Tomorrow night the longest lockout shortened season in the history of sports is coming to an end. Seriously, it’s only been three months; I have the schedule in front of me and everything. If you want highlights only, this will be a quick read for you: season opener, three Boston wins, comeback against Montreal, snapping Pittsburgh’s win streak. There, you can go back to whatever it was you were doing before you got here; I’m only writing this because the Wild Card is some sort of wunderkind and I’m feeling inadequate. Actually I’ll give you one more highlight: waking up at the gate in JFK at 7:30am after Occupy Newark, surrounded by dozens of people with only hazy recollection of how I got there. Probably should have just taken Scizz’s couch invite instead of taking a cab to the airport at 4am, but I am thankful for whatever TSA agent kindly let me through security.
That still-intoxicated confusion amongst the chaos of a crowded airport terminal is indicative of the season we just watched. What happened? Why was everything so terrible? Why am I still wearing this Vanek jersey? Well, I watched nearly every game and I don’t have the slightest goddamn clue. All I know is this is the first season I didn’t see a win in person since 2003-2004 and I’ve spent nearly all of those seasons in between living hours away. Well that, and that there were many specific things that came together like some sort of horrifying, malevolent Captain Planet to ruin our evenings three times a week.
At first I was just going to list all the things that were horrible about this season but as I got to eleven it struck me that first, with enough time this list could go on perpetually as if I was writing out the decimals in pi, looking for an end, and second, I wanted to identify what was worse than all the others; what, when matched up against the other “worst” things on the list, made the others look better. Think of this like a Bill Simmons' NBA trade value column, except you’ve heard of these names and I don’t get paid for it. To properly settle this, I decided to seed the eight worst entities about this season and match them up in a tournament format to see what exactly would come out on top (bottom?), along with my analysis.
To the seedings: 9 (Honorable Mention): John Scott
- I definitely bitched about his presence on the ice more than some of the things found below, but when compiling this list I felt he may have gotten a bad rap from me. First, we all knew coming in he wasn't skilled at hockey. Two, it wasn't his decision to put him in the lineup constantly, leaving talented- err, less awful
players scratched. However, he would have cracked my top 8 if it wasn't for his photobombing post-game interviews
late in the season. So, thanks to some stellar off-ice moves, Scott does not make the most hated tournament. But seriously, get the fuck off my team now. 8) Jochen Hecht:
I’m not sure what I hate more, his complete ineptitude on offense, the rare moments when that ineptitude disappears, or the fact that everyone involved in making organizational decisions loves this guy for reasons beyond understanding. Ruff, Regier and Rolston have raved about this statue and I haven’t the slightest fucking clue. Giving Hecht top line minutes was effectively hoping for a 1-0 win or a 2-1 overtime loss, and despite this I STILL don’t trust them to cut ties after this season. He’s a fucking 80’s horror villain. Go away. 7) Drew Stafford:
Fuck Drew Stafford. Thanks for those two shootout goals I guess, dickface. 6) The Buffalo News:
This is primarily a credit to their belief that all the teams ills would have been solved if the owner had commented about Regier or the Pominville trade. Watching them slowly melt down during the season into petulant children was pretty funny when I wasn’t annoyed by the pettiness and lack of professionalism by people who actually do get paid to write for a living. Plus they’re fucking creepy. Solid dark horse as a six seed
In one of our shortest CrapTastiCasts ever, we struggle for subject matter after the Sabres' first loss of the season. While you can't really say we succeeded, we showed up at least so that's something. During the more lucid moments of this particular installment from the Buffalo expat insane asylum, we talk a little about the Sabres, a little about Manti Te'o, a little about baseball, and a little about man tears. The Scizz was off his rocker for most of the evening so don't expect much by way of focus... which, incidentally you should never really expect from us anyway.
Musical content by way of Deeg house band The Jambrones, Jane's Addiction, Radical Face and Aerosmith.
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Let's be real here. That was fucking delightful.
