There was a time I liked rooting for the Penguins. The way the team came together last year looked a lot like the Sabres of 06/07. A likable group of guys, a bunch of young talent, and a goaltender just finally coming into his own seemed to mirror what Briere, Drury and company did a few years ago. It would have been nice to see that team do what Buffalo couldn’t, just to see that it’s possible.
Of course there were a few other reasons, Crosby and Malkin being two major ones. You cannot deny their all-world talent, and having the privilege to watch them night in and night out must really be something. Add in a few intangibles like a local boy on the roster, an old timer you’d love to have on your team, and a blogosphere to follow it all through and you have a pretty compelling playoff run.
Now it’s different. Everything seems different, really, including the fact that I just can’t root for Pittsburgh anymore. The “they are just like us” mentality just isn’t there anymore because the more I think about it the more they are not like us. First of all, they have two. Teams are lucky to have one all-world player on their roster. The Sabres maybe, maybe have one. The Penguins have Malkin and Crosby, and when they go down a goal they can suddenly toss the two on the same line and see what happens. It’s like rooting for the sports car drag racing a Saturn Vue. It may be close for a bit, but which one has that extra level?
There are plenty of other reasons as well, including the fact that they have won it all before. There is an undeniable smugness that comes with a championship, and you see it after any loss. Sure, it’s almost justified, but when it rears its ugly head you can only notice how different some people are.
Maybe this isn’t going anywhere, but I just can’t get over how different this year feels. I keep going to the places I’d go last year and see things I can’t believe. The arrogance of some people I respected has been stunning,and to see how some people act when they fall short is sad. A team is not superior because they finished second, and instead of acting like it you should sit back and savor the fact that you get to watch two of the best players on the planet play in your colors every few days.
Most teams don’t get any. You have two. So fuck the Penguins. I’ll take a tough win with a third line center scoring the winner over your superstars any day. That’s hockey, and the game is bigger than any one player. Forget the officials, forget who’s in net, forget who’s on ice for the other team. Overcome all the bullshit and win hockey games the only way you know how. That’s what Paul Gaustad did last night, and that’s why he’s the namesake.
Sometimes it takes a second effort to win, but you always have to be willing to give it.
Some other thoughts while we get ready for the Habs:
– So… Kaleta has that reputation I was talking about earlier this season, right? That’s the second game in a row with two borderline penalties called against him. Not good.
– After reading Sully’s column about the Sabres I was really down on Max, but there he goes with the best game of the season. Again. If he is getting moved I’m fine with it, but it will be nice if he keeps playing like fantastic trade bait in the mean time. Maybe Ales will stick around after all…
– The Sabres HOF stuff was pretty awesome. Hearing what Andreychuk had to say about the city was so nice I don’t even care if he’s making it up. I don’t care what outsiders say about our city and our fans. Hearing what former players say about us makes everything else moot.
– Penalty killing was great last night. The Pens love doing the backdoor pass and going across the box, but a lot of it was held to the outside. Their unit has been struggling, but when you have that much talent on the ice something has to give eventually.
– What the hell was Jaro thinking on that second Crosby goal? That can’t be the best option, right? It was a great shot by Sid on what probably should have been nothing otherwise, but c’mon man. There’s a reason our entries on the PP are awful, and right now it looks like it’s you.
– There were still a few defensive lapses that just never seem to go away. The Kennedy goal was a great example. Still, it was nice to see Sidney Crosby drifting on Stafford’s second of the night. I love when All Stars give the Briere Backcheck, don’t you?
– Rivet had a really good game, to the point where Chris sent me a text saying “The Rivet I love is back.” Maybe his phantom injury is healed, or maybe he just got pissed off and is playing like he should. Whatever, just keep it up.
– Miro Satan was on the ice last night. I know he didn’t do much, but I checked the boxscore and it said he played. Just so you know.
– Curry played really well for being an AHL goalie. He robbed Vanek a few times and made some big saves throughout. It’s really not his fault the defense refused to help him out in front. Like, at all. Goose should have been flat on his back all night, and those Stafford goals shouldn’t exist either. They are hurting without Gonchar and Whitney.
Plenty more to say, but let’s save it for tonight’s post about Montreal. Another big game to cap off a big week for the Sabres. Last game of a pitiful November. I can’t wait to change the calender on this month.