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The importance of the one-goal game December 30, 2009

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As Mike Harrington told us in his Sabres Notebook from this morning (12/30), the Sabres are 11-1-4 in one-goal games. Why do I think this stat is important/significant? Because good teams win one-goal games; bad teams lose them. I’m too lazy to look this up, but I’d be willing to bet that over the last couple of years when the Sabres were missing the playoffs there were two main problems: 1 – they lost the majority of their one-goal games, and 2 – they lost games they shouldn’t have (see: Thrashers, Atlanta).

Being able to hold a lead in a tight game is the mark of a calm, in-control team. True – a goaltender who is playing great certainly helps, sticking to your defense scheme (aka THE SYSTEM) helps, but it’s more than that. This team, like the teams we all knew and loved a few years ago, never feels like they’re out of a game.

I’m not saying the 09-10 Sabres don’t turn in dud performances. They do, of course. But every team does (see Penguins, Pittsburgh, 12/29/09 vs Sabres, Buffalo). But getting those two points in close games is one of the reasons I think this team is making the playoffs. I don’t expect them to the win the Cup (sorry, boys), but I expect them to do some damage, even if they play Ottawa. Yes, even Ottawa.

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Sabres vs Penguins 12/29/09 Postmortem December 29, 2009

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I believe I mentioned in a prior post how Pittsburgh is one of those teams I’m always nervous to play. They’re never out of a game. They don’t have a discernable weakness that I can see.

I’m looking forward to the Winter Classic. I’ll watch it while I do other stuff, but it’s a neat thing even if it’s not in your town. We all know Buffalo did it best, but these other cities can try.

Liked:

  • The effort in the first period was good. Hopefully they’ll keep that up.
  • They’re getting chances, but on the other hand, they’re missing them, so it’s kind of a glass half-full thing (I’m an optimist).
  • Well now. Helllooooo Drew Stafford. Welcome back. I say we bench him once every 10-20 games.
  • The Pens seem to be panicking a bit here in the third period. The Sabres are swarming them. Much as I like the Pens, I’m not a fan of Marc-Andre Fleury. I know it’s hard to argue w/a Stanley Cup, but I don’t think he’s an elite goaltender.
  • I always tell the hubby not to worry until the game actually ends. He never believes me. Silly man.
  • I just fell in love with Myers a little bit more for throwing Malkin to the ground unceremoniously.

Didn’t like:

  • Nathan Paetsch in the lineup. Can’t we pretend he’s hurt and put him on IR?
  • Halfway through the first period the most effective player for the Sabres is Adam Mair. That concerns me.
  • Tyler Myers got beat clean by Tyler Kennedy on that first goal. Kennedy’s got some serious jets, but our Tyler was spinning like a top looking for him.
  • The Pens are getting way too close to Miller. He’s your meal ticket, boys – kick their asses if they so much as look at him funny.
  • Aaannnddd our elite goaltender gets pulled.
  • The power play looks like doo-doo. (ETA: Not so much when Pommer scored, though!)

We can only hope the monkey is off the backs of Pominville and Stafford. I think Vanek is rounding into form, so maybe they’ll be ok!

Next game is Friday I believe, after the Winter Classic.

The all Myers, all the time post December 27, 2009

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This has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks, which could explain why I’m forgetting stuff lately. Well, I hope it does, anyway.

Before I begin I would like to make one point perfectly, completely clear:

I LIKE TYLER MYERS. MUCHO. GRANDE. A LOT.

This post is actually because I like him.

So Myers is putting in 23-28 minutes of ice time every game. Here’s the gist of my problem: I think that’s too much. *ducking* Now, before you get all defensive of our newest infatuation, let me explain why.

  1. I think he’s going to wear down. I don’t care that he’s 19 and in prime physical shape – he’s never played this many games in this time period against such good opponents while putting in that amount of minutes.
  2. I think he’s already starting to make mistakes. We all knew going into the season he would make mistakes. That’s ok – he’s a rookie. What excuse Toni Lydman uses, I’m not sure. Admit it: when Lydman makes a mistake it’s a dandy. Getting back to Myers… the types of mistakes I’m watching him make are partly rookie mistakes and partly what I would consider “breaking down” mistakes. I fear that type of mistake will only increase as the season goes on.
  3. I know Ruff is as in love with him as we all are, but geez – you’ve got a pretty good defense corps. Use them. In the St. Louis game Tyler racked up nearly 26 minutes. The next closest defenseman, Henrik Tallinder, barely registered 23. Lydman and Montador had about 20, and Rivet and Butler came in at around 14 minutes. Rivet’s ice time was hurt by the 5-minute major for fighting, I’m sure, and Ruff wanted to ease Butler back into the lineup. But there’s a trend here, and it happens every game.

I’m worried he’ll falter, like almost every young defenseman does, and then struggle. I can’t go through another entire year of watching a player whose season is self-destructing (see Campbell, Brian: 1999-2004). Tyler is at such a sensitive age right now, and if the Sabres rush him, I’m afraid it will hurt his development. I’m actually surprised at how they’re handling Myers. The Sabres’ front office are notoriously patient people (see Campbell, Brian: 1999-2004). In fact, many times they’re TOO patient (see Paetsch, Nathan: entire career as a Sabre).

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’m worried. I hope Tyler has a long and fruitful career here – I like the big lug a lot.

