If Buffalo isn’t careful, they could lose five straight. They’re already at two; they looked disinterested Friday night and even though I only saw the third period tonight, it did not look good. Wednesday night they play Washington (!!!) and Washington’s game isn’t over yet, but as I write they’re winning 3-0 in the third and are on the power play. Friday they play Chicago, and everyone knows how kickass they’ve been. Then on Saturday they finish off in New York. The Sabres should be able to beat the Rangers but they couldn’t two nights ago and they’ll be on the second night of a back-to-back and the fourth game in six days. The Sabres need to make some changes before they start the next three games or they could be in serious trouble.
As I see it, they have two big questions:
1. Ryan has no doubt been the MVP of the season, but I can’t even remember the last time he had a break and he almost gave up four goals tonight. When do the Sabres sit him and play Lala for the sake of keeping all of his limbs attached?
2. Will the Sabres EVER score a goal again? Or will they at least score a goal that does more than give the opposing goalie a Ryan Miller Shutout?
While the Chris Pronger trade (I couldn’t believe everything Philly had been asking from Washington in exchange for Pronger. GMGM, not trading half your team plus Varly for him was a fabulous choice on your part) during the draft was definitely big, the Scott Gomez trade that just happened is, in my opinion, the biggest one yet. I’m kind of surprised that the Habs took on Gomez, especially if they’re interested in the Sedins and want to trade for Vinny, but whatever. The Rangers were able to dump that awful contract and now maybe they’ll have room for Heatley..? Either way, this’ll probably open the flood gates.
Darcy Regier is scheduled to appear on Sabres Lunch Express tomorrow. Um, I’m sorry, what? Free agency will have just started. I don’t care if Darcy has absolutely no intention of signing anyone tomorrow. He should at least be near a phone in case someone else calls. Darcy’s really pissing me off lately. I’m never a fan of signing free agents to huge, lifetime contracts just because it’s Free Agency Day, but I wish Darcy would at least DO SOMETHING. Obviously, the team we have isn’t cutting it and changes need to be made. Darcy Regier, you’re on my list.
USA Hockey announced the roster for the developmental camp in August. Ryan Miller was the only Sabre named to it. I’m happy for him and I’m excited to see him compete with TimTom for the starting job, but I’m a little sad that Goosie or Stafford didn’t make it. Oh well. I’ve been having these terribly anti-American feelings lately that the Russians are going to be amazing this winter. I apologize for being such a bad American. I’ll try to be more optimistic about Team USA from this point on.
Last night Washington won a totally awesome game to keep the series alive, a game which I watched with some totally awesome blogger ladies. The Caps got secondary scoring from none other than Matthew Bradley, Avery was a healthy scratch and Lundqvist got pulled, Torts tried to kill a fan, Alexander scored an amazing, badass goal, and Simeon got another shutout. I thought it over last night, and decided that there are three ways this series will work out.
1. The bloodthirsty fans in Madison Square Garden propel the Rangers to a win tomorrow afternoon.
2. The Capitals win tomorrow and force game seven, in which they gain a decisive victory and ride the momentum into the second round.
3. They win tomorrow, force game seven, and after four overtimes, all of which I watch even though I have a test at seven the next morning, the Rangers score. It will probably even be Chris Drury who scores it.
The Sabres have decided to keep Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier through next season. Maybe they’ll at least bring in some new faces to shake things up a bit. Maybe not.
Carolina and Pittsburgh won in OT last night, Vancouver shut out St. Louis.
Washington and New York face off this afternoon and it looks like Jose will be in goal. Drury will probably be back as well. Matt Gilroy, Hobey Baker winner, stabbed me in the heart by signing with the Rangers. I thought he and I had a bond. I guess not.
Detroit and Columbus at six, Boston and Montreal at eight, Chicago and Calgary at nine. I’m predicting Detroit and Boston to definitely win, and Calgary to possibly squeak out a win. After all that whining about goaltender interference, they’ll want to even things out.
My brother took a school trip up to Quebec this week, and since he’s such a kind, thoughtful young lad he brought me back a souvenir. I tweeted about it earlier but it’s so good I feel the need to mention it here: He was up in Quebec, in Canada, and bought me a Washington Capitals puck. It’s the coolest thing ever. I hope it brings the Caps the strength to even out the series on home ice before heading into hostile territory, a.k.a MSG.
