Archive for the 'Toronto Maple Leafs' Category

The Ecstasy and the Agony

The Ecstasy

That Leafs game was some seriously good times. Leafs fans are annoying mothereffers, but the arena was undeniably  amazing on Friday. The Leafs fans added to our experience tremendously. At times (like, every time the Sabres scored) it was AWESOME to have so many Leafs fans there, and times I wanted to light myself on fire with rage, but the entire night was passionately experienced, which is more than I can say for most games at FNC these days.

In the past I’ve avoided Leafs games (because, as previously mentioned, Leafs fans are annoying mothereffers, but also because you can completely rip them off by selling them your tickets), but Friday was a real eye opener. Leafs games are high risk, high reward. If the Sabres had lost it would’ve been playoff-loss-level misery, but when they won it felt like no win could ever feel as good as that win. Sometimes it’s good to just lose your head during a game, and the Leafs game certainly provide plenty of opportunity for that. (Along those lines, about halfway through the game, while watching a drunk, moronic nearby Leafs fan stand up in a sea of Sabres fans [during a commercial break, no less] and do that infinitely retarded thing where he grabbed the logo on his jersey to “taunt” other fans, Robin suddenly blurted out, “I’m gonna to punch that guy.” And for a brief moment, I think she meant it. After the moment passed, we laughed REALLY hard about that one, because of all the people I know, Robin might be the least likely to punch someone at a sporting event. The fact that she was tempted to punch someone speaks volumes about Leafs fans and also about our level of emotional commitment to the game. We went all in on Friday, and our reward was sweet.)

Robin and I sit low in the shoot twice side, so the Leaf fan presence wasn’t that horrendous (visiting fans tend to gravitate more towards the other end), but I know that my friend Roman didn’t fair as well. He estimated that up in his section in the 300s, the ratio was 70/30, Leafs fans. Ew! Poor Roman! But down in our end, we were mostly okay. In fact, the closest guy to us in a Leafs jersey turned out to be a Sabres fan who had lost a bet. We discovered this when, to our complete confusion, he turned around to high five us after the Sabres’ second goal.

Me: (high fives a dude in a Leafs jersey) WTF, dude? (points to his Leafs jersey)
Him: (shakes his head sadly) It’s okay. I’m a Sabres fan. I lost a bet.
Me: Ouch. Does your skin burn in that thing?
Him: Yeah, it does.

There was a moment late in the third period when I remember thinking to myself, “No matter what happens with the final score, I need to remember how fun this game has been.” Thank you Hockey Gods, for not testing my resolve on that pledge.

I had so much fun on Friday that after the game ended I was tempted to make a pact with the devil: As long as the Sabres manage to beat the Leafs at FNC forever and for all eternity, I don’t care what else happens. But thank GOD the devil wasn’t taking my calls on Friday night because the VERY next day, I was whistling a different tune…

The Agony

I was playing a concert Saturday night, so I didn’t see much of the game. But I saw enough. I saw enough to say definitively that the Sabres are in deep doo-doo. If Ryan Miller is going to play like crap, and half the roster is going to be injured, and the other half of the roster is going to be Roy and Stafford… the Sabres are in serious trouble. Not, like, cute “we just need time to gel, but it’s okay because we beat the Leafs last night” trouble, but real, “OMG. This season will be lost,” trouble.

The thing is, the more I think about it, the more I agree with Ted Black. We need to be patient. It’s not that I think that if we’re patient this roster is suddenly going to be good, or that Lindy Ruff will suddenly figure out how to make Roy and Stafford stop sucking, or that everything will be better once Tyler Myers and Brad Boyes come back. I just think it’s going to take time to fix this team. The fix is way more complicated than we want to believe.

