The three stooges and some huge asian guy
Let's have some draft analysis, shall we? I'll start by making one thing clear. Due to the Sabres playoff run I have never been less prepared going into a draft. I normally have a minimum of three draft guides in my work-bag and bathroom stand (where most of the got read) and I know every player available. How obscure? When Buffalo picked Xavier Omon a few years ago out of Northwest Missouri State, I actually knew who he was and that one of his strengths was his up-hill running ability. I'm not kidding. Draft day has been a holiday of mine since college. I use to load up on beers and park myself in front of the TV for the entire thing. That actually lead to me blacked out and with a concussion after the 2003 draft, but that is a story for another day.
This year I wasn't totally lost, but nowhere near as prepared as usually. I knew the basics. Who the top few prospects, who the best available QB's were, and most importantly that there were no top-rated athletic RB's that Chan and Buddy would reach for. So please forgive me for my lack of accurate analysis here today. I still need to take a crack at it.
Please check out that video of Marcell Dareus above. Fantastic charisma. Before the draft I was sure Von Miller was going to be the guy. Yes, I was enamored by Cam Newton's athleticism (and I'm still confused on what are future plans for QB are), but in know way did I think that Denver would pass on this beast. When Goodell announced Miller to Denver, I was fired up. And then Buffalo did something they usually don't do. They didn't reach. The brought in a game-changing D-lineman that is going to look phenomenal next to our sole Pro Bowler Kyle Williams. He's a chameleon baby and he intimidated management to select him. I love it. Only time will tell how good Dareus will actual be, but the future of the D-line looks bright that big smile and Alabama charm disrupting backfields. Welcome to Buffalo Dareus
Aaron Ross, anyone?
Sitting with hundreds of Bills fans Thursday night, it was very apparent nobody wanted a defensive back with the first pick. Just the idea of Patrick Peterson going to Buffalo had fans dropping angry rants before the game. At first I was totally inclined to agree with this, but after stepping back to think about it, it would not have been that bad. Many people still believe we have a strong secondary but look at it; McGee is always hurt, Leodis is obviously not turning out to be a 1st round corner, Florence may leave in free agency, and Corner and Youbuty are nothing more than dime backs. At safety, I like Byrd, Scott, and Wilson, but fuck that d-bag Whitner
. Stop celebrating 37 yards downfield after making a tackle.
So when Buffalo selected Aaron Williams yesterday I got excited for thee reasons. 1. He was projected to go as high as mid-1st round and depending on who you talked to he was a top-3 DB. 2. Everything I read about him
says how well-rounded he is and how complete his game is. I can't remember the last time Buffalo drafted a guy that scouts labeled with no glaring weaknesses. Oh wait, we did in the first round. 3. This may be the final F-U to Donte Whitner. Williams can also play free safety and could be a great fit to takeover that role for the Bills. Please Lord let that happen and my next jersey purchase is Aaron Williams. Sing it with me to Donte everyone....Fuck You! OOO-OO-OO!! I'm mature.
I don't know very much about Kelvin Sheppard. He is definitely no little like I mentioned in the title of the post, however the way his draft stock has risen shows me his perseverance. According to a friend of mine (great source, huh?) in early draft reports Kelvin was projected 5th or 6th round, but after LSU pro-day and the combine it appears his stock rose. All of a sudden he was a 4th round pick. But Buffalo fell in love with him at the Senior Bowl (which the staff coached) and he became our 3rd pick. Some may call it a reach but according to DGWU future draft expert "The Agent", fnas have been calling for this pick on Bills message boards for months. The smart message boards, not the dumb ones. I have no idea what that means.
What I do know is the Bills chose players the DGWU crew have been calling for them to do for years. DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE! Yes, we need a QB, TE, and the offensive line still needs plenty of work, but every facet of the D needs it too. I for one look forward to seeing Mr. Dareus, Williams, and Sheppard in action soon. Enjoy the draft today folks and check back later today or Sunday for some more updates. GO BILLS!
Incredible Bulk or Aaron Maybin? You decide the future!
