Archive for the 'Jason Pominville' Category

Down the Line

I promised myself that I wouldn’t start analyzing the Sabres until they’d played ten games, but I can’t hold myself back because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I just want to line the Sabres up, and walk down the line, ruffle their hair one-by-one, and tell them each why I love them so. You know what?  That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I doubt the actual Sabres are willing to stand in a line for me, so you’ll just have imagine the hair tussling.


The Sabres, presented in the order in which I think of them, which is probably a pretty good indication of the order of their awesomeness:

Thomas Vanek– Thomas Vanek, I’ve written many, many, many times about how incredible it is to watch you when you’re “on”. You’re just spectacular. But this season feels a little different. You seem so joyful out there. Joy is the one thing that has always been missing from your game. I’ll admit, your visible frustration on the ice has always made me a tad hesitant to really believe in you as “The Guy.” I’ve been joking for YEARS that you need therapy, and I’m starting to believe that maybe this summer you finally got some. (And just FYI, if I were running a professional sports team, sports psychology would be a requirement for every single player on my payroll, so, my insistence that you get therapy is really nothing personal. I only bring up the therapy with you because of all the Sabres, historically you’ve seemed to be the most crazypants. I guess that part is a little personal.) At any rate, as I wrote last night on Twitter, when you’re cool, everything’s cool. So, keep up the good work, and do whatever your therapist says. That guy/lady is a genius.

Jason Pominville– Jason, you’re a Sabre who I’ve always loved unconditionally, so it’s super fun to see you being all captain-ly and top-line-y. I don’t know how you do it, but you are the only hockey player I’ve ever seen who somehow manages to look adorable no matter what you’re doing. That’s a compliment (of course).

Ville Leino- Last night was extremely good for our relationship, Ville. After your pretty pass to Pommers for the goal, I wasn’t just happy for me, I realized I was genuinely happy for you. That doesn’t happen with every goal (for example, I don’t think Derek Roy has ever scored a goal that made think, “Oh, I’m so happy for Roy-Z!” His goals are just the garden-variety, “Hooray! The Sabres just scored and this makes me, Katebits, feel joy in my heart). Ville, I want you to be an awesome Sabre, and I feel extreme confidence that you WILL be an awesome Sabre, so just hang tight, buddy. You’ve got this. (Also, you and McCormick were strangely good together last night. That was weird, thrilling, and totally unexpected.)

Ryan Miller– *fist bump and chin nod of eternal respect*

Drew Stafford– How you doin’?

Tyler Myers– *gets on a step-stool in order to ruffle Tyler’s hair* Hey there big guy! You seem to be either totally awesome or totally terrifying. Last night you were totally awesome and it was really good to see. Just try to be awesome most nights. But don’t worry. The team is better this year. Not everything will go straight to hell if you have a few bad games in a row.

Christian Ehrhoff– I love how you shoot, and I also like how your lips always look like you’re wearing a tinted lip gloss.

Luke Adam– Lu-kie! Lu-kie! Lu-kie! Welcome to Buffalo, kiddo! You’re doing great. Just keep working hard, and when in doubt in the gym or out on the town, do what Goose does. Speaking of Goose…

Paul Gaustad– HONK! Goose, I’d like to encourage you to casually undress in the background of all your teammates’ interviews.

Andrej Sekera– You’re probably my favorite skater on the team. Good job.

Brad Boyes– Um, this is a little awkward. Usually Darcy’s trade deadline acquisitions are gone by now, but… you seem to still be here. Hm…. Oooh, I know! You have a very pleasant-looking face. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, Brad Boyes.

Derek Roy– I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong with you but you haven’t looked like yourself yet this season. Maybe you miss Vanek? I’m not too worried because apparently the Sabres don’t really need you to be awesome in order to win games. I have faith that you’ll pull it together soon. And if you don’t, well… *shrug* We apparently don’t really need you to win games! (That might sound a little harsh. Roy-Z, I think what I’m trying to tell you is: don’t get frustrated. When you suddenly get awesome again, it’s just going to make the Sabres LITERALLY UNSTOPPABLE, but for the time being, your atypical-averageness isn’t really doing any harm.

