Before we talk playoffs, I have a confession to make.
By the quarter mark of the regular season, I had given up on the year. “Fair enough,” you say? “They had that 5 game losing streak in October,” you add? “Then they had that other 5 game losing streak that stretched into November,” you conclude?
Thank you for your support, but I am guilty of more than quitting on the year – I had also quit on the team. Beyond the losses was the overwhelming underwhelming performance of the players on the ice. There was a draining lack of passion on the ice. The games were boring, and I stopped watching them.
For the first time in my life, I intentionally missed games. This, coming from the kid who stood strong and made dang well sure he and his family stayed put on their aluminum bench on January 3rd, 1993.
My treasured Aud Seat, (and I absolutely will not tell you what went into salvaging it) was stowed in the closet. I began watching “The Vampire Diaries” with my wife. “The Vampire Diaries?!?” you exclaim? Why not? It’s not like there was anything better on.
Then, from the boredom of this team and the lifeless situation I was in, “buffalo74″ was born:
It’s been a lifetime of excitement, disappointment, and indefatigable hope. I am not willing to let that hope burn out, or even burn less, due to the current state of our teams.
Heck no: instead, I am going to try my best to light a big ol’ bon-fire under this stale scene. I want this town to burn for victory, and I want its heart to feel that acidic burn again, when the Bills or Sabres lose.
If not for all of you, then at least for my own self.
After all folks, it’s been a long long time since I was born and invested into this crazy mess.
The next day, I found myself writing about Terrence Pegula emerging as a potential buyer for the Buffalo Sabres. Talk about a quick turn around. An unexpected and prodigious 125 posts later, I am having a wonderful time talking Sabres talk with other bloggers, newspaper-folk, and of course, Thurman Thomas.
Due to no fault of mine, Terry Pegula and Ted Black descended upon said stale scene, and immediately began their changes to make the Buffalo Sabres the most rewarding fan experience in the NHL. And fans are actually talking playoffs, which if considering the start of the season, is nothing short of remarkable.
I had a quick chat with Phil from over at Black & Blue & Gold today about the playoffs. I actually cut it short, it seemed too jinxy, and I went for a walk outside with my boy. Yet, as we strolled and went through French nouns together, I couldn’t stop thinking about the post season.
I mean, look at that! Playoff talk! From the absolute cellar (of boredom and the standings) – to this – who honestly saw this coming? I know I didn’t – as I wasn’t watching. Thankfully, I was able to entertain myself with this fun little blog, and Terry Pegula brought excitement back to the arena. (Not to mention confidence, hope, fun, and even warmer water.)
What a strange season. And I love it.
As for the post-season, I do have some concerns with this bunch of Sabres if they do make the top 8. A list (albeit a wordy one):
- The Sabres have 203 goals for and 202 goals against. This equal ratio is a stat that has been dogging them for months. They can’t seem to score more goals then they allow, and I find that disturbing. What is more disturbing is every team ahead of Buffalo, save Tampa Bay, (maybe Phil is onto something) enjoys a wide winning margin in that category. (Carolina posts a terrible 198/212.) Brad Boyes was a nice addition for the stretch run, but this team is going to learn to have to finish – and quickly – if they are to make the playoffs, or survive the 1st round.
- Speaking of scoring, 36 of those 203 goals (18%) have come off the sticks of defensemen. Yes, having one of the more prolific scoring defenses in the game is a boon, but it further emphasizes that our forwards have not been finishing. (Chris Butler, ironically, has helped to make this trend not as bad as it might be, by failing to score a goal yet this season.)
- Ryan Miller has returned to form of late, but still does not look like that Vezina goaltender that we marveled at before allowing the Gold Medal clinching goal to Sidney Crosby. He really wasn’t the same, at all, (almost typed “a-tall,” channeling Lindy Ruff et al) – he really was not the same after that moment. Ryan, glad you’re back, but we need you to be even better if these dang forwards can’t figure it out.
- On a positive side, Andrej Sekera is putting on a show reminiscent of the days of Bobby Orr lately. I have no idea how long he can keep up his torrid pace on the ice and up the stat sheet, but if he plays like this in the playoffs, teams will have to spend a lot of time away from the Ennis/Vanek/Stafford video in order to try to figure out how to shut him down. Skate like the wind, Andrej!
And there it is – all the playoff talk I have to offer up – so far. And if I may confess one more thing: I got those old playoff butterflies while I typed away on this post. I’m so very glad I started up this blog, glad that Pegula came to town, and very, very glad that I decided to watch hockey again.