Posted by John Monahan on November 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm
Well, it just wouldn’t be sports in Buffalo if some intrigue wasn’t involved. Here the Bills are doing well (aside from that horrid thumping at the hands of the NY Jets), the Sabres have an 8-5 record, are even winning at home, and we have… dun dun dunnnnn …. GOALIE CONTROVERSY. And yes, I’m aware how long that last sentence was. It’s not quite the Bickering Bills of ’89 or Johnson vs. Flutie, but it’s still entertaining.
A bit of a recap may be required here: Ryan Miller gets yanked after letting in three quick goals against Philly on November 2nd. Young Jhonas Enroth stopgaps a shutout the rest of the way. Lindy Ruff plays the hot hand against the Sabres next two opponents and Enroth gets two wins, only letting in three goals total in those games. Last but certainly not least is Ryan Miller’s attitude when talking to the press.
After practice on November 7th, Miller said:
“I’m here to win. That’s the emotion you get from me. If I’m discouraged, if I’m [ticked] off, that’s just how it is. I want to win. I don’t want to be out there getting scored on. I don’t want to be pulled out of a game. I want to, you know, I want to [expletive] win the game.” (Full notes from TBN here)
Many people are pissed off about this quote but I don’t get it. Nor do I get the vitriol thrown his way. So allow me to rant about him for a bit.
Can you think of a better guy to have between the pipes in this situation? Well, *besides* the Dominator.
WHY MILLER IS AWESOME
He’s Ryan-freaking-Miller, the face of the team for well near a decade. Most teams would kill for a goalie half as good as Miller. He practices non-stop, sharpening his reflexes every chance he gets and is in top physical shape.
He has all the accolades too: a silver medal, a Vezina, MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics, over the last five seasons has gotten over 34 wins a year … and he smells like mint julep. (Well, ok, due to the restraining order, I’ve not been able to get close enough to verify this.)
Sure, he’s going to have a stretch of bad games every once in a while – chill people. Even the greatest goalies ever have have rough patches. Hall of Famer Patrick Roy let in nine goals in 1995 in Montreal. He pretty much demanded a trade and went on a win a Stanley Cup the next year. Martin Brodeur has been pulled from games. You think of a great goalie, he’s been pulled at some point in his career. It happens.
The thing about Miller is he’s a professional and knows how to forget bad games. He moves on and is in the moment when it comes time for him to make saves. He does his best each game and that’s the mark of a great goaltender.
That quote, what he said earlier today, heartens me. It validates how good of a goalie he is. I LIKE that he’s pissed. I LIKE that he’s cussing. I want to see that fight, that heart, that piss and vinegar. He wants to be the guy, for the team to put it all on his shoulders and he’s ready for any challenge.
Now, I like Jhonas Enroth, he’s great. He’s a young guy and he’s an NHL backup. We have no idea how he’d do full-time. The other night against Ottawa his flaws were exposed, if only a little bit; he’s not as strong in one on one situations as Miller is.
Perhaps we should step back and think about just how lucky we are to have great goaltending and even be having this conversation/argument. But I guarantee you that in a few weeks this will all be water under the bridge. (*Guarantee void in all continental U.S. States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the Netherlands and wherever gravity is 9.80665 m/s2.)
1Posted by Scott Michalak on October 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm
First of all, let’s state some credit where credit is due:
“Tebowing” is an inspired internet meme – inspired maybe only just enough to get rid of that incredibly stupefying “planking” nonsense – but that achievement should be appreciated by all. Long after Tebow’s career is over, no matter what success or comedic failures he encounters on the field, let it be remembered that he killed Planking.
Now that that is out of the way, late’s take a quick peek at the bombardment of cutesy images of the Tebowing meme. A couple samples:
Cute? Yes. False Idolotry? Not sure. Also not sure if "idolotry" is a correct usage. Let's just move on so we don't get bombarded by angry religious complaints.
Tebowing has taken the nation by storm, and my Twitter feed is full of folks posting their own random Tebowing poses. Goodtimes? Sure, if the lack of oxygen at Mile High is getting to your sense of the awesomely cooler memes we could be launching instead.
In spirit of that, we give you our suggestions for “Tebowing Alternatives.” Feel free to run with these, take pictures, and submit them all over the internet.
To kick things off, let’s turn to the NHL. Take it away, snark portion of my brain:
Lorentzing: holding aloft a hockey stick with a plastic bat impaled at the end. (Great Halloween costume, actually.)
Haseking: some sort of epilectic breakdancing. Open to artistic liscence.
Yeah, yeah I know it’s the home opener. And, I know that the Sabres are supposed to be world-beaters – an awesome, stacked team that is going to rampage over the NHL and forcibly take the cup from all other contenders. Maybe I’m overdoing it a bit and that’s not what most people think.
Point is, many in Sabres Nation think that this is going to be easy. That the Sabres will vie for the President’s Trophy once again. That they’ll cruise into the playoffs easily with one of the top seeds and get to at least the Conference Finals.
Well, maybe, maybe not. Perhaps we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Perhaps we need to take a step back and slow our roll. After all, the whirlwind of the 2011 Sabres European Tour had us in quite the tizzy.
