Archive for March, 2012:

Ryan Miller Destroys Lucic with his Bare Hands (Sorta)

Game night!

Things are looking good for the Sabres. Now fully recovered from that early Lucic incident and mid-season injury plague, they are fighting for a playoff spot.

Speaking of fights, and the whole Lucic thing, here’s a little piece of Youtube fantasy to make your day. Enjoy:

 

 

That was open season on Lucic’s face. Good job, video game nerds!

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Hero!

Go Sabres.

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The Madness Of March, Hockey, and Beer

Things are really heating up for Buffalo sports fans. Obviously we have the Sabres pushing for the 8th playoff spot and they’re 4 points back at time of writing. Then there’s the huge Mario Williams signing that has reinvigorated the Bills fan base, which leads to even more excitement about the draft. Throw in March madness, spring in the air, women wearing less clothing and it’s a beautiful thing and awesome time of year.

On top of that, the NHL has a brand new campaign for the Stanley Cup playoffs. According to this Sports Business Daily article , the NHL has ditched the 2-year-old “History Will Be Made” campaign and has a new tagline: “Because It’s The Cup”.

nhl because its the cup1 The Madness Of March, Hockey, and Beerbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/nhl-because-its-the-cup1-300x229.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 504px) 100vw, 504px" />

(Image via Puck Daddy)

The new campaign targets the casual fans moreso than traditional, hardcore hockey fans. Their research found that most people had knowledge of the rich history of the Stanley Cup and the NHL decided to (smartly) capitalize on that, focusing on the one thing that casual fans know the best and are perhaps most interested in.

As you may know, the NHL made a huge $375 million dollar advertising agreement with MolsonCoors (or MillerCoors in the states). For this campaign the NHL and MolsonCoors will work together to do lots of interesting thing like giving Stanley Cup draft tap handles to over 6,500 bars in North America.

In an attempt to attract casual hockey fans and sports fans who aren’t partial to hockey, league marketers are trying to turn the Stanley Cup playoffs into their own version of March Madness. With all the buzz about social media, an overall campaign objective was to attract non-hockey fans by “socializing the Stanley Cup playoffs”…

Some of the taglines have been revealed as well:

Each promo is a string of sentences, beginning with “Because,” i.e.: “Because it’s good to get together over something cold. Because it’s a good excuse to go out on a Wednesday night. Because in hockey, there are two halftimes. Because it’s fun to say Zamboni. Because it’s the Cup.”

To me this is really smart advertising: it’s simple and it gives the viewer good reasons why they should check out the playoffs. Rather than focus on abstract things or things specific to hockey that we hockey fans love but the casual fan may not care about, they’re hooking into things that most sports fans like.

There are four ads to start with, although a Puck Daddy post  says that there will be team-specific ads as well. The post features just the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers, so we can only hope the Sabres will be featured as well. Good luck to the NHL in growing the sport – maybe someday it won’t be the red-headed stepchild of the sports world.

In related beer/hockey news, the Chicago Express (the ECHL affiliate of the Columbus Bluejackets) are wearing this super sweet jersey on St. Partrick’s Day:

nhl jerseys The Madness Of March, Hockey, and Beerbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/nhl-jerseys-150x150.png 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />

The first green beer jersey. It makes me thirsty.

They’ll be auctioning the game-worn jerseys off after the game.  Incidentally, they have $1 hot dogs and $1 beers tonight while tickets range from $7 to $26 dollars. This really makes me want to check out some minor league hockey games!

Enjoy your St. Patricks day, be safe, and of course – Let’s Go Buffalo!

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Foligno Forgotten, as Ennis Shines in NHL Spotlight

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“Interennisting.”

“The Montreal zone is suffering a real infennistation tonight.”

Those are a couple of my tweets from the Montreal game the other night, in which Tyler Ennis skated circles around the Montreal defense. Scoring two goals, he looked unstoppable out there. Uncatchable. Unreal.

