There's a game today [oddly] scheduled for 3:00 and, though I'm watching the Bills, I'm already in hockey mode. It's about the midpoint of the season and I figured now was as good a time as any to talk about some things that have been annoying, perplexing, worrying, and [other random adjective]-ing me.
First of all, and I'm not saying it's particularly persistent on this site, but there are way too many people who casually claim that the Sabres are in a "weak" division. In my opinion that's nonsense, for a number of reasons. First, no matter what the division, division rivals tend to play each other tough and it's rare to find an easy divisional matchup, I don't care how bad the team is. Even Carolina plays Washington tough (they're 1-1-1 so far this year despite having the biggest point discrepancy between first and last in the division). Second, and this is what really annoys me, the Northeast has FOUR teams currently in the playoffs occupying 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th places. I just don't see how that translates to a weak division. Sure, Toronto is struggling this year but so are Carolina, Philly, Edmonton, Columbus, etc. I wish people would put the "Northeast is weak" claims to bed already.
Does anyone else think the past two games where we've come back from down three have been two of the most fun to watch? I lived in Boston for a while and one of my favorite regular season games of all time was the one where we were down 4-1 with eight minutes to go in the third and we ended up winning in a shootout. I love me a good comeback. Then there was the 7-6 playoff game in Ottawa - I don't think I need to recap that one for you guys. I'm not saying I want to get into the habit of going down 3-0, but it is fun to watch them come back.
I really am not a fan of the winter classic happening every year. I think it would be much better as a once every two or four years type thing. It seems to me that in a few more years they're going to run out of good venues and have to start recycling the old ones. That being said, I think Minnesota should get one soon - they love hockey up there. Obviously somewhere in Canada would be huge also, but I think I heard somewhere that NBC isn't too keen about letting that happen.
I think Tim Connolly should have gotten a spot on the US roster. Nothing more to really say about that.
I don't know if this is a good idea, but I kind of hope Lindy is at least considering resting Myers occasionally. We have seven healthy defenders right now who all have NHL experience. It seems to me that taking Myers out would not only keep him fresh but also might help him learn by watching from the press box. I'm not saying this should happen frequently, and I realize it will probably will draw ire from some of you, but it seems like such a waste to have Sekera as a healthy scratch for every game. Maybe he could rest Rivet or some of the older guys too. Just something to consider.
Lastly, I was perusing the team stats this morning and noticed something that was pretty odd. As the team has been doing pretty well this year most of the players are either plus or even, with Lydman leading the way at a plus-9 (which surprised me). Myers and Tallinder are up there as well at plus-7 and plus-8 respectively. There are only three players in the negative: MacArthur, Butler, and Rivet. Rivet is only a minus-1, not great but not terribly worrisome. But Mac and Butler are both minus-10's, which seems really really high to me. I'm curious as to what could explain this, both of these players seem to be having decent years but these plus-minus numbers are atrocious, considering the team's overall goal differential of +18. What I really don't understand is how Rivet and Butler's numbers are so far from each other, since they're almost always on the ice together. In any case, it seems odd to me.
At the same time, I noticed we already have five players with ten or more goals (Connolly, Roy, Pominville, Vanek, and MacArthur) and four more are well on their way (Gaustad 8, Grier 8, Hecht 8, and Stafford 9). That's some offensive balance, especially considering this team isn't exactly lighting the lamp at record pace. If our top nine forwards all get around 20 goals, as their on pace to do, that would be pretty impressive. I'd like to see our top guys get a few more, especially Vanek, but I'm certainly not complaining about the way things are going.
I suppose that's about it. Let's take it to Montreal today, go Sabes!