Sabres vs Blues 12/27/09 Postmortem December 27, 2009

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Familial obligations prevented me from watching much of the game, but I liked what I saw, considering they played to a shoot-out last night and then flew to St. Louis. These are the games, IMO, that really define a team. Yes, they lost last night in a lackluster effort. But tonight they came from behind, what – twice? – and won the game. They scored a powerplay goal. They scored short-handed. Heck, even the skinny kid in the 7th row scored (insert rim shot here).

Lalime played another good game. I hope this is the Lalime that stays here all season. I wasn’t thrilled with last year’s edition.

The Sabres play Pittsburgh on Tuesday. I’m always nervous for these games since there’s such a possibility of a blow-out. I hate it when the Sabres get blown out. But with Crosby, Malkin, and company it’s always lurking there in the back of my mind.

Tune in tomorrow for my “all Myers, all the time” post.

Sabres vs. Senators 12/26/09 Postmortem December 26, 2009

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I went to this game – my parents come to town every Christmas and we always go to the game the day after. Usually the Sabres are playing Ottawa. You can imagine how many times we’ve seen them win…

Anyhoo, I had high hopes for the game after hearing that another Sabre-killer, Daniel Alfredsson, would be out of the lineup indefinitely. Then they announced Leclaire would be starting instead of Elliot, who seems to the Sabres’ number, and I felt even better. Then the puck dropped.

I could do a liked/didn’t like here, but I think we all know where that would go. Instead, I’ll go through period by period…

First period: The Sabres came out flat. I expected that. However, I became a little alarmed when minutes passed without a shot on goal. They did have a few chances, but the passing was atrocious and I could’ve won battles along the boards against them, even if I was on skates, and I haven’t skated since I was 16, which was a long time ago (I won’t be more specific than that, thank you very much).

But I wasn’t worried. There was plenty of time left. Then the minutes started ticking down and they still hadn’t recorded a shot on goal. When they finally did it got a cheer almost as big as the one Miller got in the last game I went to when he made a spectacular save. A sarcastic bunch, we are. The period ended and I said, “Well, either Lindy or Miller is in there tearing the joint up – they’ll be better in the second.”

Second period: You know that song, “Second verse, same as the first…”? Yeah, it was like that for the first six minutes or so. Then a line (can’t remember which one) came out and actually *gasp* spent some time in the Senators’ end. That seemed to spark the boys a little. Incidentally, I haven’t looked at the game stats, but I’d willing to bet Adam Mair had a season-high ice time. (Ed.: after checking ESPN I noted Mair had nearly 12 minutes of ice time. Staffy had less than eight. I’m a little surprised Ruff hasn’t benched him completely yet.)

When they tied it up going into the third, I figured they could put this team away. They’re a third-period team, much as we as fans hate it. So, with a light heart I went into the third.

Third period: The Sabres started looking like the Sabres, and I had hope. Tim “The Terrier” Kennedy won some battles along the wall, Gaustad looked at a Senator funny and he fell, which was funny. Maybe the ice was bad, but I like to think The Goose gave him an angry honk and the guy lost his bearings. Moving on…

With a couple of minutes left the score was tied. Now, I know some people love these tight games. I don’t. When the clock is ticking down and there are only a few minutes left, at a time when you know the next goal is going to win it, I am not a happy fan. I kind of feel the same way about overtime. With that…

Overtime: The Sabres dominated the overtime for the most part in my opinion, but couldn’t finish.

Shootout: When it went to a shootout I was smug. Miller’s played so well in them this season I figured he’d make the saves at ONE of our guys could score on Leclaire. Unfortunately, from what I could see (he was at the opposite end of the rink from me) Miller got beaten on the same move twice. I don’t think that will happen twice. I would’ve liked to have heard his post-game interview, but we didn’t listen to the radio on the way home. The hubby isn’t crazy about listening even when they win, and when they lose he really doesn’t want to re-hash it.

Aaannnnddd that was the game.

Some of you may have seen my Tweets during the game where I mentioned a little kid (circa 8-9 years old) who in the row in front of us, directly in front of my mom, threw up all over himself and finally into his father’s beer. All together now, “Ewwww.” The older kid – about 14, I’d guess, went and got some napkins and they cleaned the kid up a bit, and then the father left. We all kind of looked at each other with the “Where’s he going?” face. He came back some time later with a new shirt, and they stripped the puked-off jersey off and put another shirt on. Meanwhile, the cup itself, his pants, and the napkins were all still in the area. Needless to say, it smelled. Finally they put his shirt in the bag from the Sabres store and the other adult who was there – another father, from what it looked like, picked up the cup and the napkins and threw them away.

Parents, if I may offer some advice:

  1. If your kid pukes in the middle of a Sabres game, play, whatever, take him to the bathroom immediately to clean him up.
  2. Don’t let him eat again if you take him back to the seat. I’ll give you three guesses about what happened when the kid ate more, and the first two guesses don’t count.
  3. Don’t leave the disgusting, smelly remnants of the episode sitting around for over a period.

Some of you may be thinking it’s pretty callous of me to be upset, thinking I should be more worried about the kid. I was worried about the kid, particularly when his dad didn’t take him home after the second incident. However, people all around this group were getting nauseous from the smell. The whole situation wasn’t handled well by the father. Ok, I’m done.

The Sabres are flying to St. Louis for a 6pm game against the Blues. I don’t know what time zone St. Louis is in, so I can’t tell you if the time is 6pm EST, or 6pm, whatever time zone St. Louis is in. Consult your game programs, kiddies.

At some point in the next couple of days I’ll do a post with my thoughts on Myers. Stay tuned…

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