Playoff Beard Hanging On For Dear Life

Buffalo Sabres hockeyThis time of year, many players in the NHL refuse to shave until they are eliminated from the playoffs. It’s a bit of a good luck charm. A superstition. Not sure that’s it’s really all that effective, but you’ll notice that most players on the Stanley Cup winners are sporting a very hairy face when they hoist the prized trophy in early June.

I do not play hockey. (Well, except for a bit of street hockey with my boys yesterday…) I just watch hockey. But I really don’t like to shave, so… when my team is in the playoffs – or this year, in playoff contention – I also refuse to shave, hoping to bring the Sabres loads of good luck.

OK… I just don’t like to shave. But, this is a fun reason not to!

The playoff beard is hanging around for at least two more days as the Sabres did beat Boston 2-1 in OT yesterday. They are 5 points out of the final playoff spot with three games left. In hockey, you get 2 points for each win, so you do the math. Basically, the Sabres need the Bruins to lose (they’re in the 8th spot right now) and the Caps to lose (they’re in the 9th spot) and they need to win their final three games. It’s kinda like a playoff series already, and we started out down three games to none.

Last night did make it three games to one, but in this case… we don’t control our own destiny, as they say.

So, we are watching the Caps, the Bruins, and the Sabres… and hoping for the best.

And I’m hoping I get to keep this beard a little bit longer… 🙂


R.I.P. Big Ten

With State being trounced 92-74 tonight, that completed the “sweep” of the Big Ten teams in the NCAA tourney this year. Two made it to the Sweet Sixteen, none made it past that. Quite uncommon.

State scored 54 points in the second half, and did pretty well in all aspects of the game for that 20 minutes. That should tell you how the first half went. 🙂

In other sporting news…

The Sabres did manage to salvage a point, but gave up another lead to lose in overtime. They basically threw away a much-needed point. That pretty much sums up the Sabres’ 2007-2008 season. Work really hard, get some great goals… then have the other team tie it with 14 seconds to go, only to lose in OT. (I believe it’s our 12th OT loss.) Surprisingly they are still in the hunt for the final playoff spot, but at this point, every game is a win or your out kind of game. Fun stuff.

So, it looks like my teams are either out, or soon to be out of my two favorite annual sporting events. Not a good sports day here!


Free Agent Moves

Bills fans tell us what you think of the Bill’s off-season moves…

Do you like them?
Are we spending our money in the right way?
What new player do you think will have the biggest impact in 08?

March Madness

I may have mentioned this in years past, but I must say… 18 March Madnesses ago, my friend Adam invited me to his house, and he invited Jen Walker. And that night, a friendship began that is still going strong, and only getting better. I sure love my Jen, and in a strange way, March Madness reminds me of that. 🙂

The tourney is also fun when my team (Michigan State) advances. They did that today with a pretty easy win over #12 Temple. #4 Pittsburgh is next. Bring ’em on! 🙂


Just When We Thought They Were Finished…

The Sabres continue to surprise us. This team has been very streaky in 2007-2008, and thought replete with talent, they seem to lose to teams they should not lose to.

Partially that is due to an amazing season of equality in the NHL. Every team can beat any other team on any night. Pretty amazing. There are 6-7 teams fighting for the final few playoff spots in each conference, separated by only a handful of points. Pretty spectacular for the fans, for the most part.

But also very frustrating.

Wednesday night the Sabres were hosting the last place Tampa Bay Lightning, very much needing to win due to the teams closest to them in the standings winning the night before. Seemed a perfect opportunity, being on a bit of a winning streak, and playing at home against a seemingly easy opponent. But don’t forget what I said above. This season, every team in the league can beat any other team on any night. The Lightning apparently knew that.

Leading 2-1 after one period, and 4-1 after two (with the Sabres mustering only 2 shots in the second period) the Lightning seemed in complete control, and Sabres’ fans booed their team off the ice into the intermission.

Perhaps that had the desired affect. In the third period, the Sabres looked like the team they really are capable of being (super-talented, high-scoring, fast, aggressive, fun-to-watch, young team) and posted their second and third goals within 16 seconds of each other, then once they tied it, didn’t stop till they tallied six altogether in the third period! Thomas Vanek even had a natural hat trick, scoring the tying goal, the go-ahead goal, and the clincher! Fantastic.

Tonight (Friday) the Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs who are closer in the standings to the Sabres, but whom the Sabres have recently had a pretty easy time with. This is a game the Sabres should win, and need to win. Two points are a must.