Last year, I didn’t know what to expect when I started rooting for the Caps. I didn’t know a lot about the team and probably couldn’t even have named all the players. I didn’t know how they would handle the playoffs and didn’t know if they could survive a series.
This year, I know this team. I know this team even better than I thought I did. That’s why I’m worried. Some people are saying the Caps will have no problem with the Rangers, but I’m more on the side of those who say they need to be careful. That’s why I’m picking the Caps, but I’m saying it’ll take them six games. Everyone is making a bid deal about how Sean Avery’s going to get in everyone’s head but the only player I’m worried about is Jose Theodore. Avery could probably psyche him out, but Alex doesn’t really seem like the kind of player who would let him get inside his head.
I honestly don’t know if they can win the Cup this year. Let’s be honest, their goaltending is questionable, they need to cut down on penalties, and need to improve their penalty killing. But they have to at least win a round. I might cry if they don’t.
I also might cry if Semie and Staal don’t fight again.
If they do win a round, but then lose to the Penguins, I’ll jump off a bridge.
My other picks:
Boston (1) vs. Montreal (8)
Boston hasn’t been as fantastic as they were earlier in the season, but as shaky as they’ve been, Montreal has been worse. The only reason the Habs even made the playoffs is because Florida and Buffalo blew it.
Bruins in six.
New Jersey (3) vs. Carolina (6)
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my grandfather on the phone. He’s 90, and is easily confused by the standings. I was explaining to him what the Sabres needed to do to move into the playoffs, and what games other teams needed to lose. At one point New Jersey came up, and I told him that beating New Jersey would be tough because I thought they would win it all this year.
Now, after the season is over, I think New Jersey has kind of crashed and burned, and I really don’t think they’ll go far. I feel bad for Devils fans, but I’m no longer seeing a Red Wings/Devils final with the Devils winning.
Carolina in six.
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Philadelphia (5)
As much as I hate Philadelphia, I hate Pittsburgh more. That being said, Philly’s goaltending is even more questionable than Washington’s and Pittsburgh has been on a tear. It’ll come down to whether or not Philly’s defense can keep Pittsburgh away from Biron, and then if their offense can get to Fleury.
It’ll take seven games, and as much as I hate to say it, I think Pittsburgh will move on to the next round.
San Jose (1) vs. Anaheim (8)
Yes, I know that San Jose won the Presidents’ Trophy. But I also know that the Sharks are some of the biggest chokers I have ever seen. Anaheim’s been pretty good as of late, and I honestly think they could beat the Sharks if they tried.
Anaheim in seven games.
Detroit (2) vs. Columbus (7)
Apologies to the Blackhawks fans out there (and there are more and more of you every day), but I adopted Columbus as my Western Conference Team a couple weeks ago. They’re cute, and they made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. And I had to write an article review about an article on them for gym, so I know all about these little Blue Jackets. Detroit is a scary postseason team, but Columbus beat them 8-2 earlier in the year. They have Steve Mason, and Detroit has their entire offense and defense.
This series will go one of two ways. Either Columbus finds that spark that got them to the playoffs and upset the Red Wings in seven games, or Detroit sweeps them.
Vancouver (3) vs. St. Louis (6)
Honestly, I have watched very little of either team this year. Like, I think I saw two games from each, and the St. Louis games were back when they sucked. I know very little about either of these teams, other than Jay McKee players for the Blues and the Sedins play for the Canucks. Hey, didn’t that bald Swedish guy sign with the Canucks halfway through the season too?
St. Louis in six.
Chicago (4) vs. Calgary (5)
I feel kind of bad for Calgary. They had a 13-point lead in their division and then kind of crapped out. And, um, 0-42 on the power play to end the season? That’s awful.
Chicago, on the other hand, has been pretty darn good for most of the season. AND they finished off the season by shutting out Detroit. That’s pretty good, ‘Hawks. They’ll win this series, but – and don’t kill me, Cari, Kim, or Clare!! – I’m not sure how much deeper they’ll get. Making the playoffs alone is a huge accomplishment for them, and winning a series would be great, but they still are a young team, and they’ve kind of looked young at times this season. But still, they’ll be fine against Calgary.
