Although I suddenly find college football considerably less interesting than staring dumbfoundedly into my daughter’s eyes, nevertheless a bunch of bowl games are happening today. And things are going well so far for the hometown team, as Tennessee leads Wisconsin 21-7 near the end of the first half.
Later, of course, it’ll be USC vs. Illinois in the Rose Bowl and Georgia vs. Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Loyette says, “Fight on Trojans, and Go Warriors!” Okay, actually, Loyette just sort of let out a sleepy squeak, but that’s how I interpret her sentiments. :)
Also about to begin: the Sabres-Penguins outdoor hockey game, with 73,000 crazed Buffalonians packing the Bills’ iced-over football stadium. Kevin at Bfloblog calls it “the biggest sporting event to occur in the City of Buffalo in my lifetime.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, Becky and Loyette are both napping at the moment, and I’m going to try and do the same. I haven’t gotten much sleep in the last 36 hours (something I know will be quite common for the next several weeks/months/decades), and I gotta rest up before the Rose Bowl!
Daniel Briere and Chris Drury are no longer Buffalo Sabres. Pout.
To be honest, I haven’t been paying much attention to hockey since Buffalo was eliminated, but last night the Anaheim Ducks Formerly Known As Mighty won the Stanley Cup, their first in franchise history, with a 6-2 victory over the Sabre-slaying Senators, wrapping up a 4-1 series victory. (Hat tip: V.)
Also yesterday, the Tennessee Lady Vols softball team lost to Arizona in the College World Series championship round. UT led the best-of-three series 1-0 after winning 3-0 in Game 1, but squandered that edge by failing to capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities in Game 2 before losing 1-0 on a controversial call in the 10th inning. Last night they lost 5-0 as the Wildcats scored five in the fifth.
P.S. Oh yeah, and in Connecticut high-school sports, the Newington Indians advanced to the state title game with a 5-3 win over Bunnell-Stratford. The title game will be Saturday at Yale Field against mighty Amity-Woodbridge, which was on a 33-game winning streak until a loss in its conference tournament. Amity is 25-1 and ranked #1 in the state; Newington is 21-3 and was ranked #9 heading into states. GO INDIANS!!!
The last NHS state championship in any team sport was in 1994, in boys volleyball, when I was in the seventh grade. But the Indians picked up an individual state title — or a share of one, anyway — when Kristen LaPointe finished tied for first in the CIAC Girls Golf Championship on Tuesday. Way to go, Kristin!
That’s how many seconds were left on the clock in Game 2 of the Sabres-Senators series when Danny Briere tied the game, preventing — at least for the moment — the Sabres from falling behind 2-0 in the series as it heads to Ottawa.
Amazingly, this is the second time in the last four games that Buffalo has scored a game-tying goal with single-digit seconds left on the clock. In Game 5 of the Rangers series, Chris Drury tied the game with 7.7 to go, and the Sabres proceeded to win in overtime. Hopefully this one ends the same way.
UPDATE: Here is Rick Jeanneret’s call of the game-tying goal, and also of the final seconds ticking away, sending the game to OT:
[Clip fixed. The wrong one posted before. -ed.]
UPDATE 2: F**k!!
Ottawa scores the game-winner five minutes into the second overtime, and the Senators head home with a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead. Suddenly Sabres fans go from thinking about a Stanley Cup to thinking about whether they can avoid a sweep. Will there be another game at HSBC Arena this season?
Oh no, Buff-a-lo!
The NHL Eastern Conference Finals between Buffalo and Ottawa begins tonight (inconveniently enough for my ConLaw II studying) at 7:00 PM, and Shannon and her dad will be at the HSBC Arena to watch the action… lucky
ducks folks! (Can’t say “Ducks,” they might be our opponent if we get to the Stanley Cup finals!)
It promises to be a doozy of a series between two very good teams that really don’t like each other. The title of this post isn’t so much a prediction as a hope, namely that the Sabres will win in six games or less. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this series goes the distance, but if it does, that’ll suck, because Becky and I will be on an airplane, en route to L.A. for Andrew & Bea’s wedding, during the timeslot allotted for Game 7. Missing the Fiesta Bowl en route to our honeymoon was bad enough; missing Game 7 of the Sabres-Senators series, with a trip to the Cup finals on the line, would be a crime against humanity!
