Fifteen to go.
Game analysis is not my strong point (I'll direct you to Sabre Rattling and Bleeding Blue and Gold for that), but I will make some very brief comments about tonight's game:
Things were pretty close for most of the game on the scoreboard, but I think Buffalo outplayed the Islanders overall. We had a lot of chances we weren't burying - it's just a matter of time before the Vanek-Roy-Afinogenov line explodes if they continue to buzz around the way they did tonight - and the Islanders got very few real scoring opportunities. Very little got through to Ryan and even then, he didn't have to make any spectacular saves. Just a very good defensive game all the way around, a couple of big turnovers aside. The Islanders hung in there for a while, but I think it was made pretty clear that they're simply overmatched in this series.
The special teams were very strong, thank goodness. The powerplay was 2 for 6 with a third goal coming seconds after an advantage ended. The penatly kill looked particularly good and at times it seemed we were getting as many scoring chances on Islanders' powerplays as they were.
Dubie played fine. He looked a little shaky at first but settled in well and kept the game from being a rout. I guess I can understand wanting to put your starter in once he's cleared, but how long has it been since DiPietro played? How rusty is he going to be and what are the chances of him getting roughed up and ending up with another concussion? Dubie isn't the reason the Islanders lost so I don't think it's necessarily smart to pull him. DP has 14 more years to play for the Islanders in the playoffs, you know? (Hee.)
And... that's all I got.
The mood before the game was a lot of fun. The crowd was crazy at the beginning of the game but tailed off some when the score stayed so close. Everyone was a little nervous, I think and stayed that way until Chris put us up 3-1. Things loosened up then although people started leaving not too long after that so they didn't even really get to enjoy it. I'll never understand leaving a game early, especially a playoff game. The only time I've ever left a game early was when I had to catch a bus home. And even then I only left because it was the last bus of the night and I didn't want to spend the night downtown.
The one real negative about the Sabres being so popular in Buffalo right now is that I really think there were a lot of people in the building who were just there because it was the cool, happening place to be. They weren't there because they love hockey or care about the team, they were there because everyone wanted to be there. The three people beside me had clearly never been to a hockey game and had no idea what was going on. And not in a "I'm a new fan and I'm still learning" way. That I can handle. Hey, I've been there. I knew very little about the workings of a hockey game when I moved to Buffalo (almost seven years ago) and I had to ask things like, "What's icing?", "What's the difference between a shot on goal and a scoring chance?" and "What's a trap and why do we hate it?" But these people barely paid attention to the game and spent most of the 60 minutes walking back and forth to refill their beers. (And my disgust is not even taking into consideration how many times the girl right beside me smacked me in the face with her pom-pom.) They could've spent the evening in a bar and let real fans have their seats. Last year a couple friends and I decided that anyone buying playoff tickets should have to pass a quiz about the basics of hockey and the specifics of the Sabres (yes, we were upset that we couldn't get tickets). Here's a short version of what we came up with (yes, we did waste a day's work time doing this):
1. WHO WEARS THE FOLLOWING JERSEY NUMBERS?
61, 23, 45, 30, 19
NAME THE TEAM CAPTAIN/ALTERNATE CAPTAINS.
WHO IS THE HEAD COACH?
DO THE FOLLOWING PLAYERS PLAY ON OFFENSE OR DEFENSE?
WHO'S MISSING FROM THE OFFENSIVE LINE/DEFENSIVE PAIRING?
Henrik Tallinder and _______________
Jason Pominville, Daniel Briere, and ____________
BRIEFLY DEFINE THE FOLLOWING:
****BONUS POINTS FOR SEATS IN THE SECTION OF YOUR CHOICE*****
NAME ALL THREE MEMBERS OF THE FRENCH CONNECTION.
NAME FIVE OTHER FORMER BUFFALO SABRES.
WHAT COUNTRY ARE THE FOLLOWING PLAYERS FROM?
Maxim Afinogenov, Henrik Tallinder, Brian Campbell, Ryan Miller, Jaroslav Spacek*
I don't think this is asking too much.
In closing, one of the things I love most about Brian Campbell is how darn thrilled and excited he looks when he does something good. No calm, collected celebration for Soupy.