Sabres and Leafs – Weekend Warriors

I was at the Sabres/Leafs game on Saturday night with my son, saw a bunch of fights, goals, and an epic shootout.  And that was the LESS interesting game.  Sunday’s game in Toronto saw Tropp possibly concussed, John Scott and Phil Kessel sort of fight (I guess), Miller and Bernier fight, slashing, spearing, bench-leavin’ and pretty much everything else you can think of.

I’m not going to place blame or throw stones at any particular team, coach or player – there really isn’t anybody who comes out looking good in that mess.  It may have been entertaining to watch when it happened, but it doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth once there’s some distance on it.  Let’s just shake our heads and move on.

On the actual hockey side of things, I really liked what I saw from Zemgus Girgensons Saturday.  I thought he played hard and wasn’t afraid to hit.  He could be a fan-favorite here if he sticks.  Cody Hodgson was solid, too.  Jhonas Enroth was great, that shootout was crazy.  By round 15 I probably would’ve been ready just to skate off.  I’m ready to see what these young guys can do.

Aside from the game, I have a few comments on the upgrades to the First Niagara Center.

  • The new food options are nice.  Even the existing stuff, like the hot dogs and hamburgers were much improved.
  • However, if you get popcorn, and they ask if you want butter, SAY NO.  I was expecting the machine at the movie theater that drizzles a little bit on.  NOPE, IT’S A LADLE.  The solid lump in my stomach was not fun.
  • The game presentation was better.  There was genuine laughter at the Celebrity look-alikes thing with Foligno/Fabio.
  • I wonder if that changes when all the sponsored stuff is back in.  Recycle bins!

Looking forward to real hockey.  Getting excited!

Blog Life

I’ve been debating writing something about the blogger meet and greet with Ted Black the other day, then Ryan over at the Roost went ahead and wrote just about what I would have, right down to the Galactic Senate pod bit.  So read that, first, if you haven’t.  How do I feel?  Well, it’s clear why Terry Pegula has Ted as the public face of the franchise – he fits in just as well with us regular folk as he probably does in the boardroom.  I, on the other hand, write on the internet for a reason.  Like Ryan said, Ted is a guy you want to listen to and believe.  I’m happy to have been included, especially for game with an ending like that.  It’s an interesting look at how the other half (or is it 1%?) watches games even without meeting the team prez.  Oh, and hey:  rope line thoughts:

  • John Scott is big. (shocking, right?)
  • I like Jason Pominville as captain, but he sounds hilarious trying to pump guys up.
  • Steve Ott gave a little girl a stick, which was fun to see.  I wonder how often that happens?
  • It must be really strange for the players.  Felt like they were trying NOT to look at us.  Awkward.  Apparently there are times when the players are more interactive.  It was a tie game at the time which may have had an effect.

A few helpful notes for the Bruins

Just a few things I saw that might help the Bruins after last night’s game:

  1. The opposing team’s best offensive player should probably be covered.  You may even want to shove him around a bit when he’s parked in front of the net on a power play.
  2. Tuukka Rask’s default move when a goal-scorer is near probably shouldn’t be ‘lie on my stomach’.
  3. That best offensive player I mentioned?  Passing him the puck yourself – with a gentle nudge of your hand, no less – also not recommended.

And a few notes for the fans of the Bruins:

  1. We know that Lane MacDermid wasn’t brought up to ‘deal with John Scott’.
  2. The timeout was taken because the wrong Sabres were on the ice.  Tough guys versus skill players is not something you want if you’re a coach.  Reverse the situation, and Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand are standing nose to bellybutton with John Scott (or Jared Boll, or Colton Orr) at a meaningless late-game faceoff, you don’t want to switch them out?
  3. Actually, I kind of want Ruff to own that, since it bothers some of the Bruins players so much.  “Oh, that?  Yeah, I called that timeout for a victory lap.  What of it?”

By the way Sabres fans, this really wasn’t one to crow about after today – the defense on the Buffalo side was just as brutal, only Ryan Miller bailed ’em out more than Rask bailed out the Bruins.  Many of the same problems remained from the Leafs disaster.

That was a tear your hair out type of game for both fanbases last night, but I’m glad the Sabres came out on top.  They meet again in just over a week, and it’ll be interesting to see if there is any carry-over.  Might depend on how Thornton’s doing.

