Monday, October 29, 2007

Bucky Misses Me

Hey all! Sorry about all the silence lately, but I'm currently up to my eyeballs in rehearsal for the single most painful show I've ever been involved with. And that's not even considering the fact that it's making me miss out on hockey and blogging. Seriously, don't get me started on all of the things I hate about it, or I'll be here forever. Instead, let me get started (again) on all the things I hate about Bucky Gleason! Yay! (I know I've spent a lot of time complaining about this show if complaining about Bucky Gleason feels like a refreshing change of pace.)

Apparently Bucky misses me, because he wrote an absolute gem for the paper this weekend that he just knew I wouldn't be able to resist. Well, Bucky, what can I say? You got me. You know just what I hate! I'll be brief:

The article starts off okay enough, in that Bucky recognizes that a 5-5 record isn't the end of the world, and he actually manages to use the word "talent" in conjunction with something that rhymes with neither "Schmury" nor "Schmiere." But then there's this: "For all the ESPN plays of the day that fans stored in their memory banks, it was the Sabres' supreme confidence on foreign turf that often gave them a 1-0 lead before the opening faceoff." I'm... kind of handcuffed by how little sense that makes. I think I'll just let it (mis)speak for itself.

Bucky's point about how the Sabres don't scare anyone anymore, particularly on the road, is valid, but he fails to mention how last season started with an October spent scaring the opposition and ended with a post-season spent scaring their fans. Coincidence? The fear probably hurt them more in the end than it helped them last year, and I'd much rather have them playing scared now than in May.

By saying that there's "no need to rehash Chris Drury and Daniel Briere for the umpteenth time," Bucky rehashes Chris Drury and Daniel Briere for the umpteenth time. Well played, sir. He goes on to say that "the first 10 games have shown Buffalo's flaws run deeper than the departures of the former co-captains." I'd argue that they've shown Buffalo's flaws are almost completely unrelated to the departures of the former co-captains, but you know. Six of one...

I find myself agreeing with his "six pack" bullet points, comments about Kalinin and Hecht notwithstanding. Still, it's not exactly groundbreaking stuff. Vanek's not scoring? Our defense is sucking? I sure hope this guy is getting paid for this!

Bucky then "treats" us to his thoughts on some non-Sabres issues, starting with the Rangers:

"Snicker while you can at the New York Rangers, who had just 15 goals in nine games going into the weekend and suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses last week. Unlike the Sabres, their first 10 games were not indicative of trouble. Drury, Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan had just one goal apiece while newcomer Scott Gomez had two."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up. What was the number one problem the Sabres are having, again? Oh, that's right. "1. Underachieving stars." So for the Sabres, who have been getting secondary scoring from such non-stars as Pominville, Roy, and Hecht, not to mention a healthy dose of defensive scoring, the disappearance of Vanek and Afinogenov spells disaster. But for the Rangers, who have been shut out three times already this season--once by the Bruins, might I add--the expensive scoring drought is just growing pains? A speed bump? Get outta town, Bucky! (No really.) You can't have your cake and eat it, too; either underachieving stars is a problem, or it isn't. Also, I didn't hear you saying "they're veterans who will come around," when discussing Tallinder and Lydman's recent defensive problems. What, exactly, is the difference?

He goes on for a while about things I don't really care about, but I'm "rewarded" for sticking with him until the end with his take on the Oilers' recent video tribute to the once-captain-now-returning-as-an-Av Ryan Smyth. And if you don't know where this is headed, you're drunk. Sure enough: "Just wondering if the Sabres have anything similar planned for Drury and Briere." Seriously? Seriously? Look, setting aside the fact that I think it was ridiculous that the Oilers did that in the first place, Smyth had at least played eleven seasons with them before fucking off. Drury and Briere didn't play that many seasons as Sabres put together. I get that they did great things here, and everyone loved them, and there are a lot of great memories (I mean, think of all those Cups they brought us! Wait...), but Bucky. Get over it. They just weren't that into us. There's no need to go embarrassing ourselves trying to tell them how much we "miss" them. It's (been) time to move on. Furthermore, Sabres management: just, no. If this happens I may have to fly home just so I can puke ceremoniously right in the middle of it. Because I'm going to puke either way, and I'd rather have you clean up the mess.

