Sometimes, it can be a lot of fun to be a hockey fan.
I know that it hasn't seemed like that over the past couple of years, but it's true. Hockey is a sport full of unbridled emotion, nail-biting finishes, and players that wear their passion for their sport and their teammates on their sleeve. It really is a fun, enjoyable sport to watch and experience.
I feel like there were times when I had forgotten that over the last two seasons. Watching hockey and writing about it was more of an obligation, and I was often looking for the answers to why things went wrong rather than what went right (many times because things just simply did not go right most nights).
This season has reminded me that being a fan can actually make you happy more than it makes you crazy and miserable. I'm actually enjoying this team more than I'm getting angry at them. I have hope.
Tonight's game was a game that I would have written off as a loss last season with a few minutes to go in the third period. I would have assumed that we would let a tying goal in with moments left to give the Leafs momentum into overtime. But this season I expected them to clamp down in the final moments and get the win, which they did. I honestly wasn't all that nervous, which I think speaks to the amount of faith I have in this team (or the amount of faith I have in how bad the Leafs are against us).
Instead of wasting time being nervous, I had fun watching us dismantle the Leafs again. That's the way this whole season has been for me so far - with the exception of a few games, I have enjoyed watching this team play hockey more than I was expecting to.
You can see it in the players as well - they're having fun, too. I went to practice on Wednesday, and it was the most spirited, loudest practice I'd ever attended. They guys were all laughing and chirping at each other as they went through their drills. There was even an impromptu game of baseball with Pat Kaleta pitching, Goose catching, and Pommer (later Captain Craig) at bat. It was just nice to see that, while they were still focused when running their drills, they are having fun out there together.
And why not? They have the best goalie in the league, a capable backup whose always there to support Ryan (I'm glad we've gotten to see some "goalie love" between them these past two games, too), balanced scoring, strong defense pairings, and the Rookie of the Year (in my humble opinion) playing for the Blue and Gold. There are lots of things to be proud of and excited about with this team.
I know I'm rambling, and it should always be fun to be a sports fan, but sometimes in Buffalo it's not always fun. But thanks to Myers, Miller, and the rest of the Sabres, it's a whole lot more enjoyable now, and I can only hope that it stays fun long into the spring.