Archive for the 'Jhonas Enroth' Category

The Goalie Controversy Situation

I’ll admit, up until last night I had a constant headache from the non-stop, dramatic eye rolling I was doing every time I heard the words, “goalie controversy.” While I still don’t think we’re anywhere near “controversy” territory, I’m forced to concede we have definitely ventured past the, “nothing to see here,” phase.

Lindy gave Enroth one of Miller’s starts. That is genuinely interesting.

Aside from my minor concerns that Miller will give Enroth the shiv at his first opportunity (watch your back lil’ Enroth), I doubt this will wind up being a big deal. But… at this point you never know. If I had to bet money on what will happen next, I’d bet that Miller kicks ass on Tuesday, and then everything goes back to normal (meaning, Lindy goes back to his prearranged goalie schedule, Miller plays pretty well in general, Enroth plugs along winning at every [far apart] opportunity, and the Sabres fanbase and media continue to squawk argue debate about which goalie is better for the franchise.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “problem” of two good goalies. Obviously, having two good goalies is not an actual problem, but it sure does make the conversation surrounding Ryan Miller a lot more intense. Unless Miller is perfect, there will be calls for Enroth from the fanbase. When Miller is really, really, really far from perfect (as he has been his last few starts), those calls become a roar; a roar audible from the players’ bench in the arena, actually.

In my opinion, in this environment, it’s really difficult to have a reasonable conversation about the goalie situation, which is frustrating, because this situation is absolutely chock-full of interesting angles:

Will Enroth’s strong presence push Miller to be better, or will it further throw him off his game? How is Miller going to respond being benched? Would one bad game from Enroth throw water on the whole conversation? Will Enroth ever actually PLAY a bad game? At what point does Enroth start stealing starts with regularity? How is the the goalie situation effecting the locker room at this point? Is Miller injured? Can Lindy use Enroth to essentially let Miller work through whatever is ailing him (mentally or physically) and then restore the normal goalie rotation? Does an NHL roster HAVE to have a clear #1 and #2 goalie? Is there some way for Lindy to just play the hot hand for an entire season? How much is this “goalie controversy” fan/media generated, and how much of it is actually real? Do you think Enroth and Miller are friends? How much would the new players effect locker room chemistry and could this be effecting Miller’s performance? What on earth is up with this? Is it possible that the players’ previously indisputable support of Miller could be eroded if Enroth’s strong play continues? How much is everyone thinking about Tim Thomas and Tukka Rask these days? And probably the most interesting topic in my opinion- Can Lindy coach himself through this goalie situation?

In my opinion, Ryan Miller’s personality comes in at about #45 on the list of “relevant talking points.” Basically I think you can boil that entire topic down to this: When the goalie plays poorly, the fans get mad at him. When he’s not apologetic enough, that gives people “justification” for their anger. That’s it. That’s the entire thing. It’s not more complicated than that, and it’s not particularly unique to Ryan Miller or to Buffalo. Sure, there are certain elements of Miller’s personality that don’t mesh well with Buffalo’s personality, but basically, people are mad at him because he’s not playing well. It’s not rocket science, and we probably don’t need to bust out the Freudian analysis.

I do understand that a player’s personality effects how the fans feel about him, and that in turn effects the conversation surrounding whatever is happening on the ice. I understand why so many people are preoccupied with Miller’s postgame demeanor, I just think that if we continue to dwell on this aspect of the situation we’ll be missing the forest through the trees.

Things are actually getting interesting around here. There is so much to talk about that DOESN’T involve dissecting a player’s personality and then speculating wildly on what tell ourselves we know about him.