Chicago in five.
But I’ll still be watching the Caps the most. Let’s go Caps! Woo!!!
I’m a lot sadder about getting eliminated than I thought I would be. It really was too little, too late, and this team has been way too inconsistent this year, but it’s harsh that they got eliminated on the same night they won 5-1.
I still hate Ryan’s helmet, but I did love his post-game interview. You, sir, are my favorite Sabre for a reason.
Stupid Rangers. They’re always screwing things up.
Remember when they started 6-0-2? Yeah, neither do I.
It’s ridiculously slow, so before it stops working again a few quick things:
- There was an article in TBN today about Jochen and how he needs to step up. I agree. When we were discussing the Sabres during the Ottawa game last Wednesday my mother mentioned at one point that it really didn’t seem like I disliked any of the Sabres. I told her that if I had to pick one Sabre I really didn’t like, aside from Max of course, it would be Jochen Hecht.
- Pommer updated his blog. Oh, Pommer. I really, really want to take him to the zoo and by him cotton candy or something. I want to babysit him and watch “The Wonder Pets.”
- I fell in love with the Atlanta Thrashers last night. I feel terrible, but I can not control the heart’s desire. They’re just so lovable. I always had a soft spot for Kovalchuk, but now it extends to the entire time. My love is actually based on three major points: 1) I’ve always had a thing for Ilya, 2) It’s really okay that I love them, because they kind of suck and they’re not really a threat to the Caps or Sabres, and 3) I desperately want to know why they call their goalie “Moose.” We’ll have to see how long this relationship lasts.
- Speaking of the Thrashers, while we don’t get Hurricanes hockey here we get Thrashers hockey. I watched their game last night but I conked out after the first period. (I’m pretty sure it was after the first. It’s was 4-2 Atlanta and “Sex and the City” had already ended.) When I woke up Clare informed me via Twitter that the Thrashers won 7-6 in the shootout. Why do I ALWAYS fall asleep before the exciting comebacks!?!?!?!
- The Rangers lost. Heh.
- The Penguins lost to the Islanders. Their new coach must be INCREDIBLE.
- Tonight’s game is on Versus, so we will be drinking root beer by the bottle and eating the best pizza on the planet. I really know how to live large.
When they were scrolling the lines at the bottom of the screen last night I thought it was a mistake when it said Paetsch on the wing. I was even more confused when he wasn’t listed in a defensive pair, and then I saw Pie and Petey were scratched so I was quite perplexed. Then RJ or someone else said something about Patches playing on the wing and I wondered if Lindy was on crack. Sure, it’s a really smart idea having a seventh defensemen dressed in case Jaro got hurt again, but Patches? Playing the wing? Ever since that New Jersey game in December I have disliked Nathan. Maybe he’s been playing better these past few games, but he was so craptastic that night that I just didn’t ever want to see him play again. I would have rather seen Pommer go back on D for a few shifts. (I’m still waiting for that, Lindy. Why must you taunt is by telling us Pommer might play defense but then keep him on offense? It’s cruel.)
Patches proved that he actually could play a good game of hockey. On offense. And he scored a lovely goal. Sure, it wasn’t like the Timmy goal, but that pass was great and the one-timer was awesome. Woo, Patches! Lindy said in the postgame press conference that he might just keep Nathan up front. I realize he might have been joking but that line last night was probably the best one out there.
Ryan Miller is certainly justifying his contract, if you ask me. He has been ridiculously good. I’m glad we decided to keep him.
Tim Connolly is amazing at hockey. End of story.
Heh. Jaro’s goal made me happy. See, Sabres? Just take a shot! You never know when you’ll catch the goalie by surprise and get a goal! (The picture on the front of the Sports section today in TBN made me all fuzzy inside. Jaro looked so happy!)
I really wish the Sabres would just shoot on the freaking power play. Did they have any shots with the man-advantage last night? I really want to just make them all sit down and watch footage of a team that actually SHOOTS THE PUCK on the power play. That’s really my only complaint from last night.
Patty K was hitting everything that moved last night. He’s such a great guy to have in the lineup. I keep forgetting to mention it, but I absolutely love Patty killing penalties. It’s so awesome.
