Monday, October 5, 2009

Cliff's Notes

Thanks to my internet connection, I got the severely abridged version of Saturday night's game, which meant off-and-on coverage of the first half of the game, and then just continuously off coverage. Of course, at the moment when the Sabres scored, the coverage happened to be off. Sigh. How am I supposed to try to establish my image as a legitimate hockey blogger, when the fickle finger of fate gives me so little material to work with? One day my prince will come in the form of a Center Ice package, but until then, I'm going to have to make do with what I can get. So here's my in-depth analysis of what I saw of the game:

The Sabres looked good.

Okay, for the sake of filling up this post, I guess I can get a little more specific than that.

I know I should probably take a number by this point, but I think I'm falling in love with Tyler Myers. I'm loving the comparison to Chara, and not just because Chara is a talented player who plays the type of game the Sabres could use right now. I'm also hoping that Myers turns out to be a freak-of-nature BFG like Chara, because I think the Sabres could use one of those, too. In fact, I'm deliberately avoiding any Myers interviews for fear of disillusioning myself, so passionate am I about this idea.

On a slightly more relevant note, I thought he looked remarkably calm and composed for a rookie in his first NHL game. He skated well for his size, moved the puck efficiently, and really worked along the boards. On top of all that, he seemed to grasp the concept of clearing the crease and protecting your goaltender in a way that made my heart sing. The words "calm" and "composed" (along with another c-word, "consistent") haven't been used to describe the Sabres' defensive corps (or really any Sabres' anything) for the last couple of years, so Myers' performance was very encouraging. That's not to say I think he's here to lead us into the light; he's still young, and his greenness is bound to show sometime, either before or after his 9-game deadline. But if this is the way he plays in the biggest game of his career to date, then I think we have every reason to expect plenty of good with the inevitable bad.

There were a few other stand-outs. Yo-Yo looked like his old self again, making a few smart moves to break up an oncoming attack or keep the puck in the zone, and generally not looking just completely useless. I can't deny that it made me a little bit giddy to see him back to his solid ways. I'll admit that the majority of my joy at the Grier signing was caused by the hope that, with the return of the original Stone Hands, Yo-Yo's hands wouldn't look quite so stoney. Not so sure about that yet, but if Grier was the magic ingredient needed to snap Hecht out of his slump, then I consider it a signing well signed. It seems clear already that the Hecht-Gaustad-Grier line is destined to bring me much joy this season, although I confess that my heart broke a little at seeing Pommers and Yo-Yo split up. Still, if my heart's only options are breaking at them being apart or puking at them being together, then I think the choice is clear.

Actually, the only real let down I saw was the Canadiens' new roster:

Click to enlarge, if you dare.

Wha happened?! Man, the Habs used to have a roster full of the awesomest last names in hockey, a roster that read like a rollercoaster for the tongue, a roster on which a name like "Price" stood out as odd. This new roster makes me almost want to cry. A couple of my favorites (Chipchura, Latendresse) are still around, and they added at least one fun one in the off-season (Pacioretty), but Brisebois is gone, the Kostitsyn content has been cut in half, and the list is now packed with names that anybody could spell correctly on the first try. Gionta? Gomez? Gill? I think I'm dozing off. And those are just the Gs! By the time I got down to Stewart, I was convinced that Montreal is letting just any old regular-named Joe play for them these days. Clearly their standards are slipping.

Overall, though, the most positive impression I got out of the half of the game I saw was cohesion. The Sabres just seemed to be working together in a way that we haven't seen from them in a long time, and the result was that they were in complete control. That may have changed as the game went on (the final score would suggest so, though the goal highlights I watched looked pretty flukey), but I'm pretty optimistic after seeing what they're capable of.

Of course, the season is just a newborn, consistency is still a question, and we all know that this team is a big fan of showing us what they can do just to madden us to full capacity when they insist on not doing it.

With that cynical disclaimer in place, I'm really looking forward to Thursday's game. Mostly because I'm going home for a long weekend, and will be able to watch the game a) on a big screen, b) in its entirety and c) in HD. But also because the teaser trailer that was Saturday night gives me reason to expect good things from the game that will feel, to me, like the real season opener.

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