Monday, April 25, 2011

Game 6: Missed Opportunities

I'm trying really hard to take this loss in stride. It's all apart of the playoffs, right? There's nothing like a Game 7...but damn, Sabres. I REALLY believed we were going to be witnessing a handshake at center ice last night, not a bunch of jerks in orange hooting and hollering and celebrating their comeback win.

I still believe in this team. I know the Flyers are one of the best teams in the league, but I also think the Sabres are too. When they play "their game", they can compete with the best. It will certainly be interesting to see how our mixture of veterans and our young guys will rise up to the task.

I also wanted to touch on Mike Richards's hit on Tim Connolly and the NHL's response...

I don't think anyone is surprised with this outcome. The league doesn't care about the safety of its players and they certainly don't care about looking like an objective organization because the double-standards and inconsistency would almost be comical if it didn't involve players getting seriously injured. No, that just makes it sad.

But like others have echoed, it's time to move on from this and look forward to Game 7. I know Miller and Ruff were extremely upset about the hit, and I'm sure the rest of the guys are too. Hopefully they can use that in their favor, while playing smart. Then they can advance to the second round and leave Richards and the rest of the team thinking about what could have been.

Having Derek Roy back doesn't come at a better time, with both Connolly and Pominville injured. It will be interesting to see how he plays, considering he hasn't played in several months. I don't know if he will be able to pick up where he left off, but I think he will be a great addition to the lineup nonetheless. The possible returns of Jochen Hecht and Andrej Sekera would be big too.

Last night was a gut-wrenching loss, but it's all part of the ride... I will be nervous and anxious for the rest of the day today and all day tomorrow following up to the game. I have to keep stopping myself from looking back at last night's game and thinking about all that went wrong and what the Sabres could have done to win. It's frustrating, but right now it's time to focus on winning Game 7. It's time to stop being upset about losing Game 6.

I believe that Lindy Ruff is one of the best coaches in the league and will do what he has to do to refocus his troops again. I believe that Ryan Miller is one of the best goalie and competitor in the league and will do what needs to be done in Philadelphia. I believe that Nathan Gerbe will do everything in his power to provide the spark and energy that the Sabres will need to take on the Flyers. I believe that Thomas Vanek has what it takes to be this team's captain and he realizes what he has to do to carry his team to victory. I believe that this team, despite their inability to hold a 2-goal lead last night, knows how to play with their backs against the wall and have thrived on that for the last half of the regular season. I believe that the Buffalo Sabres will win Game 7 and the series, which I have believed all along.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Game Five

I was sitting on my couch gripping a pillow. I was making a noise that was a combination of a dejected sigh and a whimper. I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that convinced me that I may get physically ill. I put my head in my hands and muttered something that sounded like a prayer that hopefully the hockey gods could hear. Yep, it was overtime in the playoffs. I don't think there is anything in pro sports that can match the intensity and wave of emotions that an overtime playoff game in hockey can.

Late in the 3rd and during intermission going into overtime, I couldn't help but think to myself, "I REALLY hope no one on the Sabres is feeling the way I'm feeling right now." I just had a bad feeling in my stomach that developed after Briere scored the game-tying goal and it wouldn't go away. I'm an optimistic person by nature and that transfers over to my fandom, and I was trying really hard to remain positive and optimistic, but I had a tough time getting rid of that terrible feeling, despite the fact that the Sabres played a pretty strong 3rd period.

I regained some confidence and positive vibes during the overtime, because the Sabres looked really good and I could tell that they weren't playing scared and they were trying to end the game. I've been in this position before and I've experienced both ends, when the Sabres lose a big playoff game and when the Sabres win a big playoff game. I know what it's like to experience that awful feeling of seeing the other team score and celebrate on the ice while our team skates silently off the ice. I also know what it's like to see a player on the Sabres score and for that moment nothing else matters and you're shaking with excitement and pride and you feel that there is nothing that could possibly go wrong ever again.

I wanted that feeling so badly, and I found myself pleading to the Sabres on TV to let me experience that feeling again. I was actually planning my night and Saturday around whether or not the Sabres were going to win. I was thinking how I wouldn't be able to go out after a loss because I'd be in such a foul mood that it wouldn't be the wisest of decisions to add alcohol and socializing to that equation. I was thinking how I wouldn't be able to go to the Broadway Market the following day because I wouldn't be any fun to be around because I'd be so pissy. I was dreading that feeling you get when you wake up after a Sabres playoff loss. I didn't want to experience any of that.

