This game was a true test for the Sabres. Calgary is a physically and mentally tough team that has the ability to pound its opponents into submission. Not to mention the fact that they have one of the greatest leaders in sports, Jarome Iginla, on their team.
The Sabres had faced what I saw as two tests last week and failed both miserably. Against two of the better teams in the NHL, they crumbled, and I was afraid that the same thing was going to happen tonight. In short, I was losing faith already, and I thought this game had the potential to be the nail in the coffin.
Was I excited to see Calgary, one of my favorite Western Conference teams? Was I excited to watch Iginla lead his team into HSBC arena?
Yes, I was excited, but I was also nervous.
Then, the puck dropped.
Though the team fell in a hole early (which I did not see because I was at work), they dominated the first period. Throughout the game, the team was physical with the Flames, proving that they would not be bullied. I especially enjoyed Goose taking on Phaneuf - not only because it was Goose but because it once again proved that this team (or at least definite players on it) is dedicated to standing up for one another.
Shootout wins are always especially exhilarating, but this was more than just a win. It was a true statement - to the other teams in the NHL, to the fans, and to me personally (the last of which I'm sure they care so much about).
This team is not going away quietly into the night, and I, for one, could not be happier.