Archive for January, 2012:

Fast Facts for the Sabres return to dreaded NHL games

6 323w" sizes="(max-width: 242px) 100vw, 242px" />The All-Star Weekend has come to a close, and Sabres fans are now forced to remember all the woes that have been lurking behind the team. I know, I know…it’ll be okay.

To get everyones minds fresh and ready for tonight, heres a quick list of Sabres fun facts to remind you of where we stand before tonights game.

10. The Sabres are currently in 14th place. If they win, they can bump to 11th or 10th place

9. They did win their last game prior to the All-Star break against the…well, who cares, we won. Start polishing off Stanley, here we come.

8. Ryan Getzlaf is, at the time of this publication, not a Sabre

7. Only 28 days until Trade Deadline Day

6. Only 29 days until Darcy realizes it was Trade Deadline Day

5. Corey Tropp is still technically a call up. I forgot he existed, to be honest, seeing as he can’t play for either team. Hopefully, he’s doing better.

4. Jason Pominville and Luke Adam did superior in the All-Star competitions. Jason Pominville scored in the game, but his team lost, so it’s not like he was given an evil taste of winning, not to worry.

3. Both Tyler Ennis and Paul Gaustad may return tonight

2. The Bandits season is underway. You know, in case you need a breather.

1. Sidney Crosby has not yet returned to playing. I know he’s not related to the Sabres, but a recent law was passed saying no blog entry, newspaper article, trade rumor, writing on bathroom wall can be published without mentioning him.

You think I’m kidding, Bettman is sitting next to me poking me with the blade of a box cutter.

Posted in: Sabres

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Sabres/Canadiens BINGO: Special “HUGE 4 Point Game” Edition!

You know what’s infuriating?

As terrible as this Sabres team has been this season,  had they won just five games – (5!) – of their 12 game road losing streak, they’d be tied for 8th place right now. If I did the math right …aaaand I could be wrong on the number of games. 12 sounds about right. I’m not looking it up. I’m sticking to our Sabres hockey theme for this season and not paying mind to that annoying “effort” thing.

So now we’ve got that stat to lament over, along with the Lucic incident, as our season defining destroying moments of the 2011-12 season. Add the injuries, lame duck GM/coaching, and the whole MSG/Time Warner fan blockade, and applaud yourself if you’re watching the game tonight without any self-medication.

Not that Montreal has any reason to celebrate these days. Their plummet to the cellar started in the first 10 games, where they went an astonishing 3-5-2.

All that suckitude being said, here’s your Kool Aid for tonite:  this is a HUGE four point divisional game. 426w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

We know how you feel, Habs fans. Nous sympathisons.

Here’s a link to the site pictured above, tracking Gomez’s histoire de triomphe, which at least reminds Sabres fans (and Brad Boyes, and Drew Stafford, and Ville Leino, and Derek Roy, and Nathan Gerbe, and Paul Gaustad, and Pat Kaleta, and Cody McCormick) that it can always be worse.

Tonight’s winner receives another day of merciful reprieve from the game broadcast from MSG and Time Warner, so keep your dabbers at the ready. Tonight we play for our sanity.

Then again – who knows – this one could be a barn-burner. We’ll see.

All jokes and the game aside, a solemn request: get well soon, Jochen. We’re all rooting for you.

(As always, click on the image to re-size, and again to re-size once more.) 873w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Go Sabres.

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Blogging From Oblivion: Year One

January 28, 2011.

That’s the date of my first blog post. Happy anniversary to me.

Back on January 28, 2011, the Bills were officially a loss and the Sabres looked to be on their way towards the same oblivion. Now in 2012, we’ve seen another epic collapse by both franchises, and though the Sabres are still only showing the symptoms of death, they’re near enough to it to safely assume they’ll be pronounced DOA long before the playoffs begin. 500w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

It's been worse for us here in Buffalo.

It’s a familiar feeling, isn’t it? The shroud of impending failure is a heavy one, and it’s hard to struggle out from underneath the weight of it all. Heck, even Ryan Fitzpatrick, when recently describing the Bills’ epic fall, lamented that the team “wasn’t ready for prosperity.”


Someone get that team a heavy course of sports pychology, or a team colonic. If we have to get used to winning football games before we can embrace winning, then we’re doomed.

But we’re all still in this together. And aren’t we a hearty, resilient fan base?

It comes with the territory: happy anniversary also to the Blizzard of ’77, also a January 28th phenomenon.

That storm really put a mark on Buffalo. Even in winters like this one, where the permafrost can’t seem to get a grip on our lawns and our backyard rinks sit in slush and waste, sports broadcasters are quick to note their surprise that they didn’t have to dig their way out of the hotel on their way to the stadium.

It’s a heavy lot to carry – all the losses, the disasters, the reputation – it can seem like a bit too much at times. But we carry along, we dig ourselves out, we keep sporting on, even in the face of another year and another pair of sporting disasters.

The hunt for triumph will continue anew, this year, after our newest smattering into seasonal oblivion is mercifully complete.