I’m an ardent Ryan Miller fan (what can I say? I love his unique brand of crankiness), but I can’t deny that I’ve grown increasingly intrigued by Enroth’s strong play. I’m a little surprised by my willingness to consider that Enroth might be the Sabres’ best option. If Enroth is the better goalie for the team right now, then… maybe he should play until he’s not? I dunno. Regardless of where you fall in the Miller vs. Enroth debate, I think most reasonable people can agree that if Ryan Miller is at the very top of his game, the Sabres will be in good shape. With that in mind, does Lindy gear his goalie decisions towards getting Miller back on track? Or does he just go with the best chance of winning on any given night? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’m certainly eager to see what Lindy does next.

I wouldn’t call any of this a “controversy”, but Lindy definitely has a situation on his hands. Consider me officially intrigued.

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.

Lesson #1: WHAT is Going On In Net?

If you’re a Sabres fan, you were probably jumping for JOY after the Hurricanes game on Sunday.  That was good, good stuff.  But Sabres fans were also likely feeling VERY confused.  Why does Miller look so… different?  When did Ryan Miller get so short? And Swedish?  And non-cranky?  What’s going on?

I understand.  This is a really confusing situation.  But don’t worry, Sabres fan.  I’m here to help.  We’re going to figure this out.

Sabres fans, let me try to spell this out for you, in clear, easy to understand language.  What we have here is, not one, but TWO GOOD GOALIES.

Before you freak out, let me say that again.

Not only do we have the first good goalie (Crunchy), but we ALSO have a new good goalie (Enroth).  Do you get it? Here… let me try to say it another way.  You know how before, when Crunchy got hurt, Lindy would play Lalime and everything would be non-stop losing and terribleness?  It’s not like that anymore.  Now, Lindy can play Enroth. Unlike Lalime, Enroth is good at playing hockey.  Now do you understand?


That’s okay.  I’ve brought some helpful visual aids.


ALSO good

Handsome, but not good. Most importantly, not relevant to the conversation.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand at first.  Take your time.  This is a difficult concept to grasp.

The Sabres are in the middle of a super tight playoff race, and our starting goalie is injured in some mysterious upper-body-ish type way.  BUT (and here’s where it get’s tricky), all hope is not lost.  You see, Enroth, appears to be really, really good under pressure.  The Sabres are winning IN SPITE of Miller’s injury, because they have an additional good goalie.  Get it?

If you call yourself a Buffalo Sabres fan, and you’re not just a little bit in love with Jhonas Enroth, you need to go to the doctor to make sure that you actually have a heart and that you’re still capable of love.  Because Jhonas Enroth is the bees knees. Jhonas Enroth is a breath of fresh air, he’s the light of our lives, he’s little cutie pie.  Jhonas Enroth is adorable, and fancy, surprising, hilariously small, and (as far as I can tell) wonderful in EVERY way. Jhonas Enroth is all that and a delicious Swedish meatball.  He’s AWESOME, but he is a different person than Ryan Miller.

Jhonas Enroth is the effing BEST.  He’s the best….except for Ryan Miller.

1 good goalie + 1 good goalie = good times.  It’s science!

Tune in tomorrow for lesson #2: Who the Eff are These Guys?

We thought he sucked, but he doesn't.

He's tiny, but he's also good at hockey. Apparently.

NOT Max Afinogenov

This guy is a Sabre.

Not chopped liver

I have no idea who this is.


5 Things

1. I looooooOOOoooOOOOooved that game last night.  LOVED IT.  Beginning to end, it was thrilling and fun. I thought the game was riveting, I thought the Sabres were great, and I thought the crowd was totally invested.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people stay for the three stars before.  It felt like a playoff game.

2. Speaking of “three stars”… Jhonas Enroth.  Holy Toledo.  A million things have already been said about his wonderful game, and I’ll just say, “I agree with all of that.”  He was a DELIGHT last night.  To find out later that his parents were in town and watching him play in the NHL for the first time, man, it gives me chills.  I sit on the side of the arena where the Sabres shoot once, almost exactly on the goal line, so I had a lot of opportunity to watch Enroth.  I don’t think I’m a particularly good judge of goalie technique, but I was MEGA impressed with his physical demeanor in net.  Something about the way Jhonas shuffled around in the crease during the down times projected absolute calm and poise.  It was such a treat to be able to watch that performance.  Obviously, it was an important (and impressive) win for the team, but it was truly special to see such a young player shine so brightly.

