Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'll Take "Hockey Potpourri" for $2,000, Alex

Sorry for the random Jeopardy reference...

What I'm thinking about going into Game 4 tonight:

  • Kris Letang needs a hug. I can't imagine how he must feel right now. Luc Bourdon was his best friend, like his brother. I'm almost glad he was going to be scratched tonight anyway for Sydor; no one should have to go play hockey after suffering a loss like that. Kris, remember that offer I made to Jordan Staal about chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa after he lost his grandfather? Yeah, it totally stands for you, too.

This is still so incredibly sad

  • I still can't believe that Letang article was written by Bucky Gleason. It really is a beautiful piece of writing. This is what gets me so frustrated about Bucky - he really could be a terrific feature writer if he removed "5/25", "Drury and Briere," and "lowballing" from his vocabulary.
  • I hope the return-of-the-Army magic continues for another game. I really want him to interview Sid during the series (Are you listening, Sportsnet?).
  • The Sabres signed Jhonas Enroth to a 3-year deal!! I can't tell you how excited I am to see if he's the real deal like everyone says he is. He led all goalies in the Swedish Elite League with a 2.13 GAA and a .932 save percentage - which sound like pretty beastly numbers to me. However, it does make me feel somewhat underachieving in that he's as old as me (19) and is one of the top goalie prospects in years.

Welcome to Buffalo, Jhonas!

  • I feel very proud of Darcy for proving some people (name rhymes with Klucky Kleason) wrong with his signing of our youngsters. Now, if only he could lock up Tim Kennedy and start on our free agents. I guess the Kennedy thing doesn't bother me too much - unlike my secret Facebook bf Nate Gerbe, Kennedy did not accept my request. But really Darcy, Goose needed to be signed YESTERDAY - my mental well-being depends on this. Do not worry, I will have a full report prepared soon with the complete analysis of his value to the team (and me personally).
Darcy, beauty like this needs to be held on to for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE

*Many thanks to M.J. for that adorable picture!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mixed Emotions

The Top 5 Things I Learned from Last Night's Pens 3-2 Win

5.) How to spell "Sacrifice" in languages I can't even discern:

Yes, I did just post this so we can all check out Sid's nice legs and Flower's scrawny ones

4.) Brooks Orpik is a hitting machine. Officially, he hit 4 Red Wings in the course of 14 seconds during one shift. That was such a thing of beauty. Way to do Buffalo proud, Brooks!

3.) Adam Hall is secretly very attractive, especially when scoring hard-working goals

Now THAT is a winning smile

2.) Sidney Crosby is a legitimate star and a true leader. He earned every bit of that 1st star last night. Not only did he score two goals, the first for the Pens in the series; his passion and drive carried the entire team. That was the kind of performance legends are made of.

Best. picture. ever. haha

This is the face of clutch - isn't it pretty?

1.) My advice in matters of hockey and bro-mances should always be heeded. Colby Armstrong must read this blog - it's the only explanation. He read my last post about how much Sid needed him, and he decided to outdo my suggestion of simply calling him and instead flew to Pittsburgh to work as an analyst for Rogers Sportsnet.

Check out the video on their homepage of Colby sharing what magical change he brought about in Sid. Apparently telling him the Chops "look better in person" gave Sid all the confidence he needed to perform the way he did. My favorite part of the video, though, is the 0.005 second shot of Colby seeing Sid before the game - I love how his face lights up!

Really, though, think about it. Sidney looks and sounds dejected and desperate before Game 3. Then his best friend shows up, and his teammates are talking about seeing a different Sid in the locker room. I'm not gonna say "I told you so," but coincidence? I think not.

Sid was given a much-deserved day off today. Let's hope he spends it with his new good luck charm, playing video games and dancing along with Ellen.

In sadder news, Vancouver Canucks baby d-man Luc Bourdon was killed in a motorcycle crash at the age of 21. The Canucks are my favorite Western Conference team, and I often watch their games late on Saturday nights on CBC, so this loss felt like it was to player that I had watched really develop in the past year alone. My thoughts and deepest prayers are with his family, friends, and Canucks family right now.

