The NEXT GREAT SABRES BLOGGER Contestant Final Round Brad.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in”
In the depths of the Key Bank Center Sabretooth paces in his cage. Alas, as the organization has neglected the team, they have forgotten about our beloved mascot as well. They have decided to strip the adults of decent entertainment, and with this mistreatment of our furry striped hero, they went after our kids too. Shaking his paw with the little one’s hands and giving high fives was his specialty before this pandemic altered our lives as we once knew it. He wondered if social distancing would forever keep him from bounding down the stairs in section 117 to the opponent’s penalty box, and taking pleasure in taunting the guilty party by rubbing his posterior against the glass. But loyal fans, I know a secret. Something that all of these seasoned writers and NHL experts don’t know… A heartfelt story of a security guard who has been kept on the payroll for over thirty years and has seen it all. His compassionate side has decided to let the misunderstood beast free to practice his craft in an empty arena in the middle of the night. No mask, no tee shirt gun, just the ghosts of players from the past and the souls of the present. While the children are snuggled in their beds, the “Tooth” picks up his preferred instrument somewhere in the 300 section and drums the beat to “Let’s go Buffalo!”. He has been doing this for some time now, and with this trance has been putting good vibes out into the universe. Miraculously it seems to be working… In the course of the last month perspectives have changed. Hope doesn’t seem to be lost after all. There is a pulse and the future seems full of opportunities and possibilities, not impending doom. I have heard rumors of Don Granato and Kevyn William Adams leaving prime cut steaks out when they finally leave the building, but my sources can’t confirm or deny it.
Has this repetitive sound awoken this young herd? Have the honest answers of Granato and his words of no one player is bigger than the team created a comradery that has been lacking for so long? I am beginning to believe again in the prospects stabled in our corral that are essential to the stability of winning. Sometimes a guy is just an NHL gamer but doesn’t perform well in the AHL. Sometimes it takes the right coach to have faith and give a guy some honest minutes so they feel they can fit in. Sometimes the art of installing confidence is done by not overstating mistakes, but highlighting good play.
The current coaching staff is making a connection and we are all witnessing the change in philosophy. It’s a breath of fresh air. Stubborn ways lead to predictive results. The NHL is constantly evolving and who says we can’t be one of the innovators of the next formula? Speed and talent are definitely essential in today’s game but I am also seeing the need for toughness surfacing again. It is not the same enigma as it was before however, it manifests itself in a guy who is physically superior but also has skill. A guy who knows the tempo of the game and knows when to turn the nasty on or off. Net presence and taking a beating is still is a major factor. After watching the last few weeks without some of our supposedly best players in the lineup, it has been eye opening. The cards are off the table and I think the organization and the fans are beholding a rebound that was not expected. Simplify, compliment, and reinvent.
Add McCabe, Borgen, Eichel, Ullmark, a top draft pick next year, or perhaps even Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, or don’t. A lot can be done with these pieces.
Craig Berube didn’t sing the Blues and neither does Don Granato. It can be done.
Puck possession and offensive zone time eases the pressure on defensemen and the tender. We have been trending towards this goal through the message that is being sent with results. Among the previous core, no one is thriving more in this new environment than Rasmus Dahlin. He is a different guy and his determination to make things happen has given him a poise that we have not seen. He was not drafted to be a responsible stay at home guy, he has a partner to do that. We have been suffocating this kid for no reason in the name of development. Once again there are anomalies everywhere you look when it comes to NHL rosters. There are lessons to be learned and applied by the old way of doing things, but being bold to make questionable choices through your gut instincts because you are actually making a connection with your group is brave amongst the criticism. Ralph apparently missed the sticky note I left on his desk that told him to wake up. This is a team, not a club.
It perplexes me where Granato was in all of this disfunction. Probably in handcuffs hanging out with Sabretooth, waiting in his cage to be let out and bang that drum. I would love to have a personal conversation with him about it. Perhaps this forum will afford me that opportunity.
To Cozens, Mittelstadt, Asplund, Jokiharju, Dahlin, Bryson, Ruotsalainen, and new comer Bjork, thanks for helping the others by infusing a new energy into something that was lifeless. If you look at these guys stats over the last handful of games it is inspiring. Points, plus minus, shooting percentage, it’s all there. I understand fully that there will be stretches of uncertainty and that being in a pro lineup is not a given, but take what you have learned in this short period and it will serve you well.
Thanks to Hank for the preview of the game against the Penguins today, your comments and analysis are definitely worthy of consideration. For years I have gone to Hockeybuzz to be entertained and informed, and you fit the bill.
Todays matchup featured a soft goal from behind the line that has to be saved, and poor puck management by number 24 that led to a layup. They got beat by a good team that was ready to play and young guys learn from miscalculations as long as they are supported. Clearly the boys gave a good effort and began to understand the tendencies and nuances of their opponent as the contest moved into the third.
Ooo Ahhh, Sabres on a good path.
Best wishes to Kyle Okposo and a speedy recovery. You were giving it your best and it is unfortunate your season has come to an end.
On a side note, can anybody help me with this?
Why did the NHL move to wearing dark uniforms at home? It makes no sense to me. When you go to a game the other team is always in their whites. Back in the day one would see many different color combinations and it only enhanced the experience. I don’t understand the reasoning.