Olympic Update: Where are they now? Buffalo Sabres and the Medal Round
The Sabres have a total of 6 team members involved in the Olympics, 5 of which are players. Let’s take a look at who is/ was playing and how well they played.
Ok, that was a bit near sighted of me. Of all the Olympic players on the Sabres roster, only one is actually doing anything of note and it’s Ryan Miller. But still, we can still analyze everyone just for ghits and shiggles. Brace yourself it’s gonna be a long one…
Jochen Hecht – Germany – Hailing from Manheim, Germany is Sabres the Sabres third line center, Jochen Hecht. When you look at the German roster, it isn’t exactly hard to see why they have already been eliminated. Hecht is one of only 6 NHL players on the roster with others including Marco Sturm, Christian Ehrhoff and Marcel Goc. Hecht is one of the more notable players in this bunch. When Jochen Hecht is one of you most notable players, that should be a clue that you have a problem. They do have a sufficient number of guys named Sven (okay so they only have two, but that is two more than the US has) and even a guy from Kazakhstan.
With his 1 assist through three games, Hecht was actually one of the more productive Germans. The only players to amass more than point for the Germans were the Marcels: Marcel Goc (3) and Marcel Muller (2). Hecht was one of a handful of guys to pick up an assist. Another strong point for (chockin’) Jochen was his time on the ice. He was fourth among German players with 71:04 minutes. Way to be Jochen. Sorry you play for such a mediocre hockey country but at least you got to do that whole pride thing. Better luck next time?
Andrej Sekera – Slovakia – Don’t expect this to be the last time you Sekera donning the Slovakian national crest at the Olympics. Andrej is only 25 years old, making him the youngest player on the Slovakian roster. The Slovakian roster itself is actually pretty strong. It’s got a couple guys with the last name Hossa, a couple guys named Andrej, some Gaborik fellow and even Ziggy Palffy! Yeah! You heard right. Ziggy Palffy (insert overused joke about how he is so old he probably played in the original Olympics here). With their defeat over Norway yesterday, Slovakia is still alive in the gold medal rounds. None of that is really thanks to Sekera, though.
Trough four games so far Sekera has… well… nothing. No goals, no points, no assists, no cute female figure skaters. Nothin’. But that’s alright. He’s still young yet and has plenty of time to develop on an international level. Not to mention he plays defense and Slovakia is a very offensive minded team. They aren’t all about getting points from the back. Zdeno Chara only has 1 point himself. So, chin up Rejjie! Unlike Jochen, for you there will actually be a next time!
Toni Lydman – Finland – Lahti, Finland’sown Toni Lydman is more of a role player than anything on this year’s Finnish roster. Surrounded by the likes of both Koivu’s, Olli Jokinen and Teemu Selanne and offense and Joni Pitkanen, Sami Salo and Kimmo Timmonen on defense, it is tough to see exactly how Lydman found his way on to this roster. Yes, he is playing better this season than last but he isn’t exactly star caliber. That’s not to say that Janne Niskala who plays for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite league is but you get what I mean. Lydman has become a pretty forgettable player for the Sabres so I’m kind of surprised that Finland didn’t forget about him too.
There is one that sets Niskala and Lydman apart and it’s not just that one plays in the Swedish Elites and the other in the NHL. Contrary to Lydman, Niskala has actually done something this tournament. So have Kimmo Timmonen, Joni Pitkanen, Sami Lepisto, Sami Salo and Lasse Kukkonen. They have all gotten on the score sheet. The names I just listed make up the entire Finnish defense sans the name of one person: Toni Lydman. Of all the players on the Finnish defense, Lydman has yet to score, assist or even pick up a penalty minute. If he wants to help Finland succeed (tonight against the Czech), he needs to get involved more than he already is. Lydman is getting old and this may be his last shot relevance when it comes to playing hockey on a large scale.
Henrik Tallinder – Sweden – Unlike the rest of the players on the Sabres (that aren’t named Miller), Hank actually plays for a team that not only has a chance but is actually favored by some to win. With only 3 non-NHL players and (what seems like) half of the entire Detroit Red Wings, Sweden seems poised to do some work in the medal rounds. Sweden has an interesting mix up of young stars and seasoned veterans this year and that has made for quite an entertaining tournament so far. On one hand you have Daniel Alfredson who isn’t exactly getting any younger playing on the same roster as the Sedin Twins. In my mind, that is pretty awesome.
Tallinder falls closer to the spectrum of older players for this team. He isn’t as old as, say, Nicklas Lidstrom but he isn’t exactly Tobias Enstrom either. He’s on the verge of being on his way out. Like Lydman, Tallinder also hasn’t done much this tournament. Unlike, Lydman, however he can afford to not do much. With guys like Matthias Ohlund and Johnny Oduya picking up the slack, Tallinder can focus more on playing his game and not try to force it on the international stage. He’s also one of eight defenseman which is just ridiculous in my mind. So, Hank, I guess just have some fun, play some hockey and work your charm down in the Olympic Village. I know you’ve got it in ya.
Finally, we finish with the one and only. The Man, The Myth, The Miller. Who else was I going to finish with? I couldn’t honestly finish with a guy like (no offense) Lydman when I had the Miller card up my sleeve. Alright, enough babbel, I’ll get on with it.
Ryan Miller – United States of America – I read that in slow motion as I typed it. Just a heads up. Hailing from East Lansing, Michigan, the Sabres’s own Ryan Miller has been the talk of the Olympic hockey thus far. And he should be. Don’t get me wrong, Bryan Rafalski posting four points along with the monster games Ryan Malone has been playing are both good stories. Team USA has come out of nowhere and taken the tournament by storm. And why is that? Well let me quote myself:
While a good majority of the league’s goalies are resting, Miller will be working his ass off for a young, “Dark Horse” team that will need as much defense as it can get. He should be fine with that though, Team USA seems to be exactly what the Sabres are, young and Dark Horse-y (?).
Team USA is just a microcosm of the Sabres. It’s just a group of unproven, hardworking guys all rallying around getting the job done. If this were three years ago, the media would be clamoring to find a way to connect Patrick Kane’s work ethic to the fact hat Buffalo is a blue collar city.
Back to Miller. Ryan Miller is the heart and soul of this team and everyone knows it. Ron Wilson knew it ahead of time and that’s why he gave Miller every single start. There is no way this team would be where it is if it weren’t for Miller.
I’m about to smack you with some stats, you ready? Miller’s current goals against average is 1.67. Aside from a few goaltenders who have played odd time increments, that is one of the best in the tournament. Miller has saved 66 out of the 71 shots thrown his way. 71 shots in only three games. That’s pretty big. Jonas Hiller is the only other goalie I can see who has faced a similar number and he has played four games two of which have gone in to overtime. That’s almost like cheating.
But seriously, if Miller keeps playing well, Team USA can and will win gold. Canada and Russia (depending on who wins today) will both throw everything they’ve got but Miller can roll with the punches. If it is Canada then we will not only have to worry about skill but also vengeance. Team USA practically humiliated Canada at its own game on its own soil and it was mostly thanks to the man, the myth, the Miller.
Team USA plays against Jonas Hiller and the Swiss at 3 PM. Who knows what channel it is on because god forbid NBC give a damn about the sport that it owns the rights to. Oh well, that’s an argument for another day.
Until next time…