R.I.P. Luc. You will be deeply missed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Missing Piece

As the Pens get more and more trampled and my prediction seems more and more unlikely, I would like to offer a totally unreasonable explanation for the problems faced by those youngsters from Pittsburgh.

As I looked at their sad faces on the bench and my beloved Sid's endearingly delusional determination in the press room, I realized that the Pens are really missing a very important factor in their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup.

Scoring? Discipline? Defensive responsibility? All of these are very reasonable answers, but they're not what I'm looking for.

What the Pens are missing - what Sid is missing- is...
Colby Armstrong

It was said over and over again before Colby was traded in the Hossa and Dupuis deal - Army was the "glue" that held the locker room together. Now, these boys are becoming more and more "unglued" with each passing moment in these Finals. Yes, they're talented, but they're also young and feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders. If there was one thing Army did, it was bring some much needed laughter and lightness to what could have been a very pressure-filled team.

I will admit, I have a EXTREME personal bias towards Colby Armstrong. He is in the running for, if not already the winner of, the title of "Katie's favorite NHL-er who is not a Buffalo Sabre." He is the definition of the kind of player I love - gritty and chippy, hits hard, plays far outside of his expectations, and is a great guy off the ice. When he got traded, I was more emotional than I was for Soupy. It still pains me to see that he is just as broken up about the trade today as he was 3 months ago. In a time where we often get jaded about player's attachments to a team, it's nice to see that it genuinely broke his heart to leave the Pens.

I read this article just before watching Game 2, and it made me so sad. What stung the most was seeing just how much he misses playing with Sid. I have a feeling the separation anxiety is mutual. Colby was Sid's grounding force, always making fun of him and allowing Sid to mock him right back. Seeing all the stress on Sid's face right now makes me wonder just how much he misses having someone to make him laugh and forget that he has to be the "face of the NHL."

There is nothing sadder to me than splitting up a perfectly good bro-mance

I know in the article Colby said he didn't want to call Sid because it would distract him and "he's a psycho," but I think that Sid needs his best friend right now. Hopefully, he can tell him how pathetic he thinks his beard is, but let him know that he's growing one, too.

I know that the sensible hockey fan in me says that the Hossa trade was the thing that made this run possible for the Pens. Colby is not a better player than Hossa; that I'll admit to. With Colby in Pittsburgh, who knows if they would have even made it this far. The thing is, though, that sometimes fanhood isn't sensible; it's emotional and totally irrational. I'm a fan of Colby Armstrong, and I miss him on my second favorite team. I miss celebrations like this:
So, come on, Sid, Protect the Chops, and do it for Colby.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


This pretty much sums up last night's game for the Pens:

Oh, Flower. First, you get stuck with the least masculine nickname EVER, and now this. At least you were able to laugh it off, though.

Unfortunately, the replay of this moment was about the only thing that brought a smile to my face for the entire game. There's not much to say about it. What I've learned from this season in Sabre-world is that you have to try to put the really bad games behind you as quickly as possible and hope the team does the same.

For tomorrow's game, the Pens are going to have a new look on the ice, and it's one I'm totally in favor of. Malkin is playing with Sykora and Talbot, and I'm so happy to see "Maxie" (as Geno called him) up there. He is a true mucker and grinder and now his hard work is getting appreciated. The same goes for Ryan Malone. Bugsy gets to play with Hossa and Sid, and I must say that Malone and Sid on a line together will be very easy on the eyes. Plus, Gary Roberts is back! I love those cagey vets; he'll knock some sense into these little whippersnappers.

In short, Sid's not giving up and neither am I. As he said, "It's only game one, so I don't think it's desperation."

This is Sid's determined face...Be afraid...

I said Pens in 6, and I'm no quitter. Let's hope they're not either.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Waiting for Tonight...

(insert JLo music here...)

Tonight. 8 p.m. Versus or CBC (CBC, thank you very much). Be there.