Then the Sabres came back to an upgraded facility, and that’s an understatement. Have you SEEN the place? Excellence is everywhere in the organization now. The players are reminded of their purpose and how to achieve it with every step they take towards the ice.
Perhaps the reality of that combined with the fact that it was the home opener had them a little off their game against the Carolina Whalercanes Hurricanes. Even with the additions via free agency, the Sabres are still a relatively young team. You can’t expect to throw all this at them and not take a little time to come together, to gel, and to cope with the fact that they are now EXPECTED to be great.
Expectations are a bitch. Maybe it was a little easier last year when they weren’t expected to make the playoffs. They could play their best hockey because no one would give them grief if they made a mistake or took some chances that might not pay off.
Maybe I’m reading into this too much, as this isn’t Detroit or Montreal where every players actions are scrutinized in detail, but there may be something to it.
In any case, it’s one game. There will be stretches (hopefully not too long) where the Sabres play like crap. We’ve got to take the bad with the good and enjoy every moment of this Pegula era. I for one remember all too vividly just how close we came to losing this team. Let’s appreciate the wins AND the losses and be thankful for the new ownership that will do whatever it takes to make this a championship team.
Posted by John Monahan on September 29, 2011 at 9:46 am
The pace of things in the Buffalo sports world has picked up. Of course we had a frenzy of activity in the spring and early summer with Pegulaville and the excitement of free agency. Then the slog of the dog days of summer and nearly no hockey news was upon us. Throw the NFL lockout in the mix and the lack of sports had some of us turning to other interests like, oh say, spending time with family, or learning a new skill or meditating for hours on end with the goal of attaining oneness with the universe.
Perhaps for some Bills and Sabres fans this last one actually happened. For how else could it be that we have the prospect of TWO competitive teams at the same time? How else could we have two teams that are not just competitive and entertaining but could possibly make the playoffs?
The last time both the Sabres and Bills were both this good was around 1998/1999. The last time the Bills made the playoffs was over 10 years ago. TEN YEARS MAN! And while the Sabres have gotten over No Goal and found postseason success, the Bills have yet to get past the Music City Miracle. The Chan Gailey/Buddy Nix era is upon us, and while it hasn’t proven yet to be of the caliber of the Levy/Polian caliber the reasons to believe are evident.
Buffalo sports fans even have reason to believe that a championship will be delivered. Pegula has not only said so but put his money where his mouth is. Ehrhoff, Regehr and silent h’s aside, Pegula has put his stamp on the Sabres and is willing a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. (Perhaps he too meditated over the summer, chanting “om” over and over again, envisioning the Stanley Cup in his mind’s eye. Hey, he could’ve watched The Secret or What the Bleep Do We Know.)
It still feels a little early to think about a championship for the Buffalo Bills. Perhaps we’re just way too giddy about having a team that’s competitive, a quality coach that actually inspires players to play with heart, and a real honest to goshness actual offense that can move the ball in chunks either on the ground or in the air. It’s still difficult to believe at times, but yes, the Bills are a real team. At this point, after enduring the frustrating Wade Phillips era, the equally disappointing Gregg Williams Era and the maddeningly boring Dick Jauron era, having a fun football team to watch that could at least go .500 is something that most Bills fans would take.
If the Sabres miss the playoffs there will be riots in the streets. Ok, that’s quite a bit of an exaggeration because as we know Buffalo doesn’t quite roll like that, yet the expectations are pretty high. Conversely if the Bills miss the playoffs, it’s the same old, same old – par for the course. The thrill of the Bills winning in exciting fashion is still so new that getting even a sniff of the playoffs is excitement enough. Well, for me at least.
With the economy in the tank and no sign of things changing soon, at least we can take solace in our sports teams and be entertained. We have a lot to be thankful for and a lot of quality sports ahead of us. Go Bills, go Sabres, and of course, LET’S GO BUFFALO!
(On a somewhat related note, Yahoo has a piece called “There’s no place like Buffalo in NFL“. It’s a great feel-good writeup that should give any WNYer the warm fuzzies and any non-WNYer a good insight into the sports culture of our area. Thanks to @BrianBund for the link.)
Posted by Scott Michalak on September 24, 2011 at 8:20 am
This is a good one.
While we’ve all been gearing up for our first full year of Pegula hockey, “Hockey Heaven” (sponsor) has been very busy – making t-shirts, giving away tickets, and putting together some really great Sabres videos.
In Hockey Heaven, a toque is our winter time halo.
The latest installment from their Youtube channel, “Buffalo Sabres Owner Speaks with NHL,” is a venture into the world of animation, and superheros.
And it’s outstanding.
There is so much that is awesome in this video that it’s hard to nail down one singular thing that makes it great. Maybe it’s the Superhero outfit. Maybe it’s the Justice League-like “Fortress of Solitude” at the F’N Center. Maybe it’s the… oh never mind, just click “play.”
Love that Pegula cartoon swagger.
13 days until our season opens in Helsinki. Until then, we have our preseason, and we have our home-grown businesses like “Hockey Heaven” that have sprung up in Pegulaville to make this ride even more important, and even more fun.
UPDATE: I asked demanded “Hockey Heaven” to produce more cartoons. Their response: