“When you put pucks on the net, good things happen.”
That’s the kind of tired old cliche that Sabres fans, and hockey fans in general, are used to hearing from goal scorers in post-game commentary. Last night was more of a rare occasion, when Tim Connolly nearly broke out an ice-rink marker board to explain exactly how he found the back of the net against the Lightning.
Indeed, hockey is riddled with old cliches, the same phrases uttered over and over by generation after generation of players. There are so many repetitive lines, it makes one wonder if the players actually feel their meaning anymore. Bear with me, for a list:
- Gotta’ play 60 minutes!
- We have to take it one shift at a time!
- …but I only really care about the win. (LIES!)
- That’s not a penalty you want to take!
- It was a back and forth hockey game!
- We need to put shots on the net!
- We need to find consistency in the locker room!
- We need to find consistency on the ice!
- A two goal lead is always the most dangerous of leads!
- He needs to keep his head up!
- We have to create more chances!
- Our goalie really bailed us out tonight!
- Gotta take advantage of those chances!
- All we have to do is go out there and play our game!
And that is only a partial list. (Exclamation points added to try to add some emotion back to these ancient claims.)
Frankly, after 40 years of Sabres hockey, reading quotes in the news today is like reading the same stories from the 70’s. Today, Tim Connolly made for a much fresher read for fans after game day. From Mike Harrington’s story in the Buffalo News:
A minute before his goal, Connolly broke in on Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson as part of a two-on-one break with Drew Stafford with Buffalo shorthanded. Skating down the left wing, Connolly looked off Stafford and fired a strong wrist shot but Roloson made the save.
“When the shot’s there, you take it. You can always make a play. I went to the glove side the first time but I might have caught him leaning on the second one.”
The goal came as Connolly came down the right side on a three-on-two break. Another wicked wrister beat Roloson to the stick side.
“I was looking for Stafford wide but [Tampa winger Steven] Stamkos did a real good job getting back on him,” Connolly said. “I had no other choice to shoot there and [Steve] Montador did a great job backing the ‘D’ off there by driving the middle.”
Ok, he did start off with “”When the shot’s there, you take it,” and “You can always make a play,” but I’ll be danged if he didn’t shake off the cobweb cliches and go completely analytical on us. By the time he gets to the end, he is naming about every player in the zone, and exactly what they were all doing on the play – Roloson, Stamkos, Stafford, Montador, and of course, Connolly.
Great hockey vision, great hockey memory, and a great play. It’s refreshing to see how it all comes together in a player’s mind for a change.
He didn’t say “…but the win is all that matters,” and I am personally glad. I think, by now, that should go without saying.