If ever there was a mixed fucking bag of a weekend for me and my sport-watching-and-commenting brethren, it was this one. A tremendous Liverpool win, a Sporting KC win forcing the Red Bulls to do the same in order to get their first taste of hardware, a predictable Bills loss at the Superdome, replete with frustrating football and officiating alike, the Red Bulls getting that win and that shield, and Thomas Vanek.
If you're not into the Sabres and came here for Bills-only takes, my not-apologies, fuck you and wait a minute while I opine.
We expected this for Vanek - a guy who all but said he wasn't interested in sticking around this shit bag franchise anymore - though the swiftness with which the trade came late on a Sunday, months before we really expected it, was jarring. You want to be able to steel yourself up for a moment like this; a moment where a player so dear to you and the entire fan base is allowed to go, for now, to a place where things look discernibly brighter and more optimistic; a moment where a player is allowed to walk away, leaving his fans pining for the "could have beens" from a frustrating six years of Sabres hockey. He was a guy you wanted to be wearing the Blue and Gold when this ship eventually (please?) gets righted, but the impossibility of that scenario - Vanek staying and the rebuild occurring with some degree of speed - was unmistakable. He really couldn't stay if all the shit needing fixing is going to get addressed.
A fact that doesn't make it feel any better to see a talent like him depart the club we support.
Vanek has been the sole reason this team was able to fake it for so long, convincing fans and owner alike that the team could figure it out and become a contender; that the deals for Stafford and Myers and Leino and whoever else you want to point to wouldn't be fatal; that perhaps Buffalo could win in spite of those decisions proven to be mistakes by disappointing play and empty nets missed, by out-of-shape camps and defensive gaffes, and by games missed ad infinitum.
Vanek is a talent that seemed to make anything possible, but nevertheless never did. No titles. No Cup runs under his leadership. No true moments where you could really, reasonably think that he was taking the team somewhere other than consecutive sequences of mediocrity with brief pauses for ultimately inconsequential brilliance.
Perhaps I've spent more than enough words on a guy who has won nothing, but received our love anyway, and who is now simply gone. I'd say good luck, but let's be honest, I want all that luck for the squad he's leaving behind.
Fuck it, let's talk about our Bills.
Super big wieners.
super bigger huge wieners
God help me for bothering to do this today. Pretty sure it's that asshole Dan Sterlace's fault, but whatever. I'm in too deep now.
Today, unless you're a Sabres fan living under a rock that doesn't allow for decent wifi, you know there was a press conference with Ted Black and Darcy Regier. Awesome! I seem to remember they didn't have one of those last year! I bet those pros over at the Buffalo News were so excited and put on their nicest Burger King pants for the occasion. I bet they even decided not to be their usual turd burgling selves and act like adults for once.
Oh mannnnnnnn, was this a terrible shit show. Everyone walked away from this looking like a terrible human being - Darcy, Mike Harrington, Jerry Sullivan, Paul Hamilton (though to be fair he waddled away looking like a walrus with terrible grammar, as per usual), Ted Black, some asshole from Channel 2 named Scott Brown and one or two guys named John, one whom I can only assume was Jon Vogl and the other who I learned was John Wawrow. Of course, the key players of Rusty Tromboning were to be expected, but fuck. The dipshittery was flying from every direction. Pretty sure I've interviewed inmates on Rikers facing murder charges evince more of a commitment to civility than I saw on display.
Oh, and they also talked about the terrible hockey team we inexplicably love. Good times.
What's the solution? Oh, I'm going to FJM this motherfucker. It's the only way we get right again.
HERE WE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
Tonight the Buffalo Sabres take to the ice in the land of meth labs and man-eating sinkholes to attempt to do something they haven’t done once during this mercifully shortened season: win their fourth hockeypucks game in a row. If Winnipeg and Philadelphia win their games in regulation, the Sabres will suddenly find themselves one point removed from the final playoff spot with a game in front of 13,000 empty seats on deck Thursday night in the Everglades. Ten of their final fourteen games will be played at home and, despite all of this, some of you are despondent, downtrodden, terrified that they might win, that they might turn that puncher’s chance into a playoff berth.
Why is this case? Well the prevailing logic seems to be that the team is better served by finishing with a top three draft pick, buttressed by the sweeping assumption that if the Sabres sneak into the playoffs, Darcy Regier will be rewarded with keeping his job and this team will be thrown into some sort of perpetual mediocrity as true as our orbit around the sun. I can’t say I don’t understand this logic; the idea of giving this general manager a second crack under Pegula at assembling a roster would accomplish little more than hemorrhaging the fanbase and leaving us a few more years closer to death without a sniff at a cup. What I don’t understand is how people are willing to assume that this is black and white, that wins equal the general manager staying. Because drive-time radio pronounces it true? Because a WGR beat reporter who spent the entire football season telling you Chan Gailey wasn’t going anywhere is now saying the same about Darcy? Because TBN staff members that haven’t broken a team story since the Ford administration pronounce it true? For shame.
