Ditch the razor and hide the shaving cream its playoff time! The time of year when your stomach turns to knots at every odd man rush.
As many players in the Sabres room have said, this is the "Real Season." That is the attitude they have had since dropping Game 7 of the 2006 ECF with a battered blue line.
From training camp to this past Sunday it's been all about the postseason to this roster and they have shown determination for the Cup I have not seen on any other Sabres roster in my 23 years of being a fan and following the Blue and Gold (Red and Black-and i guess Blue and Maize). The '99 SC Finals team was good but let's be honest it was 99% Hasek and each game they played into May and June was a bonus. This edition (last year's for that matter too) is much deeper with a heckuvalot more talented than a team that could have gone to Game 7 with Dallas.
It could be a fun run but the Islanders will be no walk in the park. The Isles have some pretty solid forwards in the likes of Jason Blake, Miro Satan, Alexei Yashin, Ryan Smyth, and Viktor Kozlov. The players that concern me the most are Blake and Smyth as they are good character players who will step it up and let others around them know they need to step it up, whereas Satan and Yashin have been known to fold when the pressure is put on them. I still don't think when all is said and done that Isles can match the depth that the Sabres have up front. Plus the way that Blue and Gold use their blueliners could cause major problems in matchups all over the ice.
I think not having Chris Simon on the ice will be a huge advantage for Buffalo in this series due to his experience in past extended playoff runs with Washington and Calgary. That will be one of the guys they miss dearly for leadership on the ice.
Series to watch (besides the Sabres-Isles): Pens and Sens. This has the potential to be the Buffalo-Ottawa 06 matchup all over. Speed, skill, the potential for high scoring 8-7 finals and it could go to 6 or 7 games. The Pens will just have to keep on eye on Crosby so he doesn't get the "Tim Connolly Treatment" at Scotiabank Place.
Lost in the Shuffle series: Thrashers-Rangers. Atlanta has a good team but would be the lower seed in the 4-5 matchup if it weren't for winning the Southeast Division. This series just doesn't get me excited as I think both teams are so up and down you can't get a feel for how they will show up.
Congratulations to Michigan State Spartans Mike Ratchuk, Tim Kennedy, and Chris Mueller who just won the NCAA Men's D-! Hockey Championship this past weekend at the Frozen Four
All three are from the Buffalo area and Kennedy is a Sabres prospect.
Sabres prospect/Buffalo area native Andrew Orpik played for the runner-up Boston College.
Those guys along with Patrick Kane are showing that it's not only the Sabres that make Buffalo a great hockey city..
Fire up the grill and grab the case of Blue (sorry Molson-YOU got rid of the twin label technology) It's the most wonderful time of the year to be a hockey fan!