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.

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