Archive for the 'I Was There' Category



10 Things

1. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

2. That overtime was RIDICULOUSLY fun.  That game was ridiculously fun.  I haven’t been that bonkers during a regular season game, well, possibly ever.  The arena had a GREAT buzz tonight, and the overtime period was incredible.  Great, great entertainment.  That was my first win in the arena this year, and IT FELT GOOD.  More please.  I’m home now, and I’m bouncing off the walls, filled with big beers and warm fuzzies.

3. At some point during the Rangers game last week, I got so frustrated with Thomas Vanek that I got a little temper tantrum-y.  If I weren’t such a lazy blogger I would’ve written a post in which I declared that Darcy should have taken the draft picks from Edmonton.  This was a new low in my relationship with Thomas Vanek.  As much as I’ve bitched about him in the past, I’d never actually given up on him before.  But I gave up on him last week.  I really did.

Thomas Vanek is never going to be the guy we thought he would be when the Sabres signed him to the seven year contract, but, he’s never going to let us give up on him either.  He’s got “it”.  He may not have access to it all the time, but when he’s got it, he’s got it.

I’ve said this before, but to me, the game looks different, and it really feels like anything is possible when Thomas Vanek is hot.  There are no other Sabres that make me feel this way, including Ryan Miller. (Maybe I just take Crunchy for granted.)  Somehow Thomas Vanek alone perfectly represents my vast array of feelings about this team.  As low as I was about him last week, that’s how high watching him made me feel tonight.

Thomas mother effing Vanek.  I want him to be awesome.  I love it when he’s awesome.

4. Tyler Myers had the overtime game winning goal, which makes him a hot, hot bitch.  Sekera (a guy who Lindy has always been more than happy to bench) hit the jackpot by being the guy playing with Myers when he started to take baby steps out of his slump.  If Sekera and Myers develop any type of lasting chemistry, Darcy better roll out the lifetime contract for Sekera, because I don’t want to see, “My Name Is Tyler Myers And I Miss My Defensive Partner, Part II”.   I’m glad Myers is starting to look like himself again, and if Sekera can help Myers forget about Hank, all the power to him.

5. At the start of OT, when the Sabres had about 30 seconds left to kill on the PK, Lindy sent out Myers, Connolly, and Morrisonn.  I thought it was pretty interesting (and more than a little bonkers) that those were the three guys Lindy trusted most in that situation.  Lindy was right.  It was an admirable PK, start to finish.

6. Damn it’s good to have Ryan Miller back.

7. I sat up in the 300s tonight with my buddies from work (I was playing the role of “one of the guys” this evening), and I’ve got to say, the 300s are VERY fun.  Granted, this was a particularly exciting game, so maybe my regular seats would’ve been just as boisterous….but I kind of doubt it.  I really have to hand it to the 300s, it’s a hoot up there, and the view is great.

8. The Sabres have done something INCREDIBLY clever.  (I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “‘Clever’ and ‘Sabres’?  Those words do not belong together,” but bear with me here.)  By sucking beyond our scariest nightmares in October, they absolutely convinced us that they were a terrible team.  They were so bad, that we had no choice but to believe in their shittiness.  And now?  When they don’t suck?  We all think, “EEEEEEEEEEEE!  The Sabres are so scrappy and over-achieving and wonderful!  I want to marry them all!”  This is an astonishing feat.  I think I might love the Sabres more because they don’t suck than I would have had they never sucked in the first place.  Well played, Sabres.  Well.  Played.

9. I like it when guys wear jerseys that fit with their body-type.  Like, if you’re tall and skinny, I think you should wear a Myers or a Miller.  If you’re mega cute and cuddly, you should wear a Pominville.  If you’re just basically dude-shaped, not too tall and not too short, you should wear a Vanek or a Connolly.  If you’re short and kind of a punk, I think you should wear a Roy.  I thought of this tonight because I saw a tall skinny guy in a Myers jersey standing next to a short guy in a Roy jersey and I thought, “Well, that just looks right.

10.I really, really loved that game.  Sometimes you just have to go ahead and blow the 3rd period lead in order to set up the best OT ever.  Hockey is great.

Organists Unite!

Okay, now that I’ve had a few hours away from the hockey game, I’m feeling considerably less mopey, and I want to tell you about something I learned at the game today.