Not too much to talk about really. Due to the Sabres incredible run, we here at DGWU have totally fell off the wagon in paying attention to the draft. The only thing that I've really been able to talk about is the lack of skill the Bills have shown in drafting in my EPIC FAIL series. You can zip over to the right of the page under tags and click on "epic fail" in order to check them out and realize the silliness of recent drafts.. HOWEVER, my hopes are high this year. Buddy Nix looks like he may have finally made some proper selections (although Spiller still drives me crazy) and this year they have a prime spot by picking 3rd overall.
Almost everything I have read and seen lately has the Bills taking OLD Von Miller 3rd overall. I'm torn on this because I absolutely love Cam Newton's athletic ability, but I recently heard "draft expert" Mel Kiper say that Von can contribute immediately due to his skill in pass rushing and coverage. Also his name is so close to legendary announcer Van Miller that maybe it's a sign. Who knows, I'm an idiot.. There are also rumors the Bills like QB Christian Ponder in the second round and...Wow. Just re-read everything I wrote. Worst. Draft. Preview. Ever. But what do you expect with the amount of Sabres obsession and alcohol consumption that we have all put in our systems lately? Check out Joe's draft coverage over Buffalowins
for some true intelligence. He has put together some great posts and interviews leading up to the big day.
You know what is insanely crazy? The Yachtsman and I going to meet and hang out with Andre Reed tonight for the first round of the draft tonight. BOOM! Mr. Reed is in town to announce the Bills 2ns round pick tomorrow at Radio City, so he contacted Matt over at the New York City Buffalo Bills Backers and said he wanted to watch at a Bills bar with the fans. Incredible. You can view the draft party e-mails here
. Also check out Andre on twitter @Andre_Reed83. So come join the DGWU crew and Andre friggin' Reed at McFadden's on 42nd and 2nd in NYC for the 10th annual draft party. Cheep beer, free wings, NFL draft, and ANDRE REED!!! What else do you need?? Cam Newton, maybe? O.K., I'll stop.
I am almost certain Apologist is in this picture.
First things first. Read the Apologist's post from earlier today
on this whole Sabres team/playoff run/7-game series/future. There may be a few minor opinions that differ with the DGWU crew, but overall I think it wraps up what we are all feeling quite nicely. It really is a great read.
Since Aps covered it, there is no need to keep rehashing the hockey talk. Excuse the cheesiness that follows, but the shaving of my playoff beard was therapeutic and now it is time to vent. I decided to share two experiences/epiphanies I had on Tuesday night. First, at about 11:45 pm I was walking the last block towards my apartment in Hoboken, NJ when I saw a big guy walking towards me. I mean Yeti big. As I got closer, there was no mistaking the huge B on his chest with a Sabre through it. He was rockin' the same shirt I had on under my Pommers jersey. We made eye contact and both of us just nodded and kept walking. No actual words were said. But with that nod, we communicated a lifetime of love and despair that our Buffalo teams often bring us. There was no need to stop and talk about it or even say "another tough break, huh?" All that was needed was a simple nod, and we both immediately knew what the other was thinking.
This may or may not have been the guy that walked past me. It was dark.
Second, as the title of the post says, it has been a wild ride. Three months ago when we decided to get this blog back off the ground, it just so happened to coincide with the Sabres starting to get their shit together. As they became came one, the DGWU crew did too. Many nights out drinking instead of sitting home watching this team alone and absolutely insane conversations that people wouldn't believe happened. We bonded like the Sabres bonded (OK maybe it was totally different, and ours involved A LOT of beer and whiskey, but you get the point).
Last night after the dust had settled and some extreme vitriol had heaved from all of our collectives mouths, something happened. We were angry, sad, frustrated, confused.....but about 30 minutes after the game we were happy. The Apologist grabbed Yachtsman and I (and Grandpa Tim), gave a little speech about how fun our bender had been and we embraced. Grown men in a packed bar....hugging and laughing. Re-fucking-diculous. And of course we start right back up again on Thursday night when our beloved Buffalo Bills draft 3rd overall (PLEASE LET CAM NEWTON FALL!).
Somehow Nathan Gerbe's peskiness and Tyler Myers' new found bad-assery made us closer. I have said it before but I'll say it again
. These teams bring people together. THIS team brought THESE guy back together. We used the word "warpath" many times this series to represent the Sabres, but it has become much more. We are one fellas. WARPATH.
I’ve never been more conflicted to write a post than I am right now. I can literally feel the two sides of my sports soul battling it out inside me.
