Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Don't Let This Happen To You

Pace yourselves tomorrow, everyone.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Game Diary: Sabres @ Flyers 12/22/07

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, it’s Gambler Game Diary time! The time you’ve all been waiting for! Trust me, I can feel how bated your breath has been from here.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been hearing the siren call of the game diary, and it seems like the stars have finally aligned to make this an optimal opportunity for my first “live” attempt at this. I’m back at the Desperation Homestead for Christmas break before heading off to the Land of Jochen in January, which means I only have a few short days to enjoy my favorite activity of watching Sabres games with my family. Also, given how awesome last night’s game was, this should be a pretty great rematch tonight. I’ve never done one of these things before, and this may very well turn into an unmitigated disaster, but the conditions certainly seem right. On with the diary!

We tune into the game just in time to see Roby interviewing Spacek rinkside, and by the end it looks like Roby’s about to crack up. I can’t blame him. One of the many reasons I should never be trusted with a press pass is because I don’t think I could ever conduct an interview with Jaro in which all the questions didn’t consist of “Okay, and…. Hahahahahahaha!!!”

Also, I guess this means Neale is preoccupied with his duties to Hockey Night in Canada tonight. See, I told you the stars were aligning to make this a great game to recap! I never thought I’d be so happy to see Mike Robitaille.

First Period

19:27 Mair gets thing started in the physical department (heh), as he lays a pretty decent hit in the Flyer zone.
18:23 Super Freak Kotalik is back on the bench, despite taking a puck to the face during the warm up. Don’t worry, if Connolly is any indication, it’ll take Kotalik at least a game or two to fall mysteriously “ill” from the effect of that non-injury.
17:42 YAY! After a lot of so-called patient (I’m pretty sure a Buffalo home crowd would have been somewhat less than patient) passing on the power play Max squeaks a shot past a befuzzled Marty. Roby gives some not-so-insightful commentary about the goal, but at least he doesn’t actively annoy me with his uselessness.
15:49 Pominville and Hecht put on some pretty nice sustained pressure in the Philly zone, and even though they ultimately don’t have anything to show for it, color me impressed. They’ve been pretty consistently our best backchecking forwards, and here they’re proving to be pretty effective forecheckers, too.
13:43 Another long play of decent forchecking by the Hecht line culminates in a very dramatic and expectant tip back to the point. As always happens after these overly-long lead-ins to point shots, the shooter’s stick breaks and we all feel like idiots for expecting something exciting to happen.
12:08 Tallinder, rushing back to catch up on a defensive play, does his best Roy impression and falls rather spectacularly to the ice for no apparent reason. He knows how hurt and miserable his biggest fan is right now, though, so he thoughtfully still manages to make the play.
11:24 As the “Let’s Go Flyers” chants rain from the rafters, it occurs to me that there’s been no retaliation booing in response to the treatment Briere got in Buffalo. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to learn that Flyers fans care less about that kind of thing than Caps fans.
11:04 A well-placed pass into the low slot by Hecht (which no one was able to pick up, of course) prompts my brother to say “He’s so good at those!” Dan never says anything nice about anyone I like, so it takes a little time for me to stop bristling and accept that he was being serious. Of course, now that we’ve established that, I can’t help but think that maybe that pass was originally meant to be a shot on net. Yo-Yo is, indeed, so good at that.
10:19 As a distraction from the riveting Peters-Cote fight going on, my brother reminds the room that Andrew Peters coached my high school’s hockey team during the lockout, and I’m in utter shock that I never knew this! I guess hockey was farther off my radar pre-lockout than I originally thought. Anyway, I seem to remember that the team sucked that year, but Dan assures me they didn’t. Me: “I’m sure they sucked at fighting, anyway.” And really, they must have, because that fight was lame.
--During the commercial my family starts ragging on me for sitting at my computer instead of partaking of some of my mom’s delicious meatloaf and mac and cheese comfort food. My dad encourages, “Don’t be a bloghead.” And he’s way prouder of that pun than he should be.
--Coming back from commercial, we get a shot of the patented Staffy scowl sitting on the bench, and my sister declares, “Stafford has a wonky face.” Me: “Stafford has a wonky face? Stafford?! Meghan, I think Miller would like you to stop throwing stones in his lopsided glass house.”
8:50 Paetsch and Richards seem a little hesitant to get their fight going after they’ve set the stage for it, but before they have time to take full stock of their lives and realize just how futile this existence truly is, they jump at each other and manage to put on a more entertaining show than Peters and Cote did. Not that it’s that hard. Paetsch is already halfway to the box by the time Richards emerges (9% faster!) from the depths of the sweater that was pulled over his head, and my mom comments on how red he looks. Me: “Well he’s embarrassed! He just got his ass kicked by someone nicknamed ‘Patches!’”
6:02 After Meghan pleads, “Briere, just go away” he promptly complies and goes offside. There’s some bumping after the whistle and Meghan narrates, “Campbell’s all, ‘Briere why are you bumping into me? Is it because I’m captain and you’re not?’” And you know what? I’d even take that kind of commentary over Harry Neale.
5:35 Roby wants to prove he can be better than Neale, too, as he says, “Some guys would rather drink Draino than come in here and play the Flyers!” But the guys who come in and play as Flyers? They drink Draino anyway. For breakfast. Because they enjoy the taste.
4:32 Meghan worries aloud about Biron’s choice in leg pads, because only his feet are orange while the rest is white: “He looks like he was dipped in white paint, but only up to a certain point.” Dan: “Like Achilles.” Me: “Shoot for the heels, guys, shoot for the heels! It’s his weakness!”
3:34 As the Flyers get whistled for a penalty, there’s a zoom in on Roy. Meghan: “He looks fat.” Me: “Not everyone can be Ryan Miller.”
3:20 Biron knocks Pommers in the face with his stick hand when he gets too close after a save, and while Mom is strangely unriled by this hostility toward her Pommers’ face, RJ and Roby start theorizing about what kind of words were exchanged. RJ reminds us that Pommers is bilingual so he would be able to understand whatever Biron threw out at him, but Roby thinks Marty has the advantage since he’s “bilingual in every language he speaks.” We’re all so busy laughing about this that we barely notice when the Flyers score. Sigh.
0:34 We get a shot of Thibault on the bench, with a pretty nasty gash on his crooked nose. Poor guy, but at least he looks like a warrior!
0:00 Well, all in all I’d have to say that was a pretty solid period of entertaining hockey, save the Peters fight (as always), and the defensive breakdown that led to the Philly goal. This whole game-diarizing thing is certainly a new experience of watching hockey, but I think it might be a success so far.

