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!
Okay, so yesterday we learned about the goalie. He’s pretty self explanatory (“NONE SHALL PASS,” says the goalie, especially when your goalie is Crunchy. If your goalie is Toskala, he’s more like, “Oh sure. Come on in, pucks.)
But what about all the skaters? To the untrained eye, it looks like a gobbledy mess out there (actually, it looks like that to the semi-trained eye too), but the skaters do have defined roles.
One of those roles is, “the defenseman,” or, for our Canadian friends, “defenceman”. (Canadians are weird.)
Part Two: The Defense
It’s the job of the defensemen to help guard the net by actively battling with the other team’s players. Ideally, the defensemen skate around, hitting the other teams forwards and snatching the puck in order to scoot it out of harm’s way.
At any given time, two out of the five skaters on the ice are defensemen. If you’re having trouble spotting the defensemen, look for the guys skating backwards. That’s usually them. They’re also the guys who are hanging back at center ice when all the action is down in one end. When I first started watching hockey I used to get cranky thinking,”That guy is just standing there at the blueline doing nothing. He should go try to score a goal. Dumbass.” But then I was always pleasantly surprised when the play turned around and there were still Sabres between the other team and our goal. “Toni Lydman, that was very clever of you to stay back behind the blueline so that the other team can’t skate right up to Crunchy! You’re so smart!”
Fun Fact about defensemen and defense in general: You can just call it “D”. At first it will feel redonk to say “D” (very similar to the first time you said “redonk,” actually), but after a while it rolls right off the tongue.
Defensemen skate in pairs, so every defenseman has a BFF. Sometimes Lindy (more on Lindy later) mixes the pairs up, but for the most part, the Sabres defensemen are monogamous and loyal to their BFF/life partner.
The Sabres strongest current pairing is Tallinder and Myers. Tallinder separated from Lydman last season and at first he seemed to be having a REAL rough time, but now he’s found someone younger and sexier and his broken heart seems to be totally mended.
There are two noteworthy things about the Sabres defense. 1. Everyone thought they would be sucky this year, but they’re totally not, and 2. They are NOT sucky, primarily because of this guy:
Tyler Myers is, like, six-years-old. He’s a wee little baby. (“Wee” in years, not in size. He’s actually humongous.) He’s a wee little baby who is about to win the Calder Trophy. “Calder Trophy” is NHL-speak for “rookie of the year.”
In my not-at-ALL humble opinion, Tyler Myers is a big deal. Last year, the Sabres were poo. THIS year (Myers’ rookie year), the Sabres are third in the Eastern Conference. Coincidence? I think not. In addition to being good at his job, he’s almost singlehandedly rehabilitated Tallinder, which was no small feat. I used to worry that Myers would get hurt because he’s so spindly, but he seems to have the super-strength of a toddler. You could toss him down a flight of stairs and I bet he’d just pop right back up and start skating around, no problem. Tyler Myers is awesome and he’s changed everything about the Sabres. Love him without reservation.
Here are the other defensemen:
In conclusion, the Sabres defense is pretty good and moderately foxy. Since you’re a Bandwagoner, I am going to recommend that you focus on Myers. You canNOT be a Sabres fan this spring without knowing that Tyler Myers is young, awesome, tall, and long-necked. Myers is the most deserving of your bandwagoning affections, but really, all of these guys have their good qualities. The defense is relatively safe waters for the new fan.
Have fun watching the D, Bandwagoners!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, when we begin to examine the “forwards”.