But even though I was scared and nervous that I would feel that utter disappointment if the Sabres lost, I was able to stop and think about how fun it is to be so emotionally invested in this team, through the good and the bad. I couldn't stop caring about this team even if I wanted to. And that's what made Ennis's game-winner so much more sweet. Everything else is worth it. I really wouldn't trade it for anything. And the feeling of victory is indescribable...the whirlwind of emotions that you experience in every game is awesome, and we get to experience it all over again in Game 6...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


So I'm all frazzled and excited by tonight's win, so instead of attempting to write a cohesive, fluid blog entry, I'm going to try and seperate my thoughts in categories.

First off (should you be surprised?)...

Ryan Miller:

How amazing was he?! Just solid all around and he made some superb saves, especially the one on Briere. And that means ANOTHER shutout! I love shutouts. Who doesn't right? I know Miller has had is doubters all season long, but time and time again he shows that he is a world class goalie, and yes, world class goalies can play sub-par or just bad games sometimes. But that wasn't the case tonight.

I loved at one point it sounded like Rick Jeanneret was going to say, "OH MY GOD!" over a Miller save, but instead he said, "OH MY RYAN MILLER." Fitting.

Speaking of quotes, I loved what Miller had to say when he was asked about his critics as of late:

"I don't need to listen to all the BS that's out there from people who don't know how to play goalie. I really don't give a [expletive]."
Preach it, Ryan.

And how about his mustache and sideburns? I'd like to think it's a tribute to Rick Martin.

Behold the power of the stache and sideburns.

And have you seen his new mask?

Photo taken from Ray Bishop's Facebook fan page.

Love the "Buffalo" that's been inserted on the chin!

Patrick Kaleta:

I just loved him tonight. Except for when he lost an edge and dislodged the net late in the 3rd... But other than that. He was just being himself tonight. He drew a 5 minute penalty when Richards dangerously elbowed him when Kaleta was going in to hit him. I doubt Richards will get anything beyond that 5 minute major, but I'm glad it was called. May have not been an intent to injure but he saw Kaleta coming and lead with his elbow. Dangerous play.

Also, did anyone notice that when Zherdev pinned up against the Sabres bench, Kaleta opened the door which caused Zherdev to fall in? Hilarious. Classic Patty K.

Superstitions in the playoffs:

I'm definitely not a superstitious person, but I can't help but be in the playoffs. Just a little bit... I'll change where I sit in my living room, I'll take off/put on my jersey, small things like that. My brother stayed in and watched the game with us during Game 1, but went out and watched Games 2 and 3 with his friends. So he decided he'd stay in and watch the game tonight since we won the last time he did that, and well...we won 1-0. Coincidence? I think NOT.

Hating players and loving it:

The hatred that a seven-game playoff series can bring out is pretty awesome if you think about it. Seeing all the players boil over after the buzzer in the 3rd really showed how much these teams are growing to hate each other. It will be interesting to how Game 5 will start off...

So far, the players that I hate the most this series is Carcillo and Hartnell. I mean, just look at them, how can you NOT hate them? They're gross and I hate them.

Well that was my attempt at organizing my random thoughts somehow, I don't know how it worked out...but that's my post game analysis. See ya after Game 5.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Game Two

So the series is tied 1-1 heading back to Buffalo. Not too bad.

I really don't want to give the Flyers too much credit for that win, I think the Sabres lost that game by taking so many penalties in the 2nd. Some of the calls were questionable, but some of them were really, really stupid and unnecessary. The Sabres for the most part did a great job killing them off (except for their last power play goal, of course), but taking so many penalties was almost laughable. It also ruins the "flow" of a game, as our penalty killers are getting so much ice time while our scorers are just keeping the bench warm.

I think if it hadn't been for all the penalties in the 2nd period, we had a real shot at winning the game. Hell, even with that 2nd period, we only lost by a goal.

The Sabres just have to stay composed and play smart. They can't let Philly get in their heads. They just have to play their game and be disciplined. Which can be hard to do when there is so much at stake and emotions are running high. But I think the Sabres can do it. It's great that they are heading back to Buffalo for the next two games. When they are playing at their best I think they can beat any team in the league. This time the Sabres will be welcomed home by thousands of Sabres fans, hopefully that gives them an extra boost to come out strong as soon as the puck drops.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Game One

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty even-keeled fan. I feel like I can see the bigger picture of things and I don't panic very easily. But that goes out the window during the playoffs. I toss and turn at night, and I'm antsy during the day prior to puck drop. During pregame I'm jittery and I make weird noises and I can't sit still. And several times throughout the game I say to myself, "This can't be good for my heart." Oh yes, it certainly is a new season.