The lockout is over, we've had top-level professional hockey for two straight days, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the piss out of the shitheads from Broad Street. What do we have to be sullen about?
/looks at rafters to see meaningless divisional banners and a slew of Bandits championships /kills self
There's certainly plenty of history to support a pessimistic tone today because, well, #becauseitsbuffalo, but sports are fun and yesterday was tons
of it. Is it a sign of things to come? Are we destined for the playoffs after a disappointing end to last season? I don't know and neither do you. Shit like games and goals and saves all still have to actually happen. Let's enjoy it, ok?
No? The Sabres are inevitably going to disappoint us and cause me to retreat to my son's nursery for a week's worth of tears? Well screw you man
For the time being we have the luxury of being all optimism all the time, at least until Yachtsman jumps on here with his "fuck all the things" tone, so join me after the jump for generally delusional and premature observations on Buffalo's early version of HOCKEYPUCKSTIME. (and a gracious tip of the hat to our buddy Frank
for that one)
O Captain, my Captain. You. Are. Filthy.
The Barrister and The Apologist
I won't dwell too much on a recap of the glorious evening that we had last night. The Sabres continued their great play and winning streak, and while Aps and I weren't able to meet up until the third period due to some office basketball playoff duty that I had to tend to (Championship game next week, baby!), we took the opportunity to wax poetic about how happy we are to be watching this team make their playoff push.
This episode is, unsurprisingly, ALL SABRES...and, also unsurprisingly, it's all overwhelmingly happy and positive. No basketball or baseball talk seeps in, apart from brief mentions at the end, and we actually avoid the Bills completely. Also, as opposed to other episodes where we've recorded in small segments over the course of a game, Episode 4 was recorded in one big chunk after the game was done. Not to short change you listeners of musical interludes (and with recognition that you very well may need a few breaks from our flawless stream of consciousness analysis), we cut up the segment with some Mos Def and Phoenix, and have Apologist's little Brother Doctor Ooo (@DrOooMD
) and his Buffalo-based project Kinda Like Dreamin
take us out when all is said and done. And, because I couldn't get over how great Jason Pominville's post-game interview was on the NHL Network last night, I threw in a couple of his better quotes over the Phoenix track for good measure. My editing skills may not be good yet (as you can hear from a couple of the rougher cuts towards the end, not to mention how quiet Pommers is), but they are improving. RIGHT? RIGHT?!?
Please love me.
Moving on.... This is turning real, Sabres fans, and there's plenty of room for everyone on this bandwagon. Aps is buying the beer.
Stream and download the .mp3 below, and throw a comment below with some constructive criticism and/or love poems. We love doing these, but also want to please YOU, dear listener, so feedback is always appreciated as we try to keep these going in a good way.
Let's Go Buffalo.
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WARPATH. God bless Google images for reminding me of this awful excuse for a video game.
After looking ahead to last Friday night's game with a certain sense of dread, only to see the Sabres pull out an absurdly uplifting victory over the East's best (well, best for now, at least), I'm yet again scratching my head in equal parts befuddlement, excitement and fear. Remember when I noted that the team's playoff chances were around 22% before Friday night? Well, now - after the glorious win at MSG on Friday, and then the solid 3-1 victory at the FN Center on Saturday - they're at 41%. And, with six games remaining, they only need to go 4-2-0 to kick that percentage up to 84%. (And, as @JeremyWGR tweeted this morning, tonight's outcome amounts to a 47% swing in probabilities for the team... not to freak out TOO much).
THIS SHIT IS FLYING OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST CRAZY BALLS. And, if you're curious, playing the role of Miss Ratched is Bucky Gleason, but only because he likes that sexy white uniform and I promised him I wouldn't give the role to Paul Hamilton.
Meeeeowwww! /worst photoshop job ever?
