Posted 11:12 AM ET | Comments 0
Going to my car Thursday morning I was greeted with the cold, wet blanket that can be Buffalo spring. My initial thoughts were concern about how this was going to affect the ice. I knew it was going to warm up, but would the humidity lift, and if it didn’t were the Sabres going to have problems dealing with slow, choppy ice. No matter I thought, game time was twelve hours away.
I know I went to work, but most of the day was lost in a haze of coffee and nervous anticipation. I left and the weather seemed to have gotten better, but still the air was thick. For the drive home I listed to Tim Connolly talk about how the team was ready and how last year wasn’t in his head. Ottawa was the team they were playing, but it didn’t matter as long as the Sabres played their game. Funny, I thought, but wasn’t this the team that has been our nemesis all year, the opponent that has slowly been gaining ground and seemingly hunting us from Christmas on? This was the only team in the league that seemed to want to play the Sabres, or might I say NEED to play us. Didn't that make them different somehow? No matter, if he felt good than I felt good, no need to get worried now, still 2 hours till they drop the puck.
Got home, fired up the grill and threw on some chicken (soaked in Chivetta’s of course), ate quickly and left to go watch the game. Coming off the 33 into downtown I was again greeted with the same wet blanket from this morning. An ominous fog clung to Allentown and penetrated everything around. No way they are getting good ice tonight, but hopefully it will slow them down as much as us, maybe take their skill guys down a notch.
Pulled up to the local tavern and saw friendly smiling faces, everyone in blue and gold ready to see their team play. Hellos and beers were the first orders of business. Once that was settled, it was time for the game to start.
Puck drops and the Sabres come out flying. My friend’s brother and his college roommates from Georgia flew in for a long weekend. One of them turns to me and says “I only watched a couple hockey games in my life, are they all this fast?” No…sometimes they’re faster. Sabres looking good now but Ottawa is weathering it well. Roy sprawls, power play to Buffalo. Here we go, our first chance to see what the power play has got. Georgia friend speaks up again: “Hey when the other team does something bad, they like lose a guy?” “Yup” “No way man….that seems totally unfair…” Not more than two seconds later Fisher is streaking down the ice and pots a shorty. Yeah….unfair to who.
As the game continues on I can’t help but wonder what Nathan Paestch is thinking. Are him and Scott Arniel sitting up high with a bowl of peanuts talking about the travesty unfolding on the ice? “Hey Andrew, can you get us a refill?” Ottawa seems to have an answer for every counter punch we throw. They get their 3rd goal and switch gears seamlessly. One forechecker, 4 guys back, seen this before. Have to get chances, have to shoot the puck. Sabres all look like they are trying to find someone else on the team to score, someone else to make a play. No one has any confidence with the puck, and Ottawa is feasting on it. Every indecision, every bounce, Ottawa player is there with a spoon and gravy to lap it up. Bang. Spezza scores. 4-2. This one is not going good, but we still have a chance, if not today then soon. Ottawa still does not bend, game ends, Sabres drop the first one. Game 2 Saturday.