With today being the release of EA's NHL 12, and amidst everyone's "top 5 hockey games" lists I'd thought I'd put my 2 cents in as well. For those of you not into video games, skip the next paragraph.
The most underrated hockey video game of all time was NHL Stanley Cup for SNES. Everyone says that about whatever their favorite game was growing up, but that was mine. I had figured out a move with Alexander Mogilny that was unstoppable and I could score at will. I remember going 82-0 en route to a Stanley Cup victory with the Sabres over and over again. Winning games 8-1 or 10-0 on a regular basis. When that got old I'd play my friends and we'd have tightly contested 13-12 games..ah the good ol' days. I also loved NHL 2004, to this day I think that game had the best commentary with Craig Simpson and Jim Hughson...much more entertaining during repeated plays than Bill Clement and Gary Thorne. That's my 2 cents worth, go ahead and tell me I'm an idiot now, and how Mutant League Hockey was the greatest game ever.
So most of the vets have arrived in Buffalo and have taken the ice. The smell of hockey season is in the air, and the same old questions as to who will be traded or buried in the minors persist. But let those permeate for a few more weeks before we revisit them. Instead of wallowing in the foul odors of the rumor mill let us soak up the refreshing rays of optimism. When was the last time any of us felt so confident in our team and looked forward to the season with such fervor? Was it the start of the 06-07' season on the heels of our surprising ECF run? Or perhaps not since the 99-00' season hoping for a repeat trip to the finals?
Sure there are plenty of other teams in the NHL who should be as excited as our team, or perhaps more, heading into the season. With that said, the enthusiasm that Terry Pegula has injected into this franchise is intoxicating, and the expectations in Sabreland are at an all time high. But once the puck drops in Helsinki all of the potential energy that has been building for months becomes kinetic, and enthusiasm will be determined by results. Will our expectations become tempered after October, or will we begin planning the parade in June? What are your pre-season expectations of a good season?
I have gone on record as saying, to me, nothing short of an ECF appearance is successful. I believe this team has the ability to be a conference finalist, and regardless of their playoff seeding, if they don't at least reach that point I will view the season as disappointing. That may seem like a lofty goal, but when ownership makes the commitment to win that they have, it raises the expectation level from the fans. So with camp upon us, and regular season action only 3+ weeks away, let us bask in the light of hope now. Before we realize in May that roaring sound wasn't a packed FNC, but our playoff hopes going over the horseshoe falls.
I shall part with a couple politically incorrect headlines that I doubt we will see this upcoming season.
STAR TRIBUNE-In an attempt to market their new star forward, the Wild will have Danny Heatley drive an honorary lap in an upcoming NASCAR event at Minnesota's Elko Speedway.
MONTREAL GAZETTE-The Montreal Canadiens announce new fan giveaway night, "Sombrero Night", where all in attendance will receive a Sombrero prior to the game in anticipation of a Scott Gomez hat-trick.
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