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Everything he touched that night turned to gold.

His highlight reel goal was the delight of the NHL Internets yesterday:

 

 

 Oh, you try and find a prettier one than that!

It sure was a dandy,  but the entire sequence wasn’t all that pretty. In fact, some of it was downright ugly – but the good kind of ugly – hockey ugly. Gritty.

While the media was swooning over Ennis’ hands, it seemed everyone forgot the rest of the play. (This is actually one of the few Youtube clips that shows the entire play; the NHL.com video cut the very root of this highlight out, as well.) So today, credit where credit is due: let’s talk about Marcus Foligno.

Sure, Ennis’ finish was sweet, but Foligno’s work along the boards at center ice – mostly from on his belly – was Herculean. It should not go without notice that a goal like this would not have happened without some really gutsy efforts by the youngest Foligno. Go ahead and watch the clip again. You’ll only see part of his effort, in one segment, at the 20 second mark.

This was one of those plays that will stand out in my mind from this season as hockey perfection. First of all, Foligno had to use his big bodied determination to fight and sprawl along the boards – a gutsy play – literally – to win that puck. Drew Stafford served as the smart guardian at the blue line – too big to knock over, and quick enough with his hands to dish the biscuit over to the flashy Ennis.

It took the whole mix of all three forwards to put this thing together, and in the end, magic happened.

Just remember, in hockey, seldom does magic happen without a heavy dose of grit in the recipe.

The team is saying a lot of good things in the locker room these days. They’re feeling better, confident again, more of a team. I don’t think we’ve had a play recently that embodied that team attitude better than this one. When we talk #SeedsOfGreatness, this is one of those plays. The Sabres have done a lot of digging to find the grit, smarts, and confidence to wheel, deal, and shoot that darn biscuit into the net. It’s beautiful watching it all come together in one play. It’s encouraging seeing two youngsters and a slumping veteran do all the right things, instantly, with zero hesitation. Confidence is in bloom, folks.

The seeds have been planted. Ennis, Foligno, Stafford, and the rest of the Blue and Gold just need to keep it goin/growin’.

Good job, boys.

Go Sabres.

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Pseudo-Live Tweet Coverage Of Buffalo Vs. Montreal

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Here’s a sort of “live tweet coverage” of the Sabres/Canadiens game last night. Some of these are actual tweets I managed to send out, but most of it is random observations. While watching the game there just isn’t time to tweet everything, but I wouldn’t want to flood people’s timelines with a brain dump like that anyway. What follows is a more vetted and edited list of thoughts.

Hope you enjoy the format, but let us know!

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There is no better professional at anthem singing than Doug Allen. We are so lucky to have great surrounding talent outside the team like him, RJ, etc. Well, I don’t LOVE Harry Neale, but it could be much worse.

I hate people that hold up signs for the TV cameras rather than, y’know, WATCH THE GAME.

Neale called Nathan Gerbe, “Ger-bay”, as has Rob Ray in the past. Is he of French Canadian descent or something? Because last I knew he was from Michigan and attended Boston College. (RJ pronounces it “Gerb-eee” so I’m sticking with that.)

Fun Gerbe fact #1: at 5’5″, he is the shortest player in the NHL.

Fun Gerbe fact #2: The dictionary describes a gerbe as “a kind of ornamental firework”. Yes he is.

Horrible Commercial Watch
TV Commercial note: Healthy change #11, Blue Cross Blue Shield – I have a crush on the hot blonde that dances first. But the rest of it leaves me needing eye bleach.

Vanek/Ennis/Foligno line looking good early.

Horrible Commercial Watch
The Geico commercial where the guy karaoke’s to promote himself to other singles made us chuckle. The bar has been set pretty low.

Vanek/Ennis/Foligno – a great shift around 5:00, Foligno looking good.

