Archive for December, 2011:

Count Your Damn Blessings

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What?

It’s pretty rare that I, such the Renassaince blogger, get down to cussin’ in my posts – and never, ever in a headline. Especially one so blasphemous. And h, e, double hockey shtick – it’s the holiday season.

Something has made me ornery, and it’s not this stale coffee. (Though that’s not helping.)

My wise old grandparents always told me to “count my blessings” when things are looking down. And as I now look down at the Sabres in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, I suppose now is the time. Consider it a therapy list. Here goes:

  • I have a gorgeous Liverpool Football Club mug to drink coffee out of. So long, slug. We’ll always have 2007.
  • I’ve realized how cathartic it is to split-screen the hockey games. Shooting arrows into the heads of goblins is stupidly refreshing while the Sabres are getting their faces washed.
  • Hey! I’m in the fantasy football championship game! Going for a repeat, too!
HonkinHarquebuses 300x212 Count Your Damn Blessingsbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/HonkinHarquebuses.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

The "Honkin' Harquebuses" might get me another crappy plastic trophy this week.

  • Terry Pegula says his tennis-playing daughter could have played better than Ryan Miller after that 8-3 game “against” the Pens. That is not only hilarious, but also tells us that he has a serious side, is not to be trifled with, and at any minute could turn off the vents in the locker room and let the players sit in the stink they carry in from off the ice. They sure as hell deserve it. (Cuss #2.)
  • If there is one thing good about the Epic Injury Plague of 2011-12, it’s that our AHLers are getting a massive dose of NHL experience. When finally healthy, the Sabres will have a great bounty of ready, confident prospects to call up for an easy and effective lineup insert. Also, now adjusted to NHL-speed hockey, the same prospects are going to tear the AHL apart when they go back to Rochester.
  • Speaking of the Amerks, it’s nice to have them back, isn’t it?
  • Hockey Heaven is still Hockey Heaven. We’re still building on and off the ice.
  • The Labatt Pond Hockey Tourney and the Powder Keg festival are coming up.
broomball 300x207 Count Your Damn Blessingsbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/broomball.jpg 620w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Beers, brats, ice mazes, and broomball. I love winter in Buffalo.

  • Remember how exciting it was when the Sabres would react to a major slump by making a blockbuster trade? Remember rushing to… the Sega Genesis… to check on the new Sabre and his stats? Yea, it’s been a while since we became a “Stay the Core” team, but we might get to see a fun little shake-up if the Sabres don’t figure things out after they get healthy.
  • While Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier remain entrenched in their positions like third world dictators, as a result we have the wildly entertaining @FakeDarcy and @LindyRuffsTie – now both featuring blogs. Check ’em out.
  • We have the Christmas Miracle that is Bill Max Powers:


That’s a hard act to follow, so I think I’ll stop here.

Now, don’t I feel better?

No.

Dammit. (Cuss #3. Better go light some candles.)

I need another shot of that stale coffee.

Go Sabres.

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Marcus Foligno Makes His Debut

Like father, like son?

MikeFoligno 300x168 Marcus Foligno Makes His Debutbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/MikeFoligno.jpg 350w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Mike Foligno, between "leaps."

Let’s hope Marcus leaps tonight.

 

“The team he always wanted to play for.”

Make your Daddy proud, Marcus. And welcome to Buffalo. Oh, and watch out for your brother Nick. He’s gonna’ be looking for you out there tonight.

Go Sabres.

PS: Sabres – As you well know, Mike Foligno is available since the Anaheim coaching purge. Give him a call, wontcha?

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Vanek Proves Importance; Enters Twitter Hall of Fame

I like to keep things a little light here for you suffering Sabres fans.

Sure, I write up the serious editorial every now and then, but I can tell by the amount of people that read my “Sabres BINGO” that a little levity goes a long way (especially in a season where the endurance of our hearts is being so severely tested).

Speaking of “heart,” Thomas Vanek has got it. He’s easily been the most dominant force on the ice for the Sabres this season – their “Hart Trophy” candidate, if you will. He’s taken the team and the fan base upon his back, doing his best to show up every night and keep the Sabres from tumbling out of the early season playoff picture.

