Monday, June 29, 2009

My Version of Draft Analysis

If you have ever read this blog before (or even glanced at its name), you know what kind of hockey players I like - big, tough, gritty players who win by physical punishment and force of will rather than fancy feats of skating prowess. It's been that way ever since I can remember watching hockey; I've always gravitated towards the worker bees and tough guys.

Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that all who know me and my hockey preferences have been coming up to me in the last couple of days saying the same thing:

"You must be really happy with the draft this year."

Let's see: The Sabres used their first-round pick on Zack Kassian, labelled the toughest player in the draft. They drafted no player under 6'1, 187 lbs. They took the son of a former captain, a young player that has been compared to my favorite player.

Yeah, I'd say "happy" pretty much covers it.

I know that there's a chance that some of these kids will never see the NHL. Even the best probably won't be on the team right away. Still, though, the team at least acted like they know what they are sorely lacking right now. They addressed their needs, which is all you can really evaluate in the NHL draft.

With all that being said, I now present "Katie's Completely Unnecessary Guide to the Sabres 2009 Draft Picks":

1. Zack Kassian
  • States that his shootout move is a "shot" - I love a guy who doesn't over-think things.
  • Favorite restaurant is Applebee's - This boy needs to be introduced to the Buffalo culinary scene. Now.
  • Calls himself "the guy that just sits at home and plays video games" - Is there any way we can keep him away from Tim Connolly at training camp every year? He needs to stay this innocent boy and not be introduced to the debauchery of Chippewa.
3. Brayden McNabb
  • Hails from the beautiful town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. You know who else calls Saskatoon home?

Colby Armstrong. This automatically makes him fantastic just by proximity to my favorite non-Sabre NHL player.

  • Likes Harry Potter books - he would have earned even more points with me if he would have specifically said Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • Patterns his game after Calgary's Robin Regehr. I love Regehr's ability to stay relatively unnoticed, which is a good thing for a defensive defenseman. I became a big fan of his two years ago, so it's nice to see him mentioned by one of our prospects.

4. Marcus Foligno

  • Was born August 10, 1991 - We share a birthday! But he's three years younger than I am and getting more press than I will ever receive. Oh well, I'll look past the bitterness and enjoy the fact that I now actually know someone with my birthday.
  • Was compared to Paul Gaustad, which automatically makes him my new favorite prospect. However, this comparison was about how he needs to work on his skating just like Goose did. Still, though, if he has the work ethic of his dad, I think he'll succeed just like Goose did.

5. Mark Adams

  • Smallest Sabres draft pick this year
  • Still in high school - God, I feel so old!

6. Connor Knapp

  • Undecided major at Miami (Ohio) University
  • As a goalie at 6'5, 215 lbs., he makes Ryan Miller (6'2, 166 lbs.) seem like even more of a twig than we already thought he was.

7. Maxime Legault

  • Plays for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, the same team Jason Pomiville played for.
  • Is only about a year younger than I am (5/28/89), which makes me feel somewhat better about myself.

Question for all of you Facebook users out there - now that these boys are so much younger than I am, is it creepy to request to be their friend? I'd appreciate any and all opinions on this very important matter (because I know how much this matters to all of my readers...or not...).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And the winner is...

...those who watched the NHL Awards with low expectations.

Don't get me wrong; I love a good awards ceremony, but this was pretty predictable in every way. The only thing that really surprised me was Richard Zednik getting snubbed for the Masterton, and that was a disappointing surprise.

However, eternal optimist that I am (today), there were some things that I absolutely loved about the ceremony:

* Seeing Max Talbot and Evgeni Malkin as unofficial "Keepers of the Cup" never fails to make me smile. I love that a grinder like Talbot is getting his time in the spotlight.

I love that Geno has keep a hand on the Cup like it might run away.

* Patty La sighting! He was one of my first "favorites," so I still light up every time I see him.

* Timmy Thomas was phenomenal with both of his speeches. He got me choked up to hear him thank his wife for following him wherever he had to play. He also got me snickering with his comment to Manny Fernandez when they accepted the Jennings Trophy:

I think that wins the title of "Best Unintentionally Comedic Moment at a Boring Awards Show"

* Jarome Iginla and his pearly whites made an appearance to accept the Mark Messier Leadership Award.

When I heard him talk about their "core" of players and how long they've waited to win the Cup; it actually made me kind of sad. Not that I don't love Craig Rivet, but I wish our captain was part of our "core," grew up with the nucleus of our team. Who am I kidding, I just wish Goose was our captain, and I'm starting to get bitter about it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I know that there are reasons to be mad about last night if you're a Sabres fan:

* Miro Satan won a Stanley Cup...I'll give you all a second to swallow the bile back down.

* Sidney Crosby won a Stanley Cup - and proceeded to reenact his Winter Classic screech on an even more ear-piercing level.

*Pittsburgh changed their coach and won a Cup, and the Lindy Ruff more than I do (which is saying something...and not necessarily a good thing)

*A team won the Stanley Cup last night, and that team was not the Buffalo Sabres...again

But there are also reasons to be happy.

No matter how bitter and jaded I can get as a hockey fan, I still get goosebumps whenever I watch a Stanley Cup celebration. I'm a human-interest story nerd at heart, and those moments always know how to tug at the heartstrings. It's pure emotion on display - tears and laughter and blissful exhaustion - with no veneer of professionalism to separate the fans from their champions.

I know some may think that watching another team lift the Cup would make a hockey fan whose team didn't make the playoffs feel even more hopeless.

Not so for me.

Last night, I didn't go to my usual unhappy place filled with thoughts of how that will never be my team. Instead, I let myself think about what would happen if that ever was my team. I thought of how I would feel if Craig Rivetwas in Sidney Crosby's place or if it was Goose scoring those goals instead of Max Talbot. What would it feel like if Ryan Miller got to wrap his skinny arms around all that silver...if Lindy got doused in champagne?

Right now, I have no idea how that would feel. I've never watched a team I really cared about win a major championship. Yesterday may have been the closest I came just because my favorite non-Sabre's best friend got to be the first to lift the Cup (yes, I am pathetic). I can only hope that we here in Buffalo can someday soon feel what they're feeling in Pittsburgh today - the pride of knowing that it's our boys - the ones we yell at, laugh at, obsess over, wear the jersey of - that came out on top.

Until then, at least the Cup should be coming back to Buffalo again:

Congrats, Brooks Orpik - you did us proud!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

As Easy as it Looks?

I was really starting to get bored with hockey.

Until tonight.

Don't get me wrong, the playoffs have been full of great hockey games, but in all honesty these Finals were nothing short of a snooze-fest for me during the first two games.

I'm sick of the Red Wings.

I know that dominance like theirs comes along rarely, but it's really getting on my nerves. They make winning look easy, and this is a double-edged sword. It's nice to hear that you make things so difficult look so effortless. However, there is the chance that your ability to do this makes things boring. That's how the Wings often look when I watch them - like a well-oiled machine that just does its job to perfection (and what's exciting about that?).

They'll probably still win this series (I think in 7 games this time), but it's nice to see them deal with adversity in doing so.

That's what makes tonight's win by the Penguins so great - it really did make this a series. It proved that Pittsburgh can hang with Detroit (at least for a little while). Mainly, though, it made the Wings look human. It reminded me that winning isn't really all that easy - no matter what the Wings usually look like. Winning is hard - and exhilarating, and suspenseful, and full of desperation, and it's nice to see that with the hardest trophy in sports to win on the line.

I, for one, can't wait until Thursday.