Tonight’s game is the biggest game of the Sabres’ season, since the last one. And until the next one. I actually started writing this last week, but never finished it, yet it still can be considered correct. One new positive is that the Sabres can now narrow their focus down to two teams, as they are 6+ points clear of every club below them. It’s all about Washington (tonight’s opponent) and Ottawa (4 points ahead, Buffalo with a game in hand).
Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta are both cleared to play tonight, though it remains to be seen if either gets back in tonight. I think it’s pretty safe to assume Marcus Foligno is going nowhere, so some combo of Tropp, Turnbull or McCormick would be sitting or sent back to Rochester. Barring any oddities like sitting Boyes or whatever.
7pm tonight, appointment television. Recording it, kicking the wife off the big TV, the whole nine yards. I’m finally feeling some excitement. Let’s do this.
It feels like a really strange night tonight. The Devils don’t exactly excite anyone, and there’s so much other stuff happening around the Sabres it really feels like this game is an afterthought. They players are all answering questions about their injured goalie, the injured goalie is snarking at the media, and some of the media is snarking right back (looking at you, Sully). Add in a few other injuries (Cody McCormick is out, Corey Tropp is back), a goalie ‘controversy’ now on simmer thanks to the concussion, the return of Tyler Myers (Grags sits) and you’re one ring short of a circus.
The Devils might have Kovalchuk back tonight if he feels OK during the pregame activities. New Jersey played in Boston last night, losing on a late goal, so for once Buffalo will be (slightly) more well rested. Enroth is firmly entrenched in the net, though I’m curious about what happens this weekend. It’s a 7:30pm Versus game, though Dave Strader is calling it and he’s solid. We do get more Pierre though, so look for Rob Ray to ‘accidently’ elbow him in between the benches tonight if he starts close-talking. Let’s go.
We’ve all had fun with Lindy Ruff and the players and their constant use of ‘The System”. “We didn’t play the system tonight” or “We’ve got to get back to playing our system”. Now, with the goalie stuff going on, we have ‘The Schedule’. Which goalie is playing tonight? It’s Scheduled. Who does Ruff consider his number 1(A?) right now? You’d know, if only you could see The Schedule. Is The Schedule a physical construct? Or just a metaphysical one inside Ruff’s mind?
The Sabres play the Senators tonight, and I heard that Chris Neil might not play. That’s too bad, because I wanted Cody McCormick or Paul Gaustad to beat the snot out of him. I think I’ll be home tonight barring anything strange happening. But I have a wife and kids, so strange is possible…
The Sabres won last night, though it still wasn’t pretty and took overtime and stupid penalties by the Thrasherjets to do it. So it pretty much ‘solves’ nothing about the Miller/Enroth debate. As I was watching the game last night, I think I came up with a good analogy for what is happening. It’s like when your boss retires, and some new guy comes in from another department to take over. You stop surfing the net, or goofing with your phone, or flirting with the hottie that sits a few cubes behind you. Look at ME, you are saying, this company is my LIFE.
But after a few weeks, you ease the throttle back a notch. Your work’s getting done, so there’s no harm in checking those NFL injury reports. You find yourself standing next to the hottie’s desk chatting away after you get coffee. It happens, you’re human. That’s where the Sabres are with Enroth, though. It’s still New Boss Mode. They sit up straight and pay attention for Jhonas in a way they don’t for Miller right now, and make no mistake, Miller needs the D to do just that. He needs to find his game, so they need to quit cheating, making bad passes, and generally expecting Miller to make the save. He isn’t right now, so they need to put their phones away, leave the hottie alone (she’s got a boyfriend anyway guys) and get to work. In the long run it’ll make them a better team when Ryan does get his game back on track.
As for the game last night, I missed the first period, and when I saw the score I thought “darn, I missed all the fun”. Yeah, not so much. Thomas Vanek scored twice (although the second one was ricocheting a goal in off him in his office), and Roy had two goals, including the one that tied the game late to send it to overtime. It was a penalty-filled affair, with the Jets taking some dumb penalties in particular. I thought Gerbe embellished to get the penalty in the OT. Pominville played half the game. A special nod to Gaustad for the super-sweet pass, and Cody McCormick for the epic bout with Tanner Glass. Commander Cody got cut, possibly by Glass hitting his helmet as Tanner had to ice his hand in the penalty box afterwards. Oh, and congratulations to Corey Tropp for his first NHL goal.
See you Friday when the Sens come to town. May be in the pressbox for that one.
First period thoughts: Passing is squirrelly at best. Miller made some solid saves. McCormick/Ellis/Boyes did some good work out there but they can’t be the best line. Sekera had some good plays, Gragnani needs to learn how to receive a pass. Myers is still having a rough go, with the penalty and some tough plays around his own net. I’m fine with the goal not counting, could’ve gone either way but when the foot moves forward, and the refs started discussing it right off. Personal note: I almost cheered in the pressbox. Bad Tick.
