Can you feel it? The buzz of playoff hockey that hasn't been around for 2 years? Yesterday before the game I was sporting my Miller jersey on campus and I had a bunch of people cheer and talk about the game as I passed along. In the parking lot in Shwegz I got people asking me if I was ready for the game. I was so overwhelmed with excitment and anxiety that it was hard for me to concentrate on anything. As soon as I got home from class I was pretty much pacing and taking deep breaths until it was time for me to get ready. My mom even drove me down to the arena because she thought I was too caught up in nerves and excitment to be on the road...good call, mom.
My brother and I checked out the festivities going on at Party in the Plaza, where there were tons of Sabres faithful sporting blue and gold face paint, blue and gold spray painted hair, and signs that had messages about giving Ryan Miller the key to the city or how the Sabres were going to ruin the Bruins. Everyone was excited. Seeing "Stanley Cup Playoffs" painted on the ice, the Stanley Cup Playoffs banners hanging from the rafters, and the announcer shouting, "Now, let's play some playoff hockey!" was what every Sabres fan has been waiting for since 2007 and now that it was finally happening again everyone was all revved up.
Nothing can quite compare to the intensity of a playoff game, and last night's game was no exception. Every hit, every save, every chance, every penalty...everything was so intense and you could feel it as the fans reacted to everything. I thought the Sabres were excellent in the first period. I thought they did a great job at matching the physicality of the Bruins, even Myers had a sick hit, which many people have hoped that he'd develop a "mean streak" as he ages. Kaleta was Kaleta, and our guys weren't afraid to drop the gloves at any time... Even Lydman was ready to take on Lucic...which by the way, what's up with guys like Lucic and Chara picking fights with guys like Lydman, Kennedy, and Roy? Real tough...
I thought the Sabres did a good job keeping Boston tied up in their own zone and they did pretty well when Boston was in ours... During the 2nd period it was no surprise to see the Bruins have more control of the game and the Sabres made a few mistakes, but Miller made like 23 saves alone in the 2nd period. I was watching him during the warmups and he was DIALED IN. Made me excited because his playoff runs in the past have been so strong.
The only thing that made me nervous during the game was the power play. They had chance after chance but couldn't put it in the net... I really hope that changes because I'm afraid if they can't score on the power play it's going to end up biting them in the ass. But regardless of them not scoring on the power play last night, they took care of business and locked down to secure the win. They've done a superb job at that all season long, as I'm sure everyone is aware that they are undefeated when they lead after 2 periods.
I've gotta say that one of my favorite parts of the game was during the first period when that little brawl broke out. Both Miller and Rask skated out of their crease and just started staring each other down. Obviously I couldn't exactly tell from where I was sitting, but it looked like they weren't looking at anything else, except each other. Made me think of how Miller half joked about the only time him and Rask will have any interaction if there was a bench clearing brawl. It was like Miller was staring him down from across the ice thinking, "I'm watching you, BITCH!" Then as soon as the fights broke up, they both silently turned around and skated back to their creases.
The atmosphere after the game was basically just one big party. Everyone was chanting and cheering throughout the arena on their way out to the streets of Buffalo. There was this group of drunk guys who were chanting anything, and I mean anything on their way out. They passed an ATM machine and one guy was like, "ATM! ATM! ATM!" haha. It was pretty rowdy and some guy was climbing up the partition between the stairs and escalators in the atrium and he FELL RIGHT THROUGH IT. I took a bunch of photos and videos with my Flip Camera, so I got that one on video... I didn't see, but my brother told me that the security guard's face was pretty priceless when he saw that. The streets were full of people honking their horns to "Let's Go Buffalo!" and people running up and down the street high fiving each other and cheering.
For that night, everything was perfect. Nothing was wrong. The Sabres were back in the playoffs and they just won Game 1. Everyone was friends with each other in the arena and in the streets and we were all happy to share the moment with each other.
Sorry that this post is sort of all over the place, but that's kind of how I feel right now. It's a whirlwind of emotions that I can't really articulate, but every Sabres can understand what I mean. Being so emotionally involved with a sports team is just a rollercoaster emotions and right now we're strapped into the most intense ride of the season, the Stanley Cup playoffs. 1 down, 15 more to go... Can't wait for Saturday.