Personally, until Ted Black and Terry Pegula give me reason to feel otherwise, I trust them to make measured, intelligent changes. It probably wasn’t what I would’ve done (no one will ever accuse me of being intelligent and measured), but keeping Lindy and Darcy after the ownership change was the intelligent, measured thing to do. The problem is that right now, in this situation, there isn’t a measured, intelligent change available. A new coach wouldn’t suddenly heal the injured players, and a new GM couldn’t make new cap space appear out of thin air.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I’m not one of those, “Lindy should have a job for life,” people. I’ve called for his head before. Right now, I don’t think the problem is coaching, and even if I did, there is just NO WAY Lindy should be fired while his forward lines look like this.

As for Darcy: So far, this season is looking like a perfect storm of suck for Darcy. I’m not willing to argue that any of his off-season signings were disastrous on their own (okay, maybe Leino, but… I still want to believe in Leino, so dammit, that’s what I’ll do), but the cap situation is h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e. The Sabres have exactly zero space under the cap right now and they are in injury hell.  The lack of cap space puts Darcy in a severely weakened position when it comes to tinkering with the current roster. Even when the plan was “cross your fingers and pray everyone stays healthy,” Darcy was still walking a very dangerous line with his cap space, but now, with all these call ups, he’s in serious trouble. This is the very definition of cap mismanagement, and in my opinion, depending on how the season shakes out, it’s a fire-able offense. But again, we’ll see.

It’s annoying as HELL to admit it, but it’s pretty difficult to fairly assess the roster with this many injuries. The intelligent, measured thing to do is to wait and see. Ted is right.

It seems to me that a lot of Sabres fans reacted to Pegula by upping their expectations dramatically without much consideration for how these new expectations could be met. I upped my expectations too, but unlike in the past, I now have faith that Sabres ownership is going to keep trying. When things don’t work out, Pegula and Ted Black aren’t going to do nothing. No, the first two and a half months of the 2011/12 season have not gone spectacularly well, but, I fully believe that they’re going to keep trying. So, if Darcy and/or Lindy need to go, I think sooner rather than later they will go. I couldn’t say that about the previous ownership.

Instead of feeling angry about the roster, I feel oddly pacified this season. It never made sense to me that Pegula could waltz in and be all, “I am a billionaire, and I want a Cup! BEGIN WINNING CUPS, BUFFALO SABRES.” That would’ve been too easy.

I believe that when Pegula took over, he gave Darcy Regier just enough rope to hang himself. Whether or not Darcy’s summertime moves have doomed him is still up in the air. I like Darcy as a person, and I love it when the Sabres are successful, so I hope things turn around here, but if they don’t, I do trust that things will change.

For now, we wait.

(But if Darcy wants to get to work trading Roy and/or Stafford, that’d be fine by me.)

4 Things

1. Man, the Leafs sure do deliver, do they?  As most of you know, I’ve only been a fan for a few years, but in that time, the Sabres have absolutely OWNED the Leafs, particularly at HSBC Arena.  In a weird way, the Leafs are sort of our heroes.  Whenever we’re feeling down in the dumps because of an unsettling loss to the Penguins, in swoop the Leafs to dry away our tears.  It’s like clockwork.  Thank you, Leafs!

(Aside to the Hockey Gods: Thank you for your glorious Leaf-related bounty.  In no way, shape, or form do we as Sabres fans take your blessings for granted.  We approach every game that the Sabres play with reverence and respect, including the Leafs.  We do this for you.  Amen,)

2. A few days ago I tweeted that I’m excited that the Sabres will have a First Lady.  I was speaking, of course, about Kim Pegula, Terry’s wife.  This is something new for Sabres fans, because Tom Golisano is unmarried and  dates women 30 years his junior.  Monica Seles seems cool and all, but she’s no First Lady.  That’s for sure.

What I did not anticipate was the emergence of the Pegula daughters on twitter.

Now look.  I’m sure the Pegula girls are awesome.  Of this I have no doubt.  From what I’ve read, their tweets are fun and interesting.  And I can hardly blame them for enjoying the twitter-attention that suddenly came racing their way when their parents bought the Sabres.  Nor can I blame Sabres fans for being interested in the girls, because short of one brief camera shot of Pegula sitting next to Larry Quinn in Pittsburgh, we’ve had exactly ZERO exposure to Terry Pegula.  We’re desperate to hear about him and his family, and at first glance it was fun that his daughters were being so approachable on twitter.

