1. The Sabres are good at hockey! Whaaaa? Up is down, and black is white.
I’ve read and heard a LOT of discussion about whether fans are “buying in” to the new Sabres. Everyone is asking themselves the hard questions. Do I believe these guys are for real? Or, having been burned (hard) in the past, am I skeptical? Do I believe?
My answers: Yes, yes, who cares.
The Sabres have been weirdly good at hockey so far. I use the word weird because…..dude, I did NOT see this coming, and at the same time I’m not even slightly surprised. The changes that Darcy made this summer seemed so inconsequential in the face of what appeared to be major problems, but somehow everything feels different. They’re playing hard, they seem defensively responsible, and the scoring is balanced. (The one major difference between this year’s fast start and last year’s fast start is that last year Thomas Vanek basically singlehandedly scored all the goals in the month of October. This year, everyone is chipping in. [Seriously, TV had TEN goals in October last year. Wowza.)
I’m in no rush to declare that I believe this team is “the real deal,” but I’m oddly proud of them. (Surely my fandom is playing some role in this hot start, right? The Sabres have been reading this blog for years, and that’s why they’re suddenly good. They’re taking my advice! My advice has consistently been “stop sucking,” and they’re FINALLY taking it.) All I know for sure is that I’m really enjoying watching the Sabres play hockey. Hockey is awesome. Good hockey is, like, megaSUPERawesome.
2. Goose is a FACEOFF WIZARD!
My Goose Appreciation sometimes clouds my judgment. I actually think I’m a little harder on Paul Gaustad because of my affection for him. I’m overcompensating. Truthfully, I’m always a little surprised when he turns out to be good at hockey. I’m like, “Goose’s job is to be all handsome and blinky and to occasionally attack various Devils….YOU MEAN HE’S NUMBER ONE IN FACEOFF PERCENTAGE TOO?!” Be still my heart. (About the “blinky” thing: Something about the way Goose blinks amuses me. Whenever I watch a Paul Gaustad interview I wish someone would edit in a sound effect every time he blinks. Goose’s blinks should sound something like this.)
3. The Hurricanes totally suck!
I was looking at the standings this morning (What?- looking at the standings is fun when the Sabres are 8-1-1!) and I was shocked to see that the Hurricanes are the suckiest sucks in all of Suckville for some reason. I doubt it will last, but it’s still funny.
4. Mike Grier seems nice.
I wasn’t a fan yet during Mike Grier’s first tour of duty as a Sabre. All I really knew of him was the way he left the team, which in the retelling sounds kind of diva-ish. I always imagined Mike Grier tossing his hair on the way out of town, as if to say, “Not only do I not love you anymore, I never loved you in the first place. Buffalo.” I know, I know. His reputation is one of a hard working, grinder, leader-y type, but I think I half expected him to pout his way through the season. He’s been such a pleasant surprise. One of the funnest things so far this season has been watching his very charming and smiley goal celebrations with Tim Kennedy. Mike Grier is exactly who this team needed.
5. Tim Kennedy is badass, but not in the way I expected him to be badass.
I thought Kennedy was going to be a slick, speedy, pint-sized goal scorer, a la Danny Briere, but instead he’s a feisty, sometimes punchy, seems-right-at-home-on-the-third-line, defensive minded, pint-sized grinder. I will give Lindy Ruff full credit for this one. Putting Kennedy on a line with Grier and Hecht was a very clever move.