Nothing is as simple as statistics would have you believe, of course (hear that CV?), and until the team has clinched - a moment that will, in all likelihood, not come until the last game of the season - we'll all be sitting with bated breath, wondering if this team can keep this thing going. If you're like me, you've already looked at the schedule to see just how tough it will be these last two weeks.
We continue this Warpath adventure with Washington tonight in the biggest game of the season since the media and fan-manufactured rematch against the Bruins in the wake of the Lucic incident last fall. The Caps are coming off a convincing 3-0 win against the Wild Sunday, effectively eliminating Minnesota from playoff contention. Much like the Sabres, the Caps have failed to put anything close to consistent hockey together this season, ranging from frightening to pathetic. A couple weeks back, Washington seemed like it might have been dropping off the face of the playoff map, but the team has gone 6-2-2 since then, largely holding off the bottom teams of the conference and gaining some ground on the Southeast leading Florida Panthers. This leaves the Caps in a pretty similar spot to our Sabres, in that they've chosen to ramp up their play for this final playoff push, shaking off the reputation of a season of largely failed expectations.
Speaking of failing to meet expectations - AMERICA!
These similarities leave me and the rest of Sabreland at a complete and utter loss for predicting what kind of result we might see tonight. But, that certainly doesn't stop me from going all in with some classic poorly constructed analysis. HERE WE GOOOOOOOOO.... We need WAY more of this.
First, the negatives:
1. Thomas Vanek.
Conceding that the guy scored a goal on Saturday night (albeit one that relied on luck and hard work by Cody Hodgson), his all-too-frequent absence from the score sheet has been one of the more frustrating parts of the past three and a half months. Sure, the team is playing well despite this, but I tend to be skeptical that this is a good thing. Winning is great and all, but when you're winning even though your best forward is playing like hot garbage, you're still left with your best forward playing like hot garbage. Not. Good.
There are a lot of theories popping around the interwebs about his struggles lately. Some of the most asinine have speculated on his work ethic, aka the "Lazy Thomas" meme - always an absurd opinion lacking any basis in reality, I think - or him being a head case, aka the "Weepy Thomas" meme - again, something I tend to not give too much credence to. Personally, I think the guy is hurt, that Lindy is predictably keeping that information quiet and that TV is playing through a lot of pain during each game. Ribs? Shoulder? Your guess is as good as mine. Of course, my belief in this theory is, in part, dependent on my disbelief in the other possibilities of lazy and/or weepy Vanek, so take it with a grain of salt. But, for the punishment he takes in front of the net, and for his proven desire to bleed himself dry for the team, it certainly seems to be the most likely explanation.
If the Sabres have any real chance at taking this Warpath to the playoffs and beyond, this is a guy who has to get it going. OBVIOUS FACT. Tonight would be a great start. SECOND OBVIOUS FACT. I'm great at this.
2. Lindy's Ever-Baffling Line Shuffles
Has anyone figured out why Lindy seems hell bent on ruining each and every good line combination this year? I get that he's been swimming upstream against a team of underachievers in a season where he has been expected to push the franchise closer to a Stanley Cup, but I really wonder if there's a method to his madness. First we saw the Vanek-Adam-Pominville line deconstructed for the sake of getting other players going. All well and good, but we know how that experiment played out - Ville Leino still shitty and Luke Adam wallowing in the AHL. JACK ADAMS HE IS NOT.
When the team started tanking, the tendency to line shuffles was probably a necessary evil, but now that we're back in great form, the lingering question is whether Lindy will continue to tinker or whether he'll just allow the growing chemistry on these lines to continue that growth. Shit, even during the games this weekend, we saw glimpses of inexplicable line combinations. I'd cite them for you now, but I can't seem to find them on the google and Lord knows I was drunk as shit when I watched the games. No wonder my points are so unassailable. For now, the line of Ennis-Foligno-Stafford is still together and has been nothing sort of magical for the past couple weeks (more on that below). Will it continue with Gerbe's eventual return to the team, or will Lindy yet again sacrifice one of his greatest assets? Or what about the Tropp-Hodgson-Vanek line, which has also found some chemistry over the past week, allowing Hodgson and Vanek to each start making progress? If Kaleta comes back, is Tropp destined to leave that line in some grand reshuffle that makes room for Kaleta on the 3rd or 4th line while likely sending Tropp to play in the KHL? Kaleta ужасен в борющихся русских. Bank it.
