The Sabres lost their first game of the season last night, and it was everything that we could have wanted, and more.
It was the debut of a brand new team after a tumultuous pair of tank seasons, and boy, was the packed house at the FNC excited to start something new. There was, of course, Jack Eichel, and many other new Sabre names. There were so many new names out there, that sometimes I didn’t have enough eyeballs for all of them.
For the first 2 periods, it turned out I didn’t need so many eyeballs. Aside from some pretty consistently impressive rushes from Evander Kane, most of the young roster looked nervous. Their decisions were rushed, and the Ottawa Senators rushed over them in waves. Robin Lehner let in a goal with only 30 seconds in, and left in the 2nd period with an ominous looking leg injury. The injury would prove to be the worst moment of the night, and has put the young season already in jeopardy – but you can hit the Interwebs for more of that doom and gloom on your own. This recap is more about our first glimpse of greatness.
In the third period, it seemed the Sabres finally had their feet wet enough and their backs sweaty enough to shake off the Sens and get to work. Eichel started to fly with Kane, and joined with Zemgus Girgensons, they became a force to be reckoned with (I’m not sure – do we call them the KEG line? Maybe the EKG line, since they put my heartbeat on hold for a few moments attacking the net with a passion, speed and precision that I have not seen in years. Ah, it’s far too early to name lines that have not been set yet, but I digress.)
It would be at the 9:11 mark when Eichel would score his historic goal. Fed by a marvelous pass by Marcus Foligno (mark that name down, trivia nerds), he calmly, momentarily let Sens netminder Craig Anderson (mark that one down, too) get into position, before rifling the puck into the very small spot of daylight left in the crease. Top shelf, of course, where those cookies are stored. Rick Jeanneret screamed “JEICHEL,” and continued with every other thought that occurred to him in a frenzy, as the Sabres brand new goal song kicked in.
It was bliss. Pure and unadulterated fun was back at the FNC. The place was swingin.’ Soon, Evander Kane collected a puck behind the net and wrapped it around for the 2-2 tie, and the Sabres were putting the hockey world on notice one “Here we go now!” at a time.
A coach’s challenge would negate that Kane goal (a tedious, drawn out process that was clumsy and awful – more on that another day), but it could not negate the howl that Evander let loose when he slid that puck into the net, and it couldn’t negate his pure aggression when he slammed his stick into the bench upon hearing it was getting called back. I absolutely loved his fire all game long. It’s something we’re going to enjoy all season. He never stops, he never quits.
We’ll call it a day there for the recap. Sure, on the box score you’ll see that the Sabres lost the game, 3-1. But as far as I’m concerned, the fans were treated to a buncha kids rallying together late in a tough, heavily hyped and anticipated debut, to willfully make that game a 2-2 tie.
The end of the game left our hearts full, yet wanting more. We still want that first win of the season, and we’ll get it soon. But something about this team tells me that this will be a common sort of feeling. This team is so good, it’s always going to have us wanting more – wins, playoffs, and eventually a Cup or three. It’s a feeling you get with the great teams.
And that’s not hyperbole.
After the game, there was an exchange between Sens GM Bryan Murray and Coach Dan.
Bryan Murray was feeling a bit of the same thing fans were at the end of this one. There were some signs of greatness on the ice last night, signs of thing to come.
Now, I’d like to introduce you to a new segment at BSN called “The Kid Line.” It’s a special place where one very small but precocious hockey fanatic will be weighing in with an opinion or two of the team of his generation. Watch out Sabres, my boy doesn’t hold back any punches. He’s usually spot on, (and refreshingly hilarious) so pay attention.
THE KID LINE
Today features a pair of observations from last night’s event. As per usual, his wit scored more RT’s than his father:
The Boy: You know one thing we haven’t seen? Me: I dunno. What? The Boy: No Cellino and Barnes commercials! /fist pumps Both: YES!
— Scott Meichelak (@ScottyMCSS) October 9, 2015
That gem came late in the game, when the Sabres were down 3-1, and I was feeling down too. Watch the games with your kids as much as you can. They’re good medicine, and great company.
There he is! I can finally see his face again!
That one was during the player introductions. Eichel, Kane, Reinhart, O’Reilly, Ennis and co. – we love you all, but it’s pretty clear by the volume at which he said this that it’s going to take a lot from all of you to get some room on his poster wall alongside Zemgus Girgensons.
The fun is back, everyone.