From Moby Dick (C. 42, “The Whiteness of the Whale”):

Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows- a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues — every stately or lovely emblazoning — the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge — pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?

We are the wretched infidels of the sporting world – that much is clear, just as clear as that annihilation seems always around the next corner. But we will never quit the fiery hunt, either. That much is resoundingly clear, (am I correct ‘Bills Mafia’)?

Meanwhile, a few more weeks of winter remain, along with a few more gasps of hockey.

One year is in the books for me, and it ended just as profoundly miserable as it began. Here’s to hoping next season gives me some profound success to write about. Take heart, sports fans, and never give up. It’s about time we lift that white weighted veil, and find a way to stab success through its heart.

It’s long overdue.

Go Bills.

Go Sabres.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo.

Posted in: Bills, NHL, Sabres

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Sabres Past, Present and Future: Not so Terrible, Actually



WGRZ got on the Twitter yesterday and asked followers to give them one word that summed up the 1st half of the Sabres’ 2011-12 campaign. As a former SAT tutor, the word just tumbled out at the ready, and when I saw it on the glowing screen, it felt good. It felt right.

But since (and especially since sweating over the NHL All Star Draft last night, hoping that Pominville would not get picked last), I’ve realized that word is just as much about the last few seasons in Buffalo as it is about this one.

And yet, it’s actually not the right one – not for the past few seasons, not for the 1st half of this season, not for this season. And not for the coming seasons. 300w" sizes="(max-width: 200px) 100vw, 200px" />lu·gu·bri·ous

adj \lu̇-ˈgü-brē-əs also -ˈgyü-\

Definition of LUGUBRIOUS

: mournfulespecially : exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful<dark, dramatic and lugubrious brooding — V. S. Pritchett>
: dismal <a lugubrious landscape>

I imagine most of the responses WGRZ got on this were synonyms of this. The Sabres – if they win the next 9 (completing a 10 game winning streak), and assuming the teams ahead of them go .500 (excluding gimme OT points) – would then be 2 points out of 8th. (Feel free to check my math on that, I was feeling too affectedly mournful to care when I did my adding a few days ago.) In any event, there’s your happy cup of Kool Aid. Drink up. This team is good enough at this point of the season to give us steady doses of hope as they stagger on to their way to mathematical oblivion.

As much as we may currently despise certain members of The Core, or the coach or GM, we’ve all been together in this for a very long time. It was after the lockout that everyone really came together, though. Back when the core was a bunch of kids trying to make the line-up out of Rochester, when the line of Vanek-Roy-Afinogenov was the Sabres’ 3rd line, and was tearing through the NHL’s best secondary defenses. Additions Drury and Briere were finally playing to their potential here. We were a team reaping the benefits of being freshly assembled and ready to take on the NHL’s best.

With Drury and Briere and then without, we’ve watched this new Core grow up. Heck, for many of the fans who joined the madness post-lockout, these guys are the only Sabres they truly know on a personal level. We’ve seen them succeed to the brink of the Stanley Cup, only to retreat broken and hobbled by injury. We’ve seen them make and miss the playoffs, finding and failing victory in Game Seven. 488w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />We’ve same them leave.

Dumont, Grier, (and Grier again after he came back for a stint before retirement), McKee, Drury and Briere. They took a bit of our hockey hearts with them when we left town, which is easily evident on the Twitter when folks pined to bring them back, or were hoping that Briere would win that Cup even right after the Sabres were eliminated by his new and very hated Flyers squad.

The most recent tweak of the heart strings for me was seeing Brian Campbell’s selection in the All Star Draft. Say what you want about his contract, or Regier’s failure to convince him to take what would have been a completely insane home-town discount to stay here. I’ll freely admit I was devastated when Soupy left town. But just like I still pull for Briere, seeing Soupy up there in the All Star bleachers with Pominville just made me happy.

The real tweak, no, the real swelling of the heart happened when Pominville was selected off the “final 4,” by none other than Daniel Alfredsson. Not only did the captain of the Ottawa Senators swoop in to save Pommers from being picked last, but he did it by noting how Pominville beat him to win a series between the rival teams in the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals. He did it by mentioning how much he respects Pommers as a person and a player.

And oh yea, Jason is tied for 13th overall in scoring in the NHL – something else to be proud of. What are the chances these two spend some time on the same line together during the All Star game itself? That would be stupefying fun. 568w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Anyway, there he was, right up there in the bleachers with Brian Campbell, and didn’t we all feel good? Didn’t we all feel proud?

Yesterday on WGR 55, Ted Black confirmed once again that Ruff and Regier aren’t going anywhere – “even if we lose every game for the rest of the season.” That’s a pretty bold statement, in the face of virtual fan riots online over the current failures of this squad.

Recently, Derek Roy’s name has been bobbled about online as probable trade bait (along with Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht, and Paul Gaustad). Still, none of them have gone anywhere, either.