Cody McCormick– You were surprisingly good with Leino last night! Nice job. Everyone in Buffalo likes to root for you already, but if you can be the catalyst for getting Leino on track, I think we might erect a statue in your honor.

Tyler Ennis– Look, Tyler. I can’t lie. I’m a little worried about you. I’m not like, freaked about you, but I’m concerned. You need to tone down the “dipsy-doodling followed by a blueline turnover.” Just tone it down. Also, could you please clarify something? Is this actually you? That looks a LOT like Ehrhoff’s head on your body to me, but after an in-depth twitter investigation, the consensus seems to be that is IS you. I’m still not convinced. Your thoughts?

Jhonas Enroth– YOU ARE AN ELVISH HERO! Most of the time I forget all about you, but every time I remember you I get an incredible burst of confidence. Seriously. You might change everything this season. That’s how important and awesome you are. You might change everything.

Nathan Gerbe- Rock on, lil Honey Badger. Rock on.

Patrick Kaleta– Hey, Patty. You haven’t provoked my ire at all this season. Good job. Every once in a while, I think you’re Vanek on the ice. That amuses me.

Robyn Regehr– I can’t say I have any strong thoughts or feelings about you, but actually, that’s probably a good thing. You seem cool. Thanks for helping Mylers be less spazzy. I’m not going to ruffle your hair because, a.) you’re pretty much bald, and b.) you seem too dignified for such things. I’ll just shake your hand respectfully, instead.


Ah, that felt great! It’s fun to love the Sabres! I’m a little concerned about the future of this blog (nothing kills The Willful Caboose faster than a complete lack of over-the-top outrage), but we’ll make do.  I’m sure I’ll find something to complain about eventually, but for now, I love these little buggers.

Pommerdoodle Is Bringing His “A” Game

Jason Pominville has always been the cuddliest of the Sabres, but when exactly did he turn into an actual Muppet?

Good boy, Doodle!

And don’t forget, Sabres fans, “The Willful Caboose = Hard Hitting Sabres Analysis”.   We bring you the news that other Sabres outlets are afraid to touch.



Total aside: In my research for this post I stumbled upon this video.  TWC readers above the age of 30 may remember this classic clip where Bert tries to give Brad a bath but Ernie comes along to fill the tub with millions of toys.  Ernie gets silly, Bert gets exasperated, everyone wins.  I totally forgot about Bert’s adorable nephew Brad.

That little guy is almost as cute as Pommerdoodle.

Point/Counterpoint: Sabrez-Style

Point: The current state of the Sabres has left me unable to blog.  I am suffering from the worst kind of blogging-block these days.  I try and try and TRY to write (I swear to you, I’M TRYING), but every post seems overworked, uninteresting, and lacking a clear perspective.

I’m in some new stage of my Sabres fandom.  This terrible start to the season (and all the resultant disillusionment) is something I haven’t ever really experienced.  A few days ago at work my friend Roman (a longtime hockey fan, and someone whose good attitude about sports I really admire) asked me if I would be in danger of losing interest in the Sabres if their suckiness continued.  (I’m pretty sure Roman did not actually use the word “suckiness”.  That sounds more like me than it sounds like Roman.  But you get the drift.)  My answer was a resounding “NO.”  I’m in no danger of losing interest.  In fact, if anything, I’m getting increasingly fascinated.  Oh, it’s a morbid fascination alright, but I can’t turn away.

The difference now is that I’ve withdrawn a bit emotionally.  The overwrought hysteria that has been the trademark of this blog for three years is just not there right now.  Who am I if I’m not a wailing lunatic?!  How can I write about the Sabres if I lack the emotional passion to insist the world is about to end every time they lose twice in a row?  Where will the entertaining blog rants come from, if, in the end all I feel after watching them cough up a two goal lead is, “The Sabres are really not good at this, are they?”  And if I can’t get worked up about the losses, what if I’m turning into one of those dead-on-the-inside fans that can’t enjoy WINS?!  PLEASE JUST KILL ME NOW IF THAT’S WHERE THIS IS ALL INEVITABLY LEADING.

You can probably see why trying to blog about the Sabres has left me feeling a little confused.

Counterpoint: Dude.  I need to get over myself.