After the second period Wednesday it seemed the team had given up, and with only 8 games to go, it seemed time for me to face the non-playoff reality. BUT, after that third period… perhaps we are seeing the final streak for our boys in Blue and Gold? A good streak in the final eight games could conceivably get them as high as sixth place. That would pit them against the Southeast division champ (likely Carolina) whom the Sabres have had a pretty good time with this year!

They’re still sitting in a very precarious 9th place for the time being, but this team has a good chance to land a playoff spot, as long as they can be the team that we saw in that third period last night.

Here’s hoping they’ve got one more good streak in them this year! 🙂

Current Bills Free Agency Offseason Players

Mission Accomplished: Fat Guys Added

New Fat Guys, Spencer Johnson and Marcus Stroud
The Bills went a long way toward improving their run defense—as well as their pass rush—by making a trade this past weekend for DT Marcus Stroud, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Stroud is a big man, but also very quick, and a great pursuer. He’s 6’6″ and 308 pounds. That’s a big man in the middle, something the Bills have been sorely lacking in recent years. And, it has shown as Buffalo’s run defense has been in the statistical cellar for the past three seasons.

The first free agent to sign was Kawika Mitchell from the world champion NY Giants. Mitchell came over to NY from the Chiefs as a free agent in 2007, and then signed a five-year deal Friday to play for the Bills. His style is reminiscent of the great Buffalo Bills LB Darryl Talley. Buffalo fans hope he can match Talley’s energy and accomplishments over the next five years or more.

Now with a solid corp of line backers in Paul Posluszny, Angelo Crowell, and Kawika Mitchell, the Bills turned their attention to the fat guys.

At just about the time the deal for Stroud was announced, the Bills also inked a deal with free agent DT Spencer Johnson of the Minnesota Vikings. Johnson played alongside former Bills DT Pat Williams and Vikings other fat man, Kevin Williams. Johnson joked about his day in the sun being overshadowed by the trade for Stroud, saying he’s used to it with Kevin & Pat.

Even though apparently used to being “second fiddle”, Johnson was also quite happy to be joining a line with Marcus Stroud, and presumably fellow Pro Bowler, Aaron Schobel. Add to that a couple young guys in Kyle Williams (Johnson can’t get away from the Williamses) and John McCargo, as well as Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney, and the Bills defensive line no longer looks like a liability.

Additions were not the only news out of One Bills Drive this past week. Prior to Friday’s signings, the Bills parted ways with DT Larry Tripplett, as well as several other players leading up to the start of free agency. Gone now are Anthony Thomas, Coy Wire, Peerless Price, CB Jerametrius Butler, G Aaron Merz, and Kiwuakee Thomas.

Out with Kiwuakee, in with Kawika.

Rumors abound now on the offensive side of the ball, with vists from free agents Alge Crumpler and WR Bryant Johnson said to be happening this week. Nothing is confirmed regarding any offensive signings, but the Bills are known to be looking at the tight end position as well as adding a big, tall number two wide receiver.

Just as in 2007, the Bills have made some very fast moves with their available cap money, and in general, it seems Bills fans—and the Bills front office and coaching staff—are even more pleased with the first crop of free agent signings in 2008.


Too Many Streaks

Buffalo SabresThis is the year of the streak for the Buffalo Sabres. Frustrating to fans, perhaps even more frustrating to the players and coaches.

Just when it looks like the team is getting back to their winning ways, the Sabres seem to match a long winning streak with an equally long losing streak. The result has been hovering about in the middle of the conference standings, with just over a .500 record on the season.

Now three points out of a playoff spot, with key losses to the teams they are chasing in this current losing streak, the Sabres are definitely in danger of not even qualifying for post season play. And they know it. The players held a “players only” meeting following yesterday’s embarrassing 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

At least they understand that they need to step it up. And I believe they can. But will they? Maybe they can have a nice win streak to make the push for the playoffs, followed by their typical long losing streak, followed by a long winning streak to carry them into the playoffs? Not sure there’s time. Then, wouldn’t they just be saving their losing streak for the first round of the playoffs? 🙂

It looks as if this year’s team may have taken too much of a hit with the loss of Briere and Drury in the summer, and now losing one of their top defensemen, Brian Campbell (who always logged a lot of ice time) in a trade to the Sharks. Time will tell. And it will tell soon.

I remain hopeful, but weary of the streaks.