My old sports self can’t help but immediately think of terrible/incredible coach Herm Edwards right now…
…you don’t spend an entire season of hockey to finish the season in a 5-2 blowout saying, “Well, hey, we had a great year.” Fuck that. You play to win. You don’t play to have a proud finish and say, “Boy, we came real close, but we just couldn’t do that.” Ask the Seattle Seahawks or Orlando Magic what their respective championship trip seasons feel like in hindsight. Smart money says you hear the words “missed opportunity” and “disappointing” about four dozen times.
The other side of me wants to be optimistic. It’s shouting back, “Hey. Back in December when you saw a young team with a giant identity crisis, unsure of where their coach & GM were headed in an impending ownership-regime change, you would’ve paid hard cash if it meant they'd weather the storm, band together and show this level of grittiness and dedication to finish a year.”
Yes, but what about that loss? There was a terrifying resemblance to years gone by, where a scared-of-its-shadow Sabres squad would wilt in the face of superior talent.
The exception, once again, was a gutty performance from Captain America. Ryan Miller has nothing to apologize for. The post-lockout reality is that a goaltender will not carry you through the postseason. The days of riding a Hasek or Brodeur to a cup are over. Any smart NHL fan knows this. But if you think every team in the league wouldn’t line up in a HEARTBEAT to take Millsie into battle, you’re insane. Only one goal last night was a great shot. And if you think Ruff pulled him for any reason other than he didn’t want him being needlessly embarrassed for a game that wasn’t his fault, you’re not just insane, you’re Glenn-Beckian.
Ok, ok. So it’s not fair to say the only exception was America’s Goaltender. Plenty of our young players took huge steps forward this series.
Tyler Myers and Nathan Gerbe proved they are promising cornerstones to build the future upon. Both showed a natural toughness and, at times, nastiness that is not just a plus in the playoffs, it’s a necessity. And certainly Gragnani, Ennis, and Weber showed glimpses of players who can be true differencemakers in the postseason.
But this loss stings and it will for a long time. Ultimately, the Phuckin’ Flyers forced their will upon the Sabres and the three players I expected to have the biggest impact – Briere, Richards and Giroux – were able to make the big plays that carried their team through, particularly Daniel.
Yes, we all have valid reason to hate him. Sure, you can argue the Flyers haven’t/will never see a proper return on their $52 million dollar investment. But at the end of the day, I measure most athletes by the stat sheet, not their bank account. And right now, there is no player left in the playoffs who has more goals than number 48. He’s a dirty, floppy, whiney bastard, but you’ll never get him to stay out of the crease and if you let him get in a breakaway, he’ll make you pay.
I’m getting off on a tangent here, I realize, but I want to give the Flyers their due. Screw them and everyone who cheers for them, but they beat us fair and square. I don’t think many fans will be playing the “what if” game after this series. There wasn’t any more we could’ve done. Sure, a different bounce here or there in Game 6 puts us through to the next round. But Game 7 showed that there was no gas left in the Sabres’ collective tank and odds are slim that they would’ve had enough juice to get any deeper than they did.
Furthermore, I think this loss could be a good thing for the powers that be. Lindy showed he still has the ability to reach these players and maximize their potential. Now it’s Darcy’s job to go out and get the parts they don’t have. Whether it begins with resigning Drew Stafford and/or snaring a top-tier free agent, Regier has to step up this off-season. Is he a man capable of building a championship contender or just a solid playoff squad? The answer to that question will decide the Sabres’ fate next season.
And in the end, even my cynical side realizes that when I take a step back and look at the year in full, this season was a dramatically positive shift in the foundation of the franchise. This season was unlike any since July 1st, 2007. When you think about where this team was at the start of the season and where they are today, it’s nearly impossible to refute this. Terry Pegula has reinvigorated the team and the fanbase. Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad have emerged as rock-solid leaders. Tyler Myers is growing into the shit-talking, face-washing, goalie-protecting, savvy-defending beast we all hoped he’d be (oh, and he’s still just 21). Ryan Miller is still Captain America and now he’s got a legitimate backup who doesn’t spell an L for the squad the second his skates touch the ice. And Jhonas isn’t the only good news from Portland. While they showed their age at times, nearly every player called up down the stretch contributed significantly and played admirably this season.
