Saturday, April 24, 2010

Game Five Thank-You Notes

Dear Buffalo Sabres,

Now that is how you play a hockey game! I think I speak for all Sabres fans when I say thank you for showing us that you do have the heart, grit, and character to keep us believing. Thank you for giving us a lot to cheer (and cheer loudly about) last night, and thanks for showing the Bruins that they can't push us around as easily as they would like to think. Keep it up on Monday, and I can't imagine the excitement you'd be coming home to for Game Seven. One win at a time, though - just go out and play in Beantown like you did last night, and it would be tough for anyone to stop you.

Dear Paul Gaustad,

Thanks for setting the tone early and reminding the Bruins often of that physical, relentless tone. I have to admit, my beloved Goose, I was worried about your game before last night. Kudos to you for showing all of us that you hadn't disappeared and showing it with authority. From each hit to the face-off win on Grier's goal to taking on Chara at the end, you made a huge impact last night, and made me proud again to call you my favorite.

Dear Tyler Ennis,

I have a feeling Tyler Myers better get used to having you as a roommate next year - you're never seeing Portland again if you keep playing like this. You remind me of a young Danny Briere, with a heart and enthusiasm twice your size. I've always liked you because us tiny people have to stick together, but I forget how small you are when I watch you play. Your hustle, skill, and love for hockey has impressed not only the fans but Lindy as well, which is no small feat. You deserved everyone of those noogies and facewashes you got last night - that goal was a thing of hard-hustling beauty.

Dear Mike Grier,

What else can be said about you? The team turned around the day you were signed, and your calm, veteran presence has truly led the Sabres to where they are right now. The news of your signing came out on my birthday, and it was honestly my favorite present this year. Blocking that shot with your head is the kind of thing that just shows what a dedicated example you are for all of these young kids on the team. All I can say thank you for today is just for being you - playing hard and with heart.

Dear Ryan Miller,

First of all, long live the "Millerstache!" Thank you for giving us something to talk about with merely your facial hair. Now, onto actual hockey matters, thank you for giving me the biggest thrill of the night when you jumped into that scrum. It wasn't just that you did it - it was that you were grabbing Satan, which made it even better. In that one moment, you showed what has been different about the team this year - it's ability to stand up for itself as a whole and for each other.

Dear Patrick Lalime,

Thanks for the best ice dancing I've seen since the Olympics! I don't think I've laughed that hard in a long time, and I wish there was a video of it to share with everyone.

Dear Zdeno Chara,

I really don't like you. I have nothing to thank you for but for being beaten down by three Sabres last night, giving me the most pleasure from this series since I went to Game One.

Dear Sabres fans,

Thank you for showing that we still have faith. The shots of the Plaza last night were amazing, and I could barely hear RJ on my radio because the crowd was so loud. Down 3-1, the fanbase could have easily become less passionate, but the reverse seemed true. Being a Buffalo sports fan is something special, and I love putting myself in a category with all of you.

Friday, April 16, 2010


It started like this...

featured a player playing like this...

Photo curtesy of Yahoo Images

and ended like this on the ice...

Photo curtesy of The Buffalo News

...and off the ice in high-fives, hugs, car horns happily honking, and chants throughout the parking lots.

I'll have more to say tomorrow; I'm emotionally and physically drained from such an amazing night. The intensity in that game - from both the teams and the crowd was something I had missed so much over the last few seasons. The playoffs are truly a different animal, but I think we showed tonight (in the first and third periods at least) that we can face that animal head-on.

Fifteen more to go until the ultimate goal is reached. For tonight, though, I'm only thinking about one - one game, one win, and one unifying moment for the city.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tonight's the Night

I really have no words to describe what I'm feeling today. I've been trying to articulate it for days, but I just can't seem to get it right.

I'm nervous and excited and thrilled and giddy. My heart is pounding when I think about tonight, and I've had a smile on my face since the moment I got up. I couldn't fall asleep last night, and I couldn't wait to wake up this morning.

I have my Goose jersey on, my camera in my purse, and my tickets waiting at Will Call. I have all of my plans for getting to the game straightened out with my dad, including a stop in the Plaza. I read the entire playoff section in the paper this morning.

I'm just ready. I think we all are. After three years, we're just ready to get back to the arena, back to the Plaza, and back to postseason hockey.