I should just force myself to write about the Sabres.  Maybe I could come up with a cheesy little device like “point/counterpoint” which would acknowledge that I’m not entirely sure what to think about any of this because for some annoying reason I’m seeing both sides of the coin right now.  That way, if everything I write turns out to be totally stupid in hindsight, I can always be all, “Well, whatever.  What do I know,” all breezy-like.  Insisting that I didn’t know what I was talking about while simultaneously putting forth strongly held opinions worked to keep me out of dicey “accountability” trouble for YEARS on this blog.

Who cares if what I write is wrong.  It’s all about cleverly hedging my bets.


Point: I think Lindy was right to bench Rivet. Rivet has probably been the Sabres’ worst defenseman all season, and Lindy has repeatedly claimed that he’ll play his best players and sit the rest.  Benching the captain sends a message that Lindy intends to hold individuals responsible.

But the real reason I’m glad Lindy benched Rivet is that I’ve always hated the notion that Lindy would never bench a captain.  Apparently way back when Lindy himself was a captain he got benched, and it pissed him off something fierce.  Of all the possible excuses not to make a roster move, the fact that Lindy got his feelings hurt twenty years ago, seems like one of the worst.  I wasn’t a fan back in 1989 when Lindy was benched, so I have no idea what the circumstance surrounding that benching were, but it’s entirely possible that even though it was a TOTALLY crummy experience for Lindy Ruff, it was a still a good move for the team.  I have sympathy for how difficult it must have been for Lindy to put his personal feeling aside and bench Rivet, but I really respect that he did it.

Counterpoint: Benching Rivet seems to have had zero positive effect on the team.  They lost miserably both nights that Rivet sat in the press box.  (Full disclosure: I was working on Saturday and because of the 8pm start in Dallas, the BPO intermission lined up perfectly with the 1st intermission of the game.  Because of this, I literally did not see a second of that game.  I’m not a glutton for punishment, so I haven’t watched a single highlight or postgame interview.  My basis for calling the loss “miserable” is the score, and the score alone.  Getting shutout 4-0 by Andrew Raycroft looks pretty miserable to me, but maybe there was something positive about that game that the score alone cannot convey.)

The fact that Lindy benched Rivet and then the team responded by being even MORE disheveled and stupid-penalty-taking might be damning evidence that absolutely nothing Lindy says or does is getting through to these guys.  In my opinion, being all bold and bench-y always makes a coach look a little desperate, but sometimes it works, and in those cases the ends justify the means.  But when it doesn’t work, benching the captain shines a big ol’ spotlight on the crazytown that is thriving inside your locker room.


Point: I ran out of Halloween candy last night, so there are no leftovers sitting around the house.

Counterpoint: I ran out of Halloween candy last night, so there are no leftovers sitting around the house.


Point: Not to pile on Lindy too much here, but I thought his public musings about Jason Pominville’s failed post-concussion memory tests were a little irresponsible.  (In case you didn’t see Lindy’s comments, he basically wondered out loud if Pominville’s inability to match his baseline memory scores might not be a symptom of his concussion, but rather a sign that he aced the living hell out of the test as a rookie.)

This issue is complicated because no one seems to understand concussions, but I have to think that the last thing these players need is an NHL coach implying “HE PERFECTLY FINE” when actual doctors are saying he’s not fully recovered.  Not to mention the fact that every young player now knows that if you want an easier time getting back into the lineup after a concussion, you should play dumb when they ask you to draw a bunch of shapes on a piece of paper as a rookie.

I can understand the frustration of not having Pominville back in the line-up (particularly when Pommers himself says he feels totally fine), but I still think Lindy should have said something along the lines of, “We want Pominville back in the line-up as soon as possible, but we don’t want to endanger his longterm health.  It’s important that we don’t send him back in there too soon.”  If Pominville is still failing these tests a month after he first claims to be symptom free, then sure, it might be time to question the testing methods, but for now I think Lindy Ruff and Jason Pominville should just keep their mouths shut and trust the doctors.