So keep your chin up, cynics. The future is very bright.
(I just wish we didn’t have to wait for it to get here.)
"We have the met the enemy, and he is ours."
"Early in the battle, the British were taking a heavy toll on the American ships, principally because the British cannons were much more accurate at long distances. When the British destroyed the Lawrence, Perry took the ship's flag and transferred to the Niagara. After Perry moved to the Niagara, the battle began to turn for the Americans. Before Perry's arrival on the Niagara, this ship had hardly engaged the British fleet. Now, the Niagara and Perry inflicted heavy cannon fire on the British ships. The commander of every British ship was killed or wounded, leaving the British ships under the command of junior officers with limited experience. Perry took advantage of this situation. The Niagara rammed the British lead ship while the sailors fired rifles at the British seamen. By nightfall, the British had lowered their flag and surrendered to Perry, who was only twenty-seven years old."
- The Battle of Lake Erie
You know the drill. Decisive game, road, Buffalo team. You feel it in your gut. It's a familiar feeling. You first felt it when Ronnie Harmon dropped it in the back of the end zone. Then you felt it again when Norwood was lining up for the kick. By that time, pebbles of doubt were turning to stone. The following years produced unthinkable, merciless, unending, monstrous granite slabs from those pebbles. The Canadiens sweep in '93 when a bounce here or there could have meant a Sabres sweep. Reich's Comeback, followed by a Superbowl trouncing. Up against the Cowboys at the half. Lafontaine and Moginly breaking up. Joe Juneau in Game 6. Brett Hull in Game 6. LeClair's ghoster. The Frank Forward Wycheck. The Rigas Family ledgers. Larry Quinn. Jay McKee's Staph infection. July 1st, 2007. THESE ARE THE MOMENTS OUR DOUBT AND SADNESS ARE BUILT UPON.
Well I'm not taking it anymore. I'm sick and tired of this shit. Year after year after year after year after year after year (see: Steve Goodman "A Dying Cub Fans Last Request") the winds of sorrow blow across the Great Lakes and settle on our collective Buffalo sports hearts. I'm. Fucking. Done.
I don't know what the hell the Sabres are going to do tonight. History oppressively dictates that they will lose. I'm going to suffer through the whole damn thing, biting my nails and on the verge of converting coal into diamonds deep in my esophagus.
I have no consolation or words of support to my fellow fans. We will endure this game, as we always do, in our Buffalo way. We will accept the loss, lament the missed opportunities, and look to the future.
Ryan Miller doesn't buy that shit for a minute. Ryan Miller looks straight at the superstitions and cobwebs of doubt eroding our sports souls and says, "Fuck. That. Noise."
Ryan Miller will meet his enemy, and they will be his. Ryan Miller is Niagara.
Let's Go Buffalo.
It was either this or a picture of Peter Cetera
Oops. With all of the craziness of this playoff series and the busy work week that everyone in the DGWU Crew have (and the raging hangover I was dealing with yesterday), nobody noticed that yesterday was the two year anniversary of this ludicrous blog. You might be asking yourself, "two years? I thought you just started this scribble page?". False. We actually got together and started this website two years ago with a live NFL draft blog
and went on to post quite regularly. Of course we didn't even have remotely the following we have now and would sometimes go entire weeks without posting if we happened to be on a benderrrrrrrrrrrrr I mean working really hard at our day jobs. Eventually we just stopped altogether. About a year later the three of us were out in a bar for yours truly's birthday when in a drunken haze I said "we should get the blog going again". And BOOM, here we are to help you waste time at work and give you fits from the stupidity that we type.
So alas, we all missed the big day. But after licking my wounds Monday (emotionally and emotionally), I figured I'd jump on here and if give you a little journey into the past before the big game seven tonight. I for one am confident that the Buffalo Sabres are going to pull this out, but am still nervous as hell. So much like my past compilations to keep your mind off of the game, here is a little celebration of some of the crap we've posted. Happy Anniversary!
I've determined that I can in fact reference an episode of The Simpsons in everything I write
-First thing first, read Yachtsman's semi-expose and "discussion" of Larry Quinn
from April 2009. Now that Leisure Suit Larry is out of the organization I enjoyed reading it even more. Note: It is epic-ly long so be prepared to take a bathroom break somewhere around the point he goes on a tirade about the LaFontaine trade.
