That Was Really Awesome

I really wasn’t prepared for how much more awesome the playoffs would feel.  Oh sure, you guys kept telling me, but I guess I had to experience it for myself.   Playoff hockey in person is just astounding.

First of all, the crowd.  Wow.

I’ve bristled a bit all season when I’ve heard people bagging on the HSBC crowd for being too quiet.  As most of you know, this was my first year as a season ticket holder, so even if the crowd was a little subdued compared to previous years, I wanted to love it, and I did.  I loved HSBC Arena and the people I shared the games with this season, passionately and with all my heart.  So, when people kept telling me, “You won’t believe how much wilder the arena can get during the playoffs,” a small part of me was thinking, “Oh please, that’s just the old ‘everything-was-better-a-few-years-ago’ Buffalo thing, talking”  I kind of didn’t believe that the crowd would suddenly change, as if a flip had been switched, just because it was playoff time.

But that’s exactly how it was.  It was as if a switch got flipped.

I think Jessica said it best in the comments a few days ago: “This is the best time of year for fans to lead with their hearts and not their heads.”  That’s exactly how if felt last night.  All of a sudden, everyone was on the same page, cheering for the Sabres.  Everyone was cheering with their hearts instead of their heads.  It was loud and raucous and wonderful.  The atmosphere was incredibly special to me, and even though I’ve been to nearly 50 games over the last three seasons , I think last night was the game I became a real citizen of HSBC Arena.

Second of all, the game. In the immortal words of Rick Jeanneret, “WOW.  DOUBLE WOW.”

There were times last night when I was thinking, “WHO IS THIS TEAM?!  Who are they…and can I marry them ALL?”  A flip was switched with the Sabres, as well as in the crowd.  Playoff hockey really is a different game.  It’s wilder, and harder, and all around MORE AWESOME, which seems weird to say, because frankly, I think regular season hockey is pretty damn awesome already.

Of course I’ve watched the playoffs before, so I know what playoff hockey looks like, but to suddenly see the Sabres, my Sabres, playing real playoff hockey like they meant it, well, it was super cool.  My doubts about how the Sabres would perform in the playoffs were always there just because I couldn’t imagine them playing as hard as, say, the Pens and the Caps played last postseason.  But now, after seeing Jason Pominville (!) lay a hit on Chara with my own two eyes, I’m a believer.  I was really impressed.

The Sabres have looked like a playoff team all season, but last night they looked like a team in the playoffs, and it made me incredibly happy.

I can’t believe I get to go back tomorrow.


A few thoughts about the game and last night in general:

– I’ve always booed Chara, mostly because it cracked me up.  Truthfully, I’ve actually always liked him, and I really only booed him because it cracked me up.  (Robin and I referred to him for years as “The Guy We Boo For No Apparent Reason.”)  But things are different now.  What a douche.  Last night I booed that guy with genuine malice in my heart.  I will do so again tomorrow.

– A lot of forwards had impressive games, but the one who really amazed me was Thomas Vanek.  He had a few shifts last night that reminded me of last year, when some nights he was the only guy I could see on the ice.  I LOVE it when Vanek is the only player I can see on the ice.  I love it so so so much.  If Atlas is back…..*stops to ponder what it might mean for this postseason if Atlas really is back*……man oh man.

– Last night during the first period for awhile I was thinking, “Gee, the Bruins are hitting REALLY hard, I don’t know if the Sabres can deal.”  And then, a few minutes later I realized that the Sabres were dealing.  Quite capably, in fact.  I was actually impressed with the Bruins last night (rightly or wrongly, I think of them as a passionless team), but I was MORE impressed with the Sabres willingness and ability to push back.  Screw you, Bruins!

– Derek Roy played a terrific game.

– Toni Lydman is the best.

– I heard Julien’s postgame comments in the car on the way home, and I was very unimpressed.  Basically all he said was, “Well, I thought we played well enough to win.  Hopefully we’ll win on Saturday.”  Thems fightin’ words!

– I also heard Ryan Miller’s postgame comments on the car on the way home, and I was, as usual, very impressed.  The thing that he said that I loved the most was about the second period (which was fairly puke-tastic).  He said something like (I’m paraphrasing), “If we do this right, we’ve got two more months of hockey.  Not every period is going to go our way.  The important thing is that we were way better in the third.”  That’s pretty much how I felt about the second period too.  Yeah, the second period was WAY lame (that’s where having Crunchy comes in SUPER handy), but they pulled themselves back together, and they WON THAT SHIT.  The Sabres are now 31-0 when entering the 3rd period with a lead this season.  31-0. That’s THIRTY ONE WINS, and ZERO losses.  This team knows how to lock it down.