3. I am EXTREMELY glad that we were all totally wrong when we spent the entire first half of the season screeching for Tim Connolly to be traded.  Timmy, I’m sorry I gave up on you entirely.  Thanks for returning to awesomeness exactly when we needed you most.  (This is likely the nicest I will ever be to you, so live it up, Timmeh.)

4. Honestly, I think that last night’s Rangers game was the most enjoyable game I’ve attended this season. It was stressful, it was exhilarating, and most of all, it was triumphant. As we were walking out of the arena Robin said, “That was totally cathartic.” One of the best things about going to the arena is leaving all of my other worries behind and devoting a few hours to hollering about the Sabres.

5. The “leave my worries behind” thing was especially helpful yesterday, because yesterday my worries included coming out to my car in the morning and seeing that all four of my hubcaps had been stolen, along with ALL OF THE LUGNUTS. It turns out that on my Honda Civic you have to remove the lugnuts in order to get the hubcaps off. This is great for the prevention of hubcaps theft, ASSUMING YOU DON’T ENCOUNTER SOMEONE FREAKISHLY DESPERATE FOR 2003 HONDA CIVIC HUBCAPS.  I dunno, maybe 2003 Honda Civic hubcaps were made out of solid gold and then painted a dull silver.

WTF. All four of my wheels looked like this.

Realizing that none of your wheels are attached to your car is disconcerting, to say the least.  Interestingly, my first reaction was to tweet about it.  (Actually, one thing I learned yesterday: Twitter has REALLY enhanced my ability to stay calm and good-natured during lame events. Almost instantaneously, I wanted to turn my extreme-lack-of-lugnuts into a funny story for Twitter. It helped me keep my cool, in a situation that could have VERY easily devolved into frustrated crying. This helped too.)  My second instinct was to call AAA.

Literal (sort of) translation of my conversation with AAA:

ME: Um, I have no lugnuts.
AAA LADY: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.  I’ll send a tow truck.
ME: Um… I don’t think a tow truck is going to help.
AAA LADY: Oh, trust me, they can tow anything.
ME: My car has no funtioning wheels.
AAA LADY: I’ll make sure they send a flatbed.
ME: Uh, unless that flatbed includes a crane and a gigantic pillow to set my wheel-less car upon, a flatbed won’t do it.
AAA LADY: Wait… you’re telling me ALL of your lugnuts are gone.
ME: Yes.
AAA LADY: Well, we don’t deliver lugnuts.

In the end, my dear, wonderful, awesome, crafty, fabulous-in-EVERY-WAY, friend Chuck (“cute boyfriend” of @reigningfrog) came to help me.  He drove my sorry butt to Pep Boys, he gathered up all of the jacks in town, he jacked my car up on FOUR jacks, and he successfully reattached all of my wheels, WITHOUT allowing my car to fall flat on her underbelly onto the ground.


Having your lugnuts stolen is lame.  I cannot recommend it AT ALL.  What I CAN recommend is having Chuck as a friend.  I consider myself extremely self sufficient, but this one was… a head-scratcher.  I needed help, and I needed someone to laugh with, and Chuck was up to the task.  THANK YOU, CHUCK.

It’s Time To Get On Board

I have no idea what is going on with this team.  I have no idea where this burst of awesomeness came from, and I have no idea where it’s leading.  It might not be leading anywhere.  There’s still a loooong way to go.

All I know for sure is that this is getting genuinely enjoyable.  If you can’t let go of your preconceived notions about this team, you’re not having as much fun as you should be having.  The Sabres are defying our expectations in a really appealing way.

It’s time to get on board.  It’s time to like these guys.

Just go with it.  And enjoy.

(I just had to make a Jhnoas Enroth tag!  It was fun!)

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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