Thomas Vanek is in a special place right now. It’s the kind of place that goal scorers go to every once in a while; where everything is illuminated by red lights and there’s always open ice. See, Thomas Vanek really thinks that he should score a goal every time he hits the ice. Every single time. He knows how good he is, he knows he is going to get his chances, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to see that red light go off.
That makes him a very, very dangerous person.
Thomas Vanek didn’t score in regulation tonight, but he did pretty much everything he could think of trying. He tried to score from behind the net, bouncing it off the goaltender. He tried a backhand he had no business getting that much power behind. Every once in a while he even tried to set up his teammates, drawing the defense away before he effortlessly tossed it out in front.
Vanek was everywhere again tonight, and even though the box score says he had two shots, he contributed to the offense in much bigger ways. Right now he is playing the kind of game where I want him to have the puck at all times when he’s on the ice. Like the hot hand in basketball, Thomas Vanek is playing with his hair on fire, and you feed that guy the puck when he’s that hot.
After the shootout goal Rich sent me a text that said: “Dude you don’t even know how nasty the fake was on Vanek’s goal.” He’s right. I still have no idea how good it was, but I know I’m going to watch it at least 12 times when NHL.com finally puts it up. If you make the trip over there with me, click Vanek’s name and just watch his highlight real for a few minutes. This is something pretty special we are watching; a performance from a kid who has a world of pressure on his shoulders.
Thomas Vanek is doing his Atlas thing right now, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to shrug anytime soon.
Some other thoughts on the game:
– I give the Sabres Style gear a heartfelt “meh”. A stylized Slug is still a Slug. Jon said he would quit the blog if I bought one, but let me point out that the stuff looks exactly like something Dan Paille would wear. So yeah, there’s that.
– Speaking of Dan Paille, is it just me or does his face morph every season? Sometime tomorrow I’m getting his team photos together and comparing them. This isn’t a puberty kind of morph, this is an Amy Winehouse pre/post coke kind of transformation.
– While we’re on the subject of Sabres merch, they had the shirt in the store. The jury is still out in it for me, but it looks much more like a shirt than a jersey in person. Still not worth the price tag, though.
– They also had Portland Pirates gear there, including Nate Gerbe and Tim Kennedy shirseys. Don’t worry, I can’t believe it either.
– Also, if you’ve ever wanted an authentic (as in game worn) jersey, now’s your chance to get one. They have a bunch in the corner where they usually have used sticks. I think they were $144 each, but it may have been $177. Either way, much cheaper than usual and even if it’s not your size it would be prime framing material. (Please don’t quote me on the price, we get enough angry emails from French people) looking for porn…)
– One more thing about jerseys. We are pretty strict around here with jerseys and what name goes on the back. However, what’s the rule when that person literally doesn’t exist?
You probably can’t see it (he didn’t stay still for long), but that’s most definitely a Taro Tsujimoto jersey, #74 and everything. Personally I think that’s kind of awesome, even if it’s on a current jersey. Thoughts?
– The new cups look pretty sweet, but they have some major lid problems. Careful with those now. Also, try not to drop an entire tray of nachos on the person below you. Poor girl a few seats over wound up with a hood full of jalapenos tonight because the person behind her couldn’t, I don’t know, function normally around cheese, I suppose.
– The person behind me kept calling Dan Paille “Pele.” It actually wasn’t funny at all. Okay, it totally was.
– Mair’s office got a bit of a downgrade this year. I’m a big fan of individual letters, but the picture of City Hall was a nice touch.
– I have a lot of questions about the music they played tonight, but one thing that freaked me out was the Green Day/Oasis mix they played during the second intermission. Somehow they got “Wonderwall” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” to turn into one song. That’s a new one. How do you search for that on iTunes? Wondervard of Broken Dreams? Wondervard of Brokenwall?
– On an actual hockey note, I love pretty much everything about Craig Rivet. From the little push he gave someone who took a chop at Miller to the bad ass way he didn’t react to the MacArthur goal at all. Even when he fell late in overtime, he absolutely flew to get back into the play. Chris better dial up that jersey before I make a bad life decision or two.
– On a down note, I absolutely hated the last power play in regulation. They were tentative and tried the same dump play to Ales in the corner twice, both times he muffed it. I know there’s no point in this, but if they pushed the tempo a little harder to end the game they could have stopped Boston from getting the extra point. A few months from now those extra inter-division points could cost them. It sure did last year.
– I lied, the Aud did look pretty depressing tonight.
– Did I even mention Ryan Miller? That’s pretty hard to believe I went a few thousand words without mentioning the first star of the game. That save in the third is why we pay him like a top five goaltender. After a game like tonight, Darcy looks pretty smart from up in the press box.
On that note, let’s give the Ferrunginous Pygmy-Owl of the Game to Darcy Regier. It was a relatively quiet summer, but so far this fall there’s been plenty of noise.