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Sabres & NHL 2009/2010 Prview

10/01/09
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Well, tomorrow night is the kickoff of the new NHL season. I think this is going to be a particularly exciting season for my Sabres and the rest of the league (except for the Leafs…sorry buckos). I’m going to break this down into pieces, with each piece featuring the Sabres, the rest of the NHL, the first week’s schedule, and my assorted thoughts.

Please welcome to the ice, your Buffalo Sabres!
The return of Mike Grier. Wunderkind defenseman Tyler Myers making the opening night roster. Tim Kennedy doing his city proud with his promotion. Lindy Ruff committing to a system? Wait, what?

Yes, the Sabres will take to the ice soon again, as the new season will begin on Oct. 3 against division foes, the Canadiens. A couple of new faces will be joined by one returning favorite as Kennedy, Myers, and Grier will be skating for the Sabres, while former interview-savant Jaro Spacek will be suited up for the Habs. Free karma points to whichever Sabre goes spider monkey on Scott Gomez for being a monumental douche-tool.

I see this Sabres team performing more consistently with bolstered veteran leadership on and off the ice, and with rookie desire pushing the rest of the team to compete. Add to it the emergence of Ryan Miller as a dominant force on the ice (finally, he’s prepared to make the move from very good to freakin’ great) and Tim Connolly looking poised to tear it up with a full season, and the Sabres have the pieces in place to storm back to the post-season.

Of course, we must temper this optimism with sobering realism. If the stars continue to fade, and the rookies burn out, then this season will end much the same as the last – missing the playoffs. Lindy and Darcy’s tenure with this team, in this fan’s opinion, are contingent with the success of this season.

The rest of the best in the world, the National Hockey League
The Southeast still looks like crap, save the Capitals (who are a crapshoot unless Varlamov shines) and the Hurricanes (who win with voodoo, kung fu, and who the hell knows what), the Atlantic is full of ridiculous spending with little to show for it (minus the Devils…how do they keep on doing it? Uncle Lou must have a future almanac), and the Northeast looking the usual – intense, fan-obsessed, and rivalry-driven.

The Central looks like the cream of the West this season, with the Red Wings and Blackhawks certifiable monsters, and the Blues, Blue Jackets, and Predators (for real) looking ready to take the plunge, the Northwest looks like it’ll be the defensive stronghold it has been for seasons (thank the ‘Nucks and Bobby Lu for that), and the Pacific looking like…well, hockey in Cali. The Ducks are gnar, the Sharks aren’t, the Coyotes need to be euthanized, the Kings suck every year, and the Stars do their thing.

Our first week back in action
The first night of the season doesn’t suck so much, what with the Caps and Bruins and Leafs and Habs duking it out at 7PM EST and the ‘Nucks and Flames going punch for punch at 10PM EST. Also that night, is the retirement of Joe Sakic’s number 19 in Colorado at 10PM EST. Be sure to watch this, as you’ll see one of the classiest and greatest players in history stepping off the ice forever.

Night two has a couple of great games, as the Blackhawks and Panthers (blech) face off at 12PM EST in Helsinki and the Red Wings and Blues kick off their season series in Stockholm at 3PM EST.

Saturday, the third night of the season, has every team in action, one of the few nights of the season that it happens. I’m not gonna go into a listing of everything, so just watch on some awesome pirated feed online.

My random, assorted, and possibly non sequitir, thoughts on hockey
So, I’m gonna have one helluva good time watching the Sabres kick ass, the Flames finally not suck in the first round, and the Leafs continue to miss the playoffs.

Let’s go Buff A Lo!

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