0Posted by Scott Michalak on October 9, 2015 at 7:54 am
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 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.
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!
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.
0Posted by Scott Michalak on September 17, 2015 at 9:00 pm
Physicals were taken today at the First Niagara Center. Bodies were examined, measured, and worried over – for once, not to measure potential or promise, but just to make sure that the kids are OK and ready for their first days together at Sabres U.
In a weird sort of way, it was also to make sure that these kids are real. After the wasteland of The Suffering, the elite talents showed up to snowy Buffalo. They had their pulse taken, and there was a concurrence that they were alive, and were all here, willingly. Pictures were taken, so we have proof. You could see it in the smiles. There was no hint of regret in any of the new pickups that they were now snowbound in hapless Buffalo.
In a series of quick pressers, the youngsters exuded excitement. They were happy. There was confidence in each other, in what the future holds, for this team, for this town, and for its long suffering fans. Smiles all around.
It’s easy to smile now, unless you’re Tim Murray. He arrived here with a meaningful scowl on his face, but this shrewd personality and insight of his have paid off. He’s been a man of few words at the draft podium and in public, but bombastic in the statements of his actions and roster manipulations. His projected team, even if not yet complete, looks to dominate in a few short years. Maybe sooner, if he pushes the plunger down on another dynamite move, or two. There has been a ton of detonation and noise around this man of few words.
It’s easy to be a fan of this team right now. It’s OK when the core group of your talent is mainly chattering about how happy they are, and how they are enjoying the city of Buffalo. It’s a young group, and unless you count the leftover bodies from the last years’ massacres, they’ve never played a game together. Fans really have no measure on how the new influx of size, smarts, possession, passion, speed, and finishing will, well, finish.
It’s easy to be a player incoming of this new, exciting project as well – but that may change very soon. At some point, maybe in a month or two, (maybe more, maybe less), it will be time to get more serious about these kids, and what they are saying. Particularly, we’ll want to talk more specifically about how they are performing. How they have gelled (or not) as a young team in a very competitive National Hockey League.
At some point, there will be an emergence from the rebuilding and the hope and the happy chatter. The real rebirth from the absurdity of the tank years will begin.
I cannot say when that turning point will happen, but I cannot wait to see who takes the reins from Murray, and begins to lead this team by the throat. The expectations are heavy, and eventually, some person or persons in the locker room are going to have to make this assembly win.
Again, Murray’s work isn’t quite done yet, but the locker room has been gone through a transformation. The emergence of leadership, of the identity of this new team, can begin from so many different and powerful personalities. To name a few: Ryan O’Reilly and Zemgus Girgensons are both capable of leading by force of will. Evander Kane is a vision of confidence and power on the ice as well, and wants to best his own goal scoring records yesterday. Samson Reinhart is a humble hockey mastermind stuck almost impatient in a growing hockey body.
Those are just of the few of the personalities that had their pictures taken at the FNC today. It’s a great mix, a balance of all the traits you need to succeed in the NHL today.
The real work began when the cameras were put away today. And now all that fans, along with Tim Murray, have to do, is to await the emergence, and who will lead the commencement to the W column, and further from there.
How all of that comes together will be a marvel to behold. Now, it’s just up to a group of kids who just had their their pictures snapped on the first day of school to make all of our dreams come true. Let them have their day. Tomorrow, their commencement begins.
They have what it takes – the talent, the seriousness and the will, to bring us our day(s) soon enough.
Still, despite the slightly implied “Read your own Freedom-Online-Dictionary-You-Internet-Hand-Out-Information-Junkies,” Slava is truly a great follow on the Twitter, and if you’re not following him, then you’re doin’ it wrong-o.
So what is “bandy?” Well, it turns out that it is all sorts of awesome – so long as you consider using frozen soccer fields as an ice rink.
FROZEN SOCCER FIELDS AS A HOCKEY RINK.
Oh, hell yes!
Bandy. We have bandy! It’s ours, and Bettman and Co. (Pegula) can never take it away.
No shirt-sleeves allowed, gentlemen. Making blood happen: totally cool. Elbows up, fellows!
Watching Semin's debut in VHL, as Sokol Krasnoyarsk has sold out the arena. Fun fact: most popular sports in Krasnoyarsk - rugby and bandy