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Since I’ve already delved into the Tim Connolly chapter of the Sabres’ history, I decided that today, in lieu of his return to the ice, I would discuss what I believe the Sabres need to do in order to be successful in the second-half of the season. This is, in my opinion, what The System needs to mean to the guys in the blue and gold.

Leadership. Cliche, yes, but it’s the honest-to-goodness truth. The first step to team chemistry (which we all know the Sabres have; most of them came up through the ranks together, and you know they consider each other to be the best of friends) is a well-defined leader. It obviously hasn’t worked thus far this season too much, with the absence of Captain Craig Rivet. The guys have not been holding each other accountable enough, and that’s the main reason I wish that we had never lost tonight’s foe, Chris Drury. But, with Rivet back in the lineup (hopefully, for good, now), this snafu should be cleared up. (Although, it was nice to see Gaustad call out the entire team the other night after the debacle against Washington. As I said, he had my vote for captain.)

Balanced scoring. The Sabres need to roll three lines in order to have this. That means everyone, and not just Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville, and Clarke MacArthur, need to step it up and bury the biscuit a little more often. Hopefully, again, with the return of Connolly, a little spice might be thrown into our game, and mix it up a little. True, seven Sabres have over 20 points, but only four have more than 10 goals. You might say I’m asking too much, but when we’ve got guys like Paille, Hecht, Connolly, and Kotalik have eight goals or less, something’s got to give.

Discipline. Plan and simple, the Sabres have taken too many stupid penalties. How many times have we been whistled for too many men on the ice? Take that number, and add ten. That’s that many too many. And some people might say the refs are out to get us, or they’re still bitter over the Miller situation, but that’s water under the bridge. Even if the officials are calling a biased game, no matter our opponent, the Sabres need to overcome that. It’s what good teams do, and if the Sabres can’t do it, well then we’ve got a very big problem.

Strong penalty killing. Yes, we’re sitting at third overall currently, with an 86.7% average, but that needs to be maintained. And bettered at home.

Killer instinct on the power play. The Sabres have only converted on 20.6% of their man-advantages. That’s only 11th in the league. Enough said. Basically, and it’s easy for me to say, because I’ve never played hockey; but hey, I’ve only watched it since I was, oh, about three years old. Get the puck to the net, and have a guy down low. That’s where Vanek had a ton of success last season, and Gaustad is effective there as well. Like I said, easier said than done, but it’s an effective method. Again, Connolly’s return will help with puck movement and pulling the opposition out of position. His presence will definitely have an impact.

Health. Thus far, we’ve lost 107 man games to injury. There have been 15 different instances of injury, many of which occurred to the same players. This doesn’t even include games lost to illness (Paille, Toni Lydman, etc.). We’ve struggled mainly due to inconsistency of lineups. Hopefully, with Connolly and Rivet off the shelf (for the time being, at least), it will begin to improve. Now if only we could get Patrick Kaleta back into the lineup. It will be interesting to see what does happen with the roster when, or if, we reach full health, because there will be way too many guys in the locker room.

Effort and heart. I cannot tell you have many times I’ve left the arena in years past saying, “Well, it’s too bad they lost. At least they played hard,” or “at least it was a good game.” I haven’t been able to say that much at all this season. Honestly, I don’t mind watching them play, even shelling out in the neighborhood of $100, if the Sabres play hard and battle, and then lose. It’s part of the risk you take buying tickets, or even sitting down in the evening to watch a game, rather than write a term paper. What I hate most is when I do that, and the Sabres barely show up, and I wonder if my residents at the nursing home could play a better game of hockey. All I ask is for consistent effort, 100%, 60 minutes, night-in, night-out. It’s what they’re getting paid for, after all.

This barely scratches the surface of the issues with this team, but if they could get the ball rolling on those, this team could be great. They’ve all got the potential and the talent, but that only goes so far. That needs to be put into action to translate into wins. They’re not going to post themselves automatically. I only hope that the Sabres can keep on the path that 2009 has them on, because if they continue to play that way, they’ll be one of the teams to beat, come the stretch.

