Sunday, February 22, 2009

In Denial

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat.

The Sabres did win a hockey game last night, and I am glad that we picked up two points in a ridiculously close playoff race, without allowing the Rangers to get one.

I am glad that no one lost their cool in such a way that cost us those two points or even more players off our roster due to a suspension. In a push to the postseason that will probably be decided by two points or fewer, I know I would have been angry had we lost that game by giving the Rangers a 5-on-3 with a cold Patrick Lalime in net.

I suppose saying those things will earn me some angry comments or eye rolls about drinking Blue and Gold Kool-Aid and sticking up for the softies.

With that in mind, it's time to get another thing straight.

I hate what happened on the ice last night.

I know that doesn't match at all with what I said above, but I really can't explain how I feel about the team's response to Ryan Miller being run by Scott Gomez. I'm glad we won and I agree with Lindy that the playoffs are more important than punching an average center in the face.

That's what the rational, logical part of me says. The emotional, passionate part of me - the "fan" part - that part is singing a different tune.

There have been quite a few games this season that we've lost, and, yet, I haven't been all that mad. That's because I saw heart and effort out there, even in a loss. I'm not saying that those things weren't present on the ice last night, but there was something missing.

If we would have lost, and lost because of someone giving Gomez his just desserts, I think it would have been one of those losses that I put in the "at least they did something" category.

Anyone who reads this blog knows how I like my team to play hockey. Grit and toughness win out over finesse and flash every day in my book. I guess that's why I'm in denial today.

I don't want to believe my boys - my Sabres - are soft.

I don't want to believe that Craig Rivet, the captain of this team, brought in for his toughness, has let his goaltenders get run again and again this season and hasn't forced anyone to be accountable about that.

I don't want to believe that Paul Gaustad could lose his cool so many other times in his career and chose this moment to think with his head and not with his heart. I don't want to believe that he could see one of his best friends unable to stand in his crease and do nothing.

I don't want to believe that Henrik Tallinder saw the whole thing happen right in front of him and let Gomez skate away.

I don't want to believe that Tim Connolly - Tim "one punch from a vegetative state" Connolly was the only Sabre to even look interested in avenging his goalie.

So I guess I'll keep telling myself that Miller got hurt behind the play, and no one knew what had happened until it was too late.

The bad thing is - I can't get that image of Ryan Miller in his dress suit, looking worried and alone, out of my mind. He's been left out to dry too many times this season (and in seasons before), and I feel scared for both his ankle and his psyche.

I can't live in denial anymore, and that hurts almost as bad as a high ankle sprain.


Jill said...

He did look worried...

Katie said...

He did look worried...

He did, Jill. I guess that's what really got me about that game. Logically, I know that we couldn't afford to let the Rangers come back by doing something out of sheer retaliation. However, seeing Ryan crawl to the crease and look so alone after the game triggered my over-protective side.