But, you guys, these are teen-aged girls. I believe the oldest of the two is seventeen-years-old.  It’s NOT healthy, for them or for us, for a couple of teenagers to be our primary source of Pegula-information.  I am decidedly uneasy about this turn of events. 

When I decided to write about this issue, I included a whole section that listed in detail all the ways in which this was headed straight for disaster.  It started with, “sooner or latter Terry Pegula is going to do something that pisses people off, and it’s a TERRIBLE idea for people to have a way to air their grievances directly to his children,” it traveled through to, “some people are EXTREMELY RUDE online,” and it finished up with, “I don’t even want to THINK about the multitude of ways in which these young heiresses can be objectified by unscrupulous jerks.”  But, in the end I decided that all of those things are issues that the Pegulas will have to decide how to handle as parents.  It’s really none of our business.  The only thing about the Pegula girls on Twitter that really effects Sabres fans is this:  This deal is NOT YET DONE.  If somehow some sicko on Twitter manages to ruin this for everyone by harassing the Pegula daughters I am going to BURN THIS CITY TO THE GROUND WITH RAGE.  The LAST THING we need is Terry Pegula pissed off at us before the deal EVEN GOES THROUGH.

If I’m the Pegulas, (after rolling around naked in my bank vault of cash) I immediately grant an interview to take the edge off the curiosity in Buffalo, in the hopes that the local paper will not be so hard up for personal information about me that they link to the twitter accounts of my teen-aged children.  Then, I demand that my daughters lock down their twitter accounts.  And if one of the girls resists and refuses to privacy-protect her account, I tell them, “WELL THEN, NO MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INHERITANCE FOR YOU, YOUNG LADY.”  And yes, I would shout at them in all-caps.  That’s how good parents do it.

AND GET OFF MY LAWN! *sprays twitter with the hose*

3. For the first ten (or so) years of my adulthood, I had absolutely no inclination towards gardening or houseplants.  I’d buy a cactus, only to watch it slowly die of thirst.  A cactus.  Dying of thirst.  On my watch.

Perhaps it’s just my withered old age, but I’ve gotten increasingly interested in plants, and now I probably have two dozen potted plants in my house.  I really think that plants are the absolute best way to cozy up a room.  Better than fancy carpets, better than beautiful artwork, a nice healthy plant says, “This is nice place to live!”

If at some point in your life you’ve been a plant killer, I encourage you not to give up.  Keep trying!  If you’re inclined to by plants, but have a difficult time keeping them alive, I suggest you invest in an attractive flowerpot for your new plant.  Flowerpots are inexpensive and really fun to shop for in my opinion.  I like the pots almost as much as I like the plants, and when I started buying pretty pots for my plants I immediately started taking better care of them.


This is my new plant.  I call him Sideshow Bob.  It cost $8, probably because it’s got some worrisome brown spots on its leaves.  Poor guy.

Hey, yellow-potted friend!


4. As I’m sure you’re aware, today is Superbowl Sunday, and, more importantly, today is the Puppy Bowl.  This year, Sabres fans should pay special attention to the Puppy Bowl, because we have a local contestant. This puppy’s name is Lindy. At the suggestion of someone on twitter who I can’t remember (although I suspect it was the fabulous and alluring @reigningfrog), I’ve spruced him up a bit.

Make us proud, Lindy.

6 Things

1. I have to admit that going into this game I was HELLA irked by all the talk about the Sabres win streak against the Leafs.  If you ask me, crowing about something like that is just ASKING for big time troubs.

But I’m a believer now.  No matter HOW badly the Sabres play against the Leafs, as long as we have a healthy Miller, hilarity and joyousness will ensue.

Thank you, Hockey Gods!  Thank you for giving us the Toronto Maple Leafs!

2. That said, the Sabres craptastic offense is getting worrisome.  I suppose they did score some handy goals tonight, but I’m still confusingly bitter.