-Then take a quick stroll over to May 2009 for a quick write-up on Bills fullback Corey McIntyre
. Nothing groundbreaking there, but when it went down we were one of the first blogs/websites to pick it up and got some attention for it, including a shout out from Deadspin.
-Also check out the Apologist's post from May 2009 in which he ties up some loose ends
. Pay most attention to that first loose end because now he is destroying anyone who comes near his goalie.
-This one made me chuckle. Yachtsman on a tear again
in June 2009.
-How about some old Sabres news on our youngsters
to bring back some memories?
-I enjoyed writing this fictional tale of the Buffalo Metro.
It is amazingly stupid and if you don't know the movie it will probably be painful to read, but you know what? I ENJOYED IT!!!!!! WHY CAN'T I BE HAPPY FOR ONCE??????? Sorry about that.
-Finally, we move to February 2011 right after my birthday. Yachtsman on why we get the band back together
. Naturally, we have not stuck to the schedule presented there one bit, but I say fuck it. We're having a good time on this blog and thats all that matters. That and the return of Derek Roy with a Royigame seven victory tonight.
Roysie with a Bills hat on? That can't be a good sign.
Check back later for some pre-game thoughts and possibly some other rambling posts. And I know we have cross-promoted a ton with the guys over at Black & Blue & Gold, but you have to read Phil's post on Richards' hit on Connolly.
FIX IT GARY.
Yes, we missed opportunities. Yes, the Flyers are deeper down the center. Yes we are struggling to make plays in the slot. Yes, the Sabres are going to have to buck almost a century's trend of epic heartbreaking Buffalo losses to win the series on Tuesday in Shittydelphia. Yes, Barry Melrose continues to have a job covering the NHL (defying the odds since ESPN The Deuce!).
Look, they're both lost!
After a little tete-a-tete with my January 1st self, I realized we are on an awesomesauce run, and we should (operative word) be enjoying it. Not that it makes it any less worse. And I'm not telling you not to feel the burn of an OT loss in the playoffs to the scummiest scumfucks this side of the 70s. I'm just saying it's a miracle we're here....and I feel way better now than I did after Game 5 vs. Boston last year. The Pegula Era hasn't really begun, we have money to burn, and there's a Brad Richards out there over the rainbow ready to spurn us should Derek Roy not fulfill his destiny on Tuesday night (NO PRESSURE FANCY HAT).
"Who's ready for a little game of 'I keep the puck too long?' Vanek? Stafford? Too Soon?"
But what would a blog post from The Yachter be without some sort of ill-founded, less-than-factual, swear-laden rant? Right guys? Seriously though. The headshot shit? Gotta end. There's nothing I can really say about it that hasn't already been said (but of course I'll try). First, it was a blatant push head first into the boards. Second, it'll never be a suspension for Richards due to a number of reasons:
1.) He has a C on his chest, which stands for Captain which means Marketable, which means No Balls Bettman wouldn't DREAM of suspending the Captain of a Big Market Squad in a Game 7 for something so petty as driving a player's unprotected face and frontal lobe into the boards at full speed.
2.) He's one of Hockey Canada's Golden Boys. TSN, The Globe, HNIC, The CBC...you won't see word one from one of those outlets calling for a suspension or calling it a dirty hit, even though it clearly was one of the more egregious hits of the playoffs. AND OF A TYPE THE NHL HAS BEEN HEMMING AND HAWWING ABOUT FIXING FOR THE PAST 18 FUCKING MONTHS.
3.) Things don't work that way for Buffalo. If by some miracle of miracles we pull a win out of our collective cursed buttholes in Philly on Tuesday, it won't be because the Hockey Gods gifted us with a suspension of the Flyers' best player. It will come with grit, effort, attention to detail, and every Sabre playing 10-15 pts. higher than his EA Sports NHL 11 Rating. Basically we have to not only defy the odds but the majoriy of the gods & titans too. Minus Hephaesteus though. I hear he's a HUGE Grier fan.
On a serious note.....if you let a Captain (read: role model, face of the franchise in the community, marketable asset, leader) get away with a devastating hit like that, what kind of message are you sending out to younger players and parents? It's okay to drive your opponent headfirst into the boards? Because a 2:00 minute minor is basically saying "it's okay to do that if you absolutely have to, but try and staw away from it". A 5:00 minute major takes that type of hit out of a young player's repertoire for life.
