Thursday evening at 8pm in front of a packed HSBC Arena the Buffalo Sabres will begin the 1st round of Stanley Cup Playoff action against the #8 seed New York Islanders.
Many storylines come to mind when it comes to this series. From Rick Dipietro's mysterious head injury to the well awaited Jack Adams award winning battle between Nolan and Ruff, as the Replacement looks to take his place in Buffalo history by defeating his predicessor.
But this series holds much more to Ruff's heart than just a coaching debate.
Throughout Ruff's 9 year tenure as Sabres Head Coach has had the oppurtunity to seek and gain redemption for his many playoff losses during his NHL playing days from 1979-1991. But no rivalry comes to mind greater than the classic 1980's battles between the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders.
As the hockey world knows very well, from 1980 to 1983 the New York Islanders formed a dynasty under the wings of forward Mike Bossy and goaltending stud Billy Smith.
But what many outside of Buffalo don't recall is the torment and anguish the Islanders put upon the city of Buffalo in the 1980's. Most notably the notorious 1979-80 season.
In the Prince of Wales Finals the #1 seed Buffalo Sabres (Conference Champions might I remind you) sped off to a 2-0 lead in the best of 7 series. But in a now infamous move, the Islanders did away with goaltender "Chico" Resch and put the previously injured Billy Smith in net to replace him, and the rest, as we must say, is history. The Islanders went on to win the next 4 games and defeat the Sabres 4-2 enroute to their 1st Stanley Cup championship.
So now onto Tomarrow's matchup: The heavilly favored Conference Champion Sabres step foot on the HSBC Arena Ice to face the injury plagued New York Islanders.
Will Lindy make redemption on The Islanders in the beginning of a new infamous Dynasty in Buffalo? Or will Rick Dipietro make his return by Game 3 (or later) and steal the show in most definately the biggest upset of the playoffs?
Only time will tell. But If Lindy aligns his troops in perfect formation and feeds off the fiesty Buffalo crowd, we may be in the midst of a brand new era of Hockey in Buffalo, and in the National Hockey League.
So I bid you ado with this to ponder on, and in the modified words of 2 great Buffalo men: "Top Shelf Where Momma Hides the Copey!"