Well, the time has come… the playoffs are over, and the Sabres are headed home for the summer. All good things eventually come to an end. Click the photo above for a little tribute video to the 2007 playoff… beard. 🙂
Last night I dreamt that I was a member of the Buffalo Sabres. We were at some awards presentation. I was dressed in my full uniform, as were my team mates. I know for sure Ryan Miller was there, but I forget the other guys faces. All were bummed. Most faces were sullen, gloomy… although the reason for the gathering was to celebrate the season that was.
At some point it dawned on me, the Buffalo Sabres player that I was, that we were all privileged to be there, doing what we were doing. I said as much to my fellow team mates. We were Buffalo Sabres I said to them. We had all grown up as fans of the team (which, in reality is not the case, but made a good point in the dream…) and now here we were playing in the conference finals!
My emotional speech seemed to have a little effect on the guys as they all did manage to at least nod in agreement. It was almost time for us to take the ice and have a skate around for the fans when…
I woke up.
And the reality is, I’m not a member of the team, but we have invested a lot of time watching – and cheering on – the Sabres this year. And it was not wasted. They were fantastic. Tons of goals, tons of comebacks, tons of fun. Even the playoffs. It didn’t end the way we expected it would, thanks to a fantastic performance by the Ottawa Senators.
Let me tell you, I don’t like the Sens. They tend to play at least aggresive, sometimes nasty. They certainly have our number this year, winning 9 of 13 games in the regular season and playoffs. They’re the division rival you love to hate. BUT… I am very happy for them. Not happy they beat my team, but man have they had a rough several years. Let’s hope the Sabres don’t wait as long as they do. They have been fantastically talented but, “underacheivers” for several years running now. Perhaps this is finally their year.
Let’s hope next year is ours.
So, a season comes to an end. We “mourn” for a bit, but I already can’t wait for the next season! I’m sure the NHL will schedule Buffalo vs Ottawa at least as our home opener, if not the season opener. 🙂 Already looking forward to ALL EIGHT of those games!
84 games is a looooong time to wait for another run at the Cup, but assuming we keep the core of this team together (read: SIGN CHRIS DRURY) we should have another great season next year! Already looking forward to it.
So now we get ready for Bills football! 🙂
Since the Sabres pulled off the win in Game 4 this thought has crossed my mind several times: “What a difference one of those first three games would make right now!” If the Sabres could have won Game 2, where they jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and even came back to tie the game with only 5 seconds left, but lost for the first time in 47 opportunities when they had a 2-goal lead. Or, if the Sabres could have somehow gotten any of those dozens of blocked shots through to the net in the 1-0 Game 3 loss. If they could have taken even just one of those, the series would be 2-2 headed back to Buffalo, instead of 3-1.
What a difference that would make, eh?
But, it’s not. It’s 3-1. And the Sabres have a good chance to make it 3-2. Just go out and win this game. At home. Crowd behind you. Ottawa is a good road team, but I do like the Sabres chances in this game. If they do pull off the victory, Game Six will likely be the biggest challenge they have faced all year. Ottawa fans want a trip to the finals bad.
But then… so do Buffalo fans. 🙂
Can’t wait for the game tomorrow! We’re TiVo-ing it to make sure we get to watch it… as we’ll be traveling back tomorrow from our awesome vacation! (And there’s a birthday party we want to attend right in THE MIDDLE OF THE GAME tomorrow. That should tell you how much we love these friends….) 🙂
We managed to find a seat in front of the public TV in the Recreation Center of our little Pocono Resort. It was right outside one of the party rooms – which was in use by a Karaoke party this night – and was already populated by a few older people who were not that into the sing-fest. Oddly enough, the extra noise did not matter as there was nothing to hear from the television tonight. The audio was broken, and so we were stuck watching Game three with no commentators or other game sounds.
Overall, not too big a loss. 🙂
We did attempt to pull up the dulcit tones of Rick Jeanneret’s voice on WGR550.com, but the stream was at least 2 minutes behind the live action, so that really didn’t work.
Once we managed to occupy the children, and really get to watch the game, I noticed that these were not the Sabres that I expected to see. I thought maybe we’d see the Sabres who came out firing on all cylinders in Game 5 against the Rangers. With something to prove. I thought we might see the Sabres who from early October had only one thing in the front of their collective mind: Winning the Stanley Cup.
