Is Patrick Kaleta the Straw That Stirs the Drink?

Once again, I had bigtime plans to use statbits to prove a point (in this case, my point is that the Sabres cannot win unless Patrick Kaleta is in the lineup), and once again, STATBITS HAVE FAILED ME.

I did all sorts of hard hitting analysis/death-defying statbit crunching this evening only to learn that the Sabres’ record with Patrick Kaleta out of the line-up is…..(drum roll please)……dumdumdumdumdum……9-9.

This is another instance of statbits painting a picture that is WRONG WRONG WRONG, because anyone with eyes, ears, and a wonky brow can see perfectly well that Patrick Kaleta is an important cog in the wheel.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t always loved Patrick Kaleta.  He’s a pest, and he’s good at his job.  I find the whole pest profession to be undignified and difficult to cheer for, but you know what?  He’s our pest. The statbits might not prove that the Sabres are helpless without him, but those of us who closely watch the Sabres know the truth: Patrick Kaleta makes enormous contributions every night that he’s on the ice.  Patrick Kaleta keeps the other team a little off-kilter.  Sometimes he draws penalties, sometimes he scores goals, and sometimes he hits Ovechkin hard enough that it makes sitting though a dull loss at the arena worth the time and the money spent.

Last night during overtime, Derek Roy missed on a glorious scoring opportunity, and before I was even done tweeting, “I’m a little glad Roy didn’t score there. I’m not in the mood for another ‘I made a mistake but then made up for it’ postgame interview” when Kaleta scored the winning goal.

I did not hesitate to feel good about a Patrick Kaleta goal.  He did the deep knee bend, and the douchy hand twirl, and I felt happy for him, and happy for me as a Sabres fan.

Kaleta isn’t perfect. He’s not particularly good at hockey, and he’s not really hot, or funny, and he’s probably not eligible for Mensa membership, but his hard work on the ice means something, and he is one of us.  He’s a good Sabre, a good Buffalonian, and somewhere along the way I realized that I enjoy cheering for him.

I hope he has better luck with the injuries from here on out, because I believe strongly that the Sabres are a significantly better team with Patrick Kaleta in the line-up.  Statbits can suck it.


8 Responses to “Is Patrick Kaleta the Straw That Stirs the Drink?”

  1. 1 Kathleen March 9, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Is Patrick Kaleta the Straw That Stirs the Drink?

    Eff the statbits. He totally is. He also giggles in his interviews which is very endearing. And he is CRUNCHY’S ROOMMATE!!?!

  2. 2 Kitten March 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

    You must be reading my mind. Yesterday on my facebook page I declared Kaleta my second favorite Sabre.

    Why? Because he’s like the scary redneck neighbor who has beer cans and old cars everywhere and blasts Garth Brooks out the window, but he comes over after a storm and plows out your driveway without being asked and gives you a big package of deer meat every hunting season.

    He’s a bit of a tool, but he’s the right tool for the job. (Sorry I couldn’t help it)

  3. 3 Katebits March 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    HAHAHAH, Kitten! Kaleta is TOTALLY that weird scary neighbor that is actually quite awesome. And, “He’s a tool, but he’s the right tool for the job,” is PERFECT for him. Aw, Patty.

    Kathleen, I always forget that Crunchy and Kaleta are roommates. That sees like the most mismatched couple in the world. Do you think Kaleta is just good at staying out of Crunchy’s way, or are they together so that Crunchy doesn’t get too serious. How do hockey players get their roommates. When you think about it it’s incredibly weird that they have to share rooms.

  4. 4 Matt March 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I have a feeling that the Crunchy-Kaleta Chateau was put together by the coaching staff. Kaleta brings in the levity and sense of “enjoy it while it lasts” that keeps Crunchy from getting depressed after a loss or letting it become a drag of a job. On the other side, I think Crunchy is teaching Kaleta about playing a role and doing it to the best of your ability.

    When Kaleta first came up, it was refreshing to see a Sabre that wasn’t afraid to mix it up physically and who couldn’t be intimidated by opponents (Example – Fighting Chris Philips in his first game). What bothered me was that he came out and hit anything that moved, even if he had to take himself out of position or out of the game to do it. More often than not, he ended up hurting the team as much as helping.

    Now that other Sabres have stepped up the physical play (Vanek, Timmy and Roy are both regularly throwing some heavy checks, among others) his role has eased up in that department. You can see him analyzing his own play on the ice and paying more attention to being responsible going both ways. At the end of each shift he’s on the bench discussing what could have been done better with his line-mates.

    Over the years, I don’t feel that Lindy et al have been especially successful at instilling young guys with an appreciation of defensive responsibility. I wonder if putting Crunchy in with Kaleta wasn’t a new coaching attempt to get him thinking harder about the way he plays by using the most defensively-minded player on the team.

  5. 5 Jillian March 9, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I just like knowing he’s out there, and if someone needs to be put in their place, he will deliver for ya. When he scores goals it just makes me all the more happy. I also love his puffy cheek, squinty eye smile, I can’t help it, sorry. :)

  6. 6 Heather B March 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    The statbits have failed all of us on this one. Patrick Kaleta is vital to the Sabres’ success. Who knew? I admit, I did not.

  7. 7 Meghan March 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I’m weirdly drawn to Kaleta. His face is like a car wreck-you just can’t stop looking at it. I’m not quite sure what to make of his looks, but for some reason, I just have to stare.

    Furthermore, I love his post-goal celebration. I’m sure if it was done by someone from another team, I’d be totally out of sorts and call it cockiness, but because Kaleta’s ours, I just love it. He balances the calm-hand-raised-smirk-skate-to-the-bench-for-the-cumpulsory-line-of-glove-fices that is so often displayed by Tim Connolly.

    I guess I’m really drawn to energy players more than the skilled players. I think my biggest point of love for Kaleta is the energy and effort he leaves on the ice. Every shift is just so full of him. I appreciate that.

    Kaleta and Goose currently occupy my favorite Sabres spot.

  8. 8 Dragon Dave March 14, 2010 at 6:54 am

    If we had a team full of Kaletas we would win the cup easily. I’d trade Vanik for another Kaleta. The dude plays with heart.

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