In short: this is a team that is winning now, and winning in grand and unexpected fashion. DON'T FUCK IT UP, LINDY.
3. MORE LINDY HATE - WHY ARE OUR BEST PLAYERS PLAYING SHIT MINUTES?
This point is plagiarized from Yachtsman, but I suspect he'll likely (a) never even read this post, or (b) never post on this small issue, so I'm in the clear. Robyn Regehr averages 18:33 TOI for the year. This is less than Ehrhoff and Myers, our top D pairing, by more than 3 minutes. That wouldn't be insane if it weren't for Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber and Jordan Leopold also having more ice time than Regehr. This is monumentally stupid, and another example of how Lindy might not be the guy to lead this particular group of players into battle. Incidentally, if you need more evidence, Derek "Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, I'll Just Go To Chippewa in My Mandles" Roy averages almost 2 1/2 minutes more than Vanek. Nice tie, Lindy. You're doing it wrong.
There. I feel better. Now on to the good:
1. Ryan Miller
What can't be said about this guy? He turned around an epically bad season to re-find his All-World self, let the team ride his coattails as they finally remembered how to score, then gave a stellar interview to Pierre LeBrun wherein he got the media's and a not-insignifcant part of the fanbase's panties in a bunch when he yet again points out that his job is really hard and that the negativity bred by beat writers in the locker room is not necessarily appreciated. Translation: fat guys who don't no how to play sports should take it easy when tempted to take potshots at pro athletes for shitty performances. Duly noted, Ryan. I'll try to be mindful of that in the future. In the meantime, keep playing well so us fatties can keep our traps shut and enjoy watching your crooked eyebrows track down pucks. We love it when they do that.
With Miller playing better, suddenly anything seems possible for these Sabres (well... not ANYTHING. Baby steps). He's hit career numbers in shutouts this year, despite having a garbage squad in front of him on most nights and despite suffering two concussions this year. His overall averages are still mediocre (though, really at par with his sometimes mediocre career numbers, but that undercuts my general point so I throw it in a parenthetical), which is really an indication of how bad he was earlier this year and how lucky the team is to have survived to this point without imploding. Since the All Star break, his GAA is 1.87 and SV % is .937, with 5 shutouts. Make no mistake about it - the team's fortune is dependent on this guy, and for that we can actually all breathe a little easier about where this all might pan out within the next couple weeks. 2. Foligno-Ennis-Stafford
With all of the injuries this team has had to fight through this season, the most recent spat has brought about perhaps the luckiest bounce of the Sabres season. Marcus Foligno's call-up to the big club led to immediate success for him and the team. As if destiny was playing some part, his arrival coincided with Lindy's use of Tyler Ennis as a center. Add in Drew Stafford and his apparent revival as an actual contributor to the team - I know. WEIRD - and suddenly we have a line that is as explosive as the Vanek-Adam-Pominville that dazzled us at the beginning of the season. Apart from the fact that this suddenly makes me feel much better about this overzealous gem
I dropped about Stafford last summer, this is the line that is making up for the loss of production from Vanek lately (not to mention the continuing shit production from Ville Leino and Brad Boyes. Way to be consistent, lads).
Apart from their production, watching this line is fun as hell. They're buzzing every time they hit the ice, their goal celebrations are unadulterated moments of pure joy, and each of them bring their own unique slice of talent and skills, all of which compliment each other in a way that none of us could have predicted. Ennis suddenly seems like he could be the second line center to replace Roy whenever we're able to find the #1 center we've been looking for and can then ship his dead weight out of town. For this all Sabres fans can fervently rejoice. And finally...3. Two games left against the Leafs.