Maybe nothing is what is supposed to happen. We’ve seen this group thrive before the UFA additions of the summer. On paper they are improved, and in the earlier portion of the season, before players dropped daily from the roster with injury, the team was improved. They came out confident and earned a respectable 12 points in their first 10 games, with a goal differential of 29/22 (+7). Who’s to say that this same team, when healthy again, can’t do the same – or even better as they become closer as a team on and off the ice?

Maybe lugubrious isn’t the right word, after all.

The season is likely a loss, but the history, culture, and future is not.

This isn’t a time of rebuilding. It’s still a time for patience. Boyes, Hecht, and Gaustad are UFA’s at season’s end. This will take about $10 mil off the books (before the cap goes up), and will open up the purse strings again to improve the roster at the forward position.

The defense, while currently a mess, is getting healthy again. Younger players like Weber, Gragnani, Sekera, McNabb, Brennan, and even Myers are still making mistakes, but will only improve with the steady veteran presence of Leopold, Regehr and Ehrhoff. That’s nine names, with only 6 spots on the bench. “You can never have enough defensemen,” but you gotta’ think that Darcy’s hand will be forced to make a trade with a couple of these names. Let’s not forget that blue chip prospects such as Mark Pysyk are also on their way to the big league. Something is going to have to happen here, and it will improve the roster at the defensive position.

Maybe pining after the players who left us isn’t the best for our psychological health. We likely won’t get that 10 game winning streak, or enough wins in time to get close to that 8th and final playoff spot in the East. Both those notions are misguided. The team has found profound disaster this year on the ice and in the medical room. This should make us all a little more than gloomy.

But the future still looks bright. At year’s end, there’s going to be plenty of wiggle room for Regier to continue to bring in the right names.

We’ve all had enough watching players simply leave us behind. Briere’s been a constant reminder of that. Brian Campbell was an in-you-face reminder of that last night. Things are different now, though. We’re not casting guys aside. We’re bringing them in.

Not all of the additions are going to be amazing fits (Leino, Boyes). Some of them will be terrific (Ehrhoff, Regehr). And not all of our subtractions will feel right in hindsight (Connolly).

Overall, standings aside, Regier and Co. have put up a stronger squad this season. We’re going to have some growing/injury pains, but again, there’s nothing to truly indicate that the Sabres are done getting better. This season may be at a surprising loss, but the pieces are there, already, for future success.

And there are more pieces on the way.

This team’s success neither hinges on the past, nor on the first half of this season. It might feel awful right now, but the team is on the right course. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to suffer through the rest of this season, as the pieces come back together out of the medical room (unless, of course, that magical Kool Aid 10 game run actually happens – which it won’t). We only need to wait for that coalescence again, when the team is “freshly assembled and ready to take on the NHL’s best” once more.

After rethinking this, maybe I need to change my “word” back to what Ted Black preached early on: “patience.”

Looking at the big picture, I can get on board on that. I think I can finally get over the wrecks of the past. The ship isn’t sinking anymore. It’s time to ride out the storm.

Go Sabres.



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A message from a less-than-disgruntled fan



I have to admit, working night shifts have kept me away from the ground zero of the Sabres dilemma. I know we stink, I didn’t finish watching the Blackhawks game the other night, but even when Pominville had the first goal, I knew we would lose.

Everytime I come home from work, there’s new fits of anger, and new trade rumors.

I haven’t watched a game since, and with the exception of the Devils game, I expect us to score early, rarely, and then quit.

As of right now, I’m not sure as to whether or not Ryan Getzlaf is actually a Sabre or not.

I’m a big fan of the saying ‘ it’s only -insert early season month here-‘ which I haven’t actually said November, but late January still holds promise. Teams that were on top in the fall are now slipping (and by ‘ teams’ I mostly mean the Minnesota Wild). It’s easier to fall than to rise, yes, but best to get all that bad stuff out before making a comeback.

I’m not trying to be an optimistic fan, I’m just one who isn’t going to let all the anger get to my blood pressure. Yes, its a sport we all know and love, and yes, we’re angry and its going to come out. However, we are not the defensemen, we are not the goalies, or coaches, or general managers. They’re not going to trade Derek Roy because Twitter said so, and I doubt we’re going to convince Bobby Ryan to leave Anaheim.

I went for weeks without actually looking at the standings. I know the Sabres hit rock bottom, and I know they also bounced out….to 14th, but it’s not rock bottom. There’s only a difference of five points between the 10th and 15th team. Not to mention, ten points between Buffalo and a playoff spot.

In the past two years, we’ve been eliminated from the first round of the playoffs when both ending the season at the top of our division, or scraping on by at the end of the season. Maybe we’ll trade Miller, maybe we’ll acquire a ‘ stay here until the end of the season but then go somewhere else’ player (say what you want, that happened to Brad Boyes).

Yes, we’re annoyed, but if you think it’s painful for you, compare notes with Tyler Myers following last nights game.

Lets be honest, nothing can be done in 140 characters or less.

In the mean time: lets go, Buffalo.

Posted in: Sabres, Speculation

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