So when news came yesterday out that Vanek was injured, all hell broke loose in Hockey Heaven. The Twitterverse entered a state of panic, as fans wondered how he was – and what would happen to the Sabres’ season if the nature of his injury was serious.

Sabrey 300x180 Vanek Proves Importance; Enters Twitter Hall of Famebuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Sabrey.jpg 599w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Vanek's injury turned us all into a lot of "Doubting Thomases" considering the season.

The injuries have certainly been overwhelming, and there is never anything funny about a guy getting seriously hurt. Still, levity is kinda my “hockey shtick,” so I quickly tweeted thusly:

VanekTweetShares Vanek Proves Importance; Enters Twitter Hall of Famebuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/VanekTweetShares-300x146.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 563px) 100vw, 563px" />

Sabres fans are beautiful people, aren't they?

I’m not going to pretend that I am some social network wizard, but for me, seeing “FavStar.com” pick up on 110 re-tweets of this told me two important things:

  • Sabres fans have come to embrace Vanek as a very, very important hockey player.
  • Sabres fans’ senses of humor are very much alive and well during this legendary injury plague.

I’m not exactly sure how many computer screens this tweet really reached, but it did cause the words “injured,” “collapsing,” “roster,” to trend in Buffalo, and shot “Vanek” to the top of that trends list.

Heck, this tweet even had my own twitter handle trending for a while.

ScottyMCSSIsMoreTrendyThanBatFreakinMan Vanek Proves Importance; Enters Twitter Hall of Famebuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ScottyMCSSIsMoreTrendyThanBatFreakinMan-300x200.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 617px) 100vw, 617px" />

Safe to say I'll never forget the day I was more trendy than Batman.

Welcome to my Twitter hall of fame, Thomas. You’re #1, even above these guys.

Today, it looks like Vanek is OK and will play against the Senators. Well, he’s not in perfect shape, but he’s going to suit up, swallow the pain, and do everything he can to help his team win.

Hopefully tonight is the night where his teammates decide to help carry the load.

Go Sabres.

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Weathering The Storm

What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins? How can a team completely fall apart like that? We’re not going to make the playoffs with a team like this! We should trade Miller, Stafford and Roy, fire Regier and Ruff, burn the city to the ground and start over from scratch!

Ok, I’m overdoing it a bit. But it’s still pretty chaotic with all the injuries. Heck, even Thomas Vanek didn’t practice on Monday, sending tendrils of fear all through Sabres Nation. It’s been bad, and many are calling for heads to roll, for players to be traded, for Ruff to be fired… and worse. Wow.

A big part of the problem may be that we have a lot of history and buildup with the current team. Expectations were high even before Terry Pegula bought the team. Then he came in raised the bar even higher and said, “We’re going to hit this mark”.

Yeah, these Sabres are all over the map with their play, but that’s to be expected when your entire team consists of the entire roster of your minor league team, minus perhaps a goalie. When Lindy Ruff was asked about getting back to consistency he responded thusly:

“I don’t think you can talk about that until you get your team back,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’re looking at a line out there of [Evgeni] Malkin and [Chris] Kunitz, and I’ve got [Zack] Kassian, [Paul] Szczechura and Luke Adam on the ice. You’re asking a lot out of the kids, and they’ve played hard for us. But we need some bodies back.” (Source – Buffalo News)

On top of the injuries, another thing that really makes it hard for us fans right now is that we don’t know what we’ve got in this team. Unlike say, the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings, we cannot unequivocally say we’re going to make the playoffs and be a real threat to go deep and win the Stanley Cup. And unlike the Columbus Bluejackets or New York Islanders we are not totally out of it and looking just to rebuild over the next year or two. No, the Sabres are… well, a pretty talented but young team with a lot of injuries.

And sure, there are a lot of negatives going on right now that we can point to as validation for hitting the panic button. For example, Ryan Miller’s stats are horrible. He has a GAA of 3.12, good for 37th in the NHL, with a save percentage of .902 (32nd in the league.) We also let a guy named Sneep score against us in his very first NHL game! Sneep! I’m sure he has a 1st name but I’d like to pretend otherwise. Sounds like a name from some children’s book. It is, you say?

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The Sabres saw a Sneep. It lulled them to sleep. They barely even made a peep. They were in much too deep. (Dr. Seuss, I'm not.)