First Intermission

Before I get up from my computer to quiet my family’s complaints about me not eating, my dad asks if the blue and gold display behind Rob Ray is some sort of shag rug. I offer that it’s in fact a latchhook project that Ray himself completed to spruce up the studio. Dad: “Is that what retired hockey players do? Who knew they were so crafty.”

We crack ourselves up watching the “What would you buy Lindy for Christmas?” piece. Seriously well done, Sabres people. Comedic gold. I think Goose wins for a) putting so much thought into it, and b) coming up with the idea for a mustache comb/trimmer. Ha! Peters also gets some brownie points back from making me watch that fight, by saying that his rookie card is too valuable to give away to Lindy, so he’d probably give him his second-year card instead. At least he has a sense of humor. I point out to my mom that Pommers couldn’t be bothered to think up a gift of his own, but merely copied the tie suggestion that other players (including Yo-Yo) made. Mom: “Well, he knows it doesn’t matter what he says, as long as he’s cute while he says it. So he just cuts the crap.” Dad: “Yeah, he really shoots from the pelvis.” (Hee! Well played, Dad.)

Second Period

19:30 I start off the period by sharing with Meghan the fact that, according to VS, Vanek is fluent in Midwestern as well as German, Czech, and English, since he went to college in Minnesota. Dan: “Ugh, VS is so stupid. That VS stands for vagina station.” Mom: “Don't use that word, please.” Dan: “Fine, vagina show.”
17:17 Spurred on by a Jaro close-up after the play, Meghan launches into her favorite Spacek impression, and starts blabbering about exactly what kind of car he’d buy Lindy and how exactly it would be better than the “Teyota” he drives now. Mom is impressed that Jaro would hypothetically buy Lindy the most expensive gift of all the players, but she seems to have forgotten about how desperate Patches is for ice time. He’d probably get him a small private island. Or some blow.
16:55 SUPER FREAK! Kotalik weathers the beating at the side of the net to muscle home the rebound from a Goose wraparound attempt. With Kotalik’s usually hands-off style of play it’s easy to forget how big he is, but he definitely used his size there. It makes me a little sad that the guy they show in the stands after the goal is wearing a Yo-Yo jersey. It’s probably not fair, but I feel a little less special with every one of those I see.
16:12 As if sensing this waver in faith, Yo-Yo flattens some Flyer along the boards, and my devotion is renewed.
15:39 Miller covers up smartly on a dangerous bouncing puck that careened out from behind his net. Dad: “He saw that out of the corner of his eye.” Mom: “Which one, the one that faces in or the one that faces out?” After we take some shit from Meghan for insulting her hockey boyfriend, it’s determined that one of Miller’s eyes is in fact always trained on the puck, no matter where it may be, or what solid objects may be in the way. Dan: “He’s Mad-Eye Miller!”
13:35 Meghan watches her second hockey boyfriend, Mike “Sesame Street” Ryan wipe out with the puck in the Flyer zone, and declares that he and Roy should start a synchronized diving team. And why not? The summer Olympics are in the offseason, right?
12:02 WOOT! Yo-Yo hustles off the bench to steal the puck, carry it all the way in behind the net, and lay it back out in front, where Pominville slams it by Biron on a neat one-timer. Mom: “That’s my man-boy!” (Recognizing that age issues complicate her referring to Pommers as “her man,” Mom’s taken to calling him “her man-boy.” She has not yet taken my advice to call him “her man-puppy.” But maybe someday soon.)
11:53 Coming back from a commercial, we’re left trying to figure out who got the penalties in the pre-commercial, after-the-whistle scrum. After Mom does her impression of what Pommers looked like in the middle of it all, we decide it can’t be him in the box, since standing like a wobbly teddy bear isn’t considered a penalty. Unless it’s Peters standing like a wobbly teddy bear, which is generously called “fighting.” (It turns out it’s Yo-Yo in the box. For roughing. Grawr!)