Horrible Commercial Watch

  •  The Tim Horton’s commercial wasn’t horrible and made me really want a coffee. Good advertising.
  • VeinsVeinsVeins – call me old school, but all I think about is Motley Crue’s Girls Girls Girls.

Thinking that the arena is really quiet right now.

Stafford just seems to be a liability – he touches the puck for a moment and loses it or gets off a weak shot.

Horrible Commercial Watch

  • Loud commercials are loud. They’re cranking the volume way up for some of these, especially the Verizon FIOS commercial.
  • I hate MSG. I really, really hate watching NYC-based crap that I don’t care about. Basketball and old Yankees players I’ve never heard of does nothing for me (I’m looking at you “Fran Healey”, if that is your real name). I’m hoping that Terry Pegula is working on something like an Empire Sports Network.
  • Ok the Sabres app commercial was really neat and creative! (Sabres logo thought bubbles above people’s heads) Also, it’s very subtle but the ballons pop up in a “Let’s go Buffalo” cadence at the end.

Is there anyone who DOESN’T sing the Bad Boys song when Brad Boyes does something nifty?

Horrible Commercial Watch
That damn pig from the Geico commercials is truly annoying, but in a lovable way. How is that possible?

Awesome tweet: @mintyp69 twitpic’d this twitpic.com/8vk4i2 RJ jersey.

2nd PERIOD

Hard work by the Gerbe/Roy/Stafford line to draw a penalty early on. (Moreso the 9 and 42 of that line. Yes, I’m down on Stafford still.)

Top PP line not moving the puck well, looked awkward trying to just get onside. 2nd line of Boyes/Ennis/Stafford looked much better and got a great scoring chance with Myers in front of the net.

There are too many damn Canadiens jerseys in the stands. Sabres fans, WHY YOU SELL YOUR TICKETS? Oh yeah, you can make a boatload of cash. *sigh* I guess I might do the same if I had season tix.

Roy with an excellent chance. It seems like he should convert much more than he does. It feels like his shooting % is like 1.2%. [Post Game Update – it’s 9.6%]

Isn’t “Canadien” the feminine version of Canadian? Like Comedienne? Just sayin’.

15:50 Roy with another penalty. Surprising. </sarcasm>

This arena is quiet. Too quiet. I can hear Canadiens fans cheering though, so what does that say?

Someone please punch those Canadiens fans holding up TSN signs to the camera.

Getting really sick of the Refs not calling things consistently from night to night. Can you hook a guy or not? Can you hit a guy w/o the puck or not? I don’t care if it’s minor, there shouldn’t be degrees of a penalty like holding in football. Call it or don’t. #OldMantRantyMcGee

When Leino makes a nifty move that actually results in a goal, I will eat my hat. (Also, I’m not wearing a hat.)

That Ennis goal was a complete and utter thing of beauty. Very un-Leino-like.

A very fast, fun pace to the end of the 2nd.

Leino with a halfassed scoring chance. I know he was on the ice for a long time, but still, the great players dig deep.

I like how the Sabres are finishing their checks all over the ice.

Horrible Commercial Watch

  • Paul William Beltz – y’know, not really a bad commercial, just too many damn lawyer commercials.
  • Mike Rowe is all over my TV. He’s slowly hypnotizing me with his voice to buy a Ford.

RJ “Another sell out crowd. I’m saying that because I know it to be true.” No idea why he said it like that, but I loved it.

Intermission Horrible Commercial Watch
GAHHHH! Cellino & Barnes! If I’m ever in a car accident their theme song will start playing in my head. At least I’ll know who to call.

3RD PERIOD

Ok, Leino is kind of a bull on the puck lately, but I have yet to see him do much creative with it. When he touches the puck it rarely leads to a scoring chance.

Ennis’ 2nd goal: some hard work and some luck, but it’s nice to see the breaks go his way finally. Great pass across the crease that got redirected by the D-man’s skate.

