Archive for December, 2011:

For Sabres and Bills fans, Thank God it’s Monday

“Someone has a case of the Mondays!”

If that’s you, don’t fret. You’re not alone with that feeling in the City of Mad-as-Hell Neighbors. Our top pro teams, the Bills and Sabres, just delivered another weekend full of frustration, ineptitude, and sickening losses.

Some of us are numb to it, and for good reasons. The Bills have been doing this to us for years, but a more recent trend has the Sabres habitually falling apart on Saturdays as well.

Monday1 300x268 For Sabres and Bills fans, Thank God its Mondaybuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Monday1.jpg 317w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Ain't no amount of coffee gonna' save us from this sports hangover.

Steel yourselves: here’s a run-down on the Sabres’ Saturday night performances:

  1. Oct 8 (in Europe @ LA) – 4-2 Win
  2. Oct 15 (@ PIT) – 3-2 Win
  3. Oct 22 (@ LA) – 0-3 Loss
  4. Oct 29 (vs FL) – 2-3 Loss
  5. Nov 3 (@ OTT) – 3-2 Win
  6. Nov 12 (@ BOS) – 2-6 Loss
  7. Nov 19 (vs PHO) – 2-4 Loss
  8. Nov 26 (vs WAS) – 5-1 Win
  9. Dec 4 (@ NSH) – 3-2 Win
  10. Dec 10 (vs NYR) – 1-4 Loss
  11. Dec 17 (@ PIT) – 3-8 Loss
Meanwhile, the Bills’ annual self-destruction started in November. After beating Washington 23-zip, the Bills lined up against the New York Football Jets on the 6th. With the Bills at 5-2, the ultimate football buzzkill was about to begin:
  1. Nov 6 (vs NYJ) – 11-27 Loss
  2. Nov 13 (@ DAL) – 7-44 Loss
  3. Nov 20 (@MIA) – 8-35 Loss
  4. Nov 27 (@ NYJ) – 24-28 Loss
  5. Dec 4 (vs TEN) – 17-23 Loss
  6. Dec 11 (@ SD) – 10-37 Loss
  7. Dec 18 (vs MIA) – 23-30 Loss

Wow.

Since that November 6 weekend, Buffalo fans have endured 11 losses and 2 wins between their two once-promising teams.

The good news on this particularly putrid Monday is that the Sabres are still very much alive, (once they figure out how not to play like zombies as they continue to crawl up out of the grave that they’re digging for themselves).

For fans, well, we all feel a bit like we just crawled up from a grave – again. Hungover on beers, brats, and bad hockey and football, there sure doesn’t feel like there is anything much to look forward to next weekend. In fact, the very thought of it kinda makes my own flesh crawl.

My simple advice: keep your trips to the water cooler brief, and avoid eye contact with anyone wearing Buffalo Bills/Sabres themed clothing. If you’re lucky enough, your fantasy football team is winning in the playoffs right now. Especially since the playoffs are, for now, a question mark for the Sabres this season, and a big question mark for the Bills for their foreseeable existence.

Good luck sleeping this one off, sports fans.

Go Bills.

Go Sabres.

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Sabres/Leafs Twitter BINGO: Special “Windowless” Edition!

By now, you’re all too familiar with Joffrey Lupul’s tweet-take on the Buffalo skyline.

LupulTweet Sabres/Leafs Twitter BINGO: Special Windowless Edition!buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/LupulTweet-262x300.jpg 262w" sizes="(max-width: 502px) 100vw, 502px" />

Now also all too familiar with his grammar. Yikes.

To JoffreyLupul, I say: Well played! You kicked Buffalo fans square in their overly sensitive skyline nuts. Sure, you’re looking at some incredible architecture out that window of yours, and it appears that the sun actually might be shining somewhere, and your grammar was painfully missing the obliogatory “eh?” exclamation, but this quick Buffalo sucker punch on Twitter is the best of the year so far.

Maybe.

BH Sabres/Leafs Twitter BINGO: Special Windowless Edition!buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/BH-300x291.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 471px) 100vw, 471px" />

(This is a BSN screen-grab from October, 2011.) Boy, they sure know how to get to us. Say, we need one more NHLer to do this so we can do a new "Awards" post. If Chris Neil still unfortunately plays in the NHL, he could be our guy.