9:09 Another smart Hecht centering pass is mucked up by Paille getting pushed into the net and dislodging it. Roby thinks there should be a penalty here, and there is. He suggests it should be for “intentional knocking into the net,” which apparently translates into actual hockey terms as “hooking.” (And yet, I still would rather Neale not come back.)
7:51 Briere scores shorthanded with a delayed penalty call on the Sabres, and the goalhorn promptly boos him. Oh, that’s just the way the goalhorn sounds? Whatever, Philly.
6:46 STUPID FLYERS! They score another shorthanded goal while Pommers gets caught standing at the point, and then catches up to his man only to send his from-his-knees clearing pass right to the stick of a trailing Flyer. Miller gets caught way out of position with no real chance on the shot. A little bad luck, but more bad play on that one. Blech!
5:38 Pommers gets man-boyhandled in front of the net by no less than three Flyers after Roy completely effs up scoring on a wide open net. Poor Pommers is getting shaken back and forth, with his head flopping all over the place, before the whistle finally goes. Don’t these guys know that shaken puppy syndrome is a serious problem? There end up being two Flyer penalties on the play, and one for Roy as well. Me: “Roy? For what?” Meghan: “For crying.”
5:01 Wow, the Paradise Penalty Boxes are sure getting their full use tonight! Goose draws a penalty for roughing by sticking it out in front of the net, and Biron tries to even out the minors by getting all up in Goose’s face. Meghan and I guess that Goose just quietly whispered “Ray Emery,” and skated away.
4:32 HELLZ YEAH!!!! Spacek scores on a blasting shot from the point (Hey! It’s Jaro’s bread and butter!), and our living room erupts in two-handed high fives for everyone. Dad says, of our favorite trick for making sure you always connect on your high fives: “This doesn’t work! How can you look at two elbows at once?” Dan: “Ryan Miller could tell you.” Have I mentioned how much I love watching hockey with my family?
2:38 Briere and Upshall collide at the blueline, for some unknown reason. Mom: “How funny would it be if Briere got injured by his own teammate?” Me: “Am I the only one who thinks of upchuck every time they say Upshall? I don’t think upchuck can hurt anyone, it can just make you sick to your stomach.” Unfortunately, the Flyers do both, don’t they?
1:15 Ugh. The Sabres are going to have to close out this period on a 5-on-3 penalty kill as Gaustad gets called for getting his stick stuck in some Flyer’s legs, which in this world apparently counts as a hold, even though the guy wasn’t impeded in the least. Spacek, already in the box for hooking, gets reprimanded for something as the ref brings Goose to join him. Poor Jaro. He can’t help that everything he says comes out sounding extremely pissed off. (Or maybe he was misbehaving in the Paradise Penalty Box? Oooo, saucy!)
0:25 Double Ugh. Miller sinks facedown to the ice after he lets in a shot from the side of the net, but he didn’t even have a chance on that shot, as the cross-ice pass was a perfect set-up.
0:00 Maybe it was the diary writing, or the fact that my family was in rare form, but this period seemed to take about ten million years. In a good way. I am not at all pleased with the way the Sabres frittered away two leads in the past twenty minutes, but it’s been entertaining as hell to watch. Still, if they can’t manage to put this game away, I expect to be very cranky tonight.

Second Intermission

In talking about how the Sabres managed to give up that 3-1 lead Roby appears to be recovering from a fit of the giggles. Maybe he just got done interviewing Spacek again. (They weren’t just in the PPB together, were they? ACK! MY EYES!) In any case he seems to be having a blast calling this game with RJ, and I can’t blame him. My perspective is a little skewed and distanced what with writing the game diary, but this game has been exceptionally exciting so far. Now we just need to pull out the win. Kevin informs us that the last time the Sabres gave up two shorthanded goals was a 6-5 win over Flyers in Philly two years ago. Oh great, now I’m sure we’re going to lose.

