. If you win, evil is vanquished until next season, if you lose, the Curse of Brodeur kicks in, dooming the Rangers to years of misfortune. All that matters now is that you put up a fight. Be indignant.

Sincerely,
Kate

Dear Dallas Stars,

Heh. Nice. Keep up the good work.

Kate

Dear Calgary Flames,

No one has benefited from the playoff goggles (tm, IPB) more than you. I’m into you guys. Your fans are incredible, your jerseys are beautiful, and you’re quite feisty with the questionable hits and the crazy goaltender switcharoos. Please don’t literally hurt the Sharks. Just beat them. At hockey.

Kate

The One Where I Attend a Minnesota Wild Game, and Fall Deeper in Love With the Buffalo Sabres.

Sam and I gleefully headed out to the Wild game tonight. I have been looking forward to this game for weeks. Until tonight, I’d only attended games at HSBC arena, so I was very eager to get a glimpse of the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul.

First of all, the arena is beautiful. Gorgeous. Wide concourses which are open to the arena, plenty of delicious food, lots of friendly staff, and chock full of charming details. The usher guarding our section, wouldn’t let people in during play. When he did let them in, he chastened them to get to their seats and sit down quickly. I seriously wanted to marry our usher. He is possibly the best usher in the NHL. Everything about the Xcel experience was ten times more glamorous and more produced than at HSBC. From the gate, to the intermissions, to the way the players were introduced, to the look and feel of the actual space, everything is just slicker.  I cannot rave enough about the arena.

Sam got us incredible seats at center ice in the Club Level. In the Xcel Center, the Club Level means the single row of seats circling the arena above what we call the 200 level in Buffalo. Not only did we have a great view, but we were sitting at a little bar. Because there was no one behind us, we could stand up as much as we wanted, and no one had to shimmy by us to get to their seats. I can highly recommend watching a game at the Club Level at Xcel Energy Center.

Sam is making his “this game is not going well” face. We don’t know that weirdo behind us.

The game was…..well, it was…..not good. The Detroit Red Wings are a very good hockey team, and the Minnesota Wild were just not up to the task tonight. I seem to have a real knack for attending frustrating, slow games in which the home team looks brutally ineffectual. But, as we said as we were leaving the arena “It’s still hockey.” Bad live hockey is still better than no live hockey at all. In fairness, there was exceptional hockey at our game, it just wasn’t being played by the Wild. Stupid Red Wings.

It would be unfair to judge the crowd based on tonight’s game. The Wings were in complete control from start to finish and one lone goal at the end to the second period was our only real moment of celebration. Minnesotans are true hockey fans, and this game, like all of the games that have occurred since the Wild came into existence in 2000, was sold out. In Buffalo, I’m used to a pretty rough and tumble atmosphere, in Minnesota, things are a lot more manicured, for better and for worse. We were also sitting in some pretty expensive seats, and I’m willing to bet that things were a lot feistier up in the rafters.

So, there I was, sitting in amazing seats, in a beautiful arena, with one of my best friends…..watching a pretty shitty hockey game. Due to the slow pace of the Wild game, my attention began to increasingly drift towards the out-of-town score board. It was quickly deduced that the Sabres and the Flyers were playing a pretty good hockey game. Sam is a Flyers fan, so we had a lot of fun announcing the score to each other as the score crept higher and higher. Things seemed to rest at 4-5 (Flyers) for a long time, and that is where it was when our game (the one we were attending in person), entered the second intermission.

Sam and I headed out to the concourse and watched the last three minutes of the Sabres/Flyers game on the television with hoards of Wild fans milling all around us. I jumped for joy, along with my fellow and distant Buffalonians, when Vanek tied the game with 7 seconds left in regulation. Sam, understandably was less enthused than me, so he returned to his seat to watch the start of the third period. I stayed. I stood alone, in an empty concourse and watched overtime and the shootout. To the amusement of the guy manning the beer kegs, I did a little happy dance for the Sabres when Crunchy won the game. I am so proud of the Sabres and these games that they played against the Flyers. Surrounded by live hockey, in my home town, at a beautiful arena, my heart filled with love for the scrappy Buffalo Sabres. I had so much fun standing in that concourse watching the Sabres win. So. Much. Fun. (Sorry, Sammy. I’m sorry that it had to be against your team. I’m also sorry that your team is the Flyers, but that’s a post for another day.)

Here, Sam models my incredibly righteous souvenir. You wish you had a foam Minnesota Wild souvenir bear claw hand. Just admit it. But don’t be jealous; I’ll let you borrow mine.

All in all, it was a SUPER fun night. I ate a burger made out of a buffalo, I saw an incredibly beautiful arena, I sat in amazing seats, I found out that in person the Minnesota home jerseys do not look like elf costumes, I saw the best team in hockey, I got a feel for what NHL hockey in Minnesota is like, I bought a foam bear claw, I hung out with my dear friend Sam, my seats were guarded by the best usher in hockey, I got a free promotional puck, and best of all, I saw the Sabres win.

Hooray!

Marian Gaborik, Ranger Killer

I’ve decided that while I’m in Minnesota, I’m going to fully commit to being Wild fan. Watching or listening to the Sabres games while I am here would require saying ridiculous things like, “I know I haven’t seen you since last Christmas, but tonight I’m going to sit in the office and listen to the game on my computer. Please leave me alone.” It’s just not feasible, nor is it good for Katebits-family relations. So, I will not be watching the Sabres games this weekend.

I did however, watch the Wild play the Rangers last night on television, and all I have to say about that is “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”. Marian Gaborik was hilariously unstoppable, and the Rangers were just so feeble. I think my favorite part of the game was in the last few minutes, when the Wild had a two man advantage, and the players were sending goofy, unrealistic passes over to Gaborik instead of taking shots themselves. Towards the end of the game, the whole enterprise had turned into a Gaborik-centric spectacle. Awesome.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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