Listen. I get that the schedule looks rough for the last six - games against Caps, Pens, Flyers, Bruins - but it also includes two against hated rivals and perennial jokes, the Toronto Maple Leafs. For as frustrated as Sabres fans have been this year, we're yet again looking at a possible playoff berth and a Leaf team left holding their hats. Tim Connolly, fragile as ever, has proven all of us right (well, not ALL of us... I won't name names... but boy you look stupid, guy) with this season and his $4.75 million cap hit. He's missed about 15 games, which is actually on the low side, but has only scored 12 goals on the season. Which, incidentally, puts him five back of the aforementioned Drew Stafford and his $4 million cap hit. GLOATING IS FUN.
This may be tempting fate. Hell, having this blog at all may be tempting fate, so fuck it. These are two games that the team should win and has to win to make the playoffs. They are a gift from the hockey gods in the midst of an otherwise troubling last bit of games, and I am looking forward to a couple of nights where I don't sit down for the game with a deep and lingering sense of dread. The little things, folks.
Hoping like hell for a win tonight. Make it happen, boys.
Let's Go Buffalo.
This is not going to be a happy post.
I'm fucking bitter. Right from the outset, dear readers, please understand that there is a LOT pissing me off these days. For the life of me, though, I can't stomach a full post where I take on one, cohesive topic of my rage. I'm exhausted from vacation (go figure), I'm already exhausted from work, and I'm exhausted by the dozen or so little corners of my sports world that make me want to find Jerry Sullivan's NYC doppleganger and strangle him to a long, slow death.
I am not in a good place, in other words.
Here we go again.
It feels weird to even pay a shred of attention to the Buffalo Sabres - what with the apparent revival of football fever in Western New York - but I felt it necessary to weigh in on the topic of Buffalo professional ice hockey. The preseason has started and, even if it appears otherwise, the DGWU Crew has, in fact, noticed. And as happy as the Bills make me, we all know that it might be simply a matter of time before football stops being as much fun and our collective attention shifts to the bread and butter of the Buffalo sports scene.
What can I say, I still think these Bills are an 8-8 team, and these Sabres are much more. I hope.
If you've been paying attention to the summer goings-on of our Sabres, you know full well that there have been a LOT of changes. Blockbuster deals, at least by Buffalo standards; cosmetic refurbs of team facilities, including the de-slug-ifying of the newly named FN Center (a name which I HATE, btw...saved only by the easy joke it enables); an overhaul of team PR and use of media - both traditional, internet and social. There's been tons of new stuff for us to have discussed as the summer marched on. Though, as you may have noticed, while these things garnered attention throughout the Sabres blogosphere, we at DGWU have been largely silent on these subjects. Perhaps it's a cautious skepticism of the fancy bells and whistles that have come with a new billionaire owner; an uneasy feeling of hypocrisy that accompanies this new role as hockey club; or maybe just the discomfort with my hockey team being run with the profits of arguably horrific assaults on the environment. HYDROFRACKING IS AWFUL BUT MOST OF US ARE OK WITH PEGULA AND THIS IS WEIRD.
It's a confusing ass time, this is for sure.
Yet, as much as I may still battle with my own expectations for this season, preseason has shocked me back into focus to at least start hashing those expectations out here and weigh in with some potentially incoherent rambling. After the jump, check out the five questions kicking around in my muddled excuse for grey matter, and my baseless speculation on how things may end up playing out.
Fuck it. I don't even need to write the rest of this post. This picture says all that needs to be said about why I'm down with his goofy ass being a Sabre for another four years.
