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Western Conf vs Eastern Conf April 30, 2010

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Usually when people talk about how much stronger the Western Conference is, I don’t put much stock in it. However, given the eight teams left in the playoffs, maybe these people have a point…

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh
Boston
Philadelphia
Montreal

Western Conference

San Jose
Vancouver
Chicago
Detroit

I’d say the Western Conference has notably better teams left standing, which hopefully means some really entertaining games are coming up. No surprise, I expect Pittsburgh to come out of the East, but in the West I can’t decide between Vancouver and Chicago. I think it’s pretty much a crap shoot there.

On to the second round…

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What went wrong? April 29, 2010

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We’re all disappointed about how the season ended for the Sabres. And many journalists and bloggers are asking the same question I am: what went wrong? Some of my ideas:

  • The will to compete simply wasn’t there. Boston wanted it more than the Sabres did. This is a disturbing trend which has reared its ugly head for the past three seasons. Let’s look at the constants over those seasons – some player personnel, including Vanek, Connolly, Roy, Pominville, Gaustad, Hecht, Mair, Stafford, Tallinder, and Lydman; coaching and management – Ruff, Regier, Quinn, and Golisano; and playing style, which could be a part of coaching/management, but I’m making it a separate piece. Because I can. (By the way, I’m not lumping Miller in with the player personnel. I think that boy would compete with an old lady to cross the street, and might strongly consider taking her out at the knees to win if he had to.)
  • Injuries. I’m not comparing our injuries to Boston’s injuries – both teams had players out. But no matter what Tim Connolly says, there’s no way his foot was 100%, Craig Rivet was apparently hindered by a straightjacket (insert your own joke here), and Thomas Vanek was limping like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Jochen Hecht was totally out of the series, and Patrick Kaleta played with only four fingers able to hold his stick in his injured hand. Then there are the players who are injured who we’ll never hear about – Stafford? Roy? My point is this – injuries to key players didn’t help matters.
  • “The System”. Lindy, I hate to break it to you, but “the system” doesn’t seem to be working. How ’bout you spend the summer figuring out a new “the system”?
  • Players tuning out the coaches. Let’s face it – Derek Roy says he has no problem with Lindy, but I was surprised when his nose didn’t actually grow as he was talking. He can’t be the only one. Derek Roy and several other players have been playing for Ruff & Co for their entire professional hockey careers. Even when you work for a boss you love, after a while you start to get comfortable and do your own thing, and there’s no evidence to support the assertion all the players love the coaching staff.
  • Ownership/management not doing what it takes. Raise your hand if you have begged Golisano, Quinn, and Regier to get Thomas Vanek a center who can get him the puck or another winger to complement him. Raise your hand if you watch Patrick Kaleta barrel his way around the ice and a proud tear forms in the corner of your eye, then you watch Drew Stafford lollygag through his shift and you want to put your fist through a wall. Just me? Didn’t think so. The team needs more guys who consistently TRY. It goes back to that whole “compete” concept, but only part of the “compete” factor is the players’ fault. Owners and management have to take some of the blame too.

I may come up with other reasons why they didn’t make it further. Until then, if you have your own reason, let me know in the comments section. I’m starting to think you people don’t love me anymore. *sniff, sniff*

Caps vs Habs Game 7 Playoffs Postmortem April 28, 2010

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Yes, I know this isn’t a Sabres game, but hey, the Sabres choked, so I’m gonna watch what promises to be a highly-entertaining game and make my usual witty observations… I’ve got a bottle of Smirnoff Black Cherry riding on the Habs.

  • So wait, you’re telling me that you want soldiers to come back and dream about driving a truck? Not that there’s anything wrong with being a truck driver, but don’t many of them do an awful lot of that while they’re in the military? I’d want a little variety…
  • I can’t decide if Brian Engblom or Barry Melrose has a better mullet. Might have to put it to a vote – your thoughts?
  • We’re supposed to think the guy in the Suburu was hit head-on, right? Not that he rear-ended someone at a high rate of speed? Cuz then I don’t feel so sympathetic.
  • Habs are surviving right now, but I’m not surprised the Caps are throwing everything they have at them. The Caps REALLY want to score first.
  • You know, they always say size can be a detriment in the NHL, but look at all the success stories: Gionta, St. Louis, Fleury (Theo edition)… Big size can be a detriment too, but it’s not discussed nearly as much.
  • Wow. These guys owe Halak a steak dinner FOREVER.
  • Hey, it’s Dominic Moore? Is he not scoring for Montreal now?
  • Whoa! With the shots, what, 19-1 in favor of the Caps, Montreal scores the first goal. Huge.
  • The Caps are getting shots, but they’re not getting good chances. That doesn’t bode well for their chances of prevailing.
  • Stay classy, lady w/ the tinsel wig.
  • Wow, the AO giveaways are atrocious. Dude, you have teammates.
  • The Caps finally score a goal and it’s disallowed. I’m having a tough time not smirking. Bruce Boudreau is having kittens.
  • The Caps seem like they’re missing their hustle and most definitely their bustle. Reminds me of the Sabres, and that’s not a good thing.
  • Varlamov is forced to turtle when the Habs crash the net. They’re not going to get a penalty call on the crosscheck, btw.
  • Holy crap. 36 to 9 in blocked shots? Wow. I guess the Habs want this one.
  • Laich finally gets one in, and it’s a game!
  • Aaannnddd here’s the game-changing penalty. I’ve been waiting for it, and the refs did not disappoint.