If you haven't noticed, I kind of want the Pens in this series. However, no longer do I like them just because they are young, speedy, and adorkable. I don't even want them because they have SuperSid on their team.

This is why the Pens are winners, both in hockey and life in general.

Things I learned from this video:
  • Max Talbot is more amazing than pretty much everything except the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Geno and Gonchar make awesome Russian mobsters.
  • I NEED to hear Geno speak.
  • I miss Colby Armstrong.

Pens in 6.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy "Effing Stupid" Birthday

Today everyone's favorite red-headed "rock star" (term used very loosely) turns the big 2-9 (another GREAT number if you're looking for Sabre-references).

My relationship with Soupy is like a really old, wooden roller coaster, the kind that hurts your head the whole time your on it. At first, I didn't really notice him - he was just the baby d-man who was coming in and out of Rochester, only standing out because of his red hair. Then, Rhett Warrener and he were part of that SARS scare, and I really began to pay attention to Soupy in earnest. After the lockout, he was one of my favorite players because he was one of the few Sabres I didn't have to get to know - I could pick him out on the ice before even seeing his number, which was a big accomplishment for me at the time.

When he put the puck over the glass in Carolina, I yelled numerous obscenities at him, but then I saw his reaction after and my heart genuinely broke for him. When he became an All Star, I felt so proud because it was like he was "ours," he had learned and developed as a Sabre, we got to watch him grow. When he forgot to play defense against Alfredsson in Game 5 of the ECF, all of those good feelings were soon forgotten in yet another rash of obscenities.

Then came this season. In a desperate attempt to make the pain of his unavoidable departure less terrible, I began to nit-pick the Soupster like my life depended on it. At one point, during his whole "I'm gonna play like crap because I'm not mentally prepared to leave" I'll admit to booing him during a particularly bad power play at HSBC. The roller coaster then took another turn on the day he got traded; I actually got teary-eyed watching him get choked up with reporters. No matter how much I was angry at him or hated his spin-o-ramas, he was still our Soupy, and I didn't want to share.

That's pretty much where I am now. I get mad when he badmouths the team that made him what he was because, without the Sabres, he would probably be a figure skater somewhere. However, there is no way in heck he is worth all the money he will make come July - so it was nice knowing you, Brian; don't let the door hit you on the way out.

So, Happy Birthday, Soupy. May your day be filled with spin-o-ramas and bad cover songs. I can't totally hate you because you made this video possible:

Now, don't party too hard...Nobody wants an encore of your December shenanigans.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why I Love Hockey

Many thanks to Katebits at TWC for sharing this video.
I'm speechless. It's just so simple and yet it says so much about the beauty that is hockey. Someday Jason Pominville will be holding that Cup over his head as our Captain. After you see this, how can you not believe that someday it will happen for us?

You Made Me Love You...

I didn't want to do it...After yesterday's fluff, I have decided to once again enter the realm of serious blogging topics. What says "serious sports writer" better than a gratuitous shirtless picture of Sidney Crosby?

After reading numerous blogs about the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals, I have come to this highly intellectual conclusion - a lot of people aren't feeling the "Sid love."

And I'll admit, I used to be one of them. After the Ice Bowl, I never wanted to see his face or hear his name again. I still involuntarily twitch when I see photos or video of his big-toothed smile after he scored. As a hockey fan who favors players who fly under the radar, Sidney Crosby is the exact opposite of the kind of player I gravitate towards. I'm also a big fan of big personalities off the ice, and there's only so much "Robo-Sid" that one can take.

Then I read this article on, and my opinion changed. I highly recommend it, even though it is a tad bit lengthy. Watch the video, too; you'll be glad you did.

It's amazing how, with one story, I went from strong dislike of Sid to something akin to protective love. I always respected his talent, but now I have come to respect him as a person. He's barely a year older than I am, and he has been forced into a position of trying to "save" the NHL in America. I feel like this is the reason for "Robo-Sid" - he feels so much pressure to always do and say the perfect things. It can't be easy wanting to be a normal guy but never being able to really let loose. He needs a snuggle...