Also, to reassure you, Mr. Lupul, we don’t throw batteries in Buffalo (not even waffles). And in honor of your topical snark success story, you’ve earned yourself a few squares on tonight’s Sabres/Leafs Twitter BINGO. I know, I know – it’s what all kids dream of throughout the world while playing street hockey until the sun goes down.

Tonight’s winner receives one of Ryan Miler’s flaming Molotov Gatorades to toss at Lupul during the game! (I know, I said we didn’t toss things here in Buffalo, but we all must follow Miller’s lead.)

ryan miller HOCKEY news1 Sabres/Leafs Twitter BINGO: Special Windowless Edition!

The Passion of the Crease.

Fans, get your dabbers ready. Tonight’s gonna’ be a hot one.

(As usual, click on the image to re-size, and click again to re-size once more.)

SabresLeafsWindowlessBINGO 300x216 Sabres/Leafs Twitter BINGO: Special Windowless Edition!buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SabresLeafsWindowlessBINGO.jpg 873w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Good luck, folks! And again, we still need one more NHLer (or ex-NHLer) to tweet something endearingly stupid enough to give us all another BSN Awards post. Consider it an early Xmas. If it happens. (Please let it be Soupy Campbell.)

Go Sabres.

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Ruff, Gandhi, the Sabres, and Patience. And Superfly Snuka.

Mahatma Gandhi once said:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I love this quote, and it’s been bantered around in my head a lot these days as protests throughout the Middle East have done a remarkable job at changing some bad situations. Lately, I’ve also been all sorts of ornery calling out the Sabres and Lindy Ruff for being soft and inconsistent, for years, and failing to play any kind of consistent, blue collar hockey.

Well, maybe Ruff is wiser than we think. OK, admittedly, he’s a freakin’ hockey genius. With the tools he has at his disposal, it would be unwise to take on the Boston Bruins in a bar fight. We learned that in the 2010 playoffs. Philly taught us the same tough lesson in the 2011 playoffs.

Lucic taught Gaustad that a few games back.

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Ouch.

The Sabres, aside from a few tough young call-ups, are not a squad ready to force a game down any team’s throat just yet. So maybe Ruff is channeling the wisdom of Gandhi here. OK, he’s not, but it’s another day without hockey so let’s have some fun.

“First they ignore you.” Yea, the Sabres have pretty much been ignored since the departure of Danny Briere and Chris Drury. Pegula and Regier brought some attention back to the team, albeit temporarily. Injuries and giveaways have given the hockey world a losing Buffalo hockey team back again. We’re pretty much off the radar, middling around with the .500 club.

“Then they laugh at you.” How many articles were written up, guffawing over the Sabres’ “lack of adequate response” when Miller was given the Superfly by Lucic?

 

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252?? Google, you need to refine your search. I counted at least a thousand.

snuka Ruff, Gandhi, the Sabres, and Patience. And Superfly Snuka.buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/snuka-300x231.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 448px) 100vw, 448px" />

History is made, as Gandhi and Superfly Snuka are mentioned in the same blog post for the first (and last) time.

“Then they fight you.” Well, it’s the Sabres doing the fighting now. All of them. They may be getting injured in the process, but the fight is on NHL, and our Sabres are ready to throw themselves in front of any enforcer that makes a beeline for Miller.

ryan miller HOCKEY news1 Ruff, Gandhi, the Sabres, and Patience. And Superfly Snuka.buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ryan_miller_HOCKEY_news1-224x300.jpg 224w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />

And he's armed himself with Molatov Gatorades.

“Then you win.” Ted Black recently preached “patience” to the fans, telling us all that once this team is healthy that it will be back to its winning ways. I can get on board with that. I’ve called out Lindy, the Sabres’ soft play(ers), but right now they are enduring a sea change to their season. When they emerge from this injury plagued chaos, they’ll be a tougher unit. They’ll respect and love each other more. The mid-season chemistry will kick in. The AHL guys will be very ready to step in at any moment to play some really great, experienced hockey.

No, Lindy Ruff isn’t channeling Gandhi. But for now, it’s just kinda working out that way.