Instead, I saw an Ottawa team who has had that same vision, that same mission, for a year or two more than our Sabres, and it was evident in every single battle for the puck. The Senators just wanted it more.
Now, there was a player or two who had that fire for the Blue & Gold. Daniel Briere was playing with some spunk tonight. Thomas Vanek has some moments, as did Derek Roy. Ryan Miller was sensational. But overall, the Sabres did not have what the Senators did. They were missing the “drive”. They were not on a mission.
So now here they are. They are down three games to none. If they lose one more, they go home. No Stanley Cup for the team who won the most games in the regular season. No championship trophy for the team who scored the most goals, and led the points race in the East from wire to wire. Even after such a fantastic season, they are only one game away from elimination.
But they’re still a game away.
You see, everyone has all but declared Ottawa the victors in this series. Well, most everyone. Lindy Ruff has not. He would like to add the 2007 Buffalo Sabres to the list of teams that have overcome that insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. And he said so in the press conference following tonight’s game. But really who can expect such an outcome? Ottawa only needs one more win, and so far, they’re a fairly easy 3 for 3.
But they still have to win one more.
I could be a homer here, and just say that the Sabres are going to win, “cause they’re the best!” But I won’t. I think that the most likely outcome of a 3-0 series is a loss by the team with the zero. However, I’d like to point out that although in 150 attempts, only 2 teams have ever come back from 3-0 to win a series. 1942, 1975, and … 2007? (If you do the SAT logical pattern thing… we’d have to wait till next year. BUT… we’re close enough, aren’t we???) 🙂
If the Sabres come out Wednesday night and say to themselves, “All we need to do is win this one game,” then perhaps they can. They have done it before. Ottawa is good, but no one is unbeatable. You still have to play the games. And then, after they beat them once, there is a bit of confidence… “Hey, we did it once… perhaps we can do it again!” And if they do, then they have won two in a row, and the momentum builds.
All it takes are a few good bounces, and this “dead” series can take a serious up-swing.
Somehow we get into this pattern of “knowing” what the outcome of a series or a game will be. I do understand it. I have been watching these guys, too. Ottawa just wants it more right now. And it shows. But… the Sabres have wanted it since losing to Carolina in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals last year, too. Perhaps they rediscover that mission, that passion, that drive. Perhaps they become the team on a mission.
Point is, we really don’t know until they play the game. The series is over at four wins, not three. And I hope the Sabres come out playing like that. They are very capable of doing so, as long as they don’t listen to – or, especially, believe the hype.
As the Sabres have been completely amazing this season with impossible comebacks, incredible goals, improbable heroes… I have been saying to my boys all year long that we are “witnessing history”. My thought has always been that this team is so good, it will be difficult to pry the Stanley Cup from their hungry hands. But now that history appears to have been re-written. It looks like the ending will not turn out how I hoped/expected it would.
Or will it?
What kind of history would the Sabres make if they become the third team to win a series after being down 3-0??? I would be more of a prophet than I know! THAT would be some serious history! And, would advance the Sabres to the cup. And would likely be an emotional catapult lifting them to eventually hoisting the Stanley Cup over their deserving heads.
That would just be awesome.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, as I have mentioned that we are prone to doing. 🙂 The Sabres just need to play one game at a time, and really just focus on that one. Not what they have done, or what Ottawa has done, or what might happen “If”. Just go out and play. Win this game, and we’ll see what comes next.
How fitting though, if this team could possibly do the impossible. That has been their story all year long. Amazing comeback after comeback. Well, there is one staring them in the face, and the stakes are higher than ever.
Let’s just see how “done” these Sabres really are.
From all appearances, my playoff beard is not long for this world.
But appearances can be deceiving…
We missed the first period of the game last night, but from the report my brother-in-law gave, the Sabres played very well, and they did finish period one with a 2-1 lead. I heard a brief interview with Jochen Hecht, and he said they “felt pretty good about the way they were skating out there.” So, the Sabres were poised to tie up the series after a surprising loss in Game 1.
Until special teams came into play.
Tied 2-2 late in the second period, the Sabres were on the receiving end of two questionable calls, which put them in a precarious 5 on 3 situation. Ottawa has been lethal on the power play, and the Sabres anemic penalty killing is just no match. So, the Sens took a 3-2 lead into the third period. (At least they didn’t get two PP goals!)