That whole game last night was awesome. Beating Toronto was great because it was their first game back after a long road trip and they needed to get the confidence and momentum, but last night was huge because it was a team above them in the standings. They’re only four points out of fourth place. If Boston beats Philly this afternoon and then Buffalo beats Ottawa, the Sabres will be in fifth place. One point behind Montreal/out of fourth place. Tonight’s game is huge. Absolutely huge. Ottawa is terrible but Buffalo is terrible on the second nights of back-to-backs.
Dallas beat the Rangers 10-2. That. Is. Hilarious. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Remember when everyone thought the Rangers would win the Cup after like two games? That was amusing. There are lots of rumors swirling around that Sean Avery is headed back to the Rangers. Last night no one on the postgame show thought he would go back to New York, but if I were to take an unbiased stance on all this I would say it was an excellent idea. From what I’ve seen of the Rangers, all they really have that keeps them from being a terrible team is Henrik Lundqvist. Sean Avery would definitely add a little pizazz to the lineup. (Did I just say pizazz? In regards to Sean Avery?) They had a better record with him in the lineup than without him last year, and while I think standing in front of goalies and waving your stick is absolutely moronic he definitely knew how to get the team going.
The Caps are playing the Panthers tonight so I have double the reasons to root for Washington. I love it when they win and we need them to do us a favor and keep Florida from getting two points. The Panthers handed the Caps their first regulation loss in the Verizon Center way back when, but I have faith in the Caps. Won’t they be desperate for a win after that LA game?
Pittsburgh won. Boo.
Is Petey coming back in the lineup tonight? This could really go either way because obviously you might want him in there after last game, but I’m thinking Lindy might want to keep in the players that win him the games…
I’ll be honest with you, Dear Readers. About halfway through the second period last night, I slipped into that mindset I usually enter when I’ve realized that the Sabres are going to lose. I usually continue to watch the game, but I might start texting a few more people, or get a magazine to flip through. I enter that mindset when I see the Sabres have decided to not show up. Last night, the only Sabre who showed up was Ryan Miller. I was especially disappointed last night, because I realized my open confidence in the team had done nothing and I would have to go back to tough love. When Roy scored, the sensible part of my brain told myself that the goal only meant that the Sabres wouldn’t get shut out. There was a part of me, however, that refused to believe that. A tiny part of me was thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Sabres could pull off a win.
Heh. I was right!
It wasn’t pretty near the end. It went into overtime, and it became clear that it would go into a shootout, and then I freaked out because the Rangers are beasts in the shootout. Al was the only one to score for the Sabres and Miller stopped the first two, but when Chris Drury came out I knew it was over. Ryan was right when he said in his post-game interview that Drury has “a flair for the dramatic.” I even vowed to throw our Rock Band drum set at the TV if Drury scored. If Ryan hadn’t stopped him, my brother would have murdered me.
Now, last night and again in Bucky’s column today they were talking about how poetic it is that the guy who decided to stay in Buffalo managed to stop they guy who decided to leave. It certainly was poetic justice in that regard, but it was also poetic for another reason for me. Dear Readers, if Chris Drury was still a Sabre, I can almost guarantee he would have been named Frostee’s Sabres Boyfriend. It’s a good thing Ryan stopped him, because otherwise things would have gotten awkward.
- No offense to Steve Valiquette or anything, but it kind of looked like he was having some trouble controlling the puck. He kept dropping his stick and just flopping on it. I really would have liked it if the Sabres actually got shots on goal in the first period, because I have a feeling that if they tested him they might have actually scored a few goals.
- I wasn’t all that impressed by Tim Connolly last night. I know it was his first game back, but a lot of people I had heard yesterday seemed to think Timmy would just take the ice and win the game for the team. Maybe it was because we were all too busy making Tim Connolly jokes to notice his good plays. I’m just surprised he didn’t fall apart when he ran into the net.
- Thomas Vanek must have heard me complaining a few days ago that he needs to start assisting on goals too, because he seems to have been getting quite a few assists lately. Nice job, Thomas.
- I have an inexplicable love for Scott Gomez. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how. It’s just there.
- I really liked Derek Roy’s goal. He just tucked it in between the legs.