Alas, I somehow have a feeling it will probably come to that. The last time I made travel plans that forced me to cross my fingers that a Game 7 wouldn’t happen, it was 2003 and I had train tickets from New York City to South Bend (to visit Notre Dame as a prospective student) on the Thursday night of the potential ALCS Game 7. But when I bought the tickets, the Red Sox and Yankees hadn’t even advanced out of the Divisional Series yet, and a Game 7 clash of titans seemed an awfully long way off. Little did I know I would end up watching that game on a tiny portable TV screen, yelling “Take Pedro out!” at said screen while sitting next to an 80-something Sox fan from the Albany area, and ultimately witnessing Aaron Boone’s home run while walking between cars on the train.
Actually, the whole train thing made that particular Game 7 more memorable and fun, in a way, than just watching it on a regular TV at home or in a bar. But portable TVs aren’t allowed on planes, so I’m hoping history doesn’t repeat itself, and the Sabres get the job done in less than 7 games.
But for tonight, um, let’s just win Game 1, shall we? LET’S GO, BUFF-A-LO!!!
The Buffalo Sabres beat the New York Rangers, 5-4 at Madison Square Garden this afternoon, to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the hated Ottawa Senators. WOOHOO!!!
The series against the Sens will not begin until Thursday at the earliest. That’s Thursday, May 10, which would be fully ten days earlier than last year’s Eastern Conference Finals start date, May 20. I had previously assumed the Stanley Cup Finals wouldn’t be going on until Becky and I get to Knoxville, but it looks like they could well start while we’re in L.A. for Andrew and Bea’s wedding. If Buffalo makes it, hopefully the NHL won’t schedule a game during the wedding… :)
More importantly, if Buffalo makes it to the Cup finals and gets to 3 wins — putting them one win from the Cup — we’ve been saying that we fully intend to drive up to Buffalo, just to be in the city if/when they win the championship. Now I’m crossing my fingers that the schedule will make that possible! (We’ll be back in Knoxville on May 29.) It would probably help if the Sharks win tomorrow, sending their series with the Red Wings to seven games…
UPDATE: Well, for my purposes at least, this is good news:
NBC, which has The Players Championship golf on next weekend (which means no time for hockey) has told the NHL it wants a game a week from Saturday.
That means the NHL will have to work the schedule to ensure one of the remaining two series lasts at least until May 19, which means a Game 4 for that day.
That means there’s no possible way the Stanley Cup Finals could start before, oh, May 23-24 or so. Which means we’d almost certainly be back in Knoxville before any potential Cup-clinching win for the Sabres. (KNOCK ON WOOD FURIOUSLY.)
With a win today in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden, the Buffalo Sabres would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would face the Ottawa Senators — the team Buffalo defeated in the semis last year, the team the Sabres famously brawled with back in February of this year, the team Buffalo fans love to hate.
The Sens knocked out the New Jersey Devils in five games, wrapping up the series last night, and they’re looking pretty fearsome. But I’m glad they won; getting to the Cup finals without having to play Ottawa would have cheapened it, somehow. Just like the Red Sox needed to go through the Yankees, the Sabres need to go through the Senators.
First, though, they need to finish off the Rangers… and it would be very advisable to do so tonight, instead of waiting until Game 7 in Buffalo on Tuesday, because that way they won’t head into the Senators series exhausted from a seven-game marathon series, while the Sens have been resting up. No doubt Ottawa will be rooting for New York tonight. (As will the NBC commentators, but that’s another story altogether.)
LET’S GO, BUFF-A-LO!!
UPDATE: It’s 4-2 at the start of the third period. All four Buffalo goals were in the second. Here are Rick Jeanneret’s calls of all four:
“I know it’s not Game 7, but it sure feels like do-or-die tonight,” writes Bfloblog’s Kevin on the open thread for Game 5 of the Sabres-Rangers series, which is tied at 2-2, with Buffalo needing the win tonight at HSBC Arena to hold onto home-ice advantage.
I won’t be able to watch the game, thanks to ConCrimPro cramming. But I hope the Sabres will recognize the exigent circumstances and take full advantage of all goal-scoring opportunities that are in plain view, as well as those that require some coersion. Nobody deserves a good stop-and-frisk(-and-punch) more than Sean Avery. Meanwhile, hopefully Ryan Miller will be practicing the exclusionary rule on the other end of the ice, making sure all Rangers shots on goal are inadmissible. (And hopefully someone will remind me I have the right to remain silent, and any further bad jokes I make can and will be used against me in the court of public opinion.)
