6 ways to endure the 2013-14 Buffalo Sabres
blog by Ryan Nagelhout • October 16, 2013 @ 1:51pm
The Buffalo Sabres are not very good at hockey.
This is a problem when the only reason you pay attention to the Sabres is to watch them play hockey. If they collectively were moderately good at, say, writing flash fiction between shifts, you could excuse the 1-6-1 start to the 2013-14 campaign. Because Tyler Myers is not the next Ray Bradbury, we have to do something about this team.
Finally winning on Tuesday night is not enough. A few shootout goals here and there will not save this team from being uninteresting, nor will they save you from losing your mind watching them.
So, we thought it would be a good idea to point out a few ways you can endure a full season of Sabres hockey without getting too depressed, too distant, or giving up altogether.
I know this is the easy one, but I do not mean binge drinking to forget about yet another poor performance from the hometown team. Drink well. There are thousands of beers you have never tried, and 74 more hockey-related excuses to drink something new. Forget the Blue Light. Go exploring.
There are 29 other NHL franchises located in 15 states, one District and four Canadian provinces. Premier Gourmet organizes their beers both by state and country, so you can choose your drink of choice based on the opposing team’s location or even a beer based on someone’s country of origin.
I bet Zdeno Chara loves Golden Pheasant. Give it a shot, then let me know how it tastes.
2) Watch Thomas Vanek
There are Sabres fans out there that don’t think Thomas Vanek is very good. These Sabre Truthers, so to speak, fill talk radio with complaints that he is too slow and doesn’t finish any of his chances. They call him lazy, even. These people are crazy, and outside of vision problems or simple Austrian discrimination, there is no excuse for feeling this way.
Vanek is the best Sabres player not wearing a goalie mask, and has been for years. His time on this hockey club, however, is likely coming to an end.
Watching Vanek work on a struggling team may be one of the more satisfying on-ice things you’ll get from the Sabres this season. We are taught to watch the puck, but really try to pay attention to him on every shift.
Watch how deliberate he is on the ice. How he moves into and out of scoring positions, gliding through the defense and putting himself in the right place at the right time. Do more than bemoan the missed opportunity in front. Rewind the DVR and appreciate how he created that chance. Consider how often he creates that chance out of nothing.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until he’s gone: There is no replacement for Thomas Vanek on this roster right now. If the Sabres are bad all year, they’ll get a good chance to replace him in the draft next summer. Until then, appreciate No. 26 while he’s wearing blue and gold.
3) Watch the Opposition
The Detroit Red Wings are in the same division as the Sabres this season. This is great if you like to watch good hockey, and awful if you want to see the Sabres win.
Taking the former approach to this season can make a big difference, though. Appreciating hockey for its aesthetic beauty is easy when the team you love is good at it. You have to pull back a bit to enjoy it from the other side if your guys stink.
Monday night’s game against the Wild is a great example of a good hockey team putting on a show at the Sabres’ expense. Minnesota plays a great possession game. They pass well, put together great stretches of play, and have a great goaltender making saves on the other end. It’s a great package, one I’m jealous the people of Minnesota get to watch a few nights a week.
We’re not going to be that lucky this year, but we will be seeing some impressive teams play the Sabres. There are two sides to every final score. Take a moment to appreciate what the other team did right, rather than just what the Sabres did wrong. It’s a nice worldview to have anyway, and it will do you some good when the mistakes start to pile up. Perspective is nice. Don’t be one of these guys.
4) Buy Low
This doesn’t work if you’re a season ticket holder, but those people are probably already in the loony bin by now. The secondary market for Sabres tickets is, well, not strong.
As of publication, you can see Lindy Ruff’s first game back in Buffalo for under 20 bucks. It is a buyer’s market, and season ticket holders trying to avoid First Niagara Center are taking a bath this year. Benefit from it.
You’ll appreciate the on-ice product more if you’re paying less for it. Besides, live hockey is way better than watching on television no matter how many Ps your HD television has.
5) Full Blackout
If you listen to talk radio or actively converse on social media, it’s hard to get away from the negativity surrounding a bad sports team.
Tiny, insignificant tidbits become incredibly important and worthy of debate. Every decision is magnified, dissected and given a parody Twitter account. It can be exhausting, and sometimes it is best to completely shut it off.
Seriously. This is good advice, both for the Sabres and life in general. If you don’t like hearing someone or something, unfollow them. Mute them for a bit, if you have a Twitter client with that capability.
Better yet, simply disconnect for a while. Social media is not worth your stress and time, especially if it’s not making your life better. You can always make that joke about Pat Kaleta when they are winning again. Just go watch hockey. It’s supposed to be fun. Games can be surprisingly good when your face isn’t buried into your cell phone.
6) Press Mute
The Sabres broadcast is undergoing a few changes this season, with Dan Dunleavy filling in for Rick Jeanneret on a number of road games. Rob Ray is also involved. Maybe you don’t like Dunleavy or Ray, or you think R.J. is on his last legs. Maybe you can’t stand the call on NBC Sports Network, whose executives decided the Sabres would be good this year and put them on national television more than a dozen times.
No matter what the reason, mute the TV. Put something else on over the hockey and see what happens. Some good music makes bad hockey a whole lot better than being stuck watching AND hearing about bad hockey.
See if your favorite trance music matches the flow of a bad puck-possession team like the Sabres. Maybe some bluegrass will help you forget that Tyler Myers is under contract until 2019. Can Kanye make you forget about the fact that Mikhail Grigorenko was scratched again? Let’s find out.
Of course, you’re running the risk of getting Clockwork Oranged with this team, ruining your favorite Selena Gomez track and forcing you to leap out of a second-story window the next time you hear it on the radio.
Hrm. Maybe we should have gone with five suggestions.
(Beer photo courtesy of Flickr / Stefou!—then Sabres photos are courtesy of the team’s Facebook page and the property of Sabres photographer Bill Wippert. Photo of Daniel Alfredsson celebrating a Wings’ goal is from Detroit’s Facebook page. Image of the Twitter unfollow comes from Bloggingslogan.com).