Friday, April 23, 2010

A Somewhat Familiar Letter of Proposal

I know that Earth Day was yesterday, but I figure it's never a bad time to celebrate the power of reduce, recycle, reuse, and why should paper products get all the glory? It's pretty obvious by now that whatever paper can do, the internet can do better. It's also fairly obvious that when it comes to littering my blog with posts, I've got reduce down pat. But, as a resourceful (read: lazy) blogger, I've also discovered that--with a little recycling--a year old post is still perfectly reusable. Observe:

Dear Matt Tyler Ellnnis,

I know we don't know each other very well. (Well, I don't know you very well, and you don't know me at all.) But I was hoping I could ask you something.

Even though I was very pleased with the Sabres' win over the Bruins, I'm still very wary of trusting them to keep it up. And even though I love Yo-Yo deep down, we're still on the outs because of him missing four (4!) open nets yesterday breaking all of his fingers recently.

So, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to marry me? You know, for a little while?

You played like a fox yesterday tonight, a fox that is very good at spunky hockey, and I would like to reward you accordingly.

Please circle YES, NO, or MAYBE.


P.S. This is totally how marriage works, right?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Walking the Walk

The Boston Bruins took a 3-1 series lead about half an hour ago, and I'm guessing the hours to come are going to see a lot of people clogging the interwebs with their expressions of anger and disappointment in this team, as is their right. But before those messages get out there (and before I have the chance to be sucked in and corrupted by them) I wanted to make sure this message gets out there, too.

Quite long ago in time, but just a scroll of the mouse away in space (see "I'm a Horrible Blogger" tag) I talked a big talk about not letting your expectations ruin the ride. About 3 minutes after the final buzzer of game four, I was feeling upset and let down and frustrated and (yes, I'll admit it) on the verge of tears, when I suddenly realized I was practicing exactly what I had preached against. I had to take a step back to consider.

It seems everyone (myself included) went into this series expecting the Sabres to win it. Maybe not in a cake walk, maybe in a nail biter, but the standings and the numbers and the rosters all seemed to point to Buffalo being the better team. Were we wrong to expect this? Time will tell, and it certainly seems likely, but I can tell you where I made my mistake. In my head, I'd already moved past this series. I was looking ahead, past Boston, praying that Pittsburgh would beat Ottawa so we would have the assurance of not having to face the Sens. I was doing exactly what I had said I wasn't going to do in that previous post: I had turned the Bruins into the opening act, before I was even assured of a headliner. I was ruining all my fun before I'd even had any.

Once I realized this, I decided I had two questions to come to terms with. The first was: Do I stay hopeful? I know this is going to seem naive, but I genuinely still have hope that the Sabres can win this series. Why? For the simple reason that it's more fun than the alternative. Also because it's not totally outside the realm of possibility. It's cliched to say "if they can win three in a row, so can we," but really, so can we. The games have been so close, and there still seems to be fight left in them. Now, I doubt I'm alone in this terribly optimistic view, even if the people who agree with me don't have blogs, but this next one I'm not so sure about:

What happens when there's no hope left? Does that mean they've let me down?

In dealing with this question, I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "one and done." It was thrown around pretty freely before the playoffs by many a Sabre doubter, and at the time I took it at face value as something fundementally gross and disappointing, but now I find myself wondering about it. Does "one and done" have to mean "failed to meet all expectations"? Does it have to mean "rolled over and died"? Does it have to mean "heartless," "gutless," "lazy"? Well, if the Sabres do end up being one and done, and this is their one, I'm going to have to say no.

One and done can be a battle, and it can be thrilling, and it can even be fun, if you let it. After re-evaluating my priorities and expectations, I decided that all I really, absolutely expect the Sabres to achieve this postseason is showing me some playoff hockey. And folks, that, tonight, was some bonafide playoff hockey. That wasn't the Sabres giving up, or getting steam-rolled, or being out-muscled. It was them being unlucky, being momentarily stupid, being unfocused at the wrong time and having to pay for it. They clearly did not play a great game, but still, that was a great hockey game, and it wasn't all because of how well the Bruins were playing. Obviously it would have been much, much better if they'd won, or not given up their two-goal lead (again), or not taken stupid penalties, etc., but I'm not going to expect perfection, even perfect outcomes. I just want to see some good hockey, and I saw some great hockey tonight. I'm not convinced I took a single breath during both overtimes, and really, what else is the postseason about?