But a lot of the credit for my change of heart must go to my favorite former-Pen, Colby Armstrong. As his best friend, he seemed to bring out the real Sid, the 20-year old who laughs and jokes and has (gasp!) flaws like a real person. In one section of that article, Sid and Army are trading jabs back and forth about TV preferences, and I love the image of the two of them dancing along with Ellen. Colby made Sid more human to me, whether it's in getting him to crack that professional exterior or simply informing everyone that's Sid's booty is "kind of big."

In conclusion, I would like to offer some pictures to help increase the cuteness of Sid the Kid in the eyes of nonbelievers:

You can't deny the cuteness that is babySid!

He has his own #87 sippy cup!

And now, if this picture can't melt your heart into loving the adorableness that is Sidney Crosby, I do not know what will...

Two of the most attractive things ever - curly hair sticking out from under the ski cap and sweet hockey boys doing charity work.

Let's recap. Sidney Crosby deserves some lovin' because:

  1. He's a pretty good hockey player
  2. He's bootylicious
  3. He's the best babysitter the Lemieux kids will ever know
  4. He has a fierce set of playoff "Chops"
  5. He's a great captain who has the respect of his teammates despite his age
  6. His BFFE and roomie has been torn from his side to Atlanta
  7. He looks good without a shirt on

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Need a Life...

Muckers and Grinders is a week old today!

To celebrate, I have decided to get this humble blog a mascot.

My sister has collected stuffed animals since she was a toddler, so for her birthday my mom got her the most ADORABLE plush puppy that either of us has ever seen. Now, when we in the Sabres blogging world think cute puppy, who immediately comes to mind? Jason Pominville, of course! The wonderful ladies over at IPB have already extolled the likeness between our Captain and a baby labradoodle.

Don't you just want to snuggle him and scratch behind his cute little ears?

So, to wrap up the most pointless post you will read today, I introduce you to Pommers:

He enjoys shootout goals, blogging, and sticking to the system. He can usually be found hanging around geese (well, one Goose in particular).

I promise, tomorrow I will get back to sensible blogging: Sidney Crosby - learning to love him even when his "playoff beard" gives you nightmares.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

At Least These Finals Don't Involve Studying

Are the Sabres playing yet??

Seriously, today is a pretty uneventful day in the hockey world. Last night the Red Wings eliminated the Stars to move on to the Stanley Cup Final, which will begin Saturday night. I have to admit, I turned the game off by the third period. It just wasn't exciting.

And I guess that's how I feel about the Red Wings in general. I have nothing against them personally, but their greatness kind of bores me. I totally appreciate their accomplishments and just how dominating they are, but they're just too stoic for my liking. I like my hockey boys a little quirkier, a little less polished, I guess.

Which is why I'm pulling for the Pens. They just seem so much like the Sabres off the ice - pretty to look at but dorky as all heck when it comes down to it. Detroit is so composed all the time, a team of grizzled vets. Pittsburgh has their share of those too, but they just seem to be enjoying every moment of these playoffs in a way that only NHL youngsters really can.
This is how they are in my head - Detroit is so stoic and Pittsburgh is so goofy. I'm sure there are plenty of young, fun-loving Red Wings...But until I get a picture of someone hugging Al the Octopus (see Max Talbot and Iceburgh in yesterday's post) this is my comparison.

So, I know what you're thinking. 'Ok, Katie, we get that you think the Pens are OHMYGODSOADORABLE! but do you really think they can win this thing?'

And, oh, yes, faithful readers, I do. I think that the momentum Pittsburgh has ridden throughout the playoffs will carry them through once more. I think this will be a long, tough series (wow, cliche enough for you?), but the Pens have the right mix of veteran toughness and young flash. They have speed, but they also have shown the ability to play very good defensive hockey when they need to. Not to mention their goalie has the ability to stand on his head when he needs to as well.
Pens in 6.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend Recap

Now that was a great weekend!
On Saturday night, the Buffalo Bandits won the NLL Championship game 14-13 over the Portland LumberJax. Now, I've been to a few Bandits games in my life, and those fans are some of the CRAZIEST I've ever seen - in the best possible way. There has been much debate about whether this counts as a "major" championship in Buffalo. I know that I would rather have a Super Bowl or Stanley Cup win, but this is a still a Buffalo championship in a profession sports league, and I, for one, am very proud to be a card-carrying member of the Johnny Tavares fan club today. My two best friends are season ticket holders, and both of them have been so intensely into the NLL season that I've actually decided to go along with them for next year. So congratulations, members of "Banditland" - can't wait to join your ranks next season!