Counterpoint: The testing method does seem a little archaic.  Why don’t they test the players more often?  How come Jason Pominville hasn’t taken this test since he was a rookie?  Isn’t it possible that he’s a little mentally slower for a variety of totally normal, non-concussion related reasons?  Doesn’t he have a baby at home? Maybe he doesn’t get enough sleep and that’s why he’s dumber now than he was six years ago.  Wouldn’t it be easier to accurately measure Pommers pre and post-concussion if they had done additional baseline testing during training camp this season?

If treating players for concussions is starting to rely more on testing and less on how the player actually reports that he is feeling (and because of stories like Marc Savard’s, I think we have to consider that it really might be best to be distrustful of what a player is saying about his health), shouldn’t the testing be a little more rigorous than one baseline test as a rookie?

3 Things

1.Well, that was a real clusterfuck.

2. The first thought I had when I woke up this morning was, “I’m so glad Pommerdoodle is not dead or paralyzed.” I was really truly rattled by the “medical emergency” aspect of the game last night. It’s twenty hours later, and I still feel a little off about it. I’m sure Jason Pominville is also feeling a bit off today. Poor guy.

I’ve never seen the stretcher at a game before, and it’s really terrifying.  To be honest, I was a little surprised by how scared I got during the incident.  Major injury is a part of hockey that is easy to ignore until you see one of your favorite guys motionless on the ice, and then it’s very sobering.

I think an incident like this might be a little scarier in the arena than on television. In the arena you’re just sitting there without replays, without Rick Jeanneret, and without commercials for distraction.  Thank goodness for twitter and for texting, because from our seats, we couldn’t see Pommers when he was down on the ice, and we had no idea if he had moved or even regained consciousness.  I’m not sure I could have enjoyed the rest of the game at ALL if Jessica hadn’t texted me and told me that Jason was awake and that he had moved his arms.

Get well soon, P-Doods.

3. I had every intention of writing specifically about the hit, and telling you what I think should happen to Hjalmarsson, and blah blah blah blah, but eff it.

I hated seeing Pominville injured like that- I hated it-  but, I like it when the Sabres hit the other team hard.  The harder, the better.  This is not an easy topic, and there are no easy answers.  Frankly, this whole issue makes me a little uncomfortable about being a hockey fan

So, rather than write about this, I’m going to shut my laptop, I’m going to go put on my ipod, I’m going to go paint my upstairs hallway, and I’m going to be grateful that I’m a violist and not an NHL rule maker.

The Bandwagoner’s Guide to the Sabres, Part Three: The Forwards

The concept of “the bandwagon fan” is very controversial, but I have a fondness in my heart for the new fan.  After all, it was at this time of year that I myself hopped on the Sabres bandwagon.  Every fan has to start somewhere, and often fandom is inspired by the playoffs.  The current Sabres may not feel like a bandwagon-y situation to a longtime fan, but I’m writing this series for the “Katebitses of 2007″; the guy or gal who is suddenly drawn to the Sabres, but doesn’t know where to begin.

Begin here, Bandwagoner!


We’ve already covered the goalie and the defense, so, today we wade into far murkier waters.  Today, we grit our teeth, roll up our sleeves, and get to work trying to decipher the mystery that is the Sabres corp of forwards.

Part Three: The Forwards

The primary role of the forward is to score goals.  Oh sure, Lindy is going to go on and on about defensive responsibility and blah blah blah, but the fact of the matter is, to varying degrees, these guys are paid to score.  When they don’t score, we are cranky with them.  When they do score, we love them.


Forwards play in lines of three.  Every line has a center, and two wingers (left and right).  I invite you pay not one speck of attention to who is playing what position.  I’ve never bothered to figure this out, and I don’t think it’s hurt my enjoyment of the game in the slightest.  If faceoffs are what floats your boat (*raises hand*), you should pay special attention to the centers, but other than that, it’s all the same to you.

Some teams have fixed lines, and others don’t.  The coach of the Sabres, Lindy Ruff, tinkers with the lines quite a bit, so you never really know who you’re going to see together on the ice.  Just when you think you’ve figured out the method to his madness you’re all, “…..whaaa?  Is Ellis playing with Vanek and Roy?”  Line watching can be confusing.  When you first start watching hockey, it’s best not to get too bogged down with the construction of the lines, but I CAN highly recommend focusing on the bench to watch them hop over the boards for the line changes.  Board hopping can be foxy, and so can Lalime when he opens and closes the little bench door for the tinier Sabres.

