I have been going through a tremendous amount of emotions today. I knew right after the Sabres game ended that I wanted to write tonight, but I didn’t want it to be about the game.
I would like to take some time right now to say how proud I am of this team.
We all know how much of a roller coaster season this has been. We were easily one of the worst teams in the beginning of the year, even hitting the rock bottom of the NHL standings at one point. After winning the division last year, not many of us could believe this. People were calling for Darcy and Lindy’s heads, saying we should blow the team up, get rid of Golisano. We couldn’t win at home. We could barely win on the road. Tyler Myers had about as bad a start to the season as possible. He looked nothing like the Calder trophy winner he was a few months ago. The same goes with Ryan Miller, who we later found out had been playing hurt since training camp. There were few bright spots in November. Finally winning a home game on November 13th against the Caps in OT, and again the following game against the Canucks, also in OT.
Things started to turn around a bit in December, at least fan-wise. We started to hear rumblings about Terry Pegula. It started to give us hope. As soon as we start to feel good about that, we get more bad news. Our leading scorer Derek Roy will be out for the rest of the regular season. Roy had been producing at a point-per-game pace this year. This was a HUGE blow to our team.
Or so we thought.
What happened in January I don’t think we’ll ever understand. The attitude of our beloved Sabres completely changed. Maybe it had something to do with Pegula, maybe they just were like, “screw it, what do we have to lose?” It all started on New Years Day with Stafford posting a huge hat trick against Boston, with his 3rd coming in the last 30 seconds of the 3rd period to tie the game. We went on to win in a shoot-out. It was his second hat trick in a row against the Bruins. Nate Gerbe made his name known for all the right reasons. Tyler Myers started playing like the Calder winner. January 21st was the last time we would see Patrick Lalime. We went 8-3-1 for the month, grabbing 17 out of 24 points.
Enter February. This was a historical month for the Sabres organization. Terry Pegula was announced as the new owner on Feb 22nd. The smiles on our faces only became wider, as we heard things such as “no financial restrictions.” My personal two favorite quotes were “Winning is not a goal, it is a belief,” and “Starting today the reason for the Buffalo Sabres existence, is to win a Stanley Cup.” I was at the game against the Thrashers where Pegula was introduced, and it was magical for many reasons. One being the French Connection finally being reunited, unfortunately for the last time, as Rick Martin would pass away roughly 2 weeks later. I will never forget that game for that very reason. Stafford went on to have two more hat tricks this month, bringing his season total to four. The Sabres kept a great point streak going of 7 games (5-0-2), not losing in regulation until March 8th.
March is where it really got interesting. Suddenly the Sabres had a shot at the playoffs. Something even two months earlier we thought was impossible. This team kept battling back, never quitting. The Sabres were in a race for 8th place, along with the Rangers and Hurricanes. All of the sudden Toronto came out of nowhere an also threatened to challenge. Those were the games we needed to win, an failed to do so, getting beat by Toronto twice, and Carolina once in March. In the last Leafs game at the end of the month Ryan Miller took a hard shot off the collarbone. He would be day-to-day with an upper body injury.
That couldn’t have come at a worse time, right? Wrong. Jhonas Enroth to the rescue. His next game? At home against the New York Rangers. Enroth shut the door, earning his first shutout of the season, and two extremely vital points for his team. He had an alright game against the Caps, getting the loss in OT. His next game was once again, those pesky Canes. This could have easily been another shutout, had they not had one of the luckiest goals in recent memory. He also had probably one of the most bad ass moments i this game, where a shot hit him in the helmet and snapped a strap off. The refs didn’t notice it. He didn’t even blink, instead flipped his mask off, and made an incredible save to keep the game tied. I was officially impressed.He helped us earn points in all 4 games he played (3-0-1).
He might have saved our season.
Enroth and Miller split the last two games to close out the season.
At the end of the regular season the Sabres finished in 7th place. It’s been one hell of a ride. I’m not ready for it to end. I’m sure you’re not either.
Here’s to game 7, with a big addition to the team, the return of Derek Roy!
Bring it on. I believe in this team.