Let's Go Buffalo.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Round Predictions

I've been swamped with work for the end of the semester (which I am both longing for and fearing with graduation approaching), but I'm taking five minutes out of my paper-writing time to make my annual first round predictions before tonight's games.

I wish I had time to offer in-depth commentary, but consider this the abridged version. Hopefully I'll be able to go into more detail with the second round.

In the East...

(1) Washington over (8) Montreal in five.
Can't stop the Caps' firepower.
(7) Philadelphia over (2) New Jersey in six.
Goaltending is an issue, but my gut still says the upset will happen.
(3) Buffalo over (6) Boston in six.
Miller's experience is the key here.
(4) Pittsburgh over (5) Ottawa in five.
In big moments, Crosby is tough to stop, and I just want to see the Sens go out well before we'd have to play them.

In the West...

(1) San Jose over (8) Colorado in six.
Still don't think it's a Cup year for the Sharks, but they'll at least get to the second round.
(2) Chicago over (7) Nashville in five. The Hawks are going to make a deep run this year - maybe not all the way to a Cup, but I think they'll come close.
(6) Los Angeles over (3) Vancouver in seven. As much as I love the Canucks, the Kings are a strong team that would have given any first-round opponent trouble.
(5) Detroit over (4) Phoenix in seven.
I think this will be a close series, but the Wings have the veteran experience to put them over the top.

So there you have it, nothing groundbreaking about my analysis, but is there ever? I always pick from my gut - no real strategy. I hope to have something up by early tomorrow about the Sabres because I am literally so excited that I start shaking when I think about it.

Let me know your picks in the comments - How incredibly right or unbearably wrong do you think mine are?

Monday, April 5, 2010

One of Those Days

Today is just one of those days, one of those hands-shaking, heart-pounding, check-the-clock-til-game-time days.

I haven't had one of these days in a long time. I've missed them so much.

Tonight, Duke takes on Butler for the NCAA Championship. I know I'm in the minority in rooting for Coach K and his team, but I really couldn't care less. I'm not a bandwagon fan or someone who likes them because they win all the time (I only started caring once they started losing, unfortunately). No, I'm a Duke fan by birth - my mom loves them, so my sister and I love them. They're not just some team I pick in my bracket or cheer for occasionally. They're my team.

My sister and I on the Duke campus this summer.

It's been so long since my team has played in a game of this magnitude. The last time I was this nervous for a game was probably the start of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007. It's such an amazing feeling to know that the team you love could actually win it all, but it's also such a scary feeling to think that such an amazing ride could be over tonight, too.

I know that I'm in the minority tonight. I know that pretty much everyone on Earth outside of the Duke campus wants to see them lose to Butler. I know that most people hate my team with a passion that I still cannot totally understand. But I won't get into that now, because if I do it will just dissolve into a diatribe about rooting against an upstanding program with a high graduation rate and a class act for a coach, and I want this to be a happy post.

I know I'm rooting for the Evil Empire, the Wicked Stepmother or whatever you want to call the Blue Devils tonight. But I don't care - because they're my team. They've always been my team, since I saw Coach K in Myrtle Beach while I was still in a stroller and didn't have a clue who he was (but my parents knew and remind me all the time about my infant brush with greatness).

I've been to the campus three times, walked on the court at Cameron once, spent way too much money in the bookstore and can make my way around their arena almost better than I can make my way around the KAC at Canisius. Our family's summer pilgrimages to Duke are some of my favorite memories because, for one day, I'm surrounded by people who love my team with a passion that I usually only see in people who hate them.

Today is Dyngus Day, the best Polish holiday of the year. I hope that Mike Krzyzewski gets to celebrate it with a National Championship.

And yes, we can spell it without looking.

I'm excited about another one of my teams today, too - my first and greatest love. I got my Sabres playoff tickets today for the first home game (Section 309, row 11, seats 5 and 6), and I was literally jumping up and down when my order went through this morning. The assurance of getting to see the Sabres in a playoff game, complete with a Party in the Plaza, a new intro video, and so much electricity in the arena, is something I have missed so much.

But there will be more on the Sabres around these parts later this week. For today, I'm focused on the Blue Devils.

In Cameron Indoor Arena, there are three banners for Duke's three championship victories.

I'm hoping that a fourth one joins those ranks tonight.