Another added benefit of being consistent with your headshot policy? It keeps guys like Pat LaFontaine, Paul Kariya, Adam Deadmarsh, Eric Lindros, and Tim Connolly on the ice and thus fulfilling the tremendous amounts of potential and talent they were blessed with. (Yeah, if it weren't for Connolly's fear of getting blindsided for his entire career, he ACTUALLY would have been a top 20 center)
SIDENOTED ADDENDUM VIS A VIS POST SCRIPT: Can one of the more coherent readers of this pile of words explain to me why Boarding is even considered a minor penalty these days? There is no moment when Boarding should not be considered a 5 Alive. It's the most dangerous of all minors, and I'm including the high stick. Think back when Ovechkin trashed our darling Danny head first into boards a few years back. An inch here, an inch there.....maybe the Sabres are moving to the next round and Briere is talking about his glory days.....I'M JUST SAYING. Seriously. Boarding. Bad.
This picture will never get old.
I just lost this entire post once already, but in the spirit of Ryan Miller and The Buffalo Sabres, I will plow ahead and move forward. BOOF. This series is mystifying to me. We're seeing things out of this Buffalo team that no one could ever have predicted, except maybe the inner warriors living inside the men with Demon Bison on their chests. I am no longer predicting or expecting any rational outcome of these games. Ryan Miller and his woodsman muttonchops have led this band of lumberjacks to a point where they are the hardest wood-chopping & water-fetching squad this city has seen in a LONG time.
Fig. A.) Skeleton; Ryan Miller's.
Outrageously unsubstantiated and outlandish keys to the game:
- Chris Pronger may be trying to pull some Willis Reed Shit on us. I will have none of that thank you. If he does manage to step out on the ice, look for a maelstrom of Kaleta and Myers blindsiding him at every opportunity. Welcome to the Thunderdome, Gaptooth.
- Tyler Myers has been laying lumber all over the place this series. Look for Psycho T. unleash hell today.
- I don't know what Ryan Miller will show up today, but it doesn't matter to me. I will now follow this man into the depths of holy hell with a smile on my face.
- Who will start in goal for the Flyers? Who fucking cares? Either way the Swords will rain havoc upon their crease.
- My mom is reading the blog now. Uh Oh.
Hoboken, NJ today. The Pourhouse. Watching the game in a state that hates Philly almost as much as Buffalo.
Hasek Jersey, with Glory, again.
The bell tolls for you, Philadelphia. AND TYLER ENNIS IS TOLLING IT.
*Disclaimer: What you are about to listen to is so totally awesome and we can barely contain ourselves over here. However, Megsy has been ridiculously busy with her 17 jobs, including this one that we don't pay her for, so it took us a little longer to put it up. She did an AMAZING job though. With that said, the post-game discussions that you will hear are from Game four, NOT game five. However, it is only a small part of this Epic interview so take a listen and enjoy.
If anyone could be a cooler Doctor, it may have to be Phil.
We have a guest!!! The DGWU crew welcomes blogger extraordinaire and all around great guy, Phil from blackbluegold.wordpress.com
. If you listened to Friday's CrapTastiCast
, then you know this interview was separated from the other junk and we made it its own CrapTastiCast because if anybody deserves it, it's Phil. Make sure you check out Black & Blue & Gold and also Phil's twitter feed @PhilBBG
He has some amazing projects and interviews coming up on his site so take a listen. We talk Party in the Plaza, vulgar statistics and everything else awesome about his site, the buffalo blogosphere, cool Buffalo connections, Sabres playoff hockey, and of course our driving force: BEER. Cannot wait to have him on again. As always you can stream the show below or download it from Libsyn
. Enjoy the show and sorry for the delay everybody!
These guys fucking rock. Bottom line.
Fourteen hours later and I can still hardly wrap my mind around it. Stunned doesn’t seem a big enough word to do it justice.
The Buffalo Sabres, recent kings of the postseason collapse (or at least princes - sorry, San Jose, didn't mean to step on your toes there), shook off losing a 3-goal lead on the road to defeat the defending Eastern Conference champions and send the series back to Buffalo up 3-2.