There are several different kinds of lines:

Scoring Lines: The top two lines are the scoring lines, and they are expected to score.  Duh.

Checking line: The checking line is usually the third line, and these guys are often sent out there to neutralize the other team’s top offensive threats.  These guys are certainly welcome to score, and we love it when they do, but really, their job is to slam into the other team and make life difficult for them.

Energy Line: The energy line is usually the 4th line, or as I like to call them, “The Scrubs”.  The Scrubs are not expected to score, and they’re not even really expected to be any good at hockey, but they ARE expected to play really, really hard.  They are expected to play every shift like it might be their last in the NHL (in many cases, it really might be).  They are expected to hit really hard, to not take penalties, not bitch about being a healthy scratch, and, if called upon, to fight in order to protect the “Top Six”.   Personally, I think these guys are kind of a hoot (at a recent game I turned to Robin and said, “Mair and Ellis are stunningly good at keeping control of the puck in the offensive zone for DAYS at a time without ever actually taking a shot on net,” but lots of people get super pissy about them and like to wail continually on Twitter for their dismissal.

Now, onto the actual Sabres players.

Long ago, back when I was a bandwagoner just like you,  my innocent eyes set upon Chris Drury, and my fate was sealed.  It was love at first sight.  My Chris Drury appreciation played a HUGE role in my eventual hardcore hockey fandom.  One look at that thick, dark beard, one interview, and one last-second goal against the Rangers, and I was hooked.  At the time, Chris Drury was the captain of the team, he was the obvious leader in the locker room, and he was constantly scoring clutchy goals.  He was an obvious and perfectly acceptable first favorite player.  Any Sabres fan would have approved.  Chris Drury was an extremely safe choice. (Unfortunately, Chris Drury proved to be a revolting Ranger who is not worth one third of the money he is getting paid.  But that’s a story for another day….)

Sadly for you, Dear Bandwagoner, these are not the simple times of 06/07.  The forward situation is confusing, but I’m here to help.

-The “Top” Six

The Sabres pride themselves on “balanced” scoring (meaning their scoring is fairly evenly distributed throughout the lineup).  Balanced scoring can be a real advantage.  If the other team has no idea which Sabre is the most likely to score, the Sabres can be very difficult to defend against.  But “balanced scoring” might just be a polite way of saying “lacking a true offensive threat”.  I just looked it up, and the Sabres were 10th in the league in scoring this season (I KNOW.  IT BLEW MY MIND TOO), so, they really did score plenty of goals  Because of this “balance” it can be a little difficult to identify our top six.  Players float in and out of the top six based on their performance and Lindy’s whims.

Some teams have Thornton, Heatley and Marleau.  We’ve got these guys.

(But we love them.)  (Mostly.)

Thomas Vanek. Had bad year. I want to love him because he costs $7mil per year and he's all we can afford now. Capable of putting the entire team on his back.

Derek Roy. Ew. Can be awesome, often chooses not to be.

Jason Pominville. Often good. Girls love him, boys can be grumpy about him (just jealous). Cute as a bugs ear.

Tim Connolly. Very good at hockey. Creative player. Most likely has cooties.

Jochen Hecht. He was good, then he sucked, now he's good again. Shy likeability is his trademark. Might be injured for start of the playoffs (girly fingers).

Drew Stafford. Brain-eating zombie? Probably. Concussed. Definitely. Poor guy. "Morrre Braaains" Very rarely plays on top six now that I think about it.

Of this crew, your best bets are Connolly and Vanek.  Vanek has been heating up, and when he gets hot he really is a sight to behold. (He can make that $7 million price tag look like a bargain.)  So, Vanek could be a perfect player to set your bandwagon-y sights upon.  As for Tim Connolly, now this was before my time, but his entire legend was built on one playoff series back in 2006.  Apparently he was amazing until he got his brains scrambled, so I’m figuring he might have high playoff potential now that he’s allegedly healthy.

– Checkers, Grinders, and other assorted misfits

Tim Kennedy. Rookie. Does not look like this anymore. Now he looks like a toothless, greasy hoodlum.