The bottom line, for me, is that this is the Sabres' first playoffs in three years, and if one series is all I'm going to get, I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it. And really, losing aside, there's been a ton to enjoy. (Granted, losing aside, there's still been quite a bit to hate, and I'm sure people will.) I'm not here to tell anybody how to feel (rage and heartbreak are perfectly legitimate and understandable responses), but for the sake of sanity, I invite everyone to keep this in mind:

One and done can be a million times more fun than 9th and 10th place.

If I wanted to be really controversial, I could argue that this series has been more fun to watch than any single series in the 2007 playoffs (or even all of them combined), but it's late and I have to work in the morning. (Moreover, I don't think something can count as controversial if no one bothers to read it.) So instead I'll just close with what I said to my mom about this series the other day: Sure, this series could be a lot less frustrating, but it could also be a lot less fun.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome, Raffi!

Guys, this is the best trade deadline day EVER! I cannot believe the Sabres picked up the guy who sang my absolute favorite childhood song!

This is SO much better than winning a Stanley Cup!!!

UPDATE: Oh. It seems there is actually more than one guy named Raffi in this world. In my defense, how was I supposed to guess that that would ever happen? It turns out the Raffi we got is actually featured in this video.

Heh. I suppose that's still pretty good. But if he thinks that's going to stop me from singing "Baaaby beluuuga, oh, baaaaaaby beluuuuuuuuga!" every time I see him, he's crazy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chillax, Spoilsports

I know this is going to seem hypocritical from the gal who was just demanding that the playoffs start, like, yesterday, but: people freaking out about the trade deadline need to stop getting ahead of themselves. I know that freaking out about trade deadlines is a long-cherished tradition among us Buffalo fans, but for whatever reason, all the bellyaching is really getting to me this year.

I guess I just don't get why the expectations for this team are suddenly so high. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see the Sabres win the Cup this year as much as anyone, and I think we just might have a shot. But before this season started I was just hoping we would make the playoffs for a change, so I'm not about to go declaring this season a failure if Darcy doesn't get us the player we need tomorrow.

First of all, because I'm not sure the player is out there to be had. We have our weaknesses, sure, but that doesn't mean there's anything Darcy can do about it. Not many teams are selling, and those that are don't seem to have that much to sell. But then again, what do I know. As usual, I'm more than comfortable letting the people who get paid to figure this stuff out, figure this stuff out.

Second of all, because there's no reason our Stanley Cup dreams--if we insist on having them--should live and die based on what happens tomorrow. For better or worse, there's still plenty of hockey left to be played before we even make it to the playoffs, let alone the victory lap. Sure, maybe this roster isn't good enough to put a ring on everybody's finger, but maybe it is. We can't just skip to the end of the story, we have to wait and see.

Last of all (and this is my real point), so what if this roster isn't good enough to win the whole thing? Maybe I'm being too deliberately cheerful about this situation, but at this point I'm fully prepared to be satisfied with less out of this season. I know fans always want to see their team be the best (I'm no different, mind), but the truth is only one team can be every year. I've spent two years without a real interest in the playoffs, so forgive me for being ready to be happy with second or third or even fifth best.

Does no one remember how much fun the playoffs were to watch in 2007, when our expectations hit "Stanley or Bust" sometime around November? Answer: Not very, and I can't help seeing the correlation. Sure, our expectations didn't make the Sabres suck out loud against Ottawa in round 3, but they did make rounds 1 and 2 feel perfunctory. Did anyone really get to enjoy eliminating the Islanders in 5 and the Rangers in 6, or did it just feel routine? That 7.7 second goal was sweet, but it still felt like an opening act, didn't it? Knowing now that the headliner blew, I wish I'd given the openers more of a chance.

