Evidence of Expectations

Damn afternoon games! I had to “tape” both of the European tilts, but as my buddy not so eloquently pointed out, with regards to my age (40) and the ever changing technology, “It’s called recording! It’s a DVR! We don’t call it ‘taping’ anymore, you old $#&%!“.

Word for word.

After two wins, and I’m sure a very happy plane ride home, the Buffalo Sabres are off to the start we all wanted, and perhaps expected. They looked like a team with a purpose, with a goal. There were some rough patches, to be sure, during the victories over the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings (who, for my money, may challenge for top spot in the Western Conference), but the Sabres won on the scoreboard. That’s all that matters…for now.

Dispatching a Ducks team that clearly wasn’t ready to play should have been a good test. They have one of the top lines in all of hockey with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, and a nice mobile defense with dependable goaltending. I was expecting a bigger fight from Anaheim. The Sabres, however, were not without faults. They got caught running around in their own zone a few times, bringing back memories of the horrible zone coverage we displayed last season. And did Derek Roy even play?

The game against the Kings scared me a little. The Sabres could have mailed it in, content with a split on foreign soil, but instead skated stride for stride, shift for shift with Los Angeles. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller stood on his head a few times, when the game could have swung in favor of our west coast foes, and thus far, looks to be the Vezina trophy winning Miller of two years ago. Luke Adam continued where he and his line-mates, captain Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, left off from game number one. I trumpeted a roster spot for Adam (here) during the preseason, and he has not disappointed thus far. He’s big, strong, quick through the neutral zone, and has the hands of a bomb diffuser. Number 72 is going to make for some tough decisions for coach Lindy Ruff when the roster is completely healthy. Though, if he keeps his foot on the throat of his spot on the “top line”, it’s a lead pipe cinch that he stays in Lindy’s lineup.

Which brings me to this, the evidence of my expectations.

Was anyone else holding their breath for the last few minutes of the first period (and the intermission) yesterday against Los Angeles after our new $10-million defenseman went down in a heap? I had visions of concussions and separated shoulders taunting me for about 25 minutes. To say I actually exhaled for perhaps the first time in almost a half hour, when I finally saw number 10 