I think I'm in love with Mark Steenhuis and his magical orange shoes

And now for some hockey...

Yes, it was sad watching Derek Roy and his fellow Canadians get ousted by Ovie and the Russians in OT at the IIHF World Championships, but that was all forgotten because of this:

My Second Favorite Team is headed to the Stanley Cup Finals!!

Now I did not get to see the game in its entirety yesterday, but I would like to offer some specific congratulations:

Dear Ryan Malone:

Congratulations to my favorite Pens Mucker and Grinder on your two goals! I love when hard workers get rewarded on the big stage like that. And also, thank you for being SO good looking - it makes me miss Goose and Pommers slightly less:Dear Jordan Staal:

Another goal! Even though I still want to feed you chocolate chip cookies and cocoa after what happened to your grandpa, I would rather you go out and keep winning for him. The cookie offer still stands, though...

Dear Max Talbot:

Thank you for this photo.

Mascot appreciation is good sports karma - keep it up.

Dear Sidney Crosby:

PROTECT THE CHOPS! I don't care how ugly they are, they are winners and so are you. You know I love you (for reasons I still do not understand), and these pictures make me love you even more:

Sometimes I forget just how young you are, and then your face lights up like a Christmas tree, and I remember you're pretty much a little kid hanging with the big boys.

But you're also a very smart Captain, who knows what to do with a trophy that isn't the BIG ONE:

> > >>

Tonight's Game: Wings at Stars 8 p.m. I'm kind of pulling for the Stars now, even though I said Wings in 7.

And on a completely unrelated note, my dance studio won big at our competition this weekend, with my tap team coming only 4 points shy of a perfect score! So it was a very good weekend.

Also, Happy 15th Birthday to my little sister, Amy (who I'm sure you will be hearing about a lot over here)!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Birthdays are Fun!!

Happy Birthday, Mike Ryan!!
In the spirit of MJ, I have decided to celebrate this most auspicious occasion as well. After all, it is not every day that you turn 28 - the BEST NUMBER EVER (daily Goose reference fulfilled).

So, Happy Birthday to everyone's favorite speedy penalty killer and referee annoyance .

For your birthday, I give you the imaginary gift of a brand spankin' new contract so that you can stay a Sabre, living happily ever after with MJ (who also is the source of this adorable pic)

All together: Awwwww......That's so CUTE!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Putting the Broom Away...

Dear Pittsburgh Penguins:
That's ok. We all know you just want to win at home. Just try to come alive before the 3rd period next time, even if I really did think you were going to tie it up.

Dear Philadelphia Flyers:
Way to almost choke away a 3-goal, third period lead in the Conference Finals. It's too bad that the Pens didn't tie it - I was ready to have another counterargument to Jerry Sullivan's "former players never gave up leads EVER" column.

Dear Marty Biron:
Hearing you on Versus tonight reminded me of how much I miss you. I still love you, but you're a Flyer now, so I hope you're back in Buffalo with your cute new baby as soon as possible.

Dear Sidney Crosby:
Just because you have tiny amounts of facial hair now does NOT mean you are tough enough to fight whenever you feel like it. Now, I know you want to be a Mucker and Grinder because you want my unending love, but Mario looked like he was going to kill you after you started fighting Richards.

As much as I love watching you try to prove you're a gritty Captain, you're totally GROUNDED when you get back to Casa de Mario

Dear Ryan Malone:
Now you are a true Mucker and Grinder; gritty is your middle name (Ryan Gritty Malone - works for me). Way to stick up for Jordan towards the end of the game. You also may rival Marty for prettiest eyes in the series.

