Sunday, December 27, 2009

That Game Blew, but Live Hockey is Fun

Maybe I'm a bad hockey fan because I spend money to support a mediocre administration, but sarcastically cheering Montador's lone shot in the first period tonight was almost the most fun I've ever had at a hockey game. So suck it, Sully.

As for the rest of it... well, let's just say I hope everyone on the team got Ryan Miller really good Christmas presents.

Friday, December 25, 2009


We're big fans of tradition here in the Gambler household, especially around Christmas. I'm not going to bore you all with the entire list, but rest assured that me posting pictures of my family making fools of themselves on this blog as a way of wishing my vast readership a collective Merry Christmas has been tacked onto the end. So without further ado, I give you this year's Christmas card photo:

Happy Holidays!
Love, the Gamblers

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Weighing In

Sorry about the long silence, but travel and social engagements have kept me too busy to blog recently. Today, though, my mom and I have vowed to do nothing but wrap presents, and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, so I'm going to seize the opportunity to unload about something that's been clogging up my brain for too long.

I don't have much to say about the Sabres play at the moment that a simple "thumbs up" won't cover, so allow me to travel way back in time to re-visit an issue that has been pretty well covered by many blogs already. Just to refresh your memories:

You'll find the bulk of my reaction already expressed in the aforelinked posts, so I'm going to do my best not to be redundant, but there are two particular quotes that I want to respond to. The first comes from this article in The Buffalo News:
"I tried to hit [Kaleta] and missed a little bit," Ruutu told the Ottawa Citizen. "My shoulder hit his head and then his head hit the glass. That was really it. Not much you could do."
This is a quote I find akin to Alex Ovechkin's "Nobody can kill me" reaction to criticism of his reckless play. I tried to blog about that gem at the time, but as always when I try to articulate my hatred of Ovie, I was too blinded by crimson rage to manage anything more than incoherent sputtering. The words I couldn't get out then are the same I have to offer Ruutu now: In my opinion, this kind of attitude doesn't belong in hockey. This is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It's a sport where grown (sometimes over-grown) men slam into each other while traveling at top speeds on a low-friction surface. It's a sport where players swing fiberglass sticks around to propel a piece of frozen galvanized rubber through the air at speeds approaching 100mph. Not to mention the fact that everyone has razor blades strapped to the bottoms of their feet. Someone certainly can kill you, Ovie. Even though it hasn't happened yet, it's not that hard to imagine. In fact, I almost have a harder time imagining how it hasn't happened yet. What I'm trying to say is hockey is the last place you want to play fast and loose with safety. This is a sport where unavoidable, freak accidents have ended in arterial spatter on the ice. So, in my opinion, "I missed," just doesn't cut it. Personally, I don't buy that Ruutu wasn't aiming for Kaleta's head, but even if he wasn't, he shouldn't get off suspension-free just because he says there was nothing he could do. Accidents do happen, but you should have better control of your body than that or you shouldn't be playing hockey. Period. And don't tell me it's that hard, because most other players seem to manage. If they didn't, players like Ruutu, Neil, and--yes--Kaleta wouldn't stand out the way they do.

I understand that that's not entirely fair--after all, not all styles of play were created equally in this regard. Tim Connolly not properly controlling his body will more likely result in him losing the puck than someone lying unconscious on the ice. So I understand that while some players are able to stay away from the line between safe and reckless play altogether, others are forced to toe it in order to perform their role on the team. So how are they supposed to stay toeing the right side of the line? Well, that leads me to my next quote:
I'll be worried about Kaleta's quality of life after hockey when he starts showing an ounce of concern for his fellow players' quality of life after hockey.
This was a comment to the blog post from Top Shelf that I linked to above. I don't really have that much of a problem with this statement, given that it's coming from a fan. As much as I like to think that I would still be uneasy about this hit even if Kaleta had been on the giving end of it, if it had been Neil or Avery on the receiving end, I probably would be less upset. But that's the entitlement of a fan. We get to have subjective judgment and hold unfounded and unjustly long grudges. The problem is that this seems to be the same stance the league is taking on this issue, and they don't have the same entitlements. They have obligations to keep the rules of the game well-defined and to keep the players of the game safe, and they don't get to ignore those obligations just because it's "just" Kaleta lying on the ice. Heather did an excellent job explaining why, when it comes to issues of safety, all players are created equal, regardless of their talent level--although it's really sad to think that the league needs a blogger to point that out to them. Letting goons and bruisers beat up on each other as much as they like as long as they don't touch the "important" players doesn't count as fair strategy. I'm not sure it counts as strategy at all, actually. Trusting players to police each other and trusting them to keep each other safe are almost entirely mutually exclusive, as it turns out, so the neutral authority is going to have to step in at some point. Like it or not, Kaleta showing respect for other players' safety starts with the league forcing other players to respect his. Until that happens, the vicious cycle of "a boarding for a boarding" will continue to leave the whole world with mushy brains.