I don’t know what the owner thinks about the general manager’s future. Neither do you and neither do any of the local media. What I do know is management espoused a three-year plan to win a Stanley Cup (that has been shot to shit) and pledged to win multiple Stanley Cups under the new owner. I know the owner allowed or ordered the firing of a coach that had been involved with the team for the better part of three decades. I know that perennial eighth place finishes and first round exits are quite removed from the sixteen wins that it takes to win a championship. I know that no one who builds a business worth more than a billion dollars does so by accepting continuous underachievement and incompetence.
I also know that telling the fans that they’re being neglected, ignored and mistreated sells papers and ad space, and allows fans to wallow in the “woe is us” attitude that gets ingrained into your DNA at conception in this region. I know it’s the safe column to write, the safe position to take. I know Pominville, Vanek and Miller have contracts that expire after next season and the general manager himself has already bucked tradition and stated to local and national outlets that any changes that will be made will be focused on next season.
My point is that there’s at least enough empirical evidence to argue that the general manager is gone no matter what happens short of a conference finals appearance, right? There’s more than enough evidence to support the idea that columnists and radio hosts are trolling the fanbase by using Darcy as a boogeyman to get you to tune in or use one of your ten free page views (I’m not silly enough to assume any of our readers are also TBN subscribers).
Making it harder to accept even a slight run of success is the fact that we had finally embraced, welcomed the idea of hitting rock bottom. After half a decade of mediocrity this was going to be the year we finally said “fuck it,” and took the losses laughing instead of crying. We were ready, and then these, these ASSHOLES had to go and start winning! God can’t they do anything right!?
Welp. That happened.
We went to the Sabres game out on Long Island last week, we recorded dipshit #hottakes in the midst of our drunkenness, and then I took my sweet ass time editing it all into a nice little package for you.
At least it's short, right guys?
If you enjoy those moments when we're the most wretched versions of ourselves, you'll love this one. If you prefer us when we're serious sports analysts, go take a nap while reading Buffalo Wins.
Music by the Jambrones, The Edgar Winter Group, The Doors and Eric Clapton. Download here
, or stream below.
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.
Stream below, subscribe with our handy itunes button or download here
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.
|File Size: ||39295 kb|
|File Type: || mp3|
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.
Those of us at DGWU Sports have been ridiculously busy lately, hence not a whole lot of content. The Yachtsman has been juggling his time between organizing some potentially awesome possibilities at his real job and his obsession for Jeremy Lin and the New York Knickerbockers, all the while hedging his bets on a Sabres comeback and blowing them off almost entirely. The Barrister has spent this week preparing for, and taking the Massachuesetts Bar exam, with intermittent periods of heavy drinking and tweeting while intoxicated. His passion for the Sabres is a continuing fluctuation. The Apologist has promised us a post about Dracy's trade deadline moves all week, but last I heard he was kidnapped by a Columbian named Caesar, who is none too thrilled with Aps moving in on his territory, selling knock off Linsanity t-shirts in Stuyvesant Town. Me? Work has been brutal and I'll be tied up all weekend with my engagement party, but I felt the need to make a few quick comments about the Buffalo Sabres as of late. So you know what that means....IT'S MAIL IT IN TIME!!!!
Damn right I led in with this. I am a barbaric hockey fan, and last night was AWESOME.
I think it's fair to say that I tend to be the most optimistic of the DGWU Crew. Where the Yachtsman tends to be viciously cynical and pessimistic, the Apologist tends to be the realist who will somehow rationalize the shit sandwich on his plate, and the Scizz - for the most part - keeps a pretty level head (except when his emotions well up into a disproportionate response of some nature), I tend to exist on planes of daisies and roses where my team, just by virture of being mine, is believed to be capable of superhuman feats. I'll be the first to admit that I can often go overboard with what I believe our Sabres can do, particularly on an individual level.
So, hat in hand, I think that maybe I could step back on my recent praise lavished on, say, Ryan Miller or Thomas Vanek.
But, Dubs, I just got a shutout. A real one.
Or.... maybe not.
After last night's contest, I don't think there's really a way - short of guaranteeing a Cup - that we all can be over-optimistic about this Sabres team. Ryan Miller is locked in, and seems to be playing at a superhuman level that we haven't seen since the Olympics. Thomas Vanek is, frankly, absurd - his two goals tonight were perfect examples of the myriad ways that he finds a way to be productive on the ice, and I don't know if we've EVER seen the guy play as well as he's playing right now.
Toss in the rest of the guys, none of whom appears to be playing bad hockey - very easy to say when the team just notched a thorough, 60 minute effort for the shutout - and there is every reason to believe that this team is unstoppable. Perhaps I'm tempting fate, but fuck it - that game last night, and the majority of the team's moments since the season started, are giving me no choice but to believe the very best about what will become of the Sabres 2011-12 season.
This team is very, very good.
They'll probably come down to earth sometime, but for now, I can't ignore the basics - Buffalonian tendency to fear the worst be damned. However, in case you're shocked at my tempting of fate (if you can even really call it that...though, Yachtsman will, surely), don't worry... I'll be making my sacrifice to the hockey gods this weekend. Gotta cover my bases.
For now, I'll be sitting in my state of awe just a little bit longer.