Archive for the 'Zdeno Chara' Category

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.

Dear So and So,

Dear Sabres,

Well, that game wasn’t 100% terrible, I suppose. It was about 50% terrible, and 40% decent, and 10% foxy.  Goose getting up in Chara’s grill was foxy, as was the OT penalty kill.  The first period was vomit inducing, the second period was feisty, and the third period was butt-clenchingly stressful.

What’s wrong with you guys?  Is this all because Crunchy came back down to earth? You revert back to middling when Miller plays like a mortal?  That’s kind of gross, you guys.

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty psyched about the Olympic break.

With (possibly grave) Concern,



Dear Darcy,

THEY ARE PRACTICALLY BEGGING YOU TO MAKE A MOVE.  It could NOT be more obvious that it is time to make some adjustments to this team.  They are TANKING right before the TRADE DEADLINE.  FOR THE LOVE OF LINDY RUFF, LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR TEAM IS TRYING TO TELL YOU.

DO YOU HAVE EYES AND EARS?  This team is begging for a shake-up.  THEY ARE BEGGING YOU FOR A SHAKE-UP.


Do something,



Dear Citizens of the United States of America,

Look. You’re going to hear some stuff about Ryan “Crunchy” Miller in the next couple of weeks. Blob Costas on NBC is going to go on and on about how wonderful he is, and how Miller is the man you want between the pipes fighting for the Good Old U-S-of-A. The narrative of Crunchy’s genius is going to be intense.

And you know what? He IS wonderful. He’s interesting, smart and funny. He’s a PERFECTLY adorable weirdo. He’s often brilliant at his job.

But I’ve got some bad news for you, America. Ryan Miller is….not very good lately. I know. It’s a disappointment. The sooner we come to terms with it, the better.

Pray that it doesn’t go to a shootout. Pray hard.




Dear Ryan “Crunchy” Miller,

Just tank it. Play as few games as possible, DON’T GET HURT, and spend the second half of the Olympics sleeping with a variety of exotic athletes in the notoriously raucous Olympic Village.

I’m forgiving you in advance for sucking in the Olympics.

I am begging you, Crunchy, whatever you do, don’t come back more tired/insane/whackadoo than you already are. Just treat this whole experience like a bizarre vacation. Enjoy yourself.

Also, keep your therapist on speed dial.

With love love love,



Dear Tyler Myers,

I’ve been trying to tell you for WEEKS that your neck is too long. I’m surprised you don’t get hit in the neck EVERY game. Skating around with that thing is just asking for trouble.

I’m SUPER glad you’re okay,



Dear Chara,



Friendly Reminder

Dear Sabres,

Unless I call in sick (which is still totally possible because I think I might have SARS), I won’t be able to watch the game tonight. I’m just writing to remind you that THE BRUINS USE BLACK MAGIK. They are not to be trusted. You must not allow their trickery to distract you from scoring goals. I think we can all agree that you have taken plenty of shit from the Bruins already. Enough is enough.


He’s just trying to confuse you, Pommers! Don’t fall for it!

He’s a witch!

With Love,


The Throne Series

So, there was an All-Star game last night. I thought it was pretty boring until the last three minutes, which were admittedly fun. It was interesting to see the players get competitive after 55 minutes of watching them skate around like little old ladies. Soupy got a bunch of points, sooooo, that should really help smooth things over in his contract negotiations. Mostly, I was underwhelmed with the All-Star weekend. It was fun to see the players acting like real people, having fun and joking around, but the hockey part was kind of lame. Hockey doesn’t really lend itself well to a watered down “let’s not get hurt” version. I like the idea of a midseason break, but I think the NHL should just give up the ghost and show us some kind of three-day reality show starring the All-Stars.

In spite of all of its flaws, the All-Star weekend did produce one truly awesome result: The Throne Series

King Joe

This situation with the throne is rife with unintentional comedy.

Photographer: So, okay guys, you’re Kings. Not L.A Kings, but you know, real Kings. Leaders of men. You are powerful and strong and virile. I want you to sit down on this red throne. You are a KING! You are a stud upon your throne. Now, I want you to hold this hockey stick. This is your scepter. This stick is a symbol of your power as a man. Got it?

Vincent Lecavalier: Done.

Daniel Alfredsson: I am uncomfortable with this game.

Zdeno Chara: I’m going to take this opportunity to make Katebits love me. She thinks she hates me now; in fact, she booed me the last time we were in Buffalo. But I’m pretty cute. She’ll see.

Brian Campbell: Where am I? Don’t let unsightly veins veins veins ruin your life. Sweat must be stopped! Seriously, though. Am I wearing a fanny-pack?

Patrick Kane: I am your Elvish Prince!

Ryan Geztlaf: I was born to sit on this throne. Ladies, remove your shirts.

Alexander Ovechkin: That’s right….dance, jester. Dance.

Tomas Vokoun: This is bullshit. Stop trying to make me pose with an obvious phallic symbol. I won’t have any part of this. Act like an adult. (Sighs dramatically) I hate you guys.


Tomas is right. Grow up, people!

You Guys Rock!

I am so grateful to all of the wonderful people who comment on this blog! Lately, sitting down at the computer has been such a treat, because I get to read all of the hilarious contributions in the comment section. Writing The Willful Caboose has been more fun than I could have ever anticipated, but the greatest surprise has been the growing cast of characters in the comments. My experience hanging out at Interchangeable Parts taught me that blogs can be a two-way street of contribution, and with that in mind, I am just so honored that people are reading and contributing to my little corner of the blogosphere. I want you to know that I really appreciate each and every comment.

Today, in the comment section, arrived a very special comment indeed.

Meet Charbacca:


Katebits: Booooooo! Booooo-ooooo!


Like all good things in life, it was a team effort. Dan started it, but Matt took it to epic proportions. I didn’t want this to get lost in the comment section. It’s too great. I hate to admit it, but I think Charbacca is kind of cute; not, CHARA, but Charbacca. He’s cute, right?

…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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