The Hard Way

by Corey

How lame am I that I want to write this in notepad instead of trying to write this post in Microsoft Word. I am in no mood for red squiggly lines today.

The Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Buffalo Sabres and Phildelphia Flyers has escalated into another level of awesomeness that I did not think reachable by this Sabres squad as presently constituted. I, at the beginning of the playoffs, did not believe. In no way did the Sabres have any business getting themselves into the playoffs from where they were on January 1. Not only did they get in, they looked like the best team of the bottom half of the Eastern Conference representatives, and at one point had a solid look at fifth place. No, when the playoffs began I simply wished for entertainment.

Wednesday night delivered, and then some. Many a player may have had the moment of their careers to date and maybe for their duration that night. Where do we want to start kids?

Kaleta and Moxy

That Patrick Kaleta is the dirtiest player in hockey is widely agreed upon. Sabres fans may take umbrage at this accusation. However, opening a door for a defenseless opponent so that he can fall into your bench is, well, dirty. It’s all-time awesome, but it is surely dirty. This play is something that will define him because of its subtlety, its clear intent to do harm to an opponent, its hilarity, and the fact that Philadelphia will likely want him burned at the stake. Imagine all of the other dirty things he has done that we have not seen on camera. What other types of nefarious deeds has this rapscallion pulled off?

There is no debate here folks, the dude shoots to kill without remorse. That is his job. By the end of the night, if you root for the other team, you should hate him. He should make your team take penalties (see: Mike Richards) and get all out of sorts. Kaleta did that and in style.

To those who would counter his deeds with claims or evidence of Flyer transgressions, I say phooey (PHOOEY!) Embrace the evil that this man sows. Philadelphia Flyers fans are roiling over being slighted and wronged, but also by being outdone, and by the Sabres no less!

With the exception of a few flashes of intestinal fortitude, for forty years the Sabres have been a travelling caravan of labradoodles in a land filled with pit bulls. The team history, my friends, is soft like the hella cuddles. Deeds are often done to the Sabres instead of doled out by them. Yet here we have a clear instance of a Buffalo team instigating and sticking to it. Kaleta, Gerbe, and the like play mean and dirty. Miller is socking players who try to invade his safe place, and then talks junk at the presser after putting up shutout. For Christ’s sake people, revel in the moment! We have the bigger crank case!

Take heed from your team folks, and follow their lead. If you happen upon a Flyers fan who would call your attention to the Sabres recent play, inform them that their mom is probably sleeping with a member of the organization, and they don’t pull out for nobody.

Richards’ Major

No way on this Earth should Mike Richards have been assessed a five minute major for elbowing the afore mentioned Kaleta. As Rasheed Wallace is famous for saying, ‘ball don’t lie.’ That Five minute power play was promptly turned into an orchestrated failure of dynamic and exhilarating proportions.

There might not be many cards to play for Lindy Ruff in this situation. He has two functional centers in Tyler Ennis and Tim Connolly. One thinks he’s Maxim Afinogenov at his worst, while the other might be dead. Holy crap I’m not sure I’ve seen a worse power play. I mean, I probably have, even with many of these same players, but you know, my corneas were kinda burnt out. To put it mildly, that power play was very impolite toward those who wished the Sabres to score a goal.

On the penalty itself, Kaleta was coming for Richards at full speed. Richards, seeing who it was, stuck his elbow up and decided that he would not be the next Erat/Seabrook/Crosby/Gagne/Savard. Now we don’t know if Kaleta would have aimed for the head. Me? If I was Richards? I would have put my stick through the back of Kaleta’s skull. I’m not taking the chance that the dirtiest player in the league would be struck by a sudden impulse of mercy in a game that is rapidly becoming a conflagration. No way. I ain’t going down like that.

I am kinda glad Richards did it, honestly. If the only way for skilled players to defend themselves is to start passing out the elbows instead of taking them, then God bless them. This is the league Colin Campbell wants. If players who hunt for the head won’t be held accountable, players have no expectation of safety. Kaleta was coming. Richards saw him. What else should he have done, surrendered?

Myers

I love it when Myers steps up into a passing lane and takes the play the other way. It’s the kind of awareness that smart defensive players possess a level of anticipation that shows he can see a few seconds into the future – like Christopher Walken.

What was awesome about Wednesday was how mean Myers got. He punched dudes. He knocked over Briere in what might be one of Myers own defining moments so far. He dragged Richards nearly fifteen feet away from the net because he was slightly perturbed (with a ref coming along for the ride.) It was really a solid look at just how strong Myers can be as a defenseman. The dude was brutal. It was that aspect of his game that had been lacking before. He is a skill defenseman who happens to be eleven feet tall. Not Wednesday.

If Myers truly wants to elevate his status in the league and be a viable candidate for the Norris trophy repeatedly, then he is going to have to get on with the pointy elbows. It was good to see.

Miller

I am seriously thinking that the man is Han Solo. He is blasting his way in, bagging the princess, and making off with the loot. Bonus: He plays for the good guys.

Look, a lot has been said about his game and how he is paid like a top tier goalie but does not rank near the top statistically. Also, when he plays goaltenders who seem to be inferior than him, they sometimes win. Just how good is this guy?

As frustrating as it can be sometimes to watch Miller play and shrug dyspeptically when he lets in a bad goal, it can also be a blast to watch him pull a save out of nowhere. It is the plot we look for in great stories – the classic arc. The hero faces adversity and overcomes it with a creative, audacious, and entertaining solution with a bit of swagger for sure.

Solo readily admitted that going into the asteroid field was a bad idea. Miller is just as likely to admit that making a save with Tyler Myer’s stick shaft and a goal post isn’t the best idea. But it worked.

Everything falls apart around Solo, and no one is impressed when they first see him. Then he saves the day.

6 Comments

  1. I want all further posts to mirror this post. Awesome.

  2. Fantastic post Corey. The Miller/Han Solo part is epic and here is hoping it catches on. I still disagree with the Richards elbow. I’ve watched it way too many times now for my own good and I keep changing my mind on how I feel. In the end, if it the elbow was to anybody else except Kaleta, then there is no argument at all. Just a hunch.

    Either way, you sure made me think and everything else is great. I for one am now embracing the “evil” that is Kaleta to the fullest! Nice job.

  3. Ditto, this post was absolutely fantastic. Yes, Kaleta is as dirty as they come and yes, Kaleta is a bigger BAWSE that Rick Ross. Meyers is turning into Chara on steriods. Miller is the man, because he knows that he’s a better goalie than your other favorite goalie, doesn’t care if he makes people angry in his interviews, and the more punches he throws the better he plays.

  4. Just wait till Kassian is on this squad. NO one will want to play the Sabres. Darcy has a done a pretty nice job of injecting grit and toughness.

  5. Sam

    Your Ryan Miller/Han Solo comparison is brilliant. I was literally laughing out loud reading it. Spot-on, my friend. Well done. It might be my favorite post of any you’ve written.