Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Top Sabres Playoff Moments

I'm a relatively new fan, and even then I didn't have cable at home until 2008, so the only playoffs I was able to watch in their entirety were last years. But I've had some bit playoff moments, so in reverse order, here we go.

7). Game 1 against the New York Rangers in 2007

I remember this pretty vividly for a few reasons. The first of which is that this was my one and only time visiting a frat house while at college. There was a kid I knew in name that gave out an open invitation for anyone that wanted to watch the game at their frat house since the on-campus cable service didn't get Versus. I was one of the few to take him up on that offer and watched the game with a few other people I didn't really know.

That game was kind of a tenuous one. Even though the Sabres had beaten the Isles in five games, no one felt like they were really playing well. I think the game was scoreless through the first period and it wasn't until a nifty move by Thomas Vanek cutting in through the Rangers' defense that blew it open and had fans starting to believe.

6). Miller's Big Save on Satan against the Islanders

Series Clinching Save. Enough said.

5). Danny Briere's Game Winning OT Goal against the Hurricanes

Like I said I didn't have cable then so I was watching this game at my friend Britt's house with him and his dad. Buffalo was playing to stay alive and a tense game headed to overtime. I remember his dad saying "it's going to be a shitty looking goal that wins it." Sure enough...

4). Drury's Game Tying, Max's Game Winning OT Goal

This one doesn't rate as high for me because, like I said, I didn't have cable so I didn't quite get to experience it in real time. I had the radio on, but turned down since my then girlfriend (fucking bitch) was over at the time. All of a sudden I can tell something has happened, and my phone starts blowing up with texts from Britt. I must have gotten six or seven in a row from that night.

3). Danny Briere's Game Winning OT Goal against the Flyers

I was actually watching this game with two Rangers fans because my roommate was using out TV at the time. We were united for a night I suppose. This was really the first Sabres game I'd watched so it resonates pretty big. I can trace a lot of who I am now to moments in that game, and this was one of them.

2). Game 1 vs. Boston Party in the Plaza

This moment could make a solid case for number one for me, but I'll leave it in second. It was an interesting series of events that lead up to me being in Buffalo for that game.

I believe playoff tickets went on sale on Monday of that week, before the schedule had been released. I knew the playoffs started that Wednesday so looking to avoid conflicts with work was trying to get either a Friday or a weekend game, presumably game two. I figured, since I'm such a good employee, that I'd hedge my bets by taking Friday off from work just to be safe. I wound up getting five tickets to game two fairly easily and left it at that.

Later when the schedule came out, I found that my safety measure of having an off-day was unnecessary as games one and two were on Thursday and Saturday (and Sunday comes afterward). Then I heard about this phenomenon called Party in the Plaza, which sounded awesome. I knew a ton of my friends were going out for Thursday's game and invitations were extended to me.

I hemmed and hawed over it, knowing that I would have to make sure I got out of work on time. Big problem since at my job if you didn't stay an hour or more late working for free every day, you might as well have been leaving an hour early. Before work in the morning I laid out everything so that I would have to waste as little time as possible on nonsense like "changing" or "peeing."

I don't quite remember how my outfit was, but I believe the layers went something like this so I could merely remove things instead of changing:

Below the Waist (from the bottom up): Sabres Socks/Boxers, PJ pants, Jeans, Dress Slacks/Dress Socks.

Above the Waist (bottom up): t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, Jersey, Button up shirt.

So it got to the end of my shift at 4:15 and I fucking sprinted out of the building. There was no fucking way I was going to get roped into doing some nonsense. Took off the outermost layers, got in my car and hauled ass for Buffalo. (I live in Syracuse.) I got into my parking spot in about two hours, arriving at 6:15 and booked it for the plaza, meeting up with my friends.

All the while I didn't know if it was a great idea, driving out then back on Thursday, only to drive out again with my family on Saturday, but as soon as I saw my friends, I knew I was in the right spot.

The night could not have been more perfect. The weather was that awesome blend of sunny niceness fading to cool but not cold evening. Being huddled within masses of Sabres fans kept me warm and I was dressed perfectly for the occasion. There was no security outside, just the fans, so it was like watching the game in your living room with 10,000 of your favorite people. The Sabres won the game and the celebration was raucous. I took pictures that were almost a full hour after the game had ended and the streets and plaza were still full. It was nothing short of amazing and I can't wait to go back this year.

1). The Campbell Hit

And this is where it all began. My Sabre fandom can be traced back to that one moment when Brian Campbell leveled his check at the blue line. I had always liked hockey, but that moment would forever transform my feelings into "this is too awesome to not watch."

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