The next step on the road to the Sabres’ recovery is beating back the Leafs fans’ own not-so-peaceful #OccupyFNCenter movement.  Viva la revolution – let’s send them home with salt in their tears.

Go Sabres.

 

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Hockey Strategy: The Left Wing Lock Forechecking Defense

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It’s hockey lesson time! A while back we touched on the 1-3-1 Neutral Zone Trap, a.k.a. the Tampa ‘T’, as they mainly employ that style of defense. Now I’ll talk about the defensive forechecking system known as the Left Wing Lock.

The Left Wing Lock was made popular by the Detroit Red Wings in their Stanley Cup runs of the 90s. Also, if I remember correctly, it was employed by our own Lindy Ruff for the Buffalo Sabres in the late 90s. At least, I remember hearing about it and wondering what what the heck it was ever since those days.

Basically, it’s this: when a team loses possession of the puck, the left winger moves back in line with the two defensemen. Each of those three skaters covers a third of the ice, playing a zone defense. That’s really it. You have two forwards up front forechecking and three guys back playing defense.

Watch this animated GIF a few times to let it sink in:

left wing lock1 Hockey Strategy: The Left Wing Lock Forechecking Defensebuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/left_wing_lock1-192x300.gif 192w" sizes="(max-width: 250px) 100vw, 250px" />

Pretty easy, eh? Why did coaches of the 90s make it sound like an extremely complicated chess move?

While the concept is pretty simple, the execution of it is much more difficult. Think about if the left winger is way up in the offensive zone when his team loses the puck. Either the center or right winger has to swing over and cover his zone. Which guy should do it? Confusion could abound in the heat of the moment and quick pace of the game. Like anything this strategy could take a LONG time to refine.

The cool part is that, when applied correctly, you can play some hellacious defense (and that’s actually a bit better than tenacious defense). With three “defensemen” back (or “defencemen” for you Canadiens), the two forecheckers can get really aggressive. The Left Wing Lock can also help prevent odd-man breakaways, as you’ll typically have three guys back – each one able to cover an opposing forward.

The history of the Left Wing Lock goes back to Czechoslovakia in the days of the great Soviet teams of the 1970s. The story goes that the Soviets were primarily left-handed shooters and so attacked moreso from the left side of the ice. The Czechs rolled their d-men over to that side and pulled the left wing back to cover the empty spot.

Know you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Go Sabres!

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Stoking The Flames Of the Sabres/Senators Rivalry

The Buffalo Sabres face off against the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night – the third game of the season against them. I feel that “hate” is sort of a strong word for a sporting event, but I think we have a pretty heated rivalry going and think it might be fun to stoke those flames a little more.

Ottawa isn’t doing great this year, but they’re doing a heck of a lot better than last year when they finished last in the Northeast division with a 32-40-10 record and 74 points. This year they’re a respectable 13-13-4 and 30 points, on pace for 90 points for the year – but are a -14 overall.

The Sabres have won first two games against Ottawa, one in regulation and one via shootout, but surely the Senators smell blood in the water with all the recent injuries to our boys. It’s no playoff game but pretty important as the Sabres sit at 32, only two points ahead of Ottawa in the division. And the Sabres have to keep pace with reawakened Boston and out-of-nowhere Toronto.

If we needed a pump up video, this one couldn’t get any more better (and yeah, I’m aware of the inherent grammar badness in that sentence) – the 2007 brawl where Marty Biron bravely took on Ray Emery:

I know, I linked it Saturday, but I could watch this over and over.

Ok, enough fisticuffs. Howsabout a pretty goal? Pominville’s OT game winner in the the 2005-2006 playoffs against Ottawa sent the Sabres into the Eastern Conference Finals against Carolina. That didn’t quite go our way, but that goal was a sweet capper of a hard-fought series:


A shorthanded goal in game seven to win it? Those Ottawa fans cannot like us. It’s nice to be on the better side of at least some rivalries lately.

Now for the stories of several Sabres fans and how they felt in the moment that goal was scored. Hockey Heaven put together some great clips of fan reaction years later. Roll the highlight reel:

The origin of the classic call: “Oh, now do you believe? Now do you believe? These guys are good, scary good.”

You may want to watch any or all of the above again right before the game for full effect.

Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!

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