Well...it feels weird (but a very GOOD weird) to say this, but I am in playoff mode! It's been two years, two very long years since I've seen my favorite hockey team in the postseason, and dammit, I'm excited that it's about that time of year again. I've never been one to make predictions, so I never predict at the beginning of the season where the Sabres are going to be standing at the end of the regular season. Obviously, I hope for the playoffs every year, so I just sit back and try to enjoy the ride and hope that they will make it.
After the Sabres' impressive road trip I've been asked if I was feeling the "playoff fever" yet, and to be honest with you, I wasn't. That's not to say that I thought that the Sabres weren't going to make it. I mean, come on let's be serious...despite the fact that they struggled for a bit before the Olympic break, the Sabres just started off too strong to fall out of playoff contention. And it's also not to say that I wasn't optimistic that the Sabres could do some damage in the postseason. But for some reason...the playoff fever just hadn't taken over on me at that point.
Then I went to the Sabres-Habs game last night. Funny how quick the mood can change at a hockey game. It went from one of the more frustrating games I've attended to one of the most thrilling. When the Sabres finally scored on the power play with 2 minutes left, I was very relieved that they scored, but I honestly I thought in my head, "Nice...now let's watch them dick around for the next two minutes." But as soon as they scored again, with about 49 seconds left in regulation, I think it's safe to say I was overcome by playoff fever. I couldn't believe it! You just never know with this team...they honestly can find any way to win. And that's the kind of team you need when competiting in the playoffs. They find ways. Some people said they didn't deserve to win that one, and I can understand that sentiment, but good teams find ways to win.
The final 2 minutes, 5 minutes of overtime, and the shootout made those previous frustrating 58 minutes totally worth it, from a fan's perspective. I had to deal with cocky Habs fans for 58 minutes taunting Sabres fans in our own barn and acting as if Carey Price was "Jesus Price"...they went from the most jubilant fans in the world to the most upset fans in the world in a matter of minutes...and it was awesome! I tried to get an "Olé!" chant going after the win, but no one in my section complied, but I made sure to sing it every time I walked past Habs fans on my way out.
I can't remember the last time I cheered so much after the Sabre scored their 2nd goal to tie it up. It was awesome, and it was a playoff atmosphere in the arena, despite the fact that half of the fans had already bailed and left early (which by the way, was kind of nice...because it made for a much faster exit out of the parking ramp). It's always fun to be stuck in game night traffic after a win, because you get to honk your horn to the tune of the "Let's Go Buffalo!" chant (beep-beep-beepbeepbeep) and you've got your windows rolled down as you cheer with the rest of the Sabres faithful who are roaming the streets.
You have to give props to Lindy for pulling Miller when the Sabres went on the power play with 3 minutes left to go. Balls to the walls, baby! You could tell that Ryan was ready to get off the ice, he kept banging his stick on the ice to get Lindy's attention and he seemed a little annoyed when Lindy told him to wait for his signal, it seemed as though he wanted to get off so the Sabres could get the extra attacker ASAP. It certainly worked, and I was glad to see that Lindy didn't waste any time pulling Miller again as soon as the Sabres scored. The ball was in their court, and I'm glad Lindy didn't wait to put the extra attacker on once again.
I was also happy to come home to another gem courtesy of Rob Ray and Patrick Kaleta. I had the game recorded, and right before they went to a commercial break, they talked to Rob Ray who down by the ice and his mic picked up Patrick Kaleta shouting, "Fucking geek!" to Dominic Moore. Rob Ray's reaction was priceless. It wasn't quite as comical as this, but it was still pretty damn funny.
So the Sabres have another chance at getting a win against the Sens before the regular season is over, and it's certainly going to be interesting. I think I speak for most Sabres fans when I say that the Senators scare me, and I'm just hoping that last night's win against the Habs coupled with their winning streak will give the Sabres the extra confidence that they'll need. A win tomorrow night would also clinch a playoff spot for them (yes...seriously!), so there's added incentive.
My sights are set on the playoffs and I'm not looking back...it's been awhile and I'm just hoping that the Sabres can enter the postseason on a hot streak, because a hot team in the playoffs (along with a superstar, wonderful, spectacular goalie...Hi, Ryan!) can really make things interesting.