Third Period

18:00 The Sabres successfully killed off the remainder of the penalty to start the period, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they remain trapped in their own end for the first full two minutes.
16:24 Miller snares a quick shot from the slot from Carter with a quick flash of his glove. It seems someone forgot to inform the Sabres during the intermission that they were in the midst of playing an exciting hockey game, because now they’ve forgotten all about it.
16:13 Sesame Street Ryan high-sticks Briere in the face along the boards. I wonder who on the bench dared him to do that, and how awkward Ryan felt acting on the dare. “Uh, Mr. Briere… I know I don’t know you, but Goose says I should shove my stick in your face. So, um, there! Okay, bye!”
16:09 Right after my dad declares now would be a good time for a shorthanded goal, the Flyers score. We all yell at Dad to keep his mouth shut next time. Also, Miller was seriously screened on this shot, so apparently his Mad Eye isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
15:23 Vanek gets taken down heading to the net and the non-call translates to a great Flyer chance going the other way. These refs have been such a joy for this home-and-home, haven’t they?
14:31 Paille draws an interference penalty, which prompts Meghan to give me insight into her pronunciation guide. She used to always want to say it “Pail-ee,” until she taught herself the trick of remembering “Pie. Yay!”
12:31 That power play was a gross disappointment. There was no pie, and definitely no yay.
11:35 Getting a little distracted from the game, we all discuss the hilarious prospect of seeing a grown man in a Pominville sweater. Mom tosses around the idea of bringing a sign to a game that says “Pommers, you should meet my daughter,” and then adds: “Or son?” This starts a landslide of suggestions. Dan: “Or cat.” Meghan: “Or empty flower pot.” Me: “Or fire hydrant.” Mom: “Or rawhide bone.”
11:27 No! StaffyNation takes a blow as we learn he’s been taken off the bench by an “upper body injury.” I just hope nothing serious has happened to his eyebrow!
9:30 Roy gets hammered from behind, and you know what that means! The Flyers have a chance to get their third shorthanded goal!
8:54 As Biron stonewalls Kotalik’s diving shot from the right circle, Meghan tells us all that she would leave Miller if Sid Crosby ever came to play for Buffalo. I really wish she’d waited to share this information until after the game. I can practically feel Miller’s psyche and paradigm crumbling as we speak.
7:33 Roy comes in on a semi-break and as his shot trickles through Biron and JUST wide of the net with no one there to tap it in, Meghan and I let out a primal scream that can surely be heard all the way in Philly. But our sound waves do nothing to alter the course of the puck’s journey and there is no goal. Also, there is no God.
5:34 Campbell almost wipes out while circling back to regroup in his own zone, and Meghan’s convinced he slipped on a sequin: “It was one of Roy’s. That nine on the back of his jersey? It’s just Bedazzled on.” We decide he and Pommers totally have Bedazzling slumber parties, and are currently working on Bedazzled Christmas gifts for all the guys. I think this game has broken our brains.
5:25 Just what we need! Mair gets called for interference and roughing, and will be sitting in the box for the next four minutes. Shockingly, the Flyer box is empty. That looked like some pretty mutual roughing to me!
3:14 Goose does his best to make the wishes for a shorthanded goal come true, but ultimately Paille is stymied on his centering pass attempt.
1:43 Ryan falls fabulously to the ice, once again, and Meghan and I are sure he’s getting an extra-special Bedazzled synchronized diver’s suit for Christmas.
0:07 HOLY SHIT!!! YOYOYOYOYOYOYOYOYOYO!!!!! IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!!! YO-YO SHOT IT AT A TINY SLIVER OF OPEN NET ON THE SHORT SIDE AND ACTUALLY SCORED!!! HE DIDN’T HIT THE POST OR THE GOALIE OR ANYTHING!!!!! I’M DYING FROM EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!! (ETA: Apparently Vanek, noted Baby Killer of old, is going to take the credit for this goal, since he technically deflected it before it crossed the line, but after extensive review, I’ve decided that the puck was going in regardless so my over-excitement still stands.)
0:00 The Flyers gave me a scare in the last second, but Lydman is a killer shot-blocker, so oooooooooooovertime it is!