Quickly, before I run out the door to go to my Anatomy/Physiology Lab (which, by the way, is 2.5 hours, and the labs literally takes me less than 1; ridiculous), I just want to say a few things that I feel need to be said, some of which could be a bit controversial (I said a bit; that could be a stretch):
There is absolutely nothing controversial about this gorgeous German.  Anyways, the Sabres really need to stop giving me bad news while driving at high speeds.  Last night, Kim and I drove up to the outlet mall in Niagara Falls, but then decided to go on a little adventure.  So, whilst driving down the 219 to Boston, I hear my phone vibrate in my door, so I grab it, and seeing “722737” on my screen, I say, “Oh God, what did the Sabres do now?”.  Then, while holding the wheel, at about 70 mph, I read:
“BREAKING NEWS–Buffalo Sabres GM Dary Regier announced that Jochen Hecht underwent surgery today on his finger and will miss a couple of weeks.  Txt End 2 quit.”
Wow.  Enough said, pretty much.  No, really, though, I’m extremely upset.  Then Kim goes, “Well, just think:  This could mean a call-up for Gerbe!”  And then I thought rationally (why do I always have to do that?), “No, because we have Ellis, and besides, Ruff always calls up whoever had been hot down there, and that’s MARK MANCARI!!!”  Which is kinda funny because Ruff said he would be the guy if they do, indeed, decide a filler guy is in order.  But then he’d have to clear waivers again, and I’d be a basketcase for the entire 24-hour waiver period.  
Jochen, ich liebe dich.  That’s “I love you” in German, if you can’t remember my story about him hearing me say that to him during practice one day.  He literally turned around and looked at me.  Who was mortified?  This girl.
I’ll be the first to admit that when this guy was a free agent, I wanted the Sabres to pick him up again.  I love Mike Peca.
True, his game is a fine line between gritty and dirty, but the guy’s smart.  He didn’t win the Selke purely by chance, and there was a reason for his being named Captain during his tenure here.  And the guy’s just not stupid.
That being said, I don’t think whatever happened here (WARNING:  Really bad fan video) is worth a 10-game suspension.  He admittedly grabbed the ref’s arm, but there is no way in hell you can convince me that he hit a linesman with his stick, as was perceived.
Now I realize that there’s this thing in the NHL where you’re not supposed to touch the sacred officials, but (1) they often ignore player’s pleas, especially if the person they’re coming from has a negative reputation of any sort, and (2) how were they supposed to hear anything remotely sounding like a voice when, HELLO! Dallas just scored and 18,532 people are screaming their heads off because, HEY! the Stars just scored on a 2-man advantage!  So he grabbed your arm.  Big deal.  Give him the three games mandated by the automatic contact clause or whatever it’s called and be done with it.  Peca is not so stupid as to use excessive force with an official.
There was something else I had to say too, but I can’t remember what it was, and I really need to get going to lab…
Anyways, since I can’t provide you with anything good to read, go read THN’s article about Nathan Gerbe that appears in the issue my household received yesterday.  Actually, I can’t find it, so I’ll post about it later, or tomorrow, or something.  But I love it, because the Sabres list him as 5’6″, as do the Pirates, by they (THN) say he’s 5’5″.  WHICH MEANS I AM TALLER THAN HIM!  That’s exciting shit right there!
And speaking of the Pirates, they do Bobblehead Nights, so go vote for the guy to have his very own Bobblehead.
Okay, ’til later.  Have a nice day, everyone!  And, oh yeah, Go Sabes!

Life is now about as normal as it can ever be for me…

To start off Saturday’s festivities, I was extremely disappointed because, while Kim and I, along with her beautiful mother Maureen, arrived at the Red Carpet Ceremony admittedly a few minutes late, WE STILL MISSED ALL OF THE GUYS WHO WERE TO PLAY.  That’s absolutely ridiculous, because that means I MISSED DEREK ROY.  IN HIS WHITE SUIT!!!!  I was completely devastated.

So, needless to say, if the Sabres say they’re going to start an event at 5:00 pm, start at 5:00 pm and not earlier.  You don’t tell people to show up for a party at 10 pm and start it at 8.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  And we only got there, like, 5 minutes late.  But whatever.

My love has not left me yet!  Not completely, anyways.  He did look about as miserable as ever, though.  But look at my pictures and notice his terribly receeding hairline.  It’s actually quite comical because he most definitely had a full head of hair before he went to Switzerland and shaved off his curly locks.  And he didn’t even smile; he just had his signature smug, disdained look of boredom on his chipmunk-cheeked face.  Lame.

AND he has a LOOK-A-LIKE!!  Marc-Andre Gragnani has that Tim Connolly look on his face.  Too bad I couldn’t get a picture of it.  They must be roommates.  It’s the only explanation.  Poor kid.

And Tim Kennedy had another awkward interview!!  The first question Kevin asked him was something along the lines of, “Do you realize that you’re the object of envy of every young hockey player in Buffalo?”  Tim didn’t even laugh.  He just looked at Kevin all seriously and said, “Yes, I do.”  Retard.

Everyone let out a big collective “AWWWW” when newbie Patrick Lalime showed up with a date on each arm, two of his adorable little girls, Liliana and Rosemary, both wearing their dad’s jersey.  Seriously, two of the cutest little things I’ve ever seen.  What a sweetie.

And MJ will be happy to know that Adam Mair showed up, sans wedding ring, so there’s no competition with the wifey there.

Despite the set-back of missing half the team, I still saw so many beautiful Sabres, so it was worth it, AND THEN THEY WON!!!

When Vanek took that double minor, I looked at Kim and said, “Goodbye, game,” but of course Derek and Paul would pull it off in great fashion.  Honestly, though, I had no voice after the first period thanks to Craig Rivet’s fighting skills, which automatically trump those of Andrew Peters, and the countless hits by Mr. Patrick (Andrew?) Kaleta.  I say that because when they announced the Hit of the Game (formerly known as the Carubba Collision), the PA guy said Andrew Kaleta.  Hello!  Do you work for the Sabres?  Do you live in Buffalo?  Get it right.  And while I’m on the topic of people in position to talk about the Sabres messing up, when I got home I flipped on Channel 4 to watch their sports report, and Robyn Adams upset me.  She  mispronounced Rivet, and didn’t even mention that we came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game in a matter of 5 minutes, and not even that Goose tied it up with 5.0 seconds left in regulation.  Idiot.

And I had to laugh because the prospects were all sitting up in the press box, and Kim and I kept looking over after we scored to see their reactions, and saw NOTHING.  No one clapped, even after we tied it up.  They didn’t even appear to be smiling.  Only a few clapped after the game ended, but they all peaced out so quickly afterwards…  Jerks.  Way to support the team.

Whatever though.  While I was upset with the Sabres about the whole ceremony thing, I left a very, very, VERY happy girl.  Now I’m just trying to find someone to go with me to the game on the 10th so I can go to the home opener for probably the 10th season in a row.  I just love hockey so much.  I kind of forgot what it was like over this ridiculously long summer.

Except, this broke my heart.  It’s the remnants of the Mike Ryan Fanclub.  =[

Let’s just hope they keep going like they did yesterday.  Just, stop giving me a heart attack.  Please.  I don’t know if I can take 82 games of that.  Actually, I’m not sure if I can take 96 games like yesterday’s, if you know what I mean.  And I did not just say that for those of you who are superstitious.  =]


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