I think I have mentioned before that I sit right next to the organ in the arena.  Like, RIGHT next to the organ.  So, today we got to talking to Tim, the guy who plays the organ.  (Actually, Tim is one of two guys who play the organ at Sabres games.  The other guy is Ken.)  We talked about the Sabres, and being musicians in Buffalo, and how Tim’s daughter reads TWC (Isn’t that cool?!  Hi, Erin!), and how hard it is to plan your gigs when you don’t KNOW THE DARN PLAYOFF SCHEDULE, and how the Sabres should play less loud pop music in the arena and more hardcore organ shredding.  Over the course of the conversation, Tim let a REALLY charming and interesting bit of behind-the-scenes information slip.

Get THIS:

At some point a few years ago, one of the NHL organists (I think he said the Carolina organist, but I’m not sure I’m remembering that correctly), decided that all the NHL organists should be BFFs.  So, he started an email list, and they keep each other informed of all the organ-related goings-on in the NHL.  Tim just called it an “email list” but you know me, I’m assuming that they all email each other all day long, talking smack about each other’s teams and gossiping about one other.  The email list ALONE was hugely interesting to me, but then Tim told me that the NHL ORGANISTS HAVE A FANTASY HOCKEY LEAGUE.

Isn’t that the best thing you have ever heard?

Private to NHL organists: Tim gave me permission to write about this, so if any of you are reading this blog post and are outraged that I am spilling the beans about your [super rad] secret society, you can take it up with him. :)

That Was Really Awesome

I really wasn’t prepared for how much more awesome the playoffs would feel.  Oh sure, you guys kept telling me, but I guess I had to experience it for myself.   Playoff hockey in person is just astounding.

First of all, the crowd.  Wow.

I’ve bristled a bit all season when I’ve heard people bagging on the HSBC crowd for being too quiet.  As most of you know, this was my first year as a season ticket holder, so even if the crowd was a little subdued compared to previous years, I wanted to love it, and I did.  I loved HSBC Arena and the people I shared the games with this season, passionately and with all my heart.  So, when people kept telling me, “You won’t believe how much wilder the arena can get during the playoffs,” a small part of me was thinking, “Oh please, that’s just the old ‘everything-was-better-a-few-years-ago’ Buffalo thing, talking”  I kind of didn’t believe that the crowd would suddenly change, as if a flip had been switched, just because it was playoff time.

But that’s exactly how it was.  It was as if a switch got flipped.

I think Jessica said it best in the comments a few days ago: “This is the best time of year for fans to lead with their hearts and not their heads.”  That’s exactly how if felt last night.  All of a sudden, everyone was on the same page, cheering for the Sabres.  Everyone was cheering with their hearts instead of their heads.  It was loud and raucous and wonderful.  The atmosphere was incredibly special to me, and even though I’ve been to nearly 50 games over the last three seasons , I think last night was the game I became a real citizen of HSBC Arena.

Second of all, the game. In the immortal words of Rick Jeanneret, “WOW.  DOUBLE WOW.”

There were times last night when I was thinking, “WHO IS THIS TEAM?!  Who are they…and can I marry them ALL?”  A flip was switched with the Sabres, as well as in the crowd.  Playoff hockey really is a different game.  It’s wilder, and harder, and all around MORE AWESOME, which seems weird to say, because frankly, I think regular season hockey is pretty damn awesome already.

Of course I’ve watched the playoffs before, so I know what playoff hockey looks like, but to suddenly see the Sabres, my Sabres, playing real playoff hockey like they meant it, well, it was super cool.  My doubts about how the Sabres would perform in the playoffs were always there just because I couldn’t imagine them playing as hard as, say, the Pens and the Caps played last postseason.  But now, after seeing Jason Pominville (!) lay a hit on Chara with my own two eyes, I’m a believer.  I was really impressed.

The Sabres have looked like a playoff team all season, but last night they looked like a team in the playoffs, and it made me incredibly happy.

I can’t believe I get to go back tomorrow.

___________________________

A few thoughts about the game and last night in general:

– I’ve always booed Chara, mostly because it cracked me up.  Truthfully, I’ve actually always liked him, and I really only booed him because it cracked me up.  (Robin and I referred to him for years as “The Guy We Boo For No Apparent Reason.”)  But things are different now.  What a douche.  Last night I booed that guy with genuine malice in my heart.  I will do so again tomorrow.