Whew! I know I said I'd be brief, but that felt way too good. Too much pent-up aggression, I guess. Less than three weeks until this cursed play is over! (And then I'll get back to actually writing about the Sabres, and not just Bucky Gleason, I promise.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Letter of Apology

Dear Jaroslav Spacek,

I think I may owe you an apology. All last season, I was way too hard on you, and I'm sorry. I mean sure, you didn't come close to earning that $3 million: you were the only Sabre without a single point in the playoffs, before this season the last goal you scored was in 2006, and your defensive play often left me just praying that you would injure yourself. But apparently taking point shots on the power play is your bread and butter, and it was really unfair of me to expect you to produce while you were being deprived of your bread and butter. This season has already been an entirely different story, as you've logged lots of time on the power play, turning it into 4 goals and 6 points in 4 games. Keep that up and I might have to pull an Earl Sleek and vow to name my daughter Jaroslav to make up for all my shameless taunting! (Okay, that was a joke, Jaro. I know I'm apologizing, here, but I'm not that cruel.) For now, I would like to present you with these cinnamon buns, the universal symbol of excessive but heartfelt apology:

Keep up the good work!


PS Keep doing those interviews, too, and when you do, please use the phrase "it's my bread and butter" as much as possible. It's hi-larious!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Now THAT'S More Like It!

Sorry for the radio silence over opening weekend, folks, but I was just working on being the least professional Sabres blogger I can possibly be. That, and my parents were in town for Macalester's Family Fest Weekend, and I figured I owed them my undivided attention, especially considering they got in about 18 hours after they were scheduled to, due to the cancellation and delay problems that seem to curse travel attempt between BUF and MSP made by my family. (Let's just say that when my parents tried to make this same trip last October, there was a bit of a, uh, "snow issue.") It was, as always, a blast hanging out with them, and I got in some well-needed hockey socializing. Too bad it wasn't the best hockey. I'm not going to get in-depth with my analysis, especially since I didn't see the whole of either game, but I think the word sloppy pretty much covers it. But I wasn't alarmed, or even terribly upset by the losses. I am just so goddamn glad to have hockey back! (Also, I assure you that, as bad as the Sabres looked, listening to the Islanders' broadcast team was at least a hundred times worse. I think it was all summed up when the color guy announced "It's Islanders 6, Buffalo 4 here, and that's about all the analysis I can do!" Unfortunately, he then went on to try to do some analysis and came up with, "It's old-time hockey!" Riiiight.)

Last night, through some astounding miracle, I had the night off from rehearsal, and got to enjoy the game using my uncle's Slingbox. It's grainier and less reliable than Center Ice Online, but it's free (for me, anyway) and it gets the job done. Plus I'm guaranteed to get the Sabres announcers that way, and I don't have to worry about wanting to pull my hair out. Some things about the game:

- Obviously the major highlight was the special teams. Wow. I was at class during the first period, so I missed all the power play scoring, but still. I was utterly shocked to turn on my computer and see a power play that actually resembled a power play. We not only gained the zone, but held it, creating genuine scoring chances instead of just passing aimlessly. Whether this trend will continue, especially as we begin to face more aggressive PKs, remains to be seen, but at least the guys have proven to me they remember what a power play is. By the way, all the people bitching about Goose being on the power play (I'll admit I was a little skeptical), notice the three solid screens he set for those three first-period goals. The penalty kill was perfect, not nearly as jittery as we're used to seeing it at home, and Pommer's shorthanded goal was the result of pure tenacity from him and Roy. Just all-around encouraging, and should be a good confidence booster for the guys.

- The defense was much improved. Kalinin and Spacek both put in strong performances, I thought, and Hank and Toni were back to their reliable selves. It's not like Atlanta had a particularly potent offense going, but everything seems to be back on track here.

- Offense was never our problem, but they continued getting the job done last night. Connolly was a beast, and I'm inclined to believe the predictions that he'll have us saying "Danny who?" by the end of the season, provided he can stay off IR. Roy was also looking good, especially when he scored a goal while falling down. The only thing that worried me was the disappearance of Vanek. On the one hand, when you manage to score 6 goals without the guy you're paying $10 million showing up on the score sheet it's always heartening, but on the other hand, you're still paying $10 million for a guy to not show up on the score sheet. But it's early yet. He'll figure it out.

- I'm just not going to get used to not hearing Jim Lorentz's voice anytime soon. I'd never really watched Hockey Night in Canada before, so I haven't had much contact with Harry Neale, and I was trying to keep an open mind. But after tonight I think it's safe to say the relationship is already souring. It started when he tried to make the point that the Thrashers are the only team in the league with no North American letter wearers, like he didn't remember what team he was calling for. Luckily Rob Ray set him straight with a timely "What about the Sabres?" but Neale just continued to dig his hole deeper by contesting that Hecht, Lydman, and Tallinder are only captains of the month, and therefore apparently don't count. Grrrr. (Incidentally, one of the most entertaining parts of the game was hearing Rayzor detailing his smack-down of Neale to one "Joe," when his mic randomly cut in during the broadcast. Hilarious!)

- This was incredibly sweet:

I'm rehearsal-free tomorrow night, too, and I'm looking forward to seeing how we stand up to a the hot squad of Capitals. Hockey's back!