Second period thoughts: Vanek went Atlas on his goal, but the D is still just slinging pucks all over the pace and hoping the right guys get them. They are lucky this is the Panthers and not the Capitals. The Sabres seemed to pick up their play and operate a bit more coherently after Vanek’s goal, so hopefully that can continue on into the third. Theodore has looked beatable, but they’ve gotta get more shots – only 14 after 2 periods. Not enough. Personal note: I like the hot dogs up here better than the ones they sell at the concession stands. Which isn’t saying much.
Third period thoughts: Silent J fizzled on a breakaway. Gragnani is still a wreck. Just when you thought it was safe to plan for a win, the wheels fell off. Perhaps the retaliation penalty by Stafford was a sign of things to come. Gerbe getting the extra 2 was deadly. There were still too many passes that were sent on their way with no thought to destination. While they got a few more shots in, it was in no way enough. Miller definitely could’ve been better but you can’t lay it at his door, not totally. Seemed like no one was on the same page, except maybe McCormick/Ellis/Boyes. A tough loss to swallow. Personal note: Not sure I want my first post-game press conference to be with Angry Lindy.
Post-game presser thoughts: Lindy was ticked with their effort, using words like pathetic, disjointed and the like. Didn’t want to say too much about the calls. On a personal note, Vogl works blue and I had a difficult time not throwing down a #feces reference. It’s interesting to see the regulars operate there, there’s a hierarchy in place for questioning, though I don’t think too many wanted to gamble on getting an earful back for a dumb question tonight.
Anyway, it was a great experience. I want to thank Ian Ott, Kevin Snow and the Buffalo Sabres for the opportunity. I think I will do this again, though it’ll be easier once my wife is off work again. Philly comes to town on Wednesday, a 7:30pm start game on Versus, so plan accordingly.
Giving up 40+ shots isn’t how you want to win, but a strong performance from Jhonas Enroth allowed the Sabres to do just that last night. Vanek/Adam/Pominville continue to dominate, with Pommers scoring twice, Vanek assisting on 3, and Brad Boyes scoring again. There were penalties and giveaways, guys named Cody fighting, and a Kaleta goal celebration. It was the sort of game where you are happy you won but you still work the team twice as hard so they don’t get it in their heads that this was okay. Still, it was entertaining as hell to watch. Two of the goals came on the powerplay, which looked to have better puck and player movement. That’s one thing they don’t have to forget, at least.
The Sabres will be back at it tomorrow night against the Panthers, and I might be in the pressbox for that one.
Hello, Mr. McCormick. You don’t know me, but I have a proposition for you. As you probably know by now, your agents recently made some politically-charged comments about gay marriage from the Twitter account that previously had only been used to tweet positive developments in the careers of their clients. Now, whether or not you agree with what they said, you can see how it would be bad for business to have your agents suddenly start tweeting about such a divisive topic.
I would like to offer my services as your new player agent. I don’t have any experience, but if your preference is to stay here in Buffalo, I think even a Rhesus monkey with an accordion could negotiate a raise with Darcy for you, especially if Lindy is standing next to him bellowing about your ‘grit’. There are other advantages to my representation as well:
As stated, I guarantee I will not tweet about politics
Standing next to me will make you appear cooler by comparison
I have cute children – great photo opportunities
I’d have no problem tweeting about every single positive contribution you make on the ice
Anyone that fights you loses
Fairly certain I and my followers can come up with better nicknames than Allan Walsh (Halak it like that? Pavelectric? puh-leeze)
In closing, I think this could be a mutually beneficial relationship. Let me know!
1pm game today at the hated Flyers. Been back in town for a few days, but no time to watch the previous games back on DVR. Glad they got points, not so glad about losing to Carolina. Two today would be HUGE but it’ll be tough. Gotta crash the net on these Philly goalies, and have Goose/McCormick/Montador clean up in front of Miller because you know the Flyers would retaliate. Let’s do this.
Just one of those Buffalo things, people will say. The Sabres have put together a solid run here, going 4-1-1 in the last 6. Vanek (3G 5A) and Stafford (5G 3A) each have 8 points during that time, and Gaustad/Gerbe/McCormick have been playing well for some secondary scoring. And yet, they are still 8 points out of a playoff spot. That’s the problem with being on the outside looking in – you need help. Like I mentioned in a previous post, the Sabres can help themselves later this month with games against Boston and Montreal. They have to keep winning other games for that to matter, though.
Other random thoughts:
Wasn’t it nice hearing RJ on TV last night? Felt so comfortable.
Sure wish Commander Cody got to really fight last night, was over too quick. Really starting to like McCormick.
What a snipe from Tyler Myers! After the puck rolled away from the defender, Myers picked the top corner of the net to end the game in the last minute of OT. The Tiny Tyler had a goal also, along with Cody McCormick and Steve Montador.
This was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen this year, Vancouver deserves all their accolades. That power play is insanity. I thought the Sabres did a decent job on them, but the Sedins are some of my favorites to watch. Shouldn’t have given up the lead in the third, but the Myers steal almost caused me to wake the kids. Could’ve been a loss, but what a way to win.