I got a huge rush and immediate chills when I heard the Sabres being greeted with deafening boos from Flyers fans when they first stepped onto the ice. In a way, it pumped me up more than if they were being greeted with loud cheers by Sabres fans. Hearing the disdain from the Flyers fans just makes you realize how big these games are. I can only imagine that the team must feed off that.

Overall, I thought the Sabres played a pretty good first period. A lot of fans were saying that we were lucky to come out of that period scoreless, and that may be true, but it's Game One of the first round and they were on the road and they kept up with the Flyers pretty well. By the second period, it was apparent that this was going to be a low-scoring game, and that every mistake made could be very critical.

I think we took some stupid penalties, although some were pretty questionable. I saw Flyers diving all over the place, which is to be expected because you want to draw a penalty any time you can, and I know I've said this several times, but I wish that refs would call dives more often. The penalty kill was really one of the difference-makers in the game, killing of that 5-on-3 was huge.

The Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta line was probably my favorite line of the night and I was glad to see Kaleta get our goal. It was funny because very early in the game my brother predicted that either Gerbe or Kaleta would score our first goal and it turned out to be true. After Kaleta scored I was on even more of an edge than when it was 0-0, but when the Sabres were on the penalty kill late in the period, my confidence surged. Seeing them completely smother Philly and not let them get a chance on the PK really made me feel that we were going to win. I could tell that the Sabres weren't going to let anything get by them.

Ryan Miller was excellent, I was very curious to see how he would play after getting extended rest during the regular season. It didn't even register to me at first that he got a shutout, I was just so excited that we won that it took me a minute to realize that Miller also earned a shutout in the process. I was so proud of him! He was certainly on and that's exactly that type of game we're going to need from Ryan in the postseason. It's why I thought it was so ridiculous that people on the radio were even considering starting Enroth. Jhonas played great and he was exactly what we needed after Miller got hurt late in the season, but come on, Ryan Miller is Ryan Miller. He's as rested as he has ever been entering the postseason, and he's such a fierce competitor so it's always fun watching him play.

So the Sabres are up 1-0 in the series and it would awesome if they could come back to Buffalo with a 2-0 lead. There really is nothing like the playoffs and the emotional rollercoaster that it takes you on is something that you can't really control even if you wanted to. Once you're on, you're on. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Q&A with Ted Black

A few weeks ago, I bumped into Ted Black in the lobby of the hotel where he is staying when I was picking up my mom (she works the front desk). We chatted briefly and my mom (being a typical mom), mentioned my blog to him. Ted handed me his business card and graciously offered to contribute to my blog. Although his schedule is obviously busy during this exciting time in the hockey season, Ted took the time to answer a few questions for me. Here's what he had to say...

Where were you born and where did you grow up? Have you lived in many different places?

TB: I was born in Cheverly, Maryland, in 1965. I don’t remember much about my life there. We moved to New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1969. NB is a small town near Clarion, about an hour north of Pittsburgh. After college and law school, I lived in various places in Pittsburgh until my new adventure in Buffalo began 6 weeks ago. Now I live in a hotel in the city… (and go to Pittsburgh on weekends to see my wife and kids, who are staying there until school is out in June).

Were you a fan of any sport growing up? Did you play any sports competitively?

TB: I was a fan of the Pirates and Steelers when I was a kid. I played basketball, football and track in high school. I was a pretty good athlete, but was never exposed to hockey (there were no rinks near our town). I think I would have really loved growing up playing the sport.

How did you become involved with professional hockey?

TB: I met Ken Sawyer at a party around 1998 and tried to help him with a couple business consulting ventures he was involved in at the time. About a year later, Ken became the president of the Penguins and he brought me in to interview as the Penguins’ vice president and general counsel in 1999.

Other than the fans, what has been your favorite thing about Buffalo so far?

TB: Hmmm, that is a tough one, because so much of what I love centers around the fans. I do love how hockey is so firmly entrenched in the culture of Western New York and that Buffalo has a big small town feel (I mean this as a compliment for sure).

Have you discovered any favorite restaurants or areas in the city?

TB: Tempo and Spot Coffee on Delaware. The Elmwood/Delaware Park area.

Do you think your family will like it here?

TB: They will love it here.

In today’s world, professional sports has become big business. Since the change in ownership, the new attitude has brought an energy that makes it feel more like a sport again (by the way, congratulations on making the playoffs!). Can you tell me a little about your philosophy of a sports franchise as a business?