Paul Gaustad. Beloved HONKer. Hard hitter. Funny looking skater. Everyone in Buffalo wants to marry him.

Mike Grier. Is a grown-up. Hard worker. Has probably played a bigger role in returning the team to respectability than he's getting credit for.

Nathan Gerbe. Is currently on the team, but probably won't be come playoff time. That flavor-saver is gross, Gerbs.

Matt Ellis. Got his roster photo taken from waaaaay across the room. Total scrub, but an appealing scrub.

Adam Mair. Less appealing as far as scrubs go, but I don't understand all the squawking for him to be fired. He'll punch you right in the face.

Of these guys, Goose is the clear choice.  Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, everyone will just nod and say “me too,” when you announce that you intend to marry Paul Gaustad.  Mike Grier is another perfectly acceptable favorite, but the problem with him is that he’s only signed through the season and he may very well leave town all, “Screw you guys, I’m going home,” in a few months.  It’s difficult to tell if Mike Grier loves us back. He’s risky that way.

-The Wildcards.

These are the guys that defy categorization.

Tyler Ennis. Might be the next big thing. Might not. *fingers crossed*

Raffi Torres. Darcy gets us one of these guys every year at the trade deadline. Torres is this year's model.

Patrick Kaleta. Pest. Hard hitter. If he were on any other team, we'd hate him passionately. But he's a Sabre, a native Buffalonian, and he's QUITE good at his job, so we pretty much love him. Plus, he seems sweet in a dopey puppy kind of way. Don't try to fight him. You'll just wind up penalized.

Of these three guys, Kaleta is the clear choice.  If you try to talk up Ennis when you’re really just a bandwagon fan, you’re going to sound like a major tool.  If you try to talk up Torres you’re going to get blank stares.  But Patrick Kaleta is the perfect choice for a new fan.  He’s VERY visible on the ice, and almost everyone in town loves him.


Good golly.  That was a lot about the forwards. I hope that clears things up!

Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to discuss the coaches and management.

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.


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.

Please Come Home

Last year at this time I was still all full of hope and sass.  Even when the Sabres sucked (which was often) I was willing to take every win at WAY over face value.  Last season, every single win, all the way up to when they were eliminated, was a sign that things were about to turn around.  I might not have always loved them, but I seemed to have an unshakable faith that they were worth cheering for.

Sadly, another full season of streakiness and hovering around 7th-10th place has taken it’s toll on my faith and my blogging.  I’m at a loss.

I have all the Sabres cataloged in my head.  There is a pecking order.  I rag on Drew Stafford all the time, but when he’s playing well, I really have a lot of affection for him.  I love to hate Derek Roy.  When he’s playing well, my attitude is “Well, you better be scoring goals, you little punk.  Earn your keep, Roy-Z.  Also, shut up.”  Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly are supermen when they are playing well, and disgusting slag-faced whores when they’re not.  Toni Lydman is an unsung hero, except for when he makes a hideous mistake and then I feel deep pity on his behalf.  Spacek is comic relief.  Craig Rivet and Lindy are the father figures to rebel against.  Goose can do absolutely no wrong.  Crunchy is awesome, possibly evil, and always fascinating, even in the bad stretches.  Maxim Afinogenov is a spy, and even though I’m sure he’s been selling all the Sabres secrets to the KGB for years now, I’m going to miss him when he’s gone.  All of the Sabres have their place.

Which brings me to Jason Pominville.

Of all the things that have gone wrong this year, Jason Pominville is the most upsetting.  He makes me sad.  He is SO BAD, and he doesn’t even look like he’s trying.  Suddenly the contract we were all so excited about last summer is terrifying.  Five more years?  At $5.3 a year?  *shudder*

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I enjoy ragging on my team.  I’ve got no trouble hating on the Sabres, and normally I’m not that attached to them being cute or sweet or even good at hockey.  But…..I cannot reconcile this Jason Pominville with the Jason Pominville I have cataloged in my mind.  Pommerdoodle is in the “hard working, steady, good dog” category.  Period.  Anything else is just too upsetting to bear.  I can accept that the Sabres suck, and that they’re never making the playoffs again, but I cannot accept that Jason Pominville is phoning it in because of his contract.  I’ve tried to rag on Pommerdoodle as if he were a Vanek or Timmy or any of the other Sabres who I am perfectly willing to throw under the bus, but it’s really no fun.  Jason Pominville is no Thomas Vanek.