If you’ve spent any amount of your life watching hockey in Buffalo, then you felt the way the DGWUS crew did at the 17:38 mark in the 3rd period, when Jordan Leopold was whistled for hooking: we’re not going to win this game.
To be fair, it was a totally valid frame of mind. After generating enough firepower to knock the Flyers’ second goaltender out of the game, the Sabres’ offense went into a shell and barely challenged the dusty Michael Leighton (last game: Dec. 30th, 2010). Conversely, Philadelphia began firing on all cylinders, closing the gap on the backs of van Riemsdyk, Meszaros and Briere. None of the shots were particularly awe-inspiring, leaving Ryan Miller looking very human and not so much like the superhero we saw in Game 4. So when the Sabres went on their fourth penalty kill of the night with only minutes left in regulation, it was hard to conjure up much optimism.
But that, as they say, is why they play the game.
And so it was that seven minutes of game-time later, Tyler Ennis, finding his way to a rebound off a slap shot from Mike Weber, buried a shot in the back of the net and possibly buried Philly’s hopes of moving on.
Far be it from me to get ahead of myself, something I genuinely hope the Sabres do not do, but it’s hard not to get excited after a win like this. But of course, the worst thing Buffalo could possibly do is think the Flyers are dead. As they demonstrated last night and certainly last season, they know how to come back. Still, if you don’t feel good about the Sabres chances after the last five games, then you’ll never feel good for the remainder of this season.
And speaking of feeling good, how good does Tyler Ennis feel today?
As we discussed in our recent podcast
, the general conversation amongst DGWUS was that Ennis was at the very least underwhelming in his second trip to the playoff stage. Perhaps it was a sophomore slump or perhaps he felt a greater need to score than he did last season, but something wasn’t quite right with the pint-sized man from Edmonton. He had an assist and a near-goal in Game 4’s shutout victory, but his presence just wasn’t felt as it had been during the closing weeks of the regular season. But it goes without saying that any concerns can officially be laid to rest.
And therein lies what has me so excited for the rest of this postseason and the years to come. This team isn’t just growing up before our eyes. They’re evolving.
It used to be the book on us was fairly simple. Knock our goal scorers around and contain them in the neutral zone. Pepper Miller with as many shots as you can and hope that a few poke through. Get on the bus and go home. And the Flyers have been trying to execute that exact playbook. Only something has changed.
Now we’re a team that generates offense from everyone (of our 12 goals, only Vanek(3) & Ennis(2) have more than 1 goal). Now Ryan Miller doesn’t have to be Captain America to get a shutout (check the highlight reel
or lack thereof from Game 1). Now our players understand what teams want to do to them and constantly keep their head on a swivel watching for that hit that nearly always seems to be coming. And now that they’re avoiding getting hit, we find them outhitting their opponent. Through Game 5, the Sabres have outhit the Flyers by an average of 5 a game. Let me say that again, the Buffalo “We love drafting forwards under 6-foot” Sabres are OUTHITTING the Philadelphia “We invented dirty hockey, now we’re whining about the officiating” Flyers to the tune of 155-131. If that doesn’t excite you, well… you’re reading the wrong blog and probably should check out another sport entirely. Might I suggest tennis?
Best random photo find ever?
Whether it’s been Myers learning how to own the opposing teams best player (you’re welcome, Daniel), Connolly demonstrating disregard for his body (his dive through the crease to bury Richards’ face in the ice is easily one of my favorite moments of the 1st round), or Gragnani quietly carrying a heavy load for the defense, this team has begun demonstrating a level of confidence and toughness that we haven’t seen since the days of the red & black rabid goat.
So whenever this wonderful ride ends, you have to feel good about Ennis or Miller and everyone else whose putting on the blue & gold now and in the future. Last night, they were knocked back on their heels in a game they didn’t necessarily HAVE to win. But they stayed focused. They stayed tough. And in the end, it was a guy whose level of both had foolishly been questioned by… I forget who, that came up with the stunning game-winner.
Sunday can’t come soon enough.
For more thoughts, check out the Scizz’s newfound liberation from a history of no-hope
. I, for one, will cling to my superstitious-self. I mean, the Sabres hat I’ve been wearing for every game of the series and where I’ve been watching said games has as much to do with the Sabres being up 3-2 as anything. Duh.