– Sabretooth rappelled from the rafters, you guys!  I’ve always assumed that maybe it was actually Daniel Briere in the Sabretooth suit back when he regularly rappelled, because that tradition seemed to disappear after the Briere-era.  It’s something I’ve always been sad I missed.  Was it always just a playoff thing?  At any rate, I might have squealed out loud when I saw the spotlight on Sabretooth way up there.

– Raffi Torres!  All of a sudden!  Raffi Torres!

– I have two minor quibbles about the crowd last night: 1. I DISAPPROVE of goalie taunting until the goalie has DONE SOMETHING DUMB.  For goodness sakes, people were busting out the “Tuuuuka, Tuuuuka,” when the game was still scoreless. I didn’t think Rask did anything that warranted a goalie taunt last night, but I will admit that in the third period when the score was locked at 2-1, I did feel a strong urge to join in.  “Tuuuuuka, Tuuuuuuka,” seems like a VERY satisfying thing to chant.  Hopefully he’ll have a bad game tomorrow and I’ll be able to taunt him with a clear conscience. 2.  I realize that chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A is really just our way of chanting “We love you Crunchy!” but the Olympics are over, AND BOSTON IS IN THE UNITED STATES.  We need a better, “Yay for Crunchy” cheer.  (May I suggest, “Yay for Crunchy!”)

– Tyler Ennis really is good.  He came close to two highlight reel goals last night.  One of these nights he’s going to score a beauty.

10 Responses to “That Was Really Awesome”

  1. 1 kel April 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    i blame the uuuu sound for the taunting early on. If it had been Timmy, it probably wouldnt have been as early because there is just something satisfying about a good uuuuu. Like yelling Bruuuuuce during the heyday of the bills

    of course, if it had been timmy there might have been something to taunt earlier in the game :P (said as someone who has always had a soft spot for timmy thomas for no good reason)

    i tell ya, its a bit entertaining watching this playoff game from behind enemy lines (one of the ways i wound up moving to boston was that the regional training manager liked that i talked trash about hockey during lunch at a conference right before the playoffs, and he decided he wanted to bring me out here). Yesterday was satisfying to say the least, although its not the same without Jenerett and the way Buffalo buzzes around playoff hockey. You’d barely know the Bruins were in it (example, listened to a sports talk radio station today, and all they could talk about was Ben Roethlesburger. Not one mention of the Bruins)

  2. 2 Mike April 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    It is a bit silly to taunt a goaltender before he gives up a goal, but if you think about it as trying to get in his head and CAUSE him to mess up and let one in, it makes a bit more sense. Besides, it’s surprisingly fun to yell “Tuuuukkkkaaa”, and it’s even more fun to hear my two year old daughter doing it. I have to try to take a video of that tomorrow, it’s a hoot.

  3. 3 Matt April 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    It is entirely silly to taunt a goaltender in that way before he gives you cause. It’s even sillier that the taunting in the arena momentarily overpowered RJ on the broadcast. I’ll admit it: I joined in at home.

  4. 4 Matt April 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Almost forgot: If you think that crowd was nuts tonight, you haven’t seen anything yet. =)

  5. 5 Katebits April 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Oh, I wanted to join in by the end of the evening. Tuuuuuka just feels and sounds good. :D

    And Matt, we were saying that on the way out last night, “This was only GAME ONE of ROUND ONE! Can you imagine what this scene would be like in six weeks?!”

  6. 6 sallypants April 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    It was a blast! Really, really fun! I yelled so much my throat is sore today.

    I agree, I think it’s really silly that there isn’t a Miller chant. Even something fairly boring, like “Mil-ler clap clap!” would be fine.

  7. 7 Caroline April 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm


    As for taunting Tuukka, I’ve never been one for taunting a goalie or booing in general, but in the playoffs I think it’s different. He’s a rookie, and he’s also been known to be a little hot headed, so I think fans wanted to get all over him from the get go. Plus, you know the Bruins fans will be taunting Miller (or should I say “Millah” for Bostonians.) the second the puck drops, so whateves.

  8. 8 dave in Rocha April 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    ‘May I suggest, “Yay for Crunchy!”’

    This would be about four levels more obscure and random than the Red Wings octopus-throwing tradition. Go for it.

  9. 9 Heather B April 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I was a little nervous about the Tuukka chant. He played well. I feel like we could have scored like 6 more goals.

    Did you see/hear any of Vanek’s postgame interview? He sounded great. Clear-headed, confident, and relaxed (!). I was already excited about his playoffs because of how great he looked on the ice. That interview was icing on the cake.

  10. 10 Katebits April 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I DID see that Vanek interview, and I WAS amazed. I don’t understand that guy at ALL, but if he wants to suddenly get awesome in every way just in time for the playoffs, it’s fine by me! (Do you think he finally took my advice to go see a sports psychologist? )

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