5:00 Seriously, my hands are shaking. I don’t know if I can deal with this.
4:16 Biron has to look sharp for the second time tonight on a shot from Tallinder, and unfortunately he does. The Sabres look like they really want to win.
3:52 Lydman finds himself with a glorious chance all alone in front of the net, but at the last second he remembers he’s a defenseman and effs it up. The puck deflects off of Biron and flies harmlessly into the corner.
3:10 Kalinin takes a hooking penalty trying to defend a Flyer breakaway, and Dan and I spend almost the entire penalty arguing about how useful/less he is. It never ceases to amaze me how much people can ignore Tri, right up until the second he does something wrong. I stick by my assessment that he’s a good player, even in the face of Dan’s flawless logic: “He’s even worse than Numminen, and he’s, like, dead!”
1:40 Miller poke-checks away a probable goal by a skating-in Briere, but takes himself completely out of the play in doing so. He gives the Flyers a yawning chasm of a net to score on, but they just… miss. I don’t know which stone hands shot that, but I want to kiss them right now.
1:10 Miller was nothing short of spectacular on that entire penalty kill.
0:54 Uh-oh, I spoke too soon and Yo-Yo heard me. Flush with his last-minute success in regulation, he nervously coughs up the puck inside the Flyer line, and then busts his ass so hard to get back that he bowls right over the Flyer he’s pursuing and gets called for holding.
0:00 Phew, Yo-Yo escapes being the savior and the goat. SHOOTOUT. I DON’T THINK I CAN TAKE THIS!


This being the first Sabres shootoutout of the season, we try to figure out who the shooters will be. We think Kotalik and Vanek are definites, but the third is unknown. Roy? Afinogenov? Mom: “Hecht.” Me: “No! Anyone but Hecht! He’ll just shoot it at Biron’s chest, or hit the post, and it’ll be so embarrassing!” Dan: “Okay. Peters, Ryan, Kevin Sylvester.”

Miller really wants to prove that his reputation for being good in the shootout still stands, and stays patient as Richards tries to fool him. It works.

Ditto for Super Freak and his reputation. He goes for something different than he normally did last year, and I can barely see his wrister as it rockets into the net.

Briere psychs himself out and completely whiffs on his shot. I imagine Miller will be playing that moment over in his head as he falls asleep tonight.

Max (for it is he sandwiched between Kotalik and Vanek) takes the Hecht approach and shoots right into Marty’s pads.

Carter completely loses control of the puck before he even has a chance to do anything with it, but Miller tries his hardest to make it look like he had something to do with stymieing his attempt as he twists and writhes on the ice. In any case the shootout’s over and the game is ours! Words really can’t express how lovable, wriggly, and adorable the Sabres all look as they pile into each other to celebrate, laughing and noogieing each other’s helmets. What a perfect end to this game!

So that was fun! Both the game, and the writing of the game diary were pretty awesome and exciting, though neither was perfect, and neither was something I’d want to repeat on a nightly basis. There ended up being far less hockey content, and far more crazy-Gambler-family content here than I anticipated, but I think that’s all right. I hope you all enjoyed it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mystery Solved

I'm in the midst of Finals Shuffle right now, which is why I haven't had time to write about what turned out to be a pretty solid game against Patrick Kane's army of Blackhawks, but I'm taking a short study break to bring you some important news. You know that question that came flying out of the mouth of every Sabres fan after a certain #19 took a puck to the face in the second period against Washington? It probably sounded something like this: "For the love of God, why doesn't Tim Connolly value his life and current state of consciousness enough to wear a visor?" Well, I think we have our answer:

Visors make Timmy sleepy.

Is that the problem, then, Timmy? Well, suck it up. Have some Red Bull. Because now that we've finally got you wearing one, we're not letting you take it off again. Right, Lindy? Right?!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Late Birthday Present?

Yeah, I think so.

Look! Look how sweet he looks there! And the little flash of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand mouth guard? That Yo-Yo, he knows just what I like. (Thanks to My Safety Is Harvard for the picture.)

And look who has ten goals all of the sudden! That twenty-mark doesn't look so far away now, does it? Just do me a favor, Yo-Yo, and never utter the sentence, "If I don't make it to twenty, I'm stupid."

So I know that for an ostensible hockey blogger, I haven't blogged about actual hockey in a long time. I blame the Sabres. If they could just decide on what kind of team they're going to be, I'd be able to better write about them. At this point, anything I write in reaction to one game will just end up being obsolete one game later, because apparently my hockey team wants to keep me on my toes. Sometimes they look, honest to God, like they could beat any team in the league if they just put their collective mind to it; other times they look like someone cut off their feet. It's so frustrating! Is it that hard to just decide to have feet?

The worst part is the problems are never the same. Sometimes it's the offense that's not clicking, recently it's been the defense that's been sloppy and disappointing. And sometimes, as was the case in L.A., everything is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Would it kill them to just choose a set of flaws and stick to them? Why must you refuse to be pinned down?! I want to put you in a box! Get in the box!!

Can the Doctor come out and play more often? Please?

On the subject of good news, the defense is fast getting healthy. Tallinder should be in tomorrow night against the Caps, and Kalinin shouldn't be far behind him. Yay! We sorely need those guys to come in and remind the Sabres how not to keep turning the puck over right in front of the net. And just for the record, while I'm a self-proclaimed Patches fan, I'm firmly on the play-Kalinin-and-sit-Paetsch side of that debate. (And for reals, that's even a debate?) Pratt has earned his spot for now, and I hate to think what a state Miller's crease would be in without him. Add in the fact that Teppo skated with the team in this morning's practice (EEEEEEE!) and we could have an interesting defense situation on our hands pretty soon. Hopefully that can lead to only good things.