Fast forward to the last minute of play in the third period. Score is still 3-2 Ottawa. You figure for at least the last 10 minutes they were playing to preserve the lead. The Sabres have this sense though of when it’s “time to turn it on”, and as they did against the Rangers, they scored with less than 10 seconds to go to tie the game. This time, it was 5.7 seconds I believe. Daniel Briere tossed one into a wide open net. Lucky bounce. Good timing. Whatever it was, we were headed to oooooovertime.
First overtime was (from my viewpoint) dominated by the Senators. I don’t have an internet connection here, so I can’t look up the stats, but it just felt like they were getting 2 or 3 shots or at least opportunities to our one. Don’t get me wrong, the Sabres did have some great chances. Emery made some good saves, to be sure, and their defense blocked about fifty-seven shots I think. But, Milsy made some great saves, and we went to a second overtime.
Shortly into 2OT, the puck bounced the wrong way and the Senators won. Now they lead the series two games to none, and the Sabres are in quite a hole. The win was also the first time this season – in 47 tries – that the Sabres have had a two-goal lead… and lost. So now, the Sabres are 46-0-1 when they get a 2-goal lead. Still not too shabby…
But it’s 2-0. Headed back to Ottawa. The Sabres do appear to be in dire straits.
But maybe that’s how they like it.
All year long the Sabres have been a comeback team. Some say that is to their detrement. They wait too long to “turn it on”, instead of playing a complete game. And indeed, playing that way from the start – a complete game – would be preferred. But maybe they just want to have the ultimate comeback. To give the Sens not only 2-game lead, but also super home-ice advantage. Three of the possible five remaining games will be played in Ottawa. The Sabres will have to win at least twice on their ice to take the series.
Again, maybe that’s just where they need to be.
Time to turn it on boys. I kinda like not shaving. So, let’s see a desperation game on Monday, like it’s the last minute of play.
Do it for the playoff beards.
The studio guys said the Sabres were outskated. “The Senators were the better team,” they said. And who can argue with a 5-2 loss on home ice in Game One on Thursday night? Not exactly the way you want to start off the series!
I’m not sure overall the Sens were better, but man, our special teams is either off-the-charts bad, or those guys are fantastic. Two power play goals and a short handed goal (two breakaway chances on the Sabres first power play, with one of those resulting the in the SH goal.) That really set the tone for the rest of the game.
Ottawa did look like they wanted it just a little bit more. The Sabres came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it in the second period. But on an unfortunate play where a routine clear-out went right to an Ottawa player who threw it toward a teammate rushing toward the net, the Sabres found themselves down 3-2.
And that’s where it all fell apart. Passes were being missed, hustle was just not there… That’s when the Senators were the better team. They netted one more power play goal to make it 4-2 and ended the game by out-racing our defenseman to a puck and scoring an empty netter.
The Sabres get their second chance on Saturday. I actually expected Ottawa to get one of these first two games, just not the first one. Sabres have shown all year they are not afraid of adversity. For a brief moment I actually thought they could still win Game one, down only 2 goals with 2 minutes left. With this team, you never know!
It’s a long series… but not if they don’t (1) improve the special teams… they just have to, or it will be over fast! And (2) want it more. They have to want it more. Leave everything on the ice, as they say. They’ve done it before, and if they do it again, we’ll advance to the finals.
But we’re a long way from that tonight.
Game 2 – 8pm Saturday May 12th on Versus.
The Final Four are set. Sabres vs Senators in the East, and Red Wings vs Ducks in the West. 1 vs 4 and 1 vs 2. I would love to see Sabres/Red Wings… just for the Dominik Hasek angle. But the Ducks are FAST (like the Sabres) and can score… would be an exciting Stanley Cup Final.
But wait… we have to beat the SENATORS first. 🙂
The Sens have been playing great. Great goaltending, great defense and they’ve been scoring. That’s about all you can ask. The Sabres will need to play at least at the same level they did since the last 10 minutes of Game 4 in round two. I think they know that now… so they just need to do it. They’ll need to improve their special teams as well. They showed flashes of great penalty killing but the power play was horrendous. (Save for a couple clutch goals in the last two games.)
Here’s the schedule for the Sabres series vs their hated division rival, Ottawa:
- May 10 – Ott at Buf – 7pm
- May 12 – Ott at Buf – 8pm
- May 14 – Buf at Ott – 7pm
- May 16 – Buf at Ott – 7pm
- May 19 – Ott at Buf – 2pm*
- May 21 – Buf at Ott – 7pm*
- May 23 – Ott at Buf – 7pm*
* – if necessary.