3. Drew Stafford and Tim Connolly are not even remotely amusing.

4. I forgot to mention something I loved about the LAST Leafs game.   When Toskala let in the blooper goal, on the replay you can see Pominville skate by with his arms in the air.  Then, you can practically see the thought bubble above his head which says, “Oh wait.  Maybe I shouldn’t boisterously celebrate this wonky goal which we totally do not deserve,” as he sheepishly lowered his arms.

I can admit that I’m often looking for reasons to like Pominville.  I’ve had to look reeeal hard lately.

5. The Sabres did not take a single penalty tonight. Weird.

6. Are the Sabres good at hockey? I swear to you that I often cannot tell.

Goaltending is Kind of a Big Deal

As soon as Toskala bobbled Lydman’s “shot” and allowed the second goal to trickle in, you knew the game was over.  The Leafs (who had been completely dominating the play up to that point) visibly deflated, and the Sabres took complete control of the game.

If Ryan Miller had let in that same fluky goal, everyone in the arena would have simply rolled their wonky eyes and been all, “That was weird, Crunchy”.  Then the Sabres would have been right back to business.  The Leafs, on the other hand, totally folded up because they knew no matter how well they played after that, they had no chance of winning.

Heh.

Ryan Miller is rad.  I’m glad he’s on our team.

5 MORE Surprises of the New Season

1. This is actually Drew Stafford. Everyone assumed this was a fake account until Staffy went and broke the news of the Paille trade on Twitter.  Staffy’s current habit of calling every city “Hot[name of city]” in the style of Hotlanta amuses me.   My favorite so far is Hotronto, but Long Hotsland is pretty good too.  Staffy is a weirdo.

2. Lindy Ruff should NOT be fired (yet).  I’ll admit that I was fully prepared to pick up where I left off last season with the constant “IDON’TCAREIFHE’SAGOODGUY,HISTEAMSUCKS” ranting, but as far as I’m concerned, Lindy can keep his job for now.  Before the season started I was getting annoyed with all the talk about how Lindy went to Canada’s Olympic camp and came back refreshed and full of new ideas, but perhaps there is something to that theory.  Sure, the power play still blows, but Lindy does seem to be enjoying the mojo of renewed inspiration this season.  Maybe he’s been watching lots of Oprah and keeping a journal.  If we could just get Babcock to teach Lindy how to manage a goalie rotation, we might be good to go this year!  Woo!

3. Raking is a LOT harder than I thought it was.  Actually, raking is not that hard, but getting the dumb leaves in the bag is SUPREMELY annoying.  I wish I could just go in the back yard, open a lawn bag and say, “All you leaves, GET IN HERE.”  Yes, I’ve been reduced to wishing for a magic lawn bag.  I’m not ashamed.

4. Jason Pominville has a baby! – actually he has several (pommerdoodles have litters).  TWC has obtained exclusive rights to the first picture of the twins.  I think there were five babies in all, but the family has been referring to these two as “the twins” because they both like beef jerky and watching Mad Men.

MazieandGeorge_000

I’m not sure which is the evil twin, but the one on the right looks pretty shifty.

5. Like you, I never bothered to look up the definition of “truculence,” but one thing we know for SURE is that it doesn’t mean, “capable of playing hockey”.  Heh, heh, a THOUSAND times, heh.

Sabres vs Leafs 3/27/09

Pregame

Mood: WOOOOOOOOOOO!!  You know what?  I’m pumped.  I have found the conversation surrounding the Sabres to be totally invigorating lately.  I know some people look at my attitude and think I’m being grouchy (I was accused of being a negative nelly today in Kevin’s comment thread), but I just do NOT feel grumpy about the Sabres.  At all.  Since I decided that they kind of suck I’ve felt the OPPOSITE of grumpy.  I like hockey again.  I find the conversation about what’s wrong with them to be incredibly compelling, but now it’s minus all the emotional turmoil.  I feel great about hockey, and I love the Sabres.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: Hm….I’m going with Tim Connolly, just cuz.
Prediction: I honestly have NO idea.  Traditionally, the game after an emotional win is when the Sabres phone it in, but Crunchy’s return might give them a nice boost.  Oh, thank GOD Crunchy is back.
Facebook Quiz representing my hopes for this game: Which composer are you?

picture-10I am NOT Tchaikovsky.  Now HE was a negative nelly.