In other belated birthday present news, last night I put in the order for the Hecht jersey that my boyfriend is buying me. The good news is that it's everything my hopes and dreams promised it would be; the bad news is that it might not arrive before I'm gone to Germany. Here's hoping for speedy delivery!


The concentration! The intensity! The... Oh look! Something shiny!

Apparently some parts of my readership aren't happy unless I'm talking about Pommers 24/7. Luckily for me, he's a pretty good little hockey player, so there's usually plenty to say. He had a great night against the Islanders, getting three assists, including the set-up to the goal that made the above Yo-Yo picture possible. Good boy, Pommers! Here are some nummies for you:

You don't know it's not bacon!

Also, for anyone still thinking Paetsch should have a spot once Kalinin is healthy, take a look at this picture:

Would a good defenseman sit on Miller's head?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Visual Aids

Okay, even though I didn't get to see the game against Anaheim the other night, I'm going to assume, from the complete lack of "OMG, did you see the way Connolly's head just split open like that?" commentary, that my last attempt to communicate through diagrams was a success. This is a heartening discovery, because the Sabres and I need to have a serious talk, and like Heather B., I'm hoping the boys are visual learners.

Alright, Sabres, I know you guys aren't very good at focusing these days (Pommers? Pommers! Stop chewing on those slippers and pay attention!), so I'll try to make this as simple and easy to understand as possible. First of all, I know you're in California. I know it's warm and sunny and Buffalo is cold and snowy. I know that if I were in Cali right now I'd certainly be relaxing and enjoying myself. But I don't get paid to play hockey.

You know, I've heard skates don't work so well on sand. So get back to the rink, stop trying to film your own version of Weezer's "Beverly Hills" video, and turn off the Mamas and the Papas. Get serious.

Luckily, you guys should already be in San Jose, where I've been assured there's nothing to distract you, aside from a giant, interactive monopoly board.

So, if there are no more questions about what you shouldn't be doing, let's get started on the things you should most definitely be doing. Okay, from the hour I wasted on your game against the Kings last night, it seems to me that you need to be introduced to something. This:

is a puck. Does it seem familiar now? Once upon a time, you knew what it was, but I guess there's something about that California air. Anyway, the whole point with the puck, as maybe you'll remember, is to put it:

in the net. Uh, oh. You guys look confused. Okay, okay, I'll back up. It's probably a good idea to get the puck on your stick first, and then, once you're ready, maybe get it onto a teammate's stick, and then eventually get it into the net. Just so we're absolutely clear, having possession of the puck should look something like this:

Just a reminder, since you guys seemed pretty confused the other night. Now this part is very important, so listen carefully: In order to get the puck into the net, you have to shoot it at the net. I know, I know, this is all very confusing, and I don't have a visual for you, since it's hard to show what a shot looks like with a still image. Just ask Lindy to help you out here.

These are all just a few things you should think about before tomorrow's game. Feel free to print these things out, hang them in your locker stalls, whatever you think will help you most. Because trust me. You need it.

Apparently the MSG affiliate where my aunt and uncle live has decided to pretend these west coast games don't exist (can you blame them?), so I'm not going to be able to watch tomorrow night. I don't mean to imply that I'm some sort of difference maker, but I think we both know how miserable your record is when I'm not watching. But if you can do your best to break out of that habit and win one without me there, that would be great. You really owe us one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Letter of Warning

Dear Timmy Connolly,

As I'm sure you know, you're playing the Anaheim Ducks tonight. In case you haven't realized what that means, I've taken the liberty of drawing you a diagram that I'd like for you to hang in your locker stall before you take the ice:

Okay, now take a good long look. Memorize it. Then focus all your energy on keeping your head out of the red circles. Buffalo loves you, Timmy, and we'd like you to continue to know what year it is.

Good luck out there tonight!

P.S. You might want to share a copy of this diagram with Roy-Z, seeing as his head is perpetually at red-circle height.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

IPB Makes Me Want To Be A Better Blogger

Well, I guess my ears should be burning! Bloggers have been quite the hot topic with the NHL recently. Given the massive online presence of hockey fans, the league is trying to find out how they can get in on this action, and who can blame them? Anyway, for more on that, see the piece that Hockey Night in Canada did the other night on blogging. As blogs and bloggers have been getting more attention from owners and the media alike, a Great Discussion has been circulating the hockey blogosphere about what it means to be a blogger and what the real purpose of a blog is. A lot has been made of the idea that, if bloggers are going to get the same kind of team access as journalists, they should have to comport themselves as journalists, checking their fandom at the door. Which leaves the rest of us asking: What happened to it all being about fun? Enter the two, the only, Pookie and Schnookie, evil masterminds behind the coolest, hippest hangout in the internet, Interchangeable Parts, or IPB. (That ought to get me some brownie points, eh?) They produced and answered a questionnaire, and encouraged their readers to respond to it as well. Never one to pass up the opportunity to talk about myself, I'm going to play along. So here's my contribution to the Great Discussion:

1. What was your motivation for starting blogging? Has that changed at all in the time you’ve been blogging?

Desperation Hockey began as an outlet, a way to keep me from talking the ear off of my friends and family and basically everyone I know. This summer wasn't my first as a hockey fan, but it was the first I suffered through as a hockey fan, and starting a blog was the best way I knew to keep myself occupied. Plus, all the cool kids were doing it. I stumbled upon IPB completely by accident this summer while googling for a hockey T-shirt, but it and the blogs it opened up to me immediately got my analytical and writing gears grinding. So this blog was founded solely as a place to channel that energy. Of course I hoped people would read, but initially all I thought about was what I would be putting into this space, not what people would be taking out of it. I didn't create a blogroll, not because I don't love and cherish all the blogs I read (I do!), but primarily because I never anticipated becoming part of the larger hockey blogging community. (Secondarily because I'm lazy.) That status may have changed, but if so, it's because of my readers, not because of anything that I did. I'm still new at this.

2. What do you think your blog contributes to the hockey conversation?

Just my opinions, nothing more, nothing less. I'm not looking to rock anyone's world, and I never set out to write a post with some grand purpose in mind, except to write what I'm feeling. Sometimes that's a sarcastic rant about Bucky Gleason, other times it's a love letter to Jochen Hecht, but it's always from the heart (or a bile-filled liver, in Bucky's case). I make my material as silly or as serious (well, as serious as one can get when writing about a game) as I please, and I like to think I contribute an entertaining if not humorous insight into my point of view. As a Sabres fan displaced half-way across the country in Minnesota, with no hockey- or even sports-fan friends to speak of, this blog is a way for me to keep in touch with my inner fan, and hopefully those are conversations people enjoy sitting in on.

3. What do you want to get out of the blogs you read?

Overall I, like all the fans of the NHL or any other sports league, just want to be entertained. And primarily that means being amused, but as long as the point of view is interesting, I consider it a worthwhile read. The great thing about blogs is that anyone can write them, and anyone can access them, so it's an incredibly efficient way to uncover the opinions of fans from around the country and the globe, of different teams, and different mindsets. Through the power of blogs I've been exposed to many smart and interesting fans of teams I wouldn't otherwise care about, like the Devils, Kings, Ducks, Canucks, and Stars. Of course I enjoy hearing from my fellow female fans, something which I most decidedly cannot get from the mainstream media, but I'm equally fascinated by the look into the male fan's experience--from statbits to man-crushes--as given to me by BfloBlog, Battle of California, and the Goose's Roost guys. I've found I'll even keep up with some blogs of teams I despise, as long as they can make me laugh, and make me think. In short, no matter the source, as long as it's insightful and entertaining, I'll read it.

4. What determines which blogs you read and which you don’t?

Generally anything that grabs and continues to hold my interest remains on my daily blog route, but again I find myself coming back to the matter of point of view. I don't get any interaction with hockey fans in my real life, so I like my internet experience to come from as many different perspectives as possible. As much as I like to pretend to stroke my wizened beard of sage wisdom when I write here, I'm an incredibly new fan to this sport, and there's always something out there for me to learn. So if a blog adds a new facet to that learning process, whether it's a lifelong fan offering up his analysis, or a brand spanking new fan sharing her fresh outlook, I'll continue to read it. Also, the community created by the blog/blogger is important. I like to feel welcome to add to the conversation initiated by the blog post, which is probably why I don't visit those big sites mentioned in the HNiC video very regularly. They're definitely smart and informative and I check with Mirtle et al. when some big story breaks, but I just feel too intimidated to join in.

5. How important is the issue of gaining press access to you as a blogger?

I would say it's pretty much a complete non-issue. If someone offered me the opportunity I might consider it, but it's certainly not something I'm looking for or trying to achieve with my writing. In general just the idea of being around the dressing room and having to behave like a professional makes me extremely nervous, and it's frankly something I'd rather not deal with. Especially if it would put limits on the kind of things I can and cannot write. But I recognize that there are bloggers out there who wish for nothing more than to wear a press pass and blend in with all the journalist types, and to them I say go for it! Just don't expect all of the rest of us to want to follow you there.

6. To what extent do you feel accountable for the content of your blog? How concerned do you think readers should be about the authority and accountability of your blog?