I freely admit that I tend to be a pretty positive and optimistic Sabres fan. Maybe even stupidly so. A lot of this has to do with a quiet resignation to the fact that I don't have a real role in making them a better team - other than cheering my balls off every game, and hoping that those cheers can push them over the brink towards the ultimate goal of a Stanely Cup. One of the things that I've really loved about the Pegula era thus far is that the franchise finally seems to be putting us fans in our place, as it asks us simply to believe, to love the team and cheer and help them keep motivated, and to trust that they're getting shit done. It's certainly not the easiest thing to ask of us, but it is the most realistic and the most cognizant of the true and limited role that fans have in shaping the success of a team.
Since Pegula has taken over, we've been treated to actual, concrete evidence that the decision-makers working for the Sabres are actually deserving of our trust. . Pegula has overhauled the mission of the Buffalo Sabres, and has done so in a way that applies to all levels of the organization. The idealist in me really believes that this shift in priorities - the focus on drawing players to Buffalo by turning Buffalo into the hockey heaven that we fans have dreamed of - will create on-ice successes that we have not seen in some time. I don't mean '05-'06 success, and I certainly don't mean '06-'07 "success." Indeed, I have bought into the Pegulamania and have chosen to trust that this crazy billionaire and his plan for a Cup will materialize into some pretty remarkable moments over the next few years and beyond.
THIS IS SOMETHING NEW AND SCARY AND REAL AND I KNOW WE DON'T ALL WANT TO BELIEVE IT. DON'' T WORRY, WE'LL ALL BE FINE.
If you need to cry it out, I understand. I'm available for soothing cuddles at a low hourly rate. I promise it will only be a LITTLE creepy,
This trust in T-Pegs, in Ted Black and - yes - in a freshly empowered Darcy Regier has me feeling just fine and dandy about the 4 year, $16 million deal Stafford inked yesterday. Certainly not a small cap hit, but after his 31 goal season, I feel better about the $4 million hit than I do about the $5.5 million hit that the Sabres have with Pommers over the next three years
. Which isn't to say that I don't generally like #29 - even if I tend to agree with Scizz that his career trajectory resembles the Transformers trilogy. Still, Stafford's cap hit sits better with me than Pominville's current deal, (and I'm not even talking about the mixed feelings I have with someone who is inexplicably compared to a puppy by female Sabres bloggers). Pominville has scored 30 NHL goals just once - in the President's Trophy season when the Sabres offensively douched on all of their opponents and when I'm pretty sure even Andrew Peters scored. Don't believe me? Ha!
Meanwhile, Stafford hit that mark this past year, despite missing 20 games (#29 missed ZERO when he got 30+ in '06-'07). His scoring touch and effort was evident from the start of the season - apparently rejuvenated by an off-season of workouts with the Devils' Zach Parise
- and without him we simply don't make the playoffs. Is he worth $4 million / yr? Meh. What the hell do I know? I'm not in charge - I'm JUST A FAN.
I hear a lot of folks, like the Scizz for instance, say that they'd be more comfortable with a $3-3.5 million deal, and I know there's an argument that it's a little high. But, apart from my general gut feeling that we shouldn't be squabbling over a half million dollars when the only reason to dislike it is the cap hit (since, after all, our owner is filthy rich and surfs on mountains of gold coins for fun), I'm mainly just happy that the team was able to pull the trigger and show the players that they were serious about rewarding great play with good money. For reasons similar to those explained by Phil in his post over at Black & Blue & Gold
, this contract ensures that Buffalo will continue to shed its reputation for undervaluing the top producers from its lineup. This is exactly the reputation that Sabres fans have been bemoaning over the past four years, so I can't see this as anything other than exactly
the kind of deal that we had been asking for. Letting Stafford's negotiations - after he consistently showed up and produced all season - would have sent exactly the wrong kind of message to our boys. And, frankly, it was super important to get this all done now, before July 1st, when he would have surely gotten some absurd offer sheet from this year's version of Kevin Lowe. And then where the fuck would we be? This $4 million could very well be a steal in comparison.
