In the aftermath of game six, I was mega-glum. I bet you were too. That game was a swift kick to the softest, fleshiest part of my sports soul. I walked into the arena with an open heart and a joyful spring in my step, and I limped out, wincing and clutching my chest.
That game was so rough that after it was over, Jessica and I opted to go home to our respective houses rather than even put one toe in the Harbor Club. This is unusual behavior, but neither of us had the heart to look on the bright side. If I had to rank my friends in order of those most likely to say, “Eff it! Let’s drink and be merry! The disgusting Flyers will die miserable and alone, but they will NOT interrupt my gallivanting schedule,” Jessica would be right at the top of that list. So, it’s a true testimony to our heavy hearts that we couldn’t even muster the strength for one postgame “Beer of Commiseration”.
On the sad walk back to our car, we joked that we were going to go home alone and “angry eat” something extremely unhealthy.
Half an hour later we exchanged these photos via text.
Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
Today is a new day.
Today, my hockey train-of-thought (and really, is there any other train-of-thought during the playoffs?) has been a series of pleasant realizations:
– At no point yesterday was I angry with the Sabres. (Okay, maaaybe I was a little angry with Brad Boyes for a few minutes.)
– Ryan Miller has been downright heroic this series. I don’t think it’s even debatable. There are people who are going to point at him and blame him for the lost leads in game 5 and 6, but those people are stupid. Also not debatable. If you took Ryan Miller and put him on the Flyers, this series might have been a sweep. Crunchy has almost single-handedly made this a series.
– The following Flyers can fall down a well for all I care: Mike Richards, Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, Dan Carcillo. This isn’t so much a “pleasant realization,” as it is a helpful focal point for my feelings of disgust and rage. If they fell down a well, I would probably stop by and toss them food and drink so they wouldn’t starve to death, but I wouldn’t help them escape, and I’d be 100% willing to taunt them by repeatedly asking about their recent divorces.
– Hey, at least we’re not rooting for the Canucks.
– Yesterday afternoon the Sabres were down Roy, Hecht, Pominville, Sekera, and for half the game Tim Connolly, and they made a great game of it. That means the Sabres played the second half of that game with Gaustad, Niedermayer, and McCormick as their top three centers. The Flyers played with Richards, Briere and someone-else-who-I’m-too-lazy-to-look-up as their top centers. To call this series a mismatch at forward is an insult to people wearing plaid shirts and polka-dot pants everywhere. And yet, the Sabres are right there, taking this series to game seven.
– But. Roy-Z might be back on Tuesday! ROY-Z! Think all the way back to when Roy-Z first got injured, and we all thought the season was over, and he told us that he was hoping to be ready for the second round of the playoffs. Oh, how we laughed and laughed at Roy-Z back then. Roy-Z was right, and we were wrong. Hooray! (Incidentally, Heather and I had a good chuckle the other day joking about how when he said it, Roy-Z probably didn’t believe the Sabres would make the playoffs either. Hopefully he hasn’t been sitting on his ass for four months eating bon-bons and assuming he wouldn’t have to play in the playoffs. Can’t you see Roy-Z all fat and lazy, playing video games, being all, “Wait… WHAT? They actually MADE the playoffs?! And now you expect me to PLAY?! *looks down at flabby legs* Um, I might need a few days to find my skates. Also, my stomach hurts. I don’t think I can play. And, um, I think my grandmother died and I have to go to her funeral. And I might be concussed. Yeah! I’m concussed! I should go to the quiet room, NOT play in the playoffs. FUCK! Is Pronger going to be there?!”)
– Fuck the Flyers.
– The Sabres were down and out, and then, through a series of minor miracles, beginning with Pegula and stretching down through every rank of the organization, they rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Every single playoff game is a gift. And now? Now we get a game seven. Bring it. For reals. If you could go back in time and offer a first round game seven to your December-self, your December-self would be so overjoyed he/she would probably try to make out with your current-self. (FYI, that’s a variation on a joke of future and past selves that Jessica often tells. She’s a keeper.)
– This team has been a joy to watch, and I’m proud to root for them. Even if they lose on Tuesday 10-0, this season has been a success, and I love them. This sense of peace is something new for me as a fan. The Sabres have already earned my love. It’s a done deal. I hesitated to write about this because in some ways by saying, “I’m okay with them losing” it sounds like I expect them to lose. But I swear, that’s not the case.
– If there is one thing I’ve learned from watching this Sabres team for the last four months, it’s that we shouldn’t count them out, ever. They might be mismatched, and they might be young, but they have more heart than the Philadelphia Flyers. Time and time again, the Sabres have found a way to win. And as overpowered as the Sabres forwards are, there is really no overstating the shittiness of the Flyers goaltending. The Flyers are better than the Sabres, but they have a glorious vulnerability in net. The Sabres have given us no reason to doubt them. They deserve our respect.
– Sabres in 7.
Let’s Go Buff–a–lo! WOO!