I see the series going at least 6 games… though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Sabres won in less. It would shock me if the Sabres were beaten in less than 6.
They have had one goal since losing in game 7 to Carolina last year. They’re almost there. Four wins to the Stanley Cup Finals. Eight wins to Stanley Cup Champs.
For you Sabres fans out there… found this video. Pretty funny. 🙂 And… not so funny!
(This article was originally posted at BuffaloBills.com)
You’ve probably noticed that the title of this blog is the “Buffalo Bills Review”. That is because I was invited to share my written thoughts with Bills fans here on the BuffaloBills.com message boards, in a way, “representing” the show by the same name.
Buffalo Bills Review is a podcast that I started with two other long-time Bills fans in 2005, when iTunes made it very easy to make (and more importantly perhaps , access) podcasts. There were not any Buffalo Bills podcasts at the time, and so I figured… I’d just do one!
We have stayed true to our “slogan”. We are a fan-driven show. We hear from avid Bills fans around the globe, both audio and e-mails (and even website comments), and work those comments into the show. We are not a Bills news show, nor do we claim to be experts. We hope the show is just like a conversation you’d overhear at a local sports bar about the game that just was.
In fact, just after the show came out, we were featured in Sports Illustrated as a recommended sports podcast. The article referred to the Buffalo Bills Review as an “hour long interplay among three die-hard Bills fans, and sounds like a conversation you’d overhear – and want to join – while eating wings at the Anchor Bar. Great analysis.”
Thanks, SI! 🙂
During the year we do shows weekly, and have tried to do bonus shows where we do an in-depth interview with former Bills players… a sort of “Where Are They Now” feature. These have been just great!!! First we did a show with Don Beebe, and then Darryl Talley, Frank Reich, and last year we did a shorter interview with Steve Tasker. Fantastic stuff for Bills fans of all ages!
Well, we have our final “off-season” show coming up this weekend. Recording on Sunday evening. We’ll do a draft review show, and we’d love to hear from Buffalo Bills Message Boards folks! We’d love to hear from more Bills fans on what you thought of the draft, and the upcoming Bills season! You can either leave a comment here (I’ll use some comments from the previous article I posted here as well) or you can contact us at the following places:
Participation is invited and encouraged. Do remember though… the shorter the better. 🙂
So, I’d encourage you to sign up for the podcast. You can do that through iTunes, or just use the RSS feed links right on our home page. Please do check out the website, and search the archives for those special episodes featuring the former Bills. (They are directly linked down the right sidebar … just scroll down a bit.)
Thanks for your time, and I do hope you’ll join us for the upcoming season of the Buffalo Bills Review!
The show by Bills fans, for Bills fans!
I was watching the second hockey game last night, featuring #5 seed San Jose vs the #1 seed Detroit Red Wings. And I noticed what I think the Sabres might be lacking so far in the playoffs.
Yes, they won the first round in 5 games over the Islanders, and have a 2-1 advantage in this series – only because of a 2OT victory where the Rangers played the best they could, and just barely beat us. But, they have not been impressive in most of the games they have played. They don’t look hungry.
The thing our Sabres are missing is the hunger to win. The drive. Whatever you want to call it, I saw “it” in the Sharks last night. The Red Wings might have better players, but the Sharks wanted it more. And they got it.
I’m not sure how (or if?) the Sabres can get that. I have seen them have it this year. People talked about them being able to “flip a switch”. It’s true. They’re scary like that. But the playoffs are for real. If you wait too long, you might not get a chance to flip it “on”.
What I have noticed is that when you finish first there are expectations. From without and from within. The Sabres seem to be playing a little tentative at times – you know, to “not lose”. They have been winning their games, but have been unable to put games away when they have the lead. (One game the Islanders came back when the Sabres had a 4-1 lead… and I think that was more on their effort than on the Sabres tentativeness… they were great that game.)
It’s strange to complain about the #1 team, who has a 6-2 record in the post-season thus far. But… I just notice that they look different than San Jose. And perhaps some other teams. Ottawa really wants it right now too. And they’re up 2-1 in their series. That would be a tough, tough series for Buffalo.
But first we have to win this one.
Game four is tonight in NY. Should be tough, but if the Sabres remember what they have been playing for all season… I’d say you’ll see the Sabres control and win this game tonight. I won’t say easily, but I do think they will control the game tonight.
We’ll see if they have what it takes to win!