That was lame.
I hate it when people (especially beat writers- ahem) say “there’s no excuse,” for this or that. In reality there is almost always an excuse, it’s just that some excuses are a lot better than others. In the Sabres’ case, I actually think their excuses for game 7 are pretty solid:
– The Sabres are reeeeeally not as good as the Flyers.
– After game 6, I accidentally drank a beer brewed outside of Philly. That’s a powerful jinx. (Sorry, guys.)
– The return of a probably-still-concussed Jochen Hecht was billed as great news. Think about that.
– Daniel Briere is a cheap-shotting, whining, disgusting-faced, DIVORCED, sniveling baby, AND I HATE HIM, but it would have been a LOT easier to win that series if he were playing for the Sabres instead of the Flyers.
– The Flyers refused to play Leighton, and thus refused to give us a three-goal handicap in the first period. Bastards.
– Half the roster was injured, and the other half was playing injured. Jordan Leopold has, like, 10,000 injuries/flus, and he was STILL deemed a better choice than Steve Montador. (And Steve Montador was considered a top 4 defenseman by the Sabres at the trade deadline.) My point is that, due to a variety of reasons, the roster was profoundly effed up last night.
– Apparently the Sabres need both Pominville AND Connolly in order to win. Who knew?
– Is it even possible to come back in game 7 after that game 6? I say no.
But, after all the excuses are gathered and accounted for, the last game of the season left me with a few burning questions.
1. What are the Sabres going to do in the offseason? I loved this season. LOVED IT. But, if I’m being honest, I never really bought into this team as a legit Cup contender. They were a “Well, if the cards fall just right, they might have a shot!” team. Which is certainly not nothing. (Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this team and this season.) This crew overachieved, and as fun as it was, it would be silly to assume they can do it again. Or… maybe it isn’t. Honestly, I have no idea, and that’s kind of my point. I have NO IDEA what is up with these guys anymore. I mostly mean that in a good way.
The only thing I know for sure is that if they’re going to let Timmy walk (and sweet merciful heaven, I hope they do), they HAVE to get someone as good or better. If we come back in October and Darcy is all, “Paul Byron is the new Tim Connolly,” I’m going to be irked. Paul Byron is not the new Tim Connolly, he’s the new hopefully-someday-he’ll-be-as-good-as Tim Connolly. There’s a difference.
I’m REALLY curious to see how Darcy proceeds when the expectations are increased. If winning the Cup is the goal, then the plan for getting there must assume that the team is better next season than they were this season. You can’t assume that the young guys are going to all pan out. The teams that win the Cup go out into free agency, and they pick up proven performers. DO IT, DARCY.
2. Why has no one mentioned that Jochen Hecht almost certainly played last night with a concussion? As much as I like to pretend that I don’t care about the players as people, I’ve gotten increasingly grossed out by concussions this season. Frankly, I was a little disturbed that Hecht came back last night. Concussions are no joke. If the Sabres are trying to suggest that Jochen being cleared to play just happened to miraculously coincide with their monumental need for non-AHL forwards they’re assuming that a). we’re REALLY stupid, and b). we don’t care about Jochen Hecht’s brain. (Both assumptions might be totally true, actually.)
All I’m saying is that the NHL is going to have to learn how to deal with concussions like grown-ups eventually. The sooner the better, if you ask me. In retrospect, I have to assume Jochen Hecht (and his family) would agree the risk was not worth the reward.
3. What’s up with Butts? I do NOT understand Chris Butler. One second he’s benched for four months, and the next second he’s playing for 30 minutes a game, and the next second on the ice for 45,000 goals against during the playoffs. Some players really confuse me, and he’s one of them.
4. Why did Lindy pull Crunchy when he did? And why did the Sabres seem so defeated from the very beginning of the game? As I covered earlier in this post, there are lots of totally reasonable excuses for this loss, but the fact that the team never, not for one second looked mentally prepared was a real disappointment. I mean, there’s losing, and then there’s complete submission. Unfortch, the Sabres pretty much laid down and exposed their bare, vulnerable bellies to the Flyers, which is the international sign for, “Please don’t hurt us.” It’s not the end of the world, but after the run they had, the lopsided loss was pretty unexpected. I mean, at least smash someone’s face into the boards, guys.
As for Lindy pulling Crunchy when he did- I thought that was totally bizarre. There are three types of goalie changes. There’s the, “OMG, you’re the worst goalie in the world”, (this one did not apply to Crunchy last night), there’s the, “I’m going to try to wake you guys up by taking away your star goalie,” and there’s the, “Fuck it. We’re losing this game, let’s just get the poor guy out of there.” Lindy’s decision to pull Miller when he did felt like the, “Fuck it, we’re losing anyway,” variety. Which is weird, because, well… it was pretty obviously the last game of the season.
I dunno. Maybe Miller was just relieved to get the eff out of there.
5. How awesome was Rob Niedermayer? Look, I know he was mostly poo during the regular season, but the way Nieds elevated his game in the playoffs was impressive. It made me realize that it IS possible to have players who magically find another gear in the postseason, and it made me want MORE of those kinds of players. I hope the baby Sabres were paying attention to Old Man Niedermayer this year.