Well, the Bruins road tour of the Northeast division continues, as the Bruins take their three game point streak into Buffalo, NY’s HSBC arena. There’s a lot to be said about the Buffalo Sabres, a team that missed the playoffs last year. For instance, they feature Thomas Vanek, the NHL’s current leading scorer. The Bruins, on the other hand, feature Marc Savard and Phil Kessel, two of the NHL’s OTHER leading scorers. Checkmate? Bingo? We sunk your battleship?
However, in doing my research on the Sabres in advance of tonight’s game, I have stumbled upon a few things, of which I have made some hi-larious observations. Those will take precedence. Everything the Bruins fans need to know about Buffalo and their hockey team will be found after the jump.
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The Buffalo Sabres play in what is known as the HSBC Arena. Buffalites (Buffalonians? Buffalese? Losers?) refer to this place as “The Arena” as part of their quaint tradition of naming everything after what it is (see: The Street, The Car Dealership, and The Quiznos). HSBC, for those of you who spend your time reading hockey blogs and not The Wall Street Journal, is, according to Forbes magazine (you should be reading that too), the world’s largest company, was founded in Hong Kong, and is currently headquartered in London. And this is how they make a splash in the American consciousness; by buying the naming rights to an arena in Buffalo, NY. Thank you, HSBC, world’s largest company, for sparing the Sabres from the indignity of playing in the Paddock Chevrolet Arena.
Another useful fact about the HSBC arena is that, in 1996, the arena’s first Jumbotron (don’t click that) crashed to the ice while it was being remotely moved minutes after a few players ended practice and hours before a game between the Sabres and our Boston Bruins. Nobody was injured, but the game was postponed. Hindsight is 20/20, but couldn’t they have waited until 2003, when Avril Lavigne performed to a sold-out crowd during her “Try To Shut Me Up Tour” while being filmed for her first DVD, My World?
And yes, that’s basically all Wikipedia has to offer on the HSBC arena.
The Sabres feature Thomas Vanek who is lighting up opposing goaltenders for seven goals in five games. Vanek has scored 28 points in 23 games against the Bruins, including netting a hat trick in the team’s last meeting, last year’s season finale. Luckily for the Bruins, none of those points have come against tonight’s starting goalie, Manny Fernandez. In fact, Vanek has never scored against Manny Fernandez, mostly because Vanek has never played against Manny. Now, the Sabres’ blond-haired Austrian faith healer has extra motivation to score even more against the Bruins tonight, so the defense had better be extra careful.
Another player to look out for on the Sabres is fourth-line grinder, Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta, as you will learn during the course of tonight’s broadcast on Versus (or not, if you don’t have Versus), leads the Sabres with 32 PIMs in 5 games. Not a big deal, right? Well, here’s what Bucky Gleason (not a typo) has to say about Kaleta’s play this season in his column for The Buffalo News: (again, with Buffalatians naming things what they are)
[L]ovable little homegrown winger Patrick Kaleta is [a] dirty, nasty, despicable, miserable human being as is alleged by his adversaries.
Hmm? Why’s that, Bucky?
The Sabres had a 1-0 lead in the first period over the Canucks when Kaleta popped defenseman Shane O’Brien after the whistle. […]His response was belting Kaleta with a right to the head in an attempt to bait Kaleta into a dust-up.
Kaleta kept his gloves on his hands, folded himself into a fetal position that’s known in street-fighting circles as the turtle, absorbed a few more blows and watched O’Brien skate into the penalty box for four minutes. Clarke MacArthur scored on the power play, the Canucks were off their game and the outcome was predictable.
Kaleta has drawn 28 minutes in penalties, three of which resulted in power plays, two of which resulted in four minutes or more with the extra man, two power-play goals and two ejections.
So, Kaleta is a pest, which is an accepted role within the NHL. I call it the “Lauren Conrad Principle.” Patrick Kaleta is fine with everybody thinking he’s the douchiest scum on the planet, as long as it earns him money. He’s like Sean Avery, except he keeps his self-gratification habits to himself. At least he gives me an excuse to reference the most underrated movie in the world for the second time today:
The Sabres also feature Ryan Miller in net. MYFO reminded us of his seemingly random appearance with J.S. Aubin in an Axe commercial last year (perhaps he won a goalies-only Yo Momma casting call at Wilmer Valderamma’s house?). Also, Ryan Miller (or some intern with a passing interest in hockey, most likely) blogs over at MAXIM Magazine. And thanks to the Photoshop skills of The Jumbotron (John. My “skills” are with grammar.) we bring you this:
The Sabres blogosphere (or as the Buffalasians call it “The Group of Hockey-Based Weblogs”) is pretty well represented. For instance:
[AOL Fanhouse] While the Fanhouse ostensibly covers the entire NHL, one of the more active, and entertaining (though they’re all great) posters is Tom Luongo who writes 99.9% of his posts about the Sabres. Whee! He’ll be hosting a liveblog of tonight’s game, and both John and I will be there. Come join us!
[Die By The Blade] One of the SBNet hockey blogs that now falls under the newly-opened editorial umbrella of Lance Bass doppelgänger, James Mirtle, hockey blogger extraordinaire, Die By The Blade is a comprehensive, entertaining look at Sabres hockey. I haven’t signed up for SBNet yet, so expect to see me drop a line at our rival during their game’s open thread. You should too. He’ll be wondering why Bruins fans are so voraciously posting on a Sabres blog.
[The Willful Caboose] The Caboose is on WordPress, so her blog is like a cousin of ours. It’s a Buffalo blog, so it’s kind of like that second cousin we don’t talk about (in my family, it’s Cousin Freddy. Seriously, that’s what he’s called. Even by the members of his immediate family.), but she still earns points from the Jumbotron for calling Thomas Vanek “a slag-faced whore.” Seven goals in five games is causing her to recant a little, but hey, we’re totally behind anyone being called “a slag-faced whore” for any reason, whatsoever. Also, there’s occasionally Perez Hilton-style photo edits that put any Pensblog photoshops to shame.
So that’s it for the pregame. I know it’s late, but technically, it’s posted before the game, so there’s still time for you to read it before the game starts. Once again, John and I will be at the Fanhouse’s liveblog (just kidding, it’s actually a chatroom) so come join us, for whatever reason. I leave you with the following picture from 2006. Only John can tell you why it’s on our blog, I’m leaving it up to him.