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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!