Of course, it's not certain that more suspensions are the answer to cleaning up the game, especially with one of the league's premiere players going around telling the world that no amount of discipline is going to make him change his ways. But that's still no excuse for not trying.

One thing is for sure, though: everyone's looking forward to meeting the Sens on the day after Christmas, and right now I'm glad that I happen to have tickets. Here's hoping I'm still happy to have had them on the day after the day after Christmas.

By the way, about last night's game against the Capitals: I'm afraid that was all my fault. I forewent (if that's a word) watching the game in order to go see New Moon with my sister. That's a bold admission to make in a public forum, to be sure, but rest assured that we went in irony. I had planned on zipping through the game on DVR this morning, but it seems the Sabres took it upon themselves to try to play a game even worse than New Moon, in order to make me feel better about ditching them. I'm sure they didn't actually succeed, but I can't imagine watching a hockey game that even approached that level of awfulness was a pleasant experience. So I'd like to apologize to everyone whose night I ruined. Believe me, it will not happen again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I don't mean to make this all about me...

But it's my birthday, and I'm pretty sure that win was just for me.

So the rest of you can cease your enjoyment of it. Right now.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jose and the Pussycats

You're not as scary as you think you are, Caps.

Now that's what I call a rebound game.

Following a game where even our otherwise rock solid goaltending looked weak, the Sabres put together perhaps their most complete effort of the season to shut out a talent-heavy team looking for their seventh straight win. The offense was creating and capitalizing, the defense was all over the ice, and Ryan Miller was the Ryan Miller we've come to expect him to be. As always it's impossible to tell if this version of the Sabres is going to stick around, but if ever we needed them to show up, it was after Monday night's ugly loss. It feels good to feel good about this team again, if only for a little while.

I'm not sure if this was entirely the Sabres doing or not, but Washington's best players were totally invisible last night. I literally just had to google Alex Semin to make sure that he wasn't injured, because I don't remember hearing his name a single time last night. Of course Ovie was talked about a lot (when is he ever not?), but he never really got anything going offensively. In fact, most of the replays he was involved in showed a good move made by a Sabre to defend him. In any case, the Caps never made me feel any kind of doom, impending or otherwise, despite having been led to believe that I should be shaking in my boots.

Of course, no Ovechkin replay sticks out more prominently in my mind than the one showing him taking a dive on a trip by none other than Derek Roy. I sure won't be forgetting that irony in a hurry. I'm disappointed that there's no clip to be found of it yet, because I so wanted to post it (not to mention watch it over and over and over). But in my search I found this:

It's quite similar, in that the trip is just as blatant, the embellishment just as obvious, and the broadcast team (though thankfully not the officials) just as oblivious. On second thought, maybe I won't be watching it over and over and over. The icky pirouette combined with the announcers' unjustifiable indignation is making me feel a little bit like looking for the fucking phone.

To close on a happier thought, seeing everyone on the ice tower over Nathan Gerbe made me think of this:

I'm glad the game didn't end up going south, but if it had, I would have greatly enjoyed posting a picture of Gerbe with the excuse: "I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the team was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a "hockey player" on the ice that was in danger of being crushed by Derek Roy!" Maybe I'll put that extrapolated moment of happiness behind breakable glass for a future emergency.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Making Lemonade

Before I get into this, I know calling last night's game a lemon is an insult to lemons everywhere, but "Making Poopade" just didn't strike me as a good title.


The Sabres are lucky I kind of like the Devils and Brodeur in particular, because if they'd hit the trifecta of making me tune into Versus (blech) to watch them muster just 22 shots on goal (ugh) to give the 103rd, record-tying shutout to a goalie I hated (Emery), let's just say the poopade would be flowing like wine. Right into their water bottles.

