Friday, October 29, 2010

A Sabres Rant, in Miniature

The Sabres' playoff chances are fading as quickly as the colors on this old ass patch.

Thrashers 4, Sabres 3 OT

The Buffalo Sabres did a terrific job in overtime of making Atlanta defenseman (one of Chicago's 2009-10 Stanley Cup Playoff heroes) Dustin Byfuglien look like Mario F*cking Lemieux on his end to end GWG. Seriously, the Sabres are like a shitty reverse-Jesus, because transforming a relatively marginal player like Byfuglien into a skater suddenly capable of going end to end in breathtaking fashion, in OT no less, is every bit an impressively miraculous metamorphosis as that whole "water to wine" gag. He skated around or past every Sabre on the ice and then beat Ryan Miller like an old rug. See it now:

At least Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn has some nice new shirts to sell, because he sure as hell isn't selling me or anyone else on the idea that this team is a legitimate Cup contender, let alone average. The lack of guts, focus, and leadership on this roster is utterly astounding. Yes, they have talent, but this team was seriously lacking in the toughness department last year and it's only snowballed into a full blown catastrophe since they ignored remedying it in the offseason. Sure, Tim Connolly had an excellent game, and Derek Roy came through with a clutch goal to force OT--- but Roy also loves to give the rubber away like a college campus sex-ed instructor, before casually skating over to the refs to preen like the supposedly untouchable diva that he is, at the worst possible moments. And Tiny Tim has the velveteen touch of a dandy fop; he is quite simply the biggest p*ssy to lace up the skates since Brian "SuperStar" Bellows.

Alright, there are a million big things and at least a billion tiny things wrong with this team, but the main problem lies at the feet of management. The big end of season press conference following the unceremonious 1st round exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins where Lindy, Darcy, and Larry (seriously, WTF is Quinn doing positioning himself in between the Head Coach and the General Manager at a presser answering hockey questions? Shouldn't he be in his office f*cking up the waterfront?) got all weepy about bringing a Cup to Buffalo was an absolutely insulting pile of bullshit. Changes were promised, and what did they do? They let Tallinder and Lydman walk (not exactly terrible) and replaced them with the inferior Jordan Leopold (who I don't exactly mind) and the tough and steady Shaone Morrisonn (who is exactly OK). Morrisonn has struggled a bit, but he'd certainly look better if he were back playing with Mike Green rather than Mike Wilson--- and by Mike Wilson I mean Tyler Myers.

Suddenly, Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers is playing like this asshole.

The only other moves were to f*ck over the suddenly petulant scrub that everyone in South Buffalo loves, Tim Kennedy (yeah I get it, he skates hard, but he's not exactly Patrick Kane, people!) and replaced him on the roster with the lesser of two Niedermyers: Centreman Rob. I don't hate Leopold, Morrisonn, or Niedermyer and I also don't hate the loss of Tallinder/Lydman--- but those relatively insignificant additions and subtractions are not the kick in the nuts this roster sorely needed after the "Ryan Miller is playing out of his mind" fueled hockey world love fest that was the 2009-10 Northeastern Division Championship season. The fact that the best summary I can conjure about these moves is "meh" says a lot about how awful this team has been. Perhaps it also says a lot about my lack of descriptive powers in this agitated state... but getting back to "the bad."

The Bad:

-Tyler Myers has regressed, in a major way, and it wasn't so troubling at first, but now it's getting a little uncomfortable. I keep expecting him to break out of his funk, but then he just gets worse. Steve Montador has been their best D-man, until his nightly "what the f**k is he thinking?!??" giveaway.

-It's about time to give up on Drew Stafford, he simply doesn't have the fire to play the game, and any moron can see that. He has excellent "one on one" hockey skills but he doesn't have the instincts to be a complete player. He's like the guy that goes into a trance when he starts dribbling a soccer ball all by himself. It's amazing to watch but the mood has to strike him at the perfect time for him to "get into it". I get the sense that he'd prefer to be home playing RockBand.

-I also think that after 8 years the organization can finally admit that they f*cked up the Michael Peca situation--- in other words, let's cut ties with Tim Connolly. There was a brief moment during the 2005-06 Playoffs where his game suddenly elevated to Dominating Big Game Performer--- it was the moment right before Ottawa's Peter Shaefer lowered his shoulder into Connolly's solar plexus and knocked him into next season. He shows flashes from time to time, but on a team with no true #1 centre the Sabres simply cannot afford to continue carrying dead weight like the ever fragile (not only physically, but also emotionally & mentally) #19.

"I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed."

-Derek Roy is what he is--- an immensely talented two way forward with a knack for penalty killing and scoring and setting up goals--- when he feels like it. He too often gives up on plays in order to flap his gums at the refs. Apparently, the combination of his talents and reasonable contract have made him attractive to GMs around the league, but he's still my least favorite Sabre, ever.

Members of the Sabres' training staff helping massage out Derek Roy's groin pull.

-Jason Pominville has been invisible since the 1st Chicago game! But seriously, when is this guy going to put the puck in the net on a more consistent basis? I'm speaking about the past few years rather than this season: He has a severely underrated defensive game, but once upon a time, he appeared poised to score 30-35 goals, annually. Possibly the lack of a regular setup man in the pivot has lowered his production.

-Speaking of lacking a regular setup man in the pivot--- if Thomas Vanek regularly skated on a line with a real centre, no one would be ruffled about his ridiculous Kevin Lowe penned contract. He definitely gets caught in his own head sometimes, but a legitimate centre would help Vanny loosen his grip on the stick.

-Dear Paul Gaustad, you are not Cam Neely. F*cking hit someone everytime you're on the ice and win most of your draws, then film your 43 commercials per week and STFU. Go Green!

Vanek & Gaustad: Much more "butch" off the ice than on.

-Pat Kaleta has been marginalized to the point of no longer being effective as even an annoyance to opposing team's skaters. Maybe it's the concussions. Helpful hint to Lindy: I think it's safe to say that a guy that makes his hay hitting people will have diminished value when he's afraid to exacerbate his rather prominent concussion problems.

-Broken down "Captain" Craig Rivet: Uhhh, next bullet point...

-ShadowBoss Larry Quinn haunts my darkest nightmares and continues to be the bane of my existence as a Sabres fan.

Larry Quinn, shortly after confiscating both the hopes of Sabres' fans and also the TriForce.

The Average:

-Cody McCormick & "rookie" Tyler Ennis have been above average, but when they're your shining examples, the season has gone seriously awry. I suspect they'd make a much bigger impact if their teammates didn't, you know... suck. Luke Adam is a pleasant surprise and I'd like to see him given a shot as a regular in the top 6 sooner rather than later. Miller has had some off nights, but with the D consistently crumbling on the back check and in odd man rushes, it's hard to blame him.

-With Mike Grier the effort is there, but he's just not finishing, not that his stone hands have ever been very potent in the offensive zone. I'm pretty sure the only reason he did an about face and decided that the Sabres organization was truly headed in the right direction is because no other team was interested in his services. Again, he can be an effective player with the right supporting cast.

The Good:

-The uniforms are super nice!

Tim Connolly displaying the "new" uniforms & his unique style of physical play.

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