It’s a GAME

You know, I’m dreading this game.  Not because Buffalo has sucked since game 3 of the season.  Not because we’ll get a hundred and fifty Miller/Lucic references.  Because it won’t live up to the hype.  They almost never do, these ‘team toughness’ statement games.  Oh, Lucic might fight somebody, John Scott may terrorize some poor sap, but at the end of the day, what the Sabres need is two points.  They need to GET RIGHT.  They could hardly pass the puck with a purpose in the last game, the only reason they were in that game at all is the Leafs suck just as bad.  This might mark me down as a ‘bad’ fan for a certain portion of the fanbase, the part that thinks adding -mafia to the team name makes you sound intimidating.  I don’t care.  Two points, awesome goals, that’s what needed.

Now, if John Scott were to rip Lucic’s spine out, Mortal Kombat style, I’d probably nod and say ‘Good Job, Hodor’…but not if it’s 4-1 Bruins at the time.  Sorry.

Deep Breaths

It’s been a whirlwind to start the season, with games packed in together right from the start after a very short camp.  It went well for the Sabres, though, with two wins in two tries, and some worries relieved about the situation at center.  Buffalo had a day off yesterday, so too should we sit back, take a few deep breaths, and make sure we don’t get too amped up juuuuuust yet.

Now, I’m not saying go all doom and gloom like your typical WGR caller (or anchor).  I’ll never get tired of seeing Vanek do his thing, and having the good Ryan Miller to start the season is pretty awesome too.  But the downside of Vanek having been on the ice for every Sabres goal is that means other lines aren’t scoring at even strength.  They still haven’t played a whole game at their highest level.

But you know, that can go both ways.  They have plenty of time to get better at faceoffs, as an example.  Might even see a second or third line goal.  John Scott will win a fight (I kid, I kid, please don’t kill me).  Miller might have an ordinary game.  Vanek will go a few games without a point.  I know everybody had been saying “it’s a sprint!” this year, poking fun at the normal “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” proverb, but really, it’s a half-marathon.  Buffalo still has 46 more games.  It doesn’t take a whole mess of games to get behind – and you don’t have as many to recover if you do – but nobody is toast after 2 games, nor is anyone a slam-dunk to make the playoffs.  Should you like what you see so far?  I do.  It’s been a ton of fun, and hey, two wins after two games is right where you want to be.  Enjoy it, and don’t jump off a bridge, or write poorly spelled twitter/blog diatribes, if they lose a game or two.

Vanek Downs Flyers

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Buffalo Sabres pulled away from the Philadelphia Flyers and won 5-2 today at First Niagara Center.  Thomas Vanek was in on every goal, scoring 2 of them, and Steve Ott scored in his first game.  Tyler Myers and Cody Hodgson had the other tallies.

It felt like Buffalo came to play in the first, always close to the puck and pushing play up the ice.  They fell away from that early in the second period, however, and that’s when the Flyers took over and got their 2 goals.  Vanek tied it later though, and the Flyers’ dead legs didn’t do them any favors in the third.

Who I liked:  Vanek, of course, and Cody Hodgson came on as the game went on, too.  Drew Stafford attempted to fight Scott Hartnell the second time the stupidest Flyer tried to ram a Sabre into the boards from behind.  Miller was very solid in the net, with both goals being deflected or screened.  He wasn’t grabbing as many pucks and freezing it as often as he usually does, but that may be the rust.  Ennis won 64% of his faceoffs, and Hodgson and Grigorenko were both positive as well.

What I didn’t like:  John Scott was on the ice for 3 shifts totaling 2:10.  Why?  I realize Gerbe and Leino are both out but if you don’t trust him to play, dress someone else.

Things I still don’t believe:  Vanek played 19 minutes, and took 9 shots.  NINE.  SHOTS.  I dream of games like that from him.

I’ll see you again tomorrow night, as Buffalo is heading to Toronto to face the Leafs.

Gameday 2013 – Flyers at Sabres

It sure was fun to type that title, and it’ll be even better to watch the game.  Let’s put the lockout in the rear view and enjoy the Sabres being back on the ice.  I won’t be at the game, though I will still be trying to get into the press box several times this year.

Ville Leino may not be able to play today, with a nagging injury.  Nathan Gerbe is hurt but should be back soon.  We get to see the first game for Mikhail Grigorenko, as well as Steve Ott.  And John Scott I guess.  With so little camp action, and no pre-season games, I don’t have much more to put here, other than I’ll be recording the game and will have some thoughts on real, actual Sabres hockey afterwards.  Let’s go!