I suppose I could be rational about this. I could say that, well, Brodeur was obviously going to get that shutout sometime, and someone had to give it to him. Bad luck for the Sabres that it had to be them. By the time Marty moves into the place of sole record-holder this game will be a dull (very dull) memory. Unfortunately, I'm too seasoned of a Buffalo fan to be rational.

Fortunately, though, I'm a seasoned enough Buffalo fan to know how to make the best of a bad situation by distracting myself with frivolous hilarity, when need be. Sometimes, when it seems like nothing is working right, you just need to latch onto a single detail and extrapolate until it entertains you, and last night such a moment floated right into my wheelhouse. The play was innocent enough that there isn't even a video to link to, but somewhere in the mire of the second period, MacArthur was high-sticked in front of the Devil's net by some guy named Fraser. Ultimately, no blood was involved, and the guy's name wasn't spelled right, but that didn't matter. I was already extrapolating my way to my happy place.

As far as I'm concerned, the rest of the game looked like this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Randomness Roundup

Before I can settle into tonight's Sabres/Devils matchup, I have to get a couple of things off my chest.

--I watched the finale of The Amazing Race today, and I have to say I wasn't a fan. I didn't have a problem with the outcome; that was hard to argue with and hardly surprising. (Here's hoping Cheyne uses part of the winnings to file the paperwork to start spelling his name like a normal person.) It was just the whole finale atmosphere that was freaking me out. I know it's kind of silly to say, "Wow, this race around the world for one million dollars just got really stressful," but that's exactly what I kept saying to myself. I guess the fact that it's suddenly not just about beating the slowest team could account for the jump in the level of pressure, but whatever the reason I found it very unsettling. It was totally throwing off the grove of my lazy afternoon. And it made me glad that the Globetrotters weren't involved, because if anything could destroy the perspective-having, support-giving, team-working vibe that made me love them in the first place, it would have been the stress of the final three. And even if I had to watch them be undone by the most banal of obstacles (the Jumble fan in me was terribly disappointed), I'm glad I never had to watch them snap at each other.

I guess if I decide to watch more seasons of this show, I'll just skip the finale episode, look up who wins online, and go take a nice long bath instead.

--A week or so ago, I got an email from a "Leafer Sutherland" telling me I was in the running for some sort of Sabres blog-off on some message board. My first and pretty much only reaction was to wonder how the hell this "Leafer," if that is his real name, had managed to find me, since I consider myself a pretty well-kept secret of the Sabres blogosphere. (He was probably googling for Cliff's notes for the BFG.) I ignored the suggestion to advertise the competition on my site and invite my readers to vote for me--rationalizing that even if I rallied my whole army of ones of readers, they would be no match for my comptetition, and also that I was supremely lazy--deleted the message from my inbox, and promptly forgot about it. Until this morning, when I received an update that, on the strength of a mere five votes (update that army of ones to an army of a handful!), I had made it to the second round of the voting process. Slightly intrigued that I had entirely accidentally not lost this competition, I decided to click the link and check out how I was doing in the round 2 poll. What I found has been making me randomly chuckle all day:

I took a screenshot to preserve the hilarity for eternity.

Yes, you're reading that correctly. 17 voters got to choose seven from a possible 13, and not a one of them threw a vote in my direction. I think this is enough evidence to crown myself writer the most overlooked, under-appreciated, hapless, and mildly pathetic blog on the internet. The Jochen Hecht of blogs, if you will. Heh. I love it.

Just so there's no confusion, this is not a post asking you to go vote for me. Quite the opposite. I can't imagine a grander accomplishment than for Desperation Hockey to be the only blog to bow out of this competition with 0% support. I don't know why I haven't noticed before, but these hands I'm typing with might actually be made of stone.

Okay, now I'm ready for some hockey!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Letter Unrelated to Hockey

Dear people who keep finding this blog by googling "BFG Cliff's Notes,"

Just read the book. Seriously. It's only 220 pages. You won't regret it.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Procrastinating a Win Away

The Sabres' attitude toward winning the game tonight is exactly my attitude toward posting about it:

I will, I just... don't have time right now.