After the 1st (2-0, Sabres)

Mood: Entertained.  Please do not misunderstand (especially you, Hockey Gods), I’m not taking this lead as some kind of indication that we are going to win, but this game feels easy-breezy so far.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: I dunno.  I wasn’t paying close enough attention to notice.
Summary of events: Cujo allowed 50% of the shots he saw into his net.  Crunchy allowed 0% in.  The numbers don’t lie, people.
Facebook quiz representing this game so far: Pick 5

picture-12My five favorite movies.

After the 2nd (4-1, Sabres)

Mood: Deeeeelighted.  Man, the Leafs are fun.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: All of them.  If you CAN backcheck, forecheck, play hard, and look like you give a flying flibberty floo, WHY DON’T YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME?  Jerks.
Summary of events: CuJo was like, “Why, come right in and score at will, Sabres,” and the Sabres were all, “Don’t mind if we do, CuJo!”  Then Cujo was pulled and Pogge was all, “Not so fast, Sabres.”  Then the Sabres were all, “We’re so cute and fast, doncha think?” while the Leafs easily scored a shortie.  Then Crunchy was all, “Oh, now I remember why I hate you guys.”  Then Kate was like, “WOOOOOOOOOOOO! CRUNCHY! CRUNCHY! CRUNCHY!”
Facebook quiz representing this game so far: What color is your aura?

picture-13Facebook says my aura is red but I think I’m probably a little more pinkish.  That business about “will power” and “persistance” is total bullhonky. I, um, have no idea what this has to do with this hockey game.  This post is a stretch.  A true red aura-ed person would never write this post.

At the end (5-3, Sabres)

Mood: Basically pleased.  If the Sabres win tomorrow in regulation I MIGHT allow a smidgen of hope back into my heart (maybe), but I will be sad to see this, “Aw, fuck it, the Sabres just suck” phase go.  It’s been downright therapeutic for me.
Favorite Sabre: CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!  CRUNCHY!
Least Favorite Sabre: Dude, Toni Tone Tony Lydman.  Stop taking dumb penalties.   Just.  Stop.
Summary of events: The Sabres were all, “Hm.  Maaaaaybe we want to keep coach killing after all.  Let’s let these Leafs back into the game.”  Then Goose was all, “Eff that.  Let’s win.”  And then he did his adorable happy dance.
Snack you should eat as soon as possible representing this game: Wegmans brand Green Apple Sorbet

scrumpshIf you see this, you should eat it.

EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Because of the All Star game followed by the long stretch of the opposition’s broadcast team, I feel like I haven’t seen the Sabres in a MONTH.  Rick Jeanneret is back!  WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  And they are wearing their new jerseys!

I mean, I know that we have technically been watching the Sabres, but it wasn’t the same.

After the 1st (2-0, Sabres)

Well, the first period did nothing to take the edge off my giddiness.  That period had it all.  Staffy being foxy.  Rivet punching everyone.  Organized power plays.  Mike Robitaille!  Rob Ray!  TEPPO NUMMINEN!

I’m love love loving this game so far.  (But Hockey Gods, I FULLY recognize that it could turn bad at ANY moment.  Please do not mistake my enjoyment for obnoxious “we’ve got this in the bag” presumtion.)

After the 2nd (3-0, Sabres)

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

I LOVE the Sabres tonight and I am STUNNED by the Leafs.  The Leafs are really bad at hockey.

How old is Chris Bulter?  He talks like a grizzled vet.  I love him.

After the 3rd (5-0, Sabres)

That was a SUPER fun game, beginning to end.  Toronto SUCKS ASS.

The Sabres are never going to lose again!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!


…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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