I'm not going to deny that since seeing Olympic MVP Ryan Miller at work, I've spent every night nestled all snug in my bed, with visions of sugar-Stanleys dancing in my head, but there's a difference between hopes and expectations. And in this case, the difference lies in how far I fall when things don't work out. I'm not saying that I don't believe they can win it all, I'm just saying that I'm not ready to expect them to do it, and I probably won't be raising my expectations that high until the third round, at least. To do so on the third of March seems like setting myself up for disappointment. And if there's one thing the Sabres don't need help with, it's setting their fans up for disappointment.

Let me just close this post by stating for the record that I'm not trying to tell anybody how to feel. As always, I fully respect the "whatever floats your boat" philophy of sport fandom, where feelings are often irrational and illogical, but never illegitimate. It's just that, from where I'm sitting, it seems like we have a hell of a ride ahead of us, and my feeling is, "Why spoil it?"

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Well, that didn't quite turn out the way I'd hoped. And I'm actually not talking about losing the gold medal to Canada. Believe it or not, I didn't have any hopes regarding Team USA going into this tournament, aside from that they'd keep Miller in one piece and maybe let him get a little rest if they could manage it.

No, what I had originally hoped to gain from the Olympics was simpler and more selfish: I wanted a break. I know you wouldn't be able to tell this from how fanatically I've been posting in this blog for the last two months, but I got kind of burnt out on hockey. Maybe I was letting myself get too carried away by the fact that the Sabres weren't sitting out of a playoff spot come January, but I was totally ready to skip the push and get right to the good stuff. I know it's counter-intuitive, but it seems the better the Sabres are playing, the fewer games I want to watch them play.

So I was counting on the Olympic break to let me recharge. I actually have a two-week-old post entitled "Give Me a Break" floating around in my draft folder detailing my exact hopes and dreams, but it seems I was too busy, uh, taking a break to expand it past that oh-so-clever title. I was counting on the fact that I don't own a TV to mean that I wouldn't be watching any Olympic hockey--or, in fact, any Olympic coverage at all. I was counting on two weeks without regular season hockey to mean that I would forget all about it and then be ready to accept it back into my life when it returned, as is.

What I wasn't counting on was Team USA making everyone in the tournament poop in their pants. I wasn't counting on them being instrumental in sending both Sweden and Russia home medal-less. I wasn't counting on Ryan Miller being the center of this near-perfect storm, and I wasn't counting on everyone and their blogs talking about how awesome it was. I wasn't counting on needing to cancel plans and crash living rooms in order to be able to watch this afternoon's game. But there I was, eating up every last delicious second of it.

And here I am, more rabid for playoff hockey than ever. Joke's on me, I guess.

I'm ready for the grit and the energy and the near heart attacks. I'm ready for the volume at home and the abrupt silence away. I'm ready for the sudden death.

I'm ready to see the Ryan Miller who plays out of his mind. Who accepts second place like it's last place. His post-game interview was kind of heartbreaking to watch, and you know he would have rather been doing pretty much anything else, but I couldn't help but smile at the way he very typically refused to sugar coat anything. He had both the opportunity and the right to treat the silver medal as a victory. After all, it was certainly more than anyone had expected of them, and they put up a hell of a fight. The team had nothing to be ashamed of, and Miller least of all. But he's not going to bullshit us with those platitudes. He's going to tell it like it is: silver sucks. That's not exactly what one would call a healthy perspective, but when all is said and done, that's the perspective I want fighting on my side come May.

Most of all, I'm ready to see Miller's five hole not allow Crosby to play the role of hockey savior on the national stage, for a change. Shit's getting old.

For now I'm just going to have to make do with the same old same old regular season hockey. It starts up again on Tuesday as the Sabres face the Penguins, and I can't imagine what could possibly be a story worth talking about connected to that matchup.

All I can say? Thank goodness it's not going to be on Versus.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wait A Second

I know I've been out of the loop for a little while, but... the Blue Jackets are still terrible, right? Nothing has suddenly changed on that front? My only experience of tonight's game was a text of the final score, and I just want to make sure I'm grasping the full suckitude of this situation.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Letter to the Readers

Dear Readers,

You're right. I totally suck at blogging.


Friday, January 1, 2010

A Letter to the Haters

Dear Haters,

You're right. Jochen Hecht totally sucks.