If any of you slept in your jerseys last night, I applaud you.
For me, it was the Miller PJ’s. I suspect for Philly fans, the Briere PJ’s were a popular pick.
Tonight features the very pinnacle of hockey – a Game Seven. It’s a season-deciding game for two rival playoff teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers, in a series that has been defined by edge-of-the-seat hockey, and plenty of testy incidents on the ice.
“No matter who wins this series, there’s going to be a lot to talk about,” said Lindy Ruff before entering Game Six. He’s absolutely right – win or lose (hopefully win, of course) this series has been one of the more entertaining contests in a long time.
Neither team has grabbed a choke hold on a game, let alone a series lead.
The only better way to end this series is if this Game Seven dares to lead fans, already foaming at the mouth at this point, into a Game Seven Overtime.
For Sabres fans, it’s been an amazing ride to this point. A magical 16-2-2 run since Terry Pegula took over clinched the 7th seed for a Sabres team once mired in 12th place and 10 points out.
In fact, it’s been a series of little miracles for Pegula and his Sabres, who have overcome injuries, the loss of their captain to waivers, and then saw the emergence of Thomas Vanek, and Nathan Gerbe, the resurrections of Rob Niedermayer and Tyler Myers, and an incredible homecoming for 80+ long-lost Sabres alumni to help cheer the current Sabres squad into the biggest show on ice.
Now 88 games into this long season, all the little miracles and the magic run culminate to one game, one moment. This Game Seven is perhaps Pegula’s greatest gift of all; the Sabres have been quick to admit that his passionate and supportive presence helped them turn the corner and make this happen this year. And so we all pray for one more Pegula miracle.
The Sabres can win this one and move into the second round. That being said, so can the Flyers. Whichever team moves on will be stuck with a hard task at hand – it’s a very tough road for teams that are beat up through a seven game entry gauntlet to go the distance and win that Cup.
Still, anything is possible.
The Flyers will rely on what they’ve relied on all series – the ability to create a scoring chance on any rush, mainly off the efforts of Danny Briere. The Sabres will remain calm and consistent, mainly off the back of Ryan Miller.
In a way, it all boils down to Miller vs. Briere. While the supporting casts will be buzzing about and creating enough noise of their own, this whole series has been about what games Miller can steal, and which games Briere can win.
I’ll be keeping my Miller PJ’s on all day long.