Pretty good pressure in the offensive zone and nice movement by the Sabres D-men to maintain puck possession. They’re playing well and with a 2-1 lead I feel confident. (Not cocky … *confident*)

Immigrant Song playing in the arena: the most-played hockey song. (I have no stats to back this up, but I hear it all the time.)

Horrible Commercial Watch
Independent Health – it’s all health commercials and lawyers. That’s where the money is. #TheSystemIsBroken

“It’s amazing how much better looking Nick is than Larry” – Neale talking about another Foligno brother. Ummm yeah.

Is it me or does Harry Neale just say the most obvious things? He doesn’t seem to add a whole lot of insightful color commentary. My vote is for Danny Gare.

With all of Pegula’s money, there has to be a way to makes clones with a mixture of Gerbe & Ennis’ DNA with some gene sequences of Meyers’ height.

2 on 1 chance by Montreal but Regher took the passing lane and Miller shut down the shooter. #textbook

Miller cool as a cucumber and making his saves look easy. (Does anyone still say “cool as a cucumber”? I guess I do.)

Gander Mountain is a sponsor of the Sabres? Huh. I will recommend it to all my friends over Bass Pro Shops.

RJ on the Canadiens penalty that negated their powerplay: “I’m sorry guys, I didn’t think it was a penalty” One of the many reasons we love him.

Ennis clearly ate his spinach/wheaties today. He’s quicker than anyone on the ice.

Horrible Commercial Watch
Chevy Truck Month – pounding “truck month” into our heads by playing it over and over will never work and it’s an annoying commercial. Hmm… I really need a truck…but now I don’t know whether to go Ford or Chevy!

5:00 left and it’s the first time I really noticed the crowd (other than Montreal fans).

It’s funny how we used to think Stafford could be a power forward.

After Montreal flipped a puck into the Sabres bench, Neale quipped: “I think Enroth made the save on it” Ok, well played, Neale, I liked that one!

Under 1:00 – Empty net excitement and Miller with a nice glove save.

Ugh. Montreal scored with 3 seconds left. That really hurts to give up a goal that late.

Gotta admire Montreal fans though – they’re last in the East and they still show up in force in another teams arena. Good on ya. But couldn’t you allow us the two points in regulation!?

Errrgh, my Gamecenter feed crapped out for OT! Twitter informed me that Myers scored the game winner – woot! It’s the one disadvantage of watching online, every once in a while you’ll miss something – but you can always rewatch it later.

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Why are you still reading this? It’s time to go home. The post is over. Go on.

 

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Games Dad and I have Been To: “The Biggest Voice,” “Sports Vowels” the #Sabres, and @FNLoudBuf

From the BSN vault (with additional commentary):

Before we get down to brass tacks, you might want to check out @FNLoudBuf on the Twitter.

*****

I have a big, booming voice.

This has, in my opinion, added a real wildcard advantage to the Sabres. Bellowing “Let’s go Buffaloooooooooooo”, not only shakes up the home crowd around me, but reaches the ice.

 Games Dad and I have Been To: “The Biggest Voice,” “Sports Vowels” the #Sabres, and @FNLoudBuf

(The Sports Vowel “o” is a powerful weapon.  It’s very opportune that the word “Buffalo” ends in an “o,” since you can project this profound Sports Vowel from the bass of your stomach to be heard far and away.)

Of course, I’ve heard players say that they tune out the noise from the crowd to focus on their game, but I believe that they hear me, and that my gusto fuels them.  And as a fan, belief is fact.

Somewhat-enough recently, I had an experience that told me that my status of wildcard might be changing. That my “noise” meant something. Crazy stuff.

It does mean something.

This year, the Sabres confirmed it.

The players want us.

*****

Back in the day, my wife and I were avid fans of the now defunct Jacksonville Barracudas. The city had just built a new arena – and while small, it was a dandy: there wasn’t a bad seat in the house, the stadium nachos were good (enough), and the bartender at their Stadium Club was one of the cheeriest I’ve ever met (of course, people around hockey always seem to be plain good people).