Sabres fans are still a jaded bunch, and I can certainly appreciate the following two opinions being tossed around the twitterverse, blogs and Buff News stories that have been kicking around: (1) that Stafford's contract year play was a fluke, motivated by his desire for a good long-term deal, and that we should have waited for that offer sheet to come and then just taken it and the draft picks it would have brought; and (2) that the deal really should've been for less and, by implication, that management is at it again with a colossally boneheaded off-season deal. Some of us are still smarting from the Vanek RFA offer sheet, and the juiced-up deal it caused - not to mention the stressed-out forward it seemed to create - so I certainly get that some want the team to be cautious and frugal above all else.
Get used to it folks. The penny-pinching days are over.
Really, I think only the first of these arguments is all that important, since it's really an argument against re-signing Stafford in the first place, rather than trying to free up cap space for another stud free agent to take his place. The second argument, about frugality, is frankly of no moment given the cap space and owner the Sabres have this year. As for the argument against signing Stafford in the first place, I got two problems with this - first, the message that it would've sent to the guys still on the team, as detailed above. Second, the free agent market is sparse, and that stud might not be available, or might not want to play in Buffalo. Besides, if the Sabres have any shot at Brad Richards, for instance, it certainly can't hurt to show the guy - through actions, not deeds - that the Buffalo Sabres are a team that fairly values players and doesn't get too caught up in squabbling over a few hundred thousand dollars. (AND I REALIZE HOW ABSURD THESE NUMBERS ARE TO EVEN SPEAK OF. JESUS I HATE BEING POOR).
But the biggest reason I'm cool with this deal is because - again - I trust that T-Pegs and Ted and Darcy have their shit together. I trust that if Stafford ends up being the bust that some of us fear he will be - which, as Sabres fans, we must, to varying degrees - the team will figure out a way forward, never losing sight of the ultimate goal. After all, say he does suck hard in '11-'12, and say the Sabres can't find a way to trade his contract, the team can always buy him out and cut their losses. Sure, they still have a cap hit going into the future - a $1.3 million hit over six years under that buyout scenario, according to Cap Geek - but that's the risk Pegula seems willing to take for a guy coming off of a career year and who, it's reasonable to hope, is still getting better.
After watching Stafford rack up hat tricks this year, I'm just happy he's coming back. The Sabres aren't done with their off-season, and I know they have a long way to go before they have the squad that will bring a Cup to Buffalo, but - for now - I'm just happy being a fan and being able to trust that these big issues will get worked out.
God I love this time of year. Let's Go Buffalo.
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And the DGWU Crew @DGWUSports
I guess I'm sticking with the creepy, sexual offender-looking reviewers in this installment.
Welcome to the continuation of my 2011 summer movie preview. This week I take a look at the major releases of June, but of course with a Sabres twist. I got some great feedback from people about my May preview
, and as it turns out, there are many nerd/Sabres fans out there. It is pretty cool that I can talk to complete strangers about comic book movies, hockey, and Dr. Who all in the same conversation. Also, my girlfriend just cringed after reading that last sentence. Hi Honey! On to the movies!
X-Men:First Class - June 3rd
Ennis, Gerbe, Myers, Gragnani, Weber, & Enroth
We should all be familiar with the X-Men film franchise now (but I’ll forgive you if you block out Last Stand and I’ll punch you if you try to make me remember Wolverine). As a huge fan of the comics growing up, I always loved the idea of this group of misfits with super powers that have to come together for the better of their kind and the safety of the world. In the latest installment from Kick-Ass director Mathew Vaughn, we have a prequel that tells of the beginning of the young X-Men coming together for the first time. So could there be anything else to do here but compare this young group of powerful mutants with the up and coming youth surge of the Buffalo Sabres. I know I have already used Tyler Myers and Nathan Gerbe in the May preview, but add in Tyler Ennis, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Mike Weber and Jhonas Enroth , and you have a formidable team coming together to achieve a common goal….world peace. Wait, I meant a Stanley Cup. Sorry about that, I get my comic and sports priorities messed up sometimes. Also in comparison, Tim Kennedy is Magneto. I have no evidence to support that statement.