– A lot of forwards had impressive games, but the one who really amazed me was Thomas Vanek.  He had a few shifts last night that reminded me of last year, when some nights he was the only guy I could see on the ice.  I LOVE it when Vanek is the only player I can see on the ice.  I love it so so so much.  If Atlas is back…..*stops to ponder what it might mean for this postseason if Atlas really is back*……man oh man.

– Last night during the first period for awhile I was thinking, “Gee, the Bruins are hitting REALLY hard, I don’t know if the Sabres can deal.”  And then, a few minutes later I realized that the Sabres were dealing.  Quite capably, in fact.  I was actually impressed with the Bruins last night (rightly or wrongly, I think of them as a passionless team), but I was MORE impressed with the Sabres willingness and ability to push back.  Screw you, Bruins!

– Derek Roy played a terrific game.

– Toni Lydman is the best.

– I heard Julien’s postgame comments in the car on the way home, and I was very unimpressed.  Basically all he said was, “Well, I thought we played well enough to win.  Hopefully we’ll win on Saturday.”  Thems fightin’ words!

– I also heard Ryan Miller’s postgame comments on the car on the way home, and I was, as usual, very impressed.  The thing that he said that I loved the most was about the second period (which was fairly puke-tastic).  He said something like (I’m paraphrasing), “If we do this right, we’ve got two more months of hockey.  Not every period is going to go our way.  The important thing is that we were way better in the third.”  That’s pretty much how I felt about the second period too.  Yeah, the second period was WAY lame (that’s where having Crunchy comes in SUPER handy), but they pulled themselves back together, and they WON THAT SHIT.  The Sabres are now 31-0 when entering the 3rd period with a lead this season.  31-0. That’s THIRTY ONE WINS, and ZERO losses.  This team knows how to lock it down.

– Sabretooth rappelled from the rafters, you guys!  I’ve always assumed that maybe it was actually Daniel Briere in the Sabretooth suit back when he regularly rappelled, because that tradition seemed to disappear after the Briere-era.  It’s something I’ve always been sad I missed.  Was it always just a playoff thing?  At any rate, I might have squealed out loud when I saw the spotlight on Sabretooth way up there.

– Raffi Torres!  All of a sudden!  Raffi Torres!

– I have two minor quibbles about the crowd last night: 1. I DISAPPROVE of goalie taunting until the goalie has DONE SOMETHING DUMB.  For goodness sakes, people were busting out the “Tuuuuka, Tuuuuka,” when the game was still scoreless. I didn’t think Rask did anything that warranted a goalie taunt last night, but I will admit that in the third period when the score was locked at 2-1, I did feel a strong urge to join in.  “Tuuuuuka, Tuuuuuuka,” seems like a VERY satisfying thing to chant.  Hopefully he’ll have a bad game tomorrow and I’ll be able to taunt him with a clear conscience. 2.  I realize that chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A is really just our way of chanting “We love you Crunchy!” but the Olympics are over, AND BOSTON IS IN THE UNITED STATES.  We need a better, “Yay for Crunchy” cheer.  (May I suggest, “Yay for Crunchy!”)

– Tyler Ennis really is good.  He came close to two highlight reel goals last night.  One of these nights he’s going to score a beauty.

Basking

I had every intention of writing a good post tonight, but I am exhausted, and so so so happy.  Instead of writing, I’m just going to bask in it tonight.

I really loved that game, and I have to say, even with all the hockey I’ve watched in the last three years, I wasn’t quite prepared for how different the playoffs would feel.

Wonderful.

I Don’t Want To Talk About It

That game hurt my feelings.

Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge, and Other Disgusting Atrocities: A Story in Two Parts

Part One: Last night, Crotchety Original Sam and I tromped out into the icy mess that is St. Paul for our annual Minnesota Wild game at the Xcel Center.  In past years this trip has ended in despair and tears.  (Just kidding, Sam and I ALWAYS have fun, even when the home team sucks rhino ass.)  Guess what?  THE WILD WON!  I’m pretty sure that they were so impressed with my new North Stars t-shirt that they played extra hard.  The Wild are QUITE zippy and fun.