I'll admit this isn't really something I've ever thought about. Of course I take responsibility for everything I write here, and though most of my readers wouldn't know me from a mailbox if they saw me in real life, their opinions of my work matter to me. I am and always have been a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, and I spend way too much time on each and every post here trying to get it just right. Sure, there are some things that I've written that maybe I would like to take back, as I have grown both as both a fan and a blogger, but ultimately I see it all as a process. Just because my opinion or perspective has changed, doesn't make the opinions or perspectives of the past any less valid. They were just as true then as the new ones are now, and it shows my growth. That being said, Desperation Hockey is not, nor has it ever pretended to be a news blog, so pretty much nothing here should be taken as fact. (Except for the stuff I said about The Curse. That shit's totally real.)

7. How concerned are you about the authority and accountability of the blogs you read? Do you find it difficult to judge the authority and accountability of the blogs you read?

While it's certainly important, I've never had a problem discerning which bloggers I can trust. Part of the reason I like to find blogs with open and welcoming environments for their readers to comment is so that I can challenge and discuss anything that I might not agree with. The reality is that (news flash) people are different, and they don't always see things the same way. I'm not looking to take anyone to task about their opinions, just find out exactly how and why they feel the way they do. And I find with most bloggers, the accountability comes naturally for them. I've never known any of the bloggers I read to just state something without some kind of explanation thereof. (It might be because they like to write so damn much.) And if they ever do, I'm sure a quick conversation or "Could you expand on..." comment would clear things up. I find most everything I need to know about how lightly or seriously a blogger wants me to take a post is revealed quite readily through tone, so accountability has never been a problem. As for things like stats, especially the ones that require much digging and calculating, I'm inclined to just blindly trust them, unless something seems seriously awry.

8. What value, if any, do you think blogging brings to the NHL?

I think blogging has tremendous value to the NHL, and luckily they're realizing it, even if they're not sure how to use it yet. Personally, as a fan living so outside of her team's market, blogging and reading blogs is how I keep up with what's happening with my team and around the league. Out here the only hockey media I have regular access to are Versus (which barely counts), and the internet. And in less than a month I'll be in Europe with access to only one of those. (Thankfully the good one. A life with Versus and no internet would be some kind of hell.) Sure, I can get the Buffalo News anywhere online, but they're not going to be telling me the whole story. Even if they managed to somehow balance the negatives with some positives, which more often than not seems impossible for them, they still wouldn't be connecting me with the experience of being a fan like blogging can. Bloggers will let me know what the atmosphere inside HSBC was like during the game, how the area fans are reacting to such-and-such a goal/call/incident/game, who's holding up a sign that looks like "MAX BOOBS." Will the Buffalo News tell me that? No. So if I'm looking for more than just the newsworthy stories, if I want the little details and nuances that made me fall in love with the game in the first place, blogs are the only place I can turn. The truth is that even over the interminable months of the off-season, and this great distance between me and the Sabres, my interest in hockey has only grown. Doubled. Because of blogging. And given that the NHL is in the business of initiating and nurturing fans' interest (or at least they should be), they damn well should take notice.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rocked You Like A Hurricane!

Wow. Just... wow.

Sabres, you really listened to me, huh? And you didn't just listen, you listened. I'm so HAPPY!!!

Maybe more on this win later. Right now it's time to go celebrate with some of my boyfriend's homemade jambalaya and a gin and tonic or two.*


*Mom, forget you read that last part.

Mister December

So Soupy's the man for December, huh?

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'll admit that immediately following the, uh, Captain Exodus this summer Campbell was the first name that popped into my head as a possible replacement, but now I'm not so sure. He started out the season on a tear, playing with the kind of confidence that makes him a formidable offensive force, but lately he's been iffy. In Monday's game against the Caps he was a downright mess, committing turnovers left and right and pretty much incapable of playing defense. Don't get me wrong, I definitely appreciate his 14 assists and 16 points, and who knows, maybe he'll really excel in the role of leader. Only time will tell, I guess.

It just makes me nervous about the future, especially in regards to his UFA contract. The market price for a offensive defenseman these days is ridiculous, and I'm worried that we'll get ourselves handcuffed to a huge contract for a guy that's not very consistent. If he's going to be considered in the upper echelon, price-wise, of UFA defensemen, frankly I'd prefer he spinarama off to another city. That being said, I love Soupy. He's frustrating as hell sometimes, but he's an incredible skater and when he's playing with a swagger he's exciting and dynamic. When everything's said and done I'd love to see him in a Sabres sweater as long as possible. He's grown up in this organization, and I like to think he likes it here; he's certainly worth something to this team. But is he worth $6 million? Is he worth giving up the chance to re-sign Pominville? Or Miller? The Sabres just have to figure out a way to get him locked down for a reasonable price. And soon. (Yeah, I know no one's ever thought of that before. This is why I don't write analysis.)

At any rate, I'm elated that Hecht is keeping his A (alongside Jaro Spacek). He's definitely earned it.