The Sabres have yet to win a home game.
Well, that’s not technically true. One of their games in Europe was marked as a “home game” on the NHL schedule, but that’s ridiculous. If it ain’t your building, it ain’t your building. Those were away games for all teams involved.
In any event, the Sabres are 5-1-0 in the infancy of the 2011-12 NHL regular season, their only loss coming at home, against the hated Carolina Hurricanes. The Buffalo News’ headline of that game read “Hurricanes Spoil Sabres’ Homecoming.” Fair enough, but consider the fact that the boys in Blue and Gold allowed two short handed goals in that game, and they really spoiled it for themselves.
So far, the best way to beat the Sabres, actually the only way, is to have them beat themselves.
Here’s some early season portents of success for the march towards the playoffs:
- The Sabres have 10 points out of a possible 12.
- They lead the NE Division – Toronto is one point behind (having played only one road game), Boston and Ottawa trail by 4 and 6 points respectively (and both have played seven games). Montreal is in the basement, with an épouvantable 1-4-1 record.
- Hey – since Pegula took over, the Sabres are 21-5-4 in the regular season. Talk about a smart investor buying in at the right time.
- Or is it that the players are the ones buying in? In 10 games, Thomas Vanek has 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists). He’s not known for fast starts – could this be one of his best seasons? Jason Pominville has 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) – and as Sabres PR staffer Ian Ott pointed out last night, Pommers has 19 points (6+13) in his last 23 games, dating back to 3/25/11. To top that, he added that Vanek “hasn’t gone two games without a point in those last 23 games.”
- More from Ott: “Vanek is now 5th in Sabres history with 36 GWG, two behind Andreychuk for 4th. His 210 goals are one shy of Mogilny for 10th. That’s Miller’s 23rd career shutout. Second in Sabres history to Dominik Hasek (55). Miller’s now nine wins from tying Hasek’s total (234).” Any complaints about Vanek and Miller right now are laughable.
- Let’s not forget rookie “Cool Hand Luke,” who has put in 6 points (3+3) in six games between Vanek and Pommers.
- Buffalo trails only two teams in points in the NHL standings, let alone the Eastern Conference standings. The two ahead of them, Washington and Pittsburgh, are at the 12 point mark (though it’s taken the Pens 9 games to get there).
- The Sabres goals for/goals against ratio is tops in the NHL at 20GF/10GA. Take away those two dreadful shorthanded goals against in the Carolina game, and we’re looking at a ratio of 20/8. (Washington is 23/13, Pittsburgh 26/21.)
Remember, the Sabres are doing all of this on the road. As Harry Neale said just before puck drop last night, coaches “find about a lot about their team on the road.” So far, Lindy Ruff is learning some very good things about his boys.
Someday they'll award our efforts in making these ridiculous things.
Until said captioned efforts do go rewarded, we’ll make our own summer trophies. Get your voter registration cards ready, sports fans.
Today launches the inaugural Summer Awards Ball here at Buffalo Sabres Nation – and you’re all invited. So, get into your “Tux and Pucks'” best and prepare to think hard: it’ll be up to all of you to decide who gets these things.
Winners will receive a beautifully preserved sample of Sabres’ Blue and Red cotton candy (now retired)! That’s right – the old colors, before Terry Pegula and Ted Black opened up the “Sabres Suggestion Box” and made so many millions of improvements to the overall Sabres experience that they actually changed the color of the cotton candy from blue and red to blue and yellow.
Gotta’ love those guys.
It may have congealed, a little.
Without further ado, our first award up for your egregious contemplation and debate is “The Sully.” This award goes to the member/player in the Sabres organization most enthusiastically loathed by a certain member of the Buffalo News (who just may just bear a name somewhat similar to the actual namesake of this award – the other destroyer in Buffalo – which is docked at the waterfront). I know, right? It’s just a total coincidence.
Here are your nominees for this year’s Sully (in no particular order):
- Tim Connolly. Connolly may have never have lived up to his contract extension, but there are no worries as to if he ever knew about it.
- Terry Pegula. It didn’t take long for Pegula to get raked over the coals in this one newspaper town – during an on air rant at WGR55, our certain news writer spoke so vehemently about the new ownership’s decisions that Schopp and the Bulldog were actually rendered speechless for ten seconds. (Click on the 2/28 “Part 1” feed – the 12:13 mark starts off the tirade that leads to the dead silence at 13:02.)
- Ryan Miller. Nothing like cornering an angry netminder in the locker room after a tough night – after he walks away from you. Nope, there is no escape from the wrath of the “Sabres’ Critic,” not even for the team’s all-world goaltender. Heck, there’s always time for name-calling and f-bomb dropping, even if it takes place in front of a bunch of little kids touring the facilities – it’s about staying objective, folks!
Those are your Sullied Heroes, up for your vote. Think, debate, comment, and click!
Thanks for participating!
The HSBC can be a pretty quiet place sometimes.
Sure, a lot of the quieter sections of the arena were made that way by some rather dull personalities and uninspired play on the ice, and the fan base did get jacked up for the stretch to the playoffs and for Round One.
But on regular season nights, the crowd needs to be loud. Maybe we need a “Sam’s Army.”
The official logo.
From Ryan Miller, after the Sabres clinched the playoffs in the last game of the regular season:
“We can feel it, we can tell on the ice that we need the crowd behind us, even when we’re not playing our best we appreciate some support. You can’t always go into the locker room feeling boos, we need some help, we need some support, we need everybody in this city behind us to do this the right way, that’s just how it goes.”
“You go into these other buildings and it’s energy for the other team, going into Philly we’re going to have to be a close bunch because they’re going to be charged up there and it’s the same here I think we need that energy, we need to feed off it, even the smallest plays.”
“I think that’s the difference this year – I think people are ready to start buzzing and last year they were waiting for something to happen, we kind of backed our way in so there is a little bit of a difference there. I think that’s what people around here are waiting for, they don’t want to be let down and we’re going to need their help to do it the right way so, come along for the ride!”
Miller got his wish – well, sort of – naturally, fans are going to be three-arena-beers-in-crazy during the playoffs. It’s the part where he notes how fans were sorta waiting around for something good to happen before they decided to start making some noise.
Lots of folks say, “Well, if they stink I am gonna’ boo them. I bought tickets. When they play well I cheer. So what?” Well, because that sounds an awful lot like bandwagoning, that’s what.
I am not doubting the passion of Sabres fans – who are of the most ardent, passionate, and hockey-savvy fans in the world. But turning that passion into a little noise sure would be a nice change.
Sometimes it’s hard to be that guy who starts the “Let’s go, Buffalo!” chant in the stands when the boys on the ice are faltering. Maybe, because of that, we need our own hockey version of soccer’s “Sam’s Army.”
I know, I know – I know what you are thinking:
“What is soccer?” “What is Sam’s Army?” Their mission statement:
“Our mission is clear; SAM’S ARMY® wants enthusiastic soccer fans who will PARTICIPATE at games! We want people who will STAND and SING for the DURATION of the game, show their colors, bring original flags, give our team the home field advantage, and ENERGIZE the rest of the crowd! We want to make these events as fun as possible for everyone! If you feel up to this challenge, then SAM’S ARMY® is for you! The goal of SAM’S ARMY® is to make soccer games a more enjoyable experience for everyone. We will not tolerate hooligan, racist, or violent behavior.”
Sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?
Well, I can’t – right now it’s just an idea, but one that I hope catches on.
I say we call it “Stanley’s Army.”
Who’s with me?
*Tip-o-the-sunglasses to reader Derek Fettes for alerting me to “Sam’s Army.” Derek: you’ve been promoted to corporal. Congratulations!