Ahh, memories.

My crowning moment was during a ‘Cudas breakaway: it was a nifty and unexpected breakout pass from deep in our own end, and the crowd went silent. I thought to myself, “This is my time.” I looked at my wife, and she gave me the nod. Just as our guy on the ice lifted his blade to shoot the puck, I let it go:

“Cudaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!”*

(The schwa “a” is also one of those great vowels that you can really extend out long and loud. Besides the long lung-busting delivery, it also comes out with a sort of barbaristic rasp – a war-like bellow.)

(I really love Sports Vowels.)

The goalie flinched, and the puck was in the back of the net. Now, I can’t say for certain that he flinched because his goaltender’s mask was being rattled by my sound-waves, but I believe it did, and as a fan,

belief is fact.

The ‘Cudas have now left town to find a larger fan base in North Florida. I hope they find a good fan base somewhere, but I believe that they will miss me.

My wife and I have since moved up to WNY, after 16 long years of away game hockey. Along with my mother and father, we all attended a Sabres’ preseason game against Toronto in 2008.  It was my first game in Buffalo since the 90’s, and the Aud.

Since it was pre-season, there were a few thousand empty seats. I was ready to give my voice to the Sabres, finally, on their home ice – and at the first quiet moment, I let that “o” out louder and longer than ever before:

“Let’s go buffalooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

But this time, no one around me was close to being rattled.

I even got a high five, but such reactions were not to last.

This was a unfamiliar reaction. But at least, I do believe that Lindy recognized me, and I believe he even cracked a smile. (And you know from reading this post what belief means to a hockey fan.)

And then it happened: from just about three rows behind me came a high-pitched echo – a big time “Let’s go Buffaloooo!” from a surprising source. When I turned around, there she was. She couldn’t have been more than nine years old, but she had the Big Voice. She smiled at me, and then gave me a look as if to say,

“This is my ice.”

I turned to my father, a season ticket holder in that section. “Yep,” he said, “she’s the Sabres Official Cheerleader. All game long, she keeps us all going. Just wait. It’s amazing.”

And she did not fail to impress. My voice was ready to give out by the mid-second period, as we were trailing, but she kept the home fans delighted and electrified with her indomitable voice and spirit. The Sabres tied the game late and won in overtime, and I believe that it was her Big Voice that won the game that night.

And belief, of course, is fact.

Since then, I have been re-learning what it is like to be a home-fan. It’s certainly different – you don’t get to enjoy invading a city with a horde of thousands of other Sabres-jersey-clad fans. (Well, there’s always Toronto.)

But also, I’ll am realizing that I am now a generation behind, and I am handing over my voice to these new Big Voices in the crowd.

My voice is getting older, and giving out sooner, but I can take it easy, knowing that the biggest Official Sabres Cheerleader, and the Biggest Voice, is just nine years old: the Sabres will be in good hands for decades to come.

And you’d better believe it.

FlyrersFans 300x182 Games Dad and I have Been To: “The Biggest Voice,” “Sports Vowels” the #Sabres, and @FNLoudBufbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/FlyrersFans.jpg 571w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Or others will.

*****

In the days of the old Aud, there was a row of guys that lead the charge – correct me if I’m wrong – Ritchie Ryan and Art Ponto decided to lead the stampede in the early days of the Blue and Gold. You might not know them, even if you’ve seen Rich’s picture above the bar in the new Aud Club. But surely you’ve heard their chants:

“Ooo, Ahh, Sabres on the Warpath!”

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5… we want 6!”

Back then, it felt like an honor to sit near them, and their well dressed row of hockey enthusiasts. Today we have a couple new enthusiasts.

Follow @FNLoudBuf. Let’s see what antics they get up to. Let’s make some F’N noise.

Go Sabres.

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