So, I’m drawing a line in the sand.  The cynicism and the bitterness go no further.

I am a fan of Jason Pominville.

He’ll be back.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but whatever it is, for now, I’m putting my head in the sand, and I’m ignoring it.  Sabres fans have had a bitter pill to swallow this season, but I can’t swallow a lazy Jason Pominville. (That’s what she said.)  I can’t and I won’t.  Eff you, Hockey Gods!

I guess every bitter, cranky fan has her limits before she is forced to rely on irrational faith.

Lost Pommerdoodle

*fingers crossed*

5 Things

1. I’ve been quite frustrated watching the Sabres games without Vanek.  Obviously, he’s a good player to have around, and a large part of my discontent has been because of Vanek’s absence, but something about the way Lindy’s been reconstructing the lines has left me feeling, like, “Um….do we have any good forwards?  Why do all these lines make me sad?”   Normally, I’m not much of a line watcher.  I don’t pay super close attention to who is playing with who, but without Vanek things have felt WAY off, not just on the first line, but on ALL the lines.

You know how over the course of the game you begin to anticipate, and wait for the first line to come out?  Well, it turns out, hockey is less fun without a legitimate first line.  Over the past two weeks it’s felt like the Sabres NEVER rolled out a line that made me sit up straight and go, “WOOOOOOO!  Here we go!”

Connolly, Roy and Stafford seem like the most obvious combination of currently potent players, and they were on the ice together for two goals last night, so I really hope Lindy keeps them together.  We need at least one, functional, scoring line.  The idea of spreading out the guys who are playing well in the hopes of “sparking” some of the slumping guys is just NOT going to work.

Of course, it’s really not fair to judge Lindy’s lines when two of his supposedly reliable forwards are in such deep, deep ruts. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville need to be quarantined- for their own protection and for the protection of their teammates.  I’m not here to point fingers.  I don’t know who infected who, but Pommer and Yo-Yo are CLEARLY and UTTERLY diseased.


Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?

We have young, impressionable players on our roster right now.  Do we want Chris Butler, or Nathan Gerbe catching that suck?  Paille and MacArthur have already displayed symptoms, but they might still be salvageable.  What if (GOD FORBID) after he’s finally pulled it together, Drew Stafford catches the suck?  We canNOT afford the risk.  Drastic measures must be taken.  Hecht and Pominville must be separated from the general Sabres populace until we understand more about this horrific and debilitating sucking disease.

3. For whatever reason, I’m more sympathetic to Pominville than I am to Hecht.  Say what you want about Pommerdoodle, but he’s got 47 points so he hasn’t been totally worthless even when his defensive play is highly questionable.  I said in Heather’s comment thread today that my sense is that Pominville is slumping, but that Hecht is sliding into a pit of despair from which he might never return.   Don’t get me wrong, they have both been completely terrible, but Yo-Yo’s particular brand of ass-tastic seems disturbingly terminal.

4. Reading over this post I’m realizing how negative it sounds, and I just thought I should say that I enjoyed the game last night.  It was zippy, and if it weren’t for that meddling Mike Richards, we very well might have snatched those two points.  For the most part I thought the Sabres looked like a reasonably respectable NHL team.  (Except for Yo-Yo and Pommerdoodle who looked like Timbits.) (And not the hockey-playing Timbits.) (Last night Pominville and Hecht looked like donut holes.) (Donut holes who really suck at hockey.)

5. After writing a Sabres blog for a year and half, I am proud to report that I have FINALLY learned how to spell H-E-C-H-T. It’s such a short name, but for some reason I could NEVER remember how to spell “Hecht”. Thanks to his currently vomitous play, and the need to write his name repeatedly, I’ve finally learned how to spell “Hecht” once and for all. I promise you, I will NEVER learn how to spell “Paetchsetahscetahsecth”.