Dear Jordan Staal:
Two goals! I was so happy for you! I think you made your grandpa very proud.

Now that is love...Not to mention the beauty that is Danny's expression in the background

Go Canada! (I guess...)

At least there's still Derek Roy...

Team USA got eliminated last night in the Quarterfinals of the IIHF World Championships after a 3-2 OT loss to Finland. This means no more watching Pommers, Staffy, or Kaner play until fall. Oh well, at least this means Kaner will be home in Buffalo sooner, increasing the chances of running into him, and my master courtship plan can begin in earnest...

This also means no more tales from Camp Morningwood - the hilarious nickname penned by Anne over at Sabretooth's House. However, Adam Burish did leave us with one final blog:

Some guys took the opportunity to go fishing. For some, it didn’t go as planned. Kessel got pretty sea sick as he spent most of the time leaning over the end of the boat, so guys were joking with him about that the past couple days, and Mueller didn't fare so well at sea either. O'Sullivan and Backes came back with a pretty good tan, and I would say Greene did too but he had a bit more of a lobster red shade to him, ha! Over all they had a great experience catching a ton of cod. Other guys spent a lot of the day walking around the downtown Halifax area eating outside and shopping.

Now boys, you should really put on some sunscreen, especially you, Staffy, you seem quite pale. Pommers seems like someone who would follow them around with the bottle of SPF 50: "Guys, sunburn is not part of the system!"

Sorry Team USA, and it stinks that you won't have any Sabres next summer because we will be busy tearing it up in the playoffs (right, boys?)! At least now Pommers can get back to spending his summer taking care of his recuperating best friend:

Obligatory Goose reference of the day - Check!

Now, this next point is for my best friend and lover of a certain diminutive Sabres center:

Derek Roy is a beast!!

Seriously, though, Royzie had a hat trick for a 4-point game in Team Canada's 8-2 beatdown of Norway. Even though Team Russia is still in with Max and Kalinin, I am now embracing my imaginary Canadian heritage for the remainder of the tournament. Go Royzie!

Royzie is happy he scored, but secretly wishing these uniforms had a little more pizazz

Brief NHL mention of the day: Go Stars!! I really don't care who wins this series, but it's nice to see them avoid getting swept. Go Stuuuuu - even though you will always be a Sabre to me!

Pens vs. Flyers tonight - Here is a sweep I would love to see (sorry Marty and Danny). Go Sid - keep the power of the Chops going for another series!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So it begins...

Welcome fellow hockey lovers!

For a while, I've been reading some pretty AMAZING blogs (go check them out on the sidebar), which have inspired me to share my comments on the wonderful world of Buffalo sports fandom with whoever wants to listen. Don't expect anything eloquent or deeply profound, but if you're looking for emotionally guided commentary you've found the right place. If there's one thing I've learned about being a Buffalo fan, it's that we're pretty expressive people, so if you need a place to laugh, vent, or cry I'll be here.

The title of this blog comes from my favorite type of players. I've always been a big fan of the guys who fly under the radar on the scoresheet and just do their jobs. Nothing against the playmakers (that means you, Derek Roy), but my favorite players have always been the guys known for their grit and toughness rather than their flash: Michael Peca, Mike Grier, Jay McKee...Added to that mix now is the man I consider this Sabres team's ultimate mucker and grinder:

Saving the world, one PSA at a time...

Now, as much as I would love to make a blog entirely about the wonder that is the Goose, there will be others that will be featured prominently here:

Goose would be crushed if I did not spend time talking about his beloved best friend, "Captain Cuddly," Jason Pominville.

There will be much talk about everyone's favorite goalie/humanitarian/fashionista/blogger, Ryan Miller

And because we have to support our own, expect to see this young star a lot as well:

I believe I'm destined to become Mrs. Patrick Kane, he just doesn't know it yet...

Hopefully Muckers and Grinders can be a place to have fun and talk some hockey until our boys are back on the ice - That's when the real fun begins!