TB: I think it “feels more like a sport again” because Terry admittedly doesn’t run the hockey club like a business – he runs this business like a championship hockey club. His approach seems to have energized Buffalo fans all over the country, who have fallen in love with the 2010-11 Buffalo Sabres. Like the players, fans take their cue from the owner. If the owner obsesses about the bottom line, the fans will do the same. If the owner is consumed with the goal of winning the Stanley Cup, the fans (and players) will do the same.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TB: We are driven by the thought of how much generational joy that a Stanley Cup will bring to the city of Buffalo and to the Buffalo diaspora. Thanks for being such great fans.


I'd like to thank Ted Black again for his time and willingness to share his insight with the fans. The bridge that he and the Pegulas are building between themselves and the fans really shows how much they care.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Appreciation Day

Just some random thoughts about the team's final home game of the regular season/fan appreciation day...

- I was pleasantly surprised and stoked that Miller was voted team MVP by the players themselves. A lot of fans would consider his season disappointing, and I understand those sentiments and agree to an extent. He didn't have the season he had last year, that's for sure and he didn't play as great as he's capable of in some games. But he was also apart of the team's great turnaround. That shouldn't go unnoticed. He wasn't the only player who started off the year poorly. They all did (yes, even Vanek!), and it reflected.

Some fans/media members disagree that he was chosen, but I think I hold the players' opinion on who should be the team MVP higher than the fans' or media's opinions. Fans and media see the player on the ice. Players see their teammates on the ice, in the locker room, on the road, etc. There is a lot that goes on "behind closed doors" that can attribute to being considered a team MVP, and I think the players would know that more than any fan or media member. So congratulations, Miller!!

And to those who don't agree with it, well...

- Speaking of the awards, I was glad that McCormick won unsung hero and Ennis won rookie of the year. Both great choices, and I love that the Sabres have implemented these awards at the end of the season. I'm sure it's fun for the players and it's definitely fun for the fans.

- The pre-game ceremony was an excellent idea and so much fun for everyone. Fans spanning from all generations were all excited to see their favorit players from their respective eras. It must have been a blast for all the alumni to come back into town and see everyone. My mom works at the hotel where all the alumni were staying, and she said that the guys were having a ball in the lobby seeing everyone arrive.

- I thought it was a great touch to have Joe Crozier walk out with Rene Robert and Gilbert Perreault holding Rick Martin's jersey when they were bringing out all the alumni out on the ice.

- Lindy putting Miller into the 3rd was an awesome move. He was just awarded team MVP, and we were trailing in the 3rd. Not saying Enroth deserved to be benched, but sometimes your team needs a spark and a goaltender change is usually the best way to do. Props to Lindayyyyy.

- Gerbe is da man. And should have asked for a congratulatory head pat from Carcillo.

- Seeing both teams just standing around waiting for the overtime was one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. But it was awesome.

- Miller on the ice after the game pumping up the crowd was one of the best things I've ever seen. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy!

- PLAYOFFS BABY! Tickets go onsale Monday. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Proud Mama

It sure is a fun and exciting time to be a Sabres fan, isn't it?

We've been through a lot with this team over the years, but this season has just felt...different. I think it's just from all the different twists and turns this team has taken since October. Fans were ready to throw in the towel earlier in the season, completely writing off the playoffs and just hoping that we would at least finish above the Leafs. Not only is it demoralizing to be at the bottom of the league, but it's even worse when the Leafs are ahead of you in the standings. Or maybe that's just me.

We then saw the team improve, but they were sort of just treading water because every few games they would win and then drop the next two. It was incredibly frustrating, but things got a little more interesting when the Sabres were able to move a few spots up in the standings and they officialy were in the talks of being a playoff bubble team.

Things took the best turn when Pegula took over. Things just felt a lot more positive and fans were simply in disbelief. It was a nice and an unfamiliar feeling... And things just went up from there. The Sabres are currently one point away from clinching a playoff berth and while nothing is officially set in stone yet, I'm just so proud of the team, the organization, and of being a Sabres fan.

I think the season so far really exemplifies why hockey is such a great sport. It's a long season, and anything really can happen. You can never be too sure what will happen in a season, a series, a game, a period, or even a shift. I mean who would have really expected that the key players of the team's most important game of the season (against the Hurricanes) would have been Enroth, Gragnani, and Butler?

I love the late season dramatics. Even during the Washington game, it was a frustrating game for Sabres fans, but it was such a fun game. I was disappointed that the Sabres were scored on late in the game to take it to overtime, but I couldn't help but take a second to realize how much fun it was to be so emotionally invested in a game. These late season games can sometimes be more exciting than playoff games because they have more on the line...when every single point counts, things get really interesting and the unexpected becomes a little more...expected.

It's been one hell of a ride and it isn't over yet, I can't wait for the game tomorrow and I can't wait to reassess the team and our situation once the game is over.