Let’s Blow This Baby Up

I’m kind of a drama queen when it comes to the Sabres (although oddly, I’m not a drama queen in any other area of my life), so I felt a little bit of vindication when I made my morning blog rounds today.  It seems I’m not the only person who thought that that was THE WORST HOCKEY GAME IN THE HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE.  I mean, I’ve seen the Sabres suck plenty of times before, but that game last night was an abomination.  I’m not sure that either team successfully completed a pass all night.  I will forever remember that game as ten guys standing in the middle of the rink kicking the puck around randomly with their skates.  For all I know, they didn’t even USE hockey sticks last night.

But the details about last night are neither here nor there.  The main point is that the Sabres are not a good hockey team.  I’ll admit, I’ve lost ALL patience for waiting around for this particular group of guys to pull it together.  It’s not going to happen.  Drastic steps must be taken.

I’m not ordinarily the type of blogger to play the role of GM.  I don’t feel very confident with my hockey analysis, but this situation has inspired me to go out on a limb and write a serious post about what I would do if I were the GM of the Sabres.  In my opinion, this team needs a major shake-up.

Here are the moves I would make:

Tim Connolly should be retired and sent to a farm to live out his remaining years grazing peacefully.  It’s the most humane solution at this point.

Drew Stafford should be traded for Evgeni Malkin.

Derek Roy‘s talent should be surgically extracted and implanted into Paul Gaustad.  This is a dangerous scheme because there’s a risk that Goose could be infected with some of Roy-Z’s personality as well as his talent (that, of course, would be disastrous/tragic), but I’m sure we can all agree that a Goose/Roy-Z hybrid would be a useful player to have around.  I think it’s worth the risk.  After the talent transferring procedure, the now talentless Derek Roy can become Goose’s personal assistant.  Everyone wins….except Goose, who now has a talentless Derek Roy following him around all the time.

Ryan Miller needs his glass eye removed and replaced with a real eye.  He’s done pretty well with one glass eye, considering, but it’s clear that he needs two good eyes to compete in the NHL.  He might as well get his wonky eyebrow re-cocked while he’s at it.

Jason Pominville needs to be taken off the point on the power play.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman need to be sent out into the deep forest and each be given a match, a single bottle of water, and a penknife.  They have 48 hours to hunt and kill the other.  Whoever comes out alive gets to keep his job.

Thomas Vanek should be paid $7.1 million dollars per year for the next six years.

Clarke MacArthur should be traded to the Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

Max Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik should be melted down and then recast as Christmas tree ornaments which the Sabres wives and girlfriends can then sell in the concourse to benefit charity.

Andrew Peters should be waived and Adam Mair should start actively practicing punching people and being punched in return.

Patrick Kaleta should be sent to Portland, and Danny Paille should start actively practicing being really, really annoying.

Nathan Paetsch should be traded for Nicklas Lidstrom.

Craig Rivet should be returned to the San Jose Sharks.  This is a mercy trade made of behalf of Rivet who is probably looking at his old team with extreme longing right about now.  This poor dude was living a perfectly happy life in California a few months ago, and now, through no fault of his own, he’s the CAPTAIN of this train wreck.  Poor dude.  I want to set him free.

Mark Mancari, Nathan Gerbe, and Tim Kennedy should all be given trial jobs with the Sabres, but they should be FORBIDDEN from socializing with any of their elder teammates.  Everyday after practice they should be chauffeured to their grim apartments at the Extended Stay America off the 290, and supervised for the remainer of the day.  If any of them even glances wistfully at Chippewa St, they should be automatically fired/executed.

Teppo Numminen should be compelled to retire so that he may begin some sort of job which involves him standing behind the bench with James Patrick looking foxy in a well tailored suit.

Jaroslav Spacek should call a press conference and then bite the head off the pigeon so that we never have to hear about that dumb thing again.  (This isn’t so much of a personnel move as it is a personal request from me to Jaro.)


So that’s what I would do if I were GM.


labradoodle C

Aw.  Good boy, Pommerdoodle.

I don’t have much time to write right now, but DUDE, what a nice summer it has been as a Sabres fan.  I can’t believe we’re entering the season with all the major players signed and no gigantic question marks on the horizon.  It’s a whole new (happy) world.

Now it’s time to see what they can do.

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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