WOW. What a series. Halak was unreal. Let’s see what happens in the second round!

Sabres vs Bruins 4/26/10 Game 6 Postmortem April 26, 2010

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Game 6. Another do or die game.

Liked:

  • I love the line of Roy, Pominville and Ennis. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that already but I do. And as soon as I say that Ruff changes the line to Roy, Pominville, and Vanek.
  • Kennedy plays like he’s 10 feet tall. But kind of like with my daughter, I fear for his fearlessness.
  • They’re getting good chances. Hopefully one will go in.
  • I can’t help but think Ennis must’ve looked just, well, wrong, in the AHL.
  • They can keep forgetting about Gerbe. That’s perfectly all right with me.
  • Six foot 4,000 inches? Hee. Good one, RJ.
  • The Bruins must be DYING to know Kaleta scored that goal.
  • There hasn’t been a real good shot by the Bruins in quite a while. Let’s get ’em frustrated so they start doing stupid stuff.
  • That move around Wideman by Vanek reminds me of that part of Top Gun where Wolfman is describing their dogfight against Viper during training: “We went like this, he went like that. I said to Hollywood, ‘Where’d he go?’ Hollywood says, ‘Where’d who go?'”
  • Man, Wideman is NOT having a good night. Fine by me.

Didn’t like:

  • Going 0 for 16 in the series is not a good way to win it, just in case you guys were not clear on that point. Update: 0 for 17. Oh wait, 0 for 18.
  • Apparently the Bruins did not get the memo about how mad I will be if they hit poor ‘ittle Pominville.
  • Freeging Recchi. Eesh. That dude gets on my nerves.
  • Calling Nathan Gerbe a “tiny tot” was seriously uncool, Bucky Gleason.
  • Isn’t it a penalty to strangle an opponent with your stick? No? Huh.
  • Bruins fans are serenading Rask even when he has nothing to do with the Sabres not scoring. Dumb fans.
  • The next time you go to Wegmans be sure to check out the milk cartons with a picture of Tim Connolly on the side.
  • Do these fans really think they can rattle Ryan “Zen” Miller? Pshaw.
  • One more way-too-long pass attempt by you, Connolly, and you’re dead to me. Dead.
  • And Adam Mair takes another bad penalty. Shocking. And four minutes to boot! When he screws up, he does it big.
  • Since when did Miro Satan back check?
  • Oh, Pominville. Every time you miss another little piece of me dies.

Aaaannnddd apparently no one had the will. Awesome.

On to next year…

I will be posting over the summer, but probably not as much. While the playoffs continue I’ll do 2-4 a week.

Sabres vs Bruins 4/23/10 Postmortem April 23, 2010

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First of all, let me say this: I have not seen a second of this game. I’m in Connecticut for a writers’ conference. I got back from dinner with a few minutes left in the first, and we’ve (my mom is with me) been listening to the game online. Because of that, I’m not going to do the Liked/Didn’t like lists – frankly, I can’t pick out specific enough stuff to do so. However, I will offer up what I can…

  • Adam Mair bugs me. Why? Because sometimes it seems like he’s got talent (and obviously he does – he’s in the NHL), and he scores a goal, and you think – why doesn’t Lindy Ruff give him more ice time? Then he takes a dumb penalty in the final two minutes of the game, and you know why he rides the pine.
  • Paul Hamilton just said Tyler Ennis is the leading scorer for the Sabres in the playoffs. While I’m happy for the little guy, am I the only one who thinks there’s something very, very wrong with this?
  • Most invisible players in this series: Gaustad and Stafford. They’re both in Amanda’s dog house. Oh, and Torres, but I don’t have to put him in my dog house, Lindy put him in his.
  • Have I mentioned my disdain for Mark Recchi? Yes? Oh well, it bears mentioning again.
  • Kaleta just blocked a shot, and my first thought was “Oh no, he’s going to get hurt again!” And sure enough, Harry mentions how Kaleta is on the bench wincing in pain.
  • I totally want to go drinking with Toni Lydman. I think that would be a laugh and a half.
  • Mike Grier takes a slap shot to the head. Gives me a headache to even think about it… glad he appears to be ok.
  • I really, really, really don’t like this Boychuk fellow. He just hit Pominville. He just tried to hit Ennis. He took out Vanek AND Ellis. He needs to be… neutralized. AND THEN HE SCORES. Grrrrrr…
  • Tim Connolly: a man of many chances and few actual goals.
  • Will the real Buffalo Sabres please stand up?

And the Sabres live to fight another day…

Wish me luck selling my book! Talk to y’all Sunday night or Monday morning.

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