Raiders and Checkers

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I used to write here a lot more.

In March 2009, for example, we published 129 posts. I think I had more posts written than hours of sleep in those 31 days. This month, we have exactly one post published until I hammer out this bad boy. The magic is back!

The problem I’ve found with writing a ton of posts–especially this season–is that you start to say the same things over and over again. Writing a half-dozen pregame posts about a midweek hockey game in February starts to produce similar talking points. This becomes pretty clear when the team is struggling. You look at the standings. You talk about starting goaltenders and injuries and link to other interesting things happening in the league. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I don’t recall 2009 being a season full of magic and excitement, but this year’s Sabres team has been a tough sell to get truly interested in on off days. Unless you want to devolve into discussing every mini-controversy or bash a media member, you’re basically writing a newspaper’s notebook story without the quotes the newspaper people get. Or, you gently attribute quotes from the paper or radio station. Link some tweets and ask some vague questions.

What I’m getting at here is that it’s not exactly unique content, which means it isn’t fun to write. It’s good for some page views and busywork, but it’s hard to feel accomplished when you preview a game you’re only going to watch and then actually write (somewhat) informed things about a few hours later. I wish I had three things a day to say about, well, anything.

Even the Kaleta nonsense, while ultimately noteworthy, felt silly to write about. He was definitely getting suspended. He got suspended. Taking a side on that, one way or another, felt absurd. What side was there to even take? He didn’t mean it? Richards isn’t really hurt? There wasn’t really anything to be said that changes who Kaleta is, what he’s known for, and what happened on Sunday. These are the things you deal with when you have a player like Pat Kaleta. When it comes down to it, the psychology of it all is much more interesting than the incident itself.

Tonight’s Sabres game against Carolina, however, feels like it warrants a pregame post if only to state for the record that they should win this game. Cam Ward is hurt. Dan Ellis is sick. The guy in net for the Hurricanes has an 8.28 goals-against average in one game against the Sabres. In a season where you suddenly need a ton of wins just to stay interesting at the trade deadline, games against AHL goaltenders warrant must-win status.

You could say the same thing about a lot of games in a season. Throw the “must-win” tag onto any game that follows a losing streak, or any game against a team near the bottom of the standings. This is how you start to say the same things day after day. Of course, they should win all of these games. If you look hard enough at a game, you can find a way to justify it. This one is obvious at first glance, though.

This season the Sabres have become the team that other fans say “must-win” about, but this narrative is based entirely in perspective. If you think the Sabres can be better than the numbers attached to them, they have to take advantage of some lucky germs and keep rolling. If they are where they belong, though, it’s simply not that easy.

See? You’re not learning anything from this post. The only numbers of significance come from a journalist’s tweet. This is where we’re at with this team. You can write a dozen of these posts a month, or you can pick your spot and hope it counts. I’m picking this game. Win it, then we’ll talk about something more interesting than the third goaltender of a Southeast Division hockey team.

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