I’m so excited about tonight’s game. I love the way the Sabres have played the last 3 games and think that there’s going to be that little extra energy in the building tonight. I think it’s a big game for the Sabres to continue this ride and get another game over .500 and plus I hate the Leafs.
There’s an article today on Thomas Vanek and it is really more just a numbers piece and not so much an article, but it points out just how valuable Thomas Vanek has been to the Sabres. He’s scored 28.9% of the our goals, not including anything in shootouts. That’s absurd. And where you want to attribute that to the lack of others scoring to support him that’s fine, but this team plays better when Vanek scores and need him to keep doing so tonight in is a pretty big game. If you really want a good Vanek piece go check out Top Shelf.
I’m hoping that Pominville’s three points from the other night carries over. He quietly had a great game and probably made the play of the game keeping the puck in the zone that led to Vanek’s second goal.
I’m also interested in seeing how Nathan Gerbe does again tonight. I think it’ll be interesting for him in his second home game in a divisional rivalry with a sea of Toronto fans in the 100 level. I’m not so worried about his goals right now. I like that he’s skating around hard, finishing checks and creating chances. I know it’s premature, but watching them play Tampa Bay the other night and Martin St. Louis felt like he could turn into that type of player. I just don’t see how they’re going to send him back to Portland for long, if at all.
Jerry Sullivan wrote one of his quibbling back and forth articles yesterday that wasn’t my favorite but brought up some relevant points. This team needs Ryan Miller (and Thomas Vanek) to be their best players on a night in and night out basis. There’s times when that happens and they look unstoppable, but at times they’re beyond frustrating. I love Ryan Miller, but at times he is a microcosm of this team and city. He does let in soft goals and get out of position in weird time and needs to elevate his play to a high, consistent level. I believe he will as this team continues to get of age in front of him. Vanek has gotten so much better of being that model of consistency. Even in the Penguins game when the announcers were killing him; he was working hard, playing hard and those are things I can live with.
The point is that this team needs to find consistency and I think it starts with tonight in a big divisional game. I just need to see what I’ve seen the last three games. Good physical play, sound defensive plays, killing penalties, a good forecheck and scoring opportunity goals. Those things win hockey games and I think this team is finally starting to know that an ugly goal and a pretty goal still put one on scoreboard.
Yesterday, Jerry Sullivan had an article about a conversation he had with Ralph Wilson after the game in Toronto. It sparked a conversation between myself and another passionate Bills backer. I have to say that if I was a 90 year old owner of a franchise that hasn’t been good in a decade and great in almost two and played the way we have the last couple weeks, I’d be a little grumpier about the whole ordeal. I mean I know Sully might have had the tone of the conversation off, but it seemed like Ralph Wilson was more awe shucks as opposed to WTF? We don’t have the talent, what about the coach, he was so ho-hum about it. Maybe it’s the fan in me, but after scoring three points in two consecutive weeks I’d be getting a little outraged. I don’t want and don’t expect another Jerry Jones, but I hate Jauron’s ‘even keel’ and Wilson isn’t much better.
After the loss Russ Brandon came out and said it was unacceptable. Great, no shit moron. Brandon is the guy behind all the season tickets the Bills still sell to the ever faithful fans. I mean are all of us fans that stupid in what we think the Bills should be doing? I mean Marshawn Lynch had 13 carriers, Fred Jackson had no touches and I know JP had some scrambles for yards (5-51 yards), but what you’re basically telling me that two out of your probably 3 best offensive players touched the ball 13 times. We had 13 designed run plays called out of 49! The actual number of run plays is skewed because of Losman.
What’s encouraging is the defense has played good and as a whole it’s hard to be too upset with them given the amount of time they’ve been on the field. I’ve said this before that this team misses Angelo Crowell a lot because he was one of the few playmakers that the defense had in creating turnovers and which is why I think George Wilson should see some time on the field. They have that side of the ball under contract for the most part and should be able to build depth and get an OLB (in re-signing Crowell or other FA or draft) and hopefully some sort of pass rusher even if it’s merely a health Aaron Schobel.
The offense though, who knows what they need. The article mentions that we all were hoping that James Hardy would come in and be a savior. Truth is wide receiver is the toughest position to adjust for in the NFL and even tougher for big receivers who can’t rely just on natural ability. However, I think the combination of Hardy and Johnson can evolve and should be given time, but Roscoe Parrish needs to go (I know he’s a great punt returner) because we need to get a veteran number 2 receiver on a short term deal and then there are a slew of great tight ends coming out this year and I’d love to see us not wait until the 4th round to pick one. We have haven’t used the middle of the field at all this year (thank you Robert Royal). Hopefully with an upgrade at center and a full camp for the O-line (don’t think Jason Peters is holding out again) will give us a fighting chance.
For those of you who are wondering why I’m so about next year right now, refer to Chris Brown’s blog for the Bills’ playoff chances. No you see why and after a spirited conversation last night about Sully’s article…well you get the picture. We’re not there yet, but I’m going to hate myself for saying it, I don’t think they’re that far away either.
You know, I woke up this morning excited. I hate and despise 4pm starts, but the Sabres managed to pull the game out last night even though they took until the 5th power play to muster a shot and Ryan Miller seems to really enjoy being on his knees I woke up happy today. Maybe I’m naïve and maybe I’m a little slow to react to these things, but I think that’s what Buffalo fans are about. We always hold out hope for the best. Then I read Jerry Sullivan’s article today and felt like this entire franchise from top to bottom could care less about us.
It’s bad enough that they are playing the Dolphins in Toronto where Ricky Williams fans will outnumber us, but to think that the players are happy to play in a dome. A fucking dome. Read Sully’s article and you’ll see why I’m so ‘happy’ to be a Bills fan today with players like Marcus Stroud ready to suit up in Toronto as opposed to Buffalo.
I wish I was still in Georgia or Jacksonville