I went to a Sabres game where Drew Stafford scored three goals in a win over the Boston Bruins. It was a thoroughly boring, uneventful game that I openly disliked despite watching it live.
Last night I watched a Sabres game where Drew Stafford scored three goals in a win over the Boston Bruins. It was yet another Sabres game that featured awful defense, shaky goaltending and players who have no business on a NHL roster wearing blue and gold.
It was awesome.
If you’re writing a game story about Saturday night’s game there is plenty to talk about. It was the first time in 18 games the Bruins lost after having a two goal lead. Drew Stafford played great, Thomas Vanek looked strong and there is clearly something wrong with Ryan Miller.
However, you’re not reading this because you want a game story. What you want is what I want to answer for myself: What was different about a 7-6 shootout win over the Bruins that wasn’t there in a 3-2 win on Dec. 15 with almost identical plot lines?
What makes one game fun and another game boring? It clearly wasn’t the opponent and it probably wasn’t the date. I’ve been to New Year’s Day games where both the crowd and the team sleepwalks through the occasion.
Maybe it was the high score? Right now the equation is something like this: Bad defense + bad goaltending = goals. Do goals equal excitement?
What about the idea of movement or character development or any of the meta stuff we’ve been talking about in lieu of writing about a boring hockey team? Did Drew Stafford or Tyler Ennis change before our eyes last night? Are the Sabres teaching me anything? Can I make an introspective moment out of a hat trick I didn’t score?
You know what? I don’t know. I’m not sure how and I’m not sure why but I’m glad last night’s game felt different. I’m tired of complaining about the Sabres, tired of treating this team like an obligation. I don’t want to hate this team and these players and this situation.
I just want it to be fun again. That’s all I’m worried about with the Bills game that will start in a few hours. Is the juice worth the squeeze? I want to enjoy sports because they are fun. I have fun at my job despite all the stress and realities of existence, and I’ve always had fun watching sports. Losing that blows. Let’s cut that out.
So yeah, Tim Connolly looked awful, Ryan Miller may have fallen off a cliff and the Sabres’ “best player” is out for the year. And I didn’t care. Stafford, Vanek and Ennis all scored ridiculous shootout goals and I had a smile on my face when the game was over.
I don’t want to hate this team and its general manager or coach or ownership. I don’t want to feel stuck, trapped by the team I root for. I don’t want to be distracted by amateur hockey tournaments or ownership change or a goaltender’s wedding dress. I want to watch hockey because I love it and I find it rewarding to do so.
I don’t want to hate this team, and last night I didn’t have to. Now that sounds like fun to me.