Anyway… LET’S GO, BUFF-A-LO! Box score here.
UPDATE: Okay, so I lied. :) I’m watching the game after all (while studying…sorta), and what a game it’s been. After 56 minutes and 43 seconds of scoreless hockey, the Rangers scored what looked like it would be the winning goal with 3:17 to go. “Good night, folks. Good season,” wrote Seth at Bfloblog as the clock ticked down toward zero. Then, amazingly, with 7.7 seconds left, perennial postseason hero Chris Drury scored to tie the game and send it to overtime. Incredible!
Here’s Rick Jeanneret’s call:
UPDATE 2: Sabres win!! Maxim Afinogenov, who was a healthy scratch in Game 4 because of shaky play in the first three games, scored the game-winner. WOOOOOHOOOOO!!! Here, again, is Jeanneret’s call:
Kevin at Bfloblog sums up what I think a lot of Sabres fans are feeling:
Buffalo is not playing up to the standard that they set for themselves during the regular season. When the team looked a little Ã¢â‚¬Å“offÃ¢â‚¬Â during the Islanders series I chalked it up to the fact that they were merely looking past Round One and saving their energy for Round Two. After three games of the series with the New York Rangers I am very concerned that the Sabres appear to be sleepwalking through most of the games. I can understand not being able to get fired up to play the Islanders but how can the team not feel challenged enough to bring their Ã¢â‚¬Å“AÃ¢â‚¬Â game when they are facing Jagr, Straka, Nylander, Roszival, and Lundqvist every other night?
It’s nice to be up 2-1 in the playoffs when you’re not playing your best — when, as Mark puts it, “the Sabres have only truly out-played the Rangers in two out of eleven periods” — but let’s be honest, this series should be 2-1 in the other direction (Buffalo was very lucky to win Game 2). The Sabres can’t safely assume they’ll be able to continue to get by on luck and half-assed-ness. At some point, maybe in this series, maybe in the next one, but certainly sometime between now and hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, the Buffalo Sabres will need to actually start playing like the Buffalo Sabres. Otherwise this great season is going to come to a very disappointing end.
UPDATE: Whatever’s wrong with the Sabres, it’s still wrong. Rangers win, 2-1, to tie the series at 2-2.
Game 3 is underway on NBC. Let’s go, Buff-a-lo! Jagr sucks!
Bfloblog has an open thread.
UPDATE: Overtime! The Rangers scored first, then thought they had a 2-0 lead, but had an apparent goal was called back on a borderline “kicking” call in the second period… then Buffalo tied it at 1-1 in the third period… and the Rangers’ star Jaromir Jagr whiffed on a clean shot at a wide-open net in the final minutes. So, OT at MSG.
UPDATE 2: Double overtime! And the game has pre-empted NBC’s much-hyped special, “Barbaro: A Nation’s Horse.” Oh, the
UPDATE 3: F***.
Rangers win, 2-1 in 2 OTs, cutting Buffalo’s series lead to 2-1. Game 4 is also at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
Oh, and the Barbaro show will air at 9:00 PM Friday on CNBC.
UPDATE: It’s 2-2 with 12:54 left in the third period. LET’S GO, BUFF-A-LO!
UPDATE 2: WOOOO!!! 3-2 B’lo, time ticking down…
UPDATE 3: Sabres win!!! They survive nearly two minutes of, effectively, 6-on-4 play (a power play plus an empty net on the Rangers’ end), made possible by a very questionable late penalty call that had Lindy Ruff screaming at the refs even after the game was over and Buffalo had won. Karmic payback for the iffy penalty that the Islanders were called for late in Game 3 of that series, perhaps, but anyway the Sabres escaped. So Buffalo survives despite being “thoroughly outplayed for the first 40 minutes,” in the words of the WGR 550 postgame guy.
LET’S GO, BUFF-A-LO!!!
UPDATE: I’ve been too busy engaging in a political flame war to update the score of the game, but Buffalo has just scored three goals in the course of four minutes, and now leads 3-0 at the end of the second period. Woohoo!
UPDATE 2: YAAAY!!! Buffalo wins, 5-2!