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Sabres Hockey or “Why I Typically Don’t Write Sports Entries”

The best thing about football season is that it means there are only four more weeks until hockey season starts. This week is that week, and today was the day for the Sabres to meet the hated Ottawa Senators in Ottawa for the season opener. It’s always a nerve wracking experience to watch the Sabres play the Senators. No matter how objectively bad Ottawa may be they always seem to bring their A game when playing Buffalo. This season would probably be no different as most sports writers outside of the city of Ottawa have pretty much written the Senators off. Would the Ottawa curse work again today?

For awhile it looked like there was no chance that they would even pull off a close game. Derek “Mother Fucking” Roy scoring midway through the first period giving the Sabres an early 1-0 lead only told a statistical analysis of the game for two periods. Those two periods were more of a massacre than what the XVIII legion experienced in the forests of Northern Germany. Simple bad luck prevented the score from being insurmountable.

Thomas Vanek, after a disappointing last couple of seasons looked like he did back in 04-05, and 05-06, charging the net and firmly staking out his place in front of the goal. A couple of shots going wide, a couple being inadvertently blocked by the Senator’s Goalie Pascal LeClaire, one shot off the pipe…you could tell that Vanek was frustrated at the Luck God’s seeming animosity toward him.

An odd goal scored by Ottawa early in the third looked like an indication that the curse would activated in order to rob the Sabres of an opening win against a division rival. Again it was Roy that stepped up in concert with Vanek (although not assisted by him) in knocking a shot off the skate of LeClaire and into the net. This would be the last goal of the game, but the Senators seemed to be invigorated by that final goal. Somehow their morale resurfaced and wherein the first two periods of the game seemed to be more about strategy the last ten minutes became gritty trench warfare. Penalties abounded for the Sabres who played most of the last eight minutes of the game short handed. At one point they fought off a 6-4 man advantage and were imprisoned in their own zone.

With 20 seconds left fan favorite Mike Grier took a slashing penalty and the game looked all but tied. It was only a matter of time before the Senators put one passed Ryan “He looks like Dave Hahn” Miller. The thing about time, is that it is pretty objective and even the all powerful gods of the Ancient World were still enslaved by time. The Ottawa Senators? Not so much…

In what is becoming a long string of conspiracy evidence something fishy was going on and it never was explained exactly what it was. After Grier was confined to the penalty box, a face off was played that Paul “Goose” Gaustad easily won, then the whistle blew. At the start of the faceoff 20.6 seconds were left, at the whistle 19.3. At the start of the second face off 20.9. The Senators were given a second and a half of extra time. Even though this is the time it takes to take a deep breath, hockey fans know that games are decided in this amount of time, and it almost was as a loose puck escaped both the notice of Ryan Miller and the defense, if the Senators had seen it in time I would probably be still watching the game or lamenting a loss.

In the end the Senators were unable to convert the puck into a goal, giving the Sabres a number of things. The first is that, at the very worst they can only tie last year’s 1-5 record against the Senators. The second is a win against a division rival which matters little now but can make a major influence come Spring. Thirdly, they snapped a dismal 20 period (at least) power play drought with Roy’s second goal. Finally, they are off on a win which matters mainly for morale which Napoleon always said was important than material.

New players, new jersey, no more dead weight, maybe we look for a cup this year. 

Categories: hockey, sports
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