So with everything going crazy right now, some might point out the example of the Philadelphia Flyers who made some moves in the offseason that seemed insane at the time. But so far, trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards has turned out pretty well for them. It feels good to hit the “detonate nukes” button. (It’s such a pretty, shiny, red button.) It’s easy to place the blame on one or two guys and just get rid of them.

It’s hard to not press the button.

But I don’t think we need to do that. Nor is it time to do so … yet. Now, I’m not trying to look at things through rose-colored glasses or tell you that everything is going to be just peachy (or be preachy). I’m just saying that Ted Black and crew deserve some time before we rush into destroying things that the Sabres have taken years to build. Shouldn’t Regier and Ruff get at least one full season under the new ownership to see what they can do? Haven’t they earned that? Same goes for the players.

Like Lindy Ruff teaches, perhaps we shouldn’t get too high or too low. Maybe we should just enjoy the season as it unfolds and take the long view. We’ll have some amazing hockey and some crap games as well. As the season progresses, the Sabres will hopefully gain more chemistry and consistency.

With that should come wins and a playoff spot. And if the younger guys’ streak of nastiness can mesh with the cores scoring ability? Come playoff time they could be downright dangerous. We just need to weather this storm for a while.

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Have no fear, another Amerk is here

Perhaps the whole ‘ hey, a lot of Amerks are playing for the Sabres right now’ topic has been over done, just a little. But, would you rather talk about the Pens game on Saturday night? I think not.

It has gotten to the point where I’m pretty sure the Sabres take up most of the transactions list on various hockey websites. We have brought up Amerks and injured them, the Amerks who have stayed behind are injured. The current injured Sabres are slowly being forgotten, no one really remembers Brad Boyes or where Zack Kassian actually belongs.

We’re a mess, and it oddly enough may not be what is leading to an unlucky streak.

Since we started ordering the youngins like you order socks, I have been waiting for Marcus Foligno to get the call up. I don’t mean casually checking updates to see who would be next to make the hour and a half drive on the 90, I mean putting customers on hold at work to check my twitter, and informing the vice president of our office why I was doing that.

Not to mention, watching left wingers go down, and getting a little too excited for yet another injury.

Regardless, here he is (here being Ottawa for the time being). I’m a little annoyed, because I was excited to see at least some common Amerks at the game on Wednesday, but what can you do? The excitement of your first NHL game, especially playing against an older sibling, entails for a mighty good time, regardless of whether it is a win or a loss.

Mike Foligno’s recently open schedule should also allow for him to be in Ottawa tomorrow night, and I do mean that in the kindest way possible.

In the past few weeks, the Sabres have been dissected in their losing woes, trying to figure out what is going wrong. A team made up of rookies would concern other teams, but it’s really anything but unfamiliar territory with the Sabres. Some of our strongest current forwards were once impressive call ups. A number of rookies this year have played to the extent that has left us saying ‘ that’s okay, Brad Boyes, take your time.’

While prancing around the Amerks website, where I swear I heard crickets chirping, I came across the current roster and took an in depth look at it.

Here’s a peek:

amerksss1 Have no fear, another Amerk is herebuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/amerksss1-294x300.png 294w" sizes="(max-width: 646px) 100vw, 646px" />

All the X’s indicate inactive players. With the exception of Chris Clackson, ‘ inactive’ is code for ‘ currently in the Buff.’ Kassian and McNabb were called up relatively close together, and have almost missed half the current season in Rochester.

In addition to all the transactions, the Amerks have also recently lost Finley and Morrisonn to injuries (apparently, when translated to the AHL, that’s a bad thing). Stuart and Tropp are both called up and injured. If memory serves me correctly, the big boy team cannot return a call up if they’re injured. Remember when Nate Gerbe was just hanging out here for awhile two years ago?

With the exception of the injuries, the invasion of rookies has been good luck (at least, for the rookies). Though I will be relying on twitter and text messages while at work for his NHL debut, I really hope the luck of the call ups will carry on to Foligno.

Sibling rivalry can fuel some very dangerous things.

tumblr lpq2amOazy1qar5luo1 500 300x223 Have no fear, another Amerk is herebuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/tumblr_lpq2amOazy1qar5luo1_500.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Thumbs are up

 

share save 171 16 Have no fear, another Amerk is here
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