Super 8 - June 10th
I had to go with the Yachtsman personal favorite Cody McCormick here. Yes, the only obvious connection is the number 8, but you damn well better believe that if the Sabres bring Cody back, I’m referring to him as Super 8 all season. Especially if this film is as good as I think it is. I have to say that despite being a total comic book nerd (5 comic book movies this summer), I am looking most forward to J.J. Abrams’ Spielbergian tale of mystery. In a similarly odd way, despite the more well known current players and free agents out there right now, I’m also really looking forward to the re-signing of Cody McCormick. Ever since he was called up for the 2010 playoffs, I think he has been one of the Sabres most consistent players. He plays hard, fights hard, and does exactly what you want from a solid 4th line player. He played in 81 games, finished with career highs in goals, assists, points, and shots on goal. Not to mention his 142 penalty minutes and willingness to drop the gloves. Both the film and the player are sleeper hits.
Green Lantern - June 17th
Back to the comics. Green Lantern tells the story of an Air Force pilot named Hal Jordan that is chosen by a group of cosmic beings to possess a powerful ring. This ring gives him superpowers and allows him to protect the universe. I know I keep on making these silly comic to Sabres connections, but this one really jumped out at me. Why? In 2011, a Pennslyvania billionaire named Terry Pegula is motivated by his Buffalo-native wife and his love of hockey to purchase the Buffalo Sabres. Using his powerful checkbook, he will be able to bring in/keep superstar players that will lead the franchise to a Stanley Cup. This is fun and yes, I am a huge dork.
Bad Teacher - June 24th
My initial instinct was to use former captain Craig Rivet here, but after re-watching the trailer for this R-rated comedy, I changed my mind. The synopsis of the film is that the Cameron Diaz character is a shitty teacher who under-achieves because she has a rich fiancé and doesn’t value her job. When she gets dumped, she panics and tries to win over a substitute-teacher (played by some guy from N’Sync) who is also rich, so she can be set again financially. She attempts to achieve this by becoming a better teacher, with the eventual plan of going back to being “bad” again. I already know I am going to take some shit for this one, and let me first say that I am not against the idea of resigning Drew Stafford. HOWEVER, you have to admit he has been frustrating to watch over the past couple of seasons due to inconsistency, and this huge burst in offense we witnessed (had he been healthy all year, he would have easily lead the team in goals) has to make you think. I hate contract years. Is this a new Drew Stafford that will become an offensive juggernaut? Or will he revert back to a 14 goal season after he gets a new, lucrative deal? And why is Jason Segal in this movie? He needs to focus on The Muppets!Sidenote
: This movie actually doesn't look all that great, but go to the 1:53 mark for one of the best scenes from any trailer I have seen so far this year. Classic.
That does it for the June installment of my previews. Check back within the next week for my look at July, which features a douche-bag with a jacket over his shoulder, a cartoon classic, the TRUE Captain America, and more than meets the eye. Remember to follow me on twitter @TheScizz and @DGWUSports.
(Prelogue: This will be Buffalo sports blasphemy to many, but I know little to nothing about Rick Martin, other than he was the greatest scorer on the greatest line the Sabres ever had. I'd love to do some sort of proper memoriam to him, except that I wasn't alive when he played and I don't know what to say. So I'll leave that to the pros. And by pros, I mean, the Buffalo News
. Please don't hate me.)
As I've stated in the past, I watch sports to escape the nonsense of everyday life. I think all sports fans would agree that there's something wonderfully pure about a game's final score. In all cases, when all is said and done, the score is the score is the score. You can debate what went wrong or what should've been done, but the outcome is beyond dispute. This team won. That team lost. Over.
Any other category of life can come with an overwhelming amount of gray area. Whether it be politics, family life or your job, rarely are things ever cut and dry like they are at the end of a game. But that certainly would be nice ('I'm sorry, Boss, but the scoreboard clearly states that I deserve a raise').