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Game #71 Recap: 1 Win Down, 6 To Go

03/20/11
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After they were criticized for wasting chances to close the lid on both the Maple Leafs’ and Hurricanes’ seasons, the Sabres put the screws to the Thrashers on the night the Dominator came home.

The loud rounds of applause before and after the ceremonial puck drop were intense. I loved it. Hasek is why I’m a Sabres fan. He was plenty witty on the pregame show, which is something I got to experience first-hand as a kid in Silver Creek (one of his friends lived in town and invited him down to do appearances a few times). I have no doubt in my mind that after he retires following the next KHL season, his number 39 will hang in the HSBC Arena rafters.

It was a very fun atmosphere in the arena tonight, as it should’ve been. The spontaneous “Let’s go Buffalo!” chants didn’t get as loud as I would’ve liked, but it was awesome to hear the goal countdown make a comeback. There was also a noticeable buzz in the arena the entire game, the kind you always hear while watching games in Montreal (but quieter). The trial run of Tenpole Tudor’s “Swords Of 1,000 Men” got a good workout tonight, with pockets of fans performing the “Hoorah hoorah hoorah yeah!” chant from Tyler Ennis’ goal onwards. It’s by no means set in stone, so if folks don’t like it, they should definitely drop some ideas in the Sabres’ suggestion box.

I was very happy to see Mark Mancari get three points. As much as I bag on him for being mostly ineffective as an NHL player, I’m actually a big fan of his and root for him quite a bit during the Pirates’ season. This call-up is different than his last few, wherein the production isn’t quite there like before but he’s been playing much, much better away from the puck. Mike Robitaille effectively told him this is his last chance to become an NHLer, and I think Mark knows it. He’s definitely looked like one lately.

The offense was ridiculous and that was with Thomas Vanek only making one appearance on it (an assist). It was fun to see seven different goal scorers and Ennis had an absurd breakaway goal. Am I the only person curious to see what kind of nasty move he would’ve pulled out on the penalty shot? And how about the special teams? 3 goals in one game. Beauty.

Next game is against the Predators at 5PM on Sunday, yet another must-win. I’m very nervous for this game, though – the last time the Sabres put up 8 goals in a win (10-2 vs EDM, Stafford with hat trick), they dropped the ball the next night versus the Flames. One thing that gives me hope for a win is that both Vanek and Stafford were held out of the goal column on the scoresheet and are each due for some goals. Lindy Ruff said he wanted 7 wins to get into the playoffs…they got one tonight.

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