Anyhooch, there we were, wearing sassy retro NHL t-shirts and watching the Wild win, when suddenly during the second intermission, came the “Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge.”  The jokes immediately started flying about the name of this competition and the fate you would suffer if you ate a Chipotle burrito.  (Worst name of intermission game EVER.)  The game involved contestants rapidly identifying pictures of celebrities up on the jumbotron.  The winner would win free burritos for a lucky row in the arena.   I was immediately preoccupied with imagining the meeting at Chipotle headquarters that created this game (“I know, let’s call it “The Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge!”  “Do you really think it’s a good idea to associate our burritos with sudden death, boss?”  “Oh SURE!  Sudden death refers to the GAME, not the food!  I like the name!  It’s folksy!”) to pay much attention to the contestants, and Sam was busy recounting a South Park episode which graphically detailed the terrible fate that would happen to your digestive system if you ate a Chipotle burrito.

But that’s right!  You guess it!  At the end of the contest, section 202, row 9, OUR ROW, was the lucky recipient of the Sudden Death Burritos!   Of all the hundreds of rows in the arena, we had won!  Now, I hate sudden death as much as the next gal, but I LOVE free burritos, so needless to say, I was PSYCHED.  A few minutes later, a pleasant Minnesotan came by and handed out our burrito coupons.  It was joyful.  We were triumphant.

But that’s where the fun ended.

The Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge is a SHAM, people.  First of all, it’s NOT a free burrito, it’s a “buy one get one free”.  It’s HALF of a free burrito.  Second of all, THE COUPON EXPIRES AT THE END OF 12/09.   So, after all of that rigmarole, all I got was a “buy on get one free” coupon that I have to use in the next fifteen minutes before it expires.  I think this is WRONG.

I think this is SO wrong, that I intend to give this coupon to my most hated enemy so that he/she will first have to BUY a burrito only so that he/she will suffer from the SUDDEN DEATH caused by the free one.

(Truthfully, the whole thing was hilarious.  Loudly complaining about our prize brought our row together for lots of laughs.  I suggested that we all throw our Sudden Death Chipotle Challenge Buy-One-Get-One-Free credit card gift certificates onto the ice in protest, but sadly we decided that it would be difficult to hit the ice with a coupon from the upper bowl.)

Moral of the story: Eff you, Chipotle.  Eff you right in the ear.

Part Two: At the end of the Wild game, we scurried back to Sam’s house to watch the Sabres game on DVR delay.  I changed out of my North Stars t-shirt and into a Sabres sweatshirt (I really did this), and we settled in.  Sam got to see my oh-so-delightful-I’m-sure transformation from a happy-go-lucky Wild fan to a nearly-abusive-to-the-players Sabres fan.

A few thoughts on the game:

I think it’s okay to be legitimately concerned about the following things:

1. The overall  lack of energy.  At no point did the Sabres seem pissed at Ruutu.  At no point did anyone seem to care that Roy took an elbow to the head.  At no point did coming from behind seem to create any legitimate momentum.  The Sabres might be better this year, but they’re still lacking in the “fiery passion” department.

2. Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford.  Remember when we all used to wring our hands and saying things like, “Oh, if only Tim Connolly could stay healthy THE SABRES WOULD BE UNSTOPPABLE.”  Did anyone ever stop to consider that someday Timmeh would be able to stay healthy and that he would simply….suck? I don’t even know what to say about Staffy.

3. I know that they got a power play goal, but the power play still looks like a half-eaten Sudden Death Chipotle burrito.  Which is to say, very bad.

4. I’m pretty sure that Lindy put Vanek first in the shootout to reward him for playing a good game, but it was ill-advised.   I know, hindsight is 20/20, but Lindy OBVIOUSLY flew too close to the sun on that one.  Sadly, all the confidence-building good of the game was probably erased when Thomas failed (for the 50 millionth time) to score in the shootout.  Very unfortunate.

The following things are legitimately good:

1. At the start of the game, I said to Sam, “The following players MUST have a good game: Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville” and then they both scored!  I will try this trick again today.

2. Steve Montador is getting hotter by the day.  Is it just me, or does he always seem to be charging around creating offensive chances and being generally foxy?  Private to Monty: My car mats ALWAYS need shaking.  IfyouknowwhatImean.