- I don’t want to talk about the Capitals game. (Although I’m definitely up for talking about how adorably dejected they all looked when they showed the bench at the end. Alex had his helmet pushed back – why do they do that? It looks so stupid! – and Nick Backstrom and Semin were sitting a few inches down on the bench with their backs against each other. They looked positively heart-broken.) I have a theory about why they lost. I think it’s because Alex shaved. Everyone keeps telling me that he had shaved before the Philly game on Tuesday, but since I was busy trying to convince my grandmother on the phone that I’m not a groupie, I didn’t notice. I get that it was time for his monthly shave and all, but still. That scruff was lucky. He shaved away the luck.
- Apparently Stamkos was a healthy scratch? Heh. That’s kind of funny.
- Ales Kotalik is really good in shootouts. He’s really, really good. I like him in shootouts.
- It was really, really nice to see Ryan win that game tonight. He was a BEAST.
- Detroit tonight. Will Ryan be starting again? He’s been on fire lately, but what if he starts getting tired? It has been a very long time since Lalime started. Wasn’t it back in Washington?
Dear Buffalo Sabres,
As I’m sure you all know, tonight you take on the New York Rangers. Now, looking at this team and they way they started out, you might be a bit frightened. I will admit, their goaltender is pretty hot talented. After that, however, the talent seriously drops off. They may have a lot of big-name players, and even one of the Staals, but I assure you, Sabres, you are just as good as they are. One could even argue that you’re better. Remember back at the beginning of the season? It was the third game. You had already beaten Montreal and the Islanders, and as you took the ice in Madison Square Garden you knew you would be facing an opponent that had yet to lose. You beat that team, Sabres. Back at the beginning of the season, even I thought the Rangers were a scary team. They seemed to have all the pieces, and I knew they would be a threat. Oh, how the times have changed.
The Rangers are not the scary team they were at the beginning of the season, Sabres. They haven’t been doing too well lately. You, on the other hand, have been playing quite well in the new calendar year. 2009 has been a refreshing change. I haven’t felt like throwing myself under a train/picking a new #1 team since December. I’m very proud of you. You’re on a three game winning streak, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Sabres, I think you can win this game.
I realize how surprising it must be for you to hear this. Usually you just hear me bitch and moan about how you’re all cocky, arrogant little bastards who don’t know how to focus on the game. Sabres, I have faith in you tonight. If you play hard the entire sixty minutes, and if you’re disciplined and continue with your fantastic penalty kill, I think you’ll be okay. The Rangers are also good on the penalty kill, so this will be a good test for your power play. You need to generate scoring chances when you have the man-advantage, and also when it’s five-on-five. If you stick to – and I can’t believe I’m about to say this – The System, you can win this game.
Take a look around the Eastern Conference. No offense to the rest of the teams, but the East kind of sucks. The teams that were once big problems in your playoff chase are looking slightly less unbeatable. The Bruins are the best team in the NHL, and you beat them on Saturday. Montreal won, yes, but they’re far ahead of you in the standings. New Jersey lost last night, as did Carolina. Even more important was Pittsburgh’s loss. They were only a point behind you, and now with a win tonight you can put more distance between the two and bump Carolina out of their spot. The Rangers are in sixth place, and they only have six more points than you. A lot of teams in this conference are falling apart, but you’re just starting to come together. This game is a must-win game.
The Eastern Conference standings aside, there’s another reason you need to win this game. Tomorrow night you travel to Detroit to face the Red Wings. Yes, the Stanley Cup Champions. Detroit is a good hockey team, Sabres. As my grandfather would say, “They’re not good. They’re very good.” That win against Boston proved you can play with the elite teams, but for some reason Detroit is different. Maybe it’s just me, but it almost feels like they’re unbeatable merely because of who they are. They won the Stanley Cup last year. They have an incredibly talented team. They’re ruthlessly efficient. Sabres, you need this win tonight because not only will the two points be critical if you should for some reason fail to get both tomorrow night, but a win would also be a huge confidence booster. It’s not secret that you kind of suck on back-to-back games, especially the second night. You need to change that.
Good luck tonight, Sabres. I may be wearing a jersey for a different team (that jersey is 4-0. And last time they met, the Blue Jackets kind of whipped the Caps), but know that my heart will be beating blue and gold.
P.S. To Ryan Miller: Dinner on Sunday sounds fabulous. Pick me up at eight?