3. We should be happy they got a point. That was a bad game, but they’re still leading the division.  I have no experience with the ebb and flow of a successful season.  As a result, I think my spazziness after the bad games is probably a tish excessive, and for that I apologize.  Being a Negative Nellie is not my real-life style, so, let’s be thankful for this point.  Let’s love this point like it’s the best point in the world.  Last year the Sabres missed the playoffs by two points. Maybe this point that we inexplicably squeezed out the Ottawa game was one of those points that we will really need later on.

Moral of the story: There is another Sabres game in a few hours.  I’m going to forgive them for yesterday, but if they look like disinterested poo again, I’m sending my Sudden Death Chipotle Buy-One-Get-One-Free credit card coupon to the Sabres locker room.  That’ll teach ’em.

6 Things About Beating the Blackhawks

1. That was a great game.  Each team controlled the play for long stretches, and in spite of the low score, it was never boring.  You REALLY have to give it up for Patrick Lalime who played a totally solid game, particularly in the first period when the score could have very easily been 3-0 in Chicago’s favor.  One of the best parts of the night was seeing the bench enthusiastically congratulate him.   Very charming, and very deserved.  It’s fun to be happy for Patrick Lalime.

2. On Twitter before the game I was pitching a total fit about Lindy playing Lalime instead of Miller against Chicago.  My reasoning for hating the decision was that Chicago is a GREAT team (more on that later), and by sticking Lalime in there, Lindy was in essence setting him up to fail.  My feeling is that if the Sabres are going to get anywhere this season, the back-up MUST win a few games, so the smart move would be to play him against weaker teams.  The only argument I got from the folks on twitter that made any sense to me was that if the Sabres lost, at least the points would stay in the Western Conference.  I suppose that makes sense from a standings perspective, but it’s really throwing the back-up under the bus, and it could have rendered Patty totally useless for the rest of the season.  What if he had been totally lit up?  Wouldn’t we be in another Thibault situation where Lindy has ZERO faith in the back-up?

BUT, Lindy and Patty sure showed me.  Lindy’s gamble paid off, and Lalime did the unthinkable- he played the shit out of that game.  Yay, Patty!   I apologize for having so little faith in you, Patty.  You deserved better.  I can’t wait until you play again……in February.  Heh.

3. While I was squawking that Lindy should be fired and that the team should be systematically dismantled (I was kind of being an argumentative d-bag on twitter last night.  These things happen.  Feel free to boo me), the following conversation was had:

(Incidentally, I love Ryan for humoring me on this one. The fastest way to my heart is to totally agree with me when I start nonsensically screaming that everyone should be fired.)


You can say a lot of things about me, but I’m always true to my word.  A deal’s a deal.  I was so sure that the game last night was going to be a disaster with Lalime in net that I made a deal with Heather.  If Patty wins, Hank gets a contract extension.   So, henceforth and from now on, I will be advocating for Tallinder’s lifetime contract.  Let this be a hard lesson to you all: Don’t be an ass on twitter unless you’re willing to face the tough consequences.

4. Chicago really is a threatening team.  Basically the entire game I was marveling at their firepower.  Every line they rolled out had me covering my eyes and screeching, “Look out for THAT GUY!”  Their offensive depth is amazing, and unlike certain Eastern Conference teams (Caps), the Blackhawks defense seemed pretty darn reliable.  I’m proud of the Sabres for beating them.

5. I say this only half joking- Do you think it’s the system?  I was genuinely stunned to see the Sabres calmly go about their business last night without Miller in net to clean up their messes.  It has seemed to me that without some serious heroics from Crunchy, the Sabres record would be quite different- but maybe we’re not giving enough credit to the conservative system that Lindy has in place.

You know who the Sabres remind me of this year?  The Bruins from two seasons ago.  Remember that year when the Bruins went from a non-playoff team to THE MOST FRUSTRATING TEAM IN THE UNIVERSE, and then they almost knocked out Montreal (#1 seed) in the playoffs?  The Sabres are very committed to a no-frills system, and they’re just chugging along without too much flash.  I think you can argue that they’re a tad boring, but who gives a rip?  They’re beating good teams.   Beggars can’t be choosers, and my desire for playoff hockey went from “yes, please” to “desperate begging” about 18 months ago.  Keep it up, boys.

6. I’d say more about the actual game, but frankly I didn’t notice much.  I was too busy booing Soupy and biting the heads off of nearby babies to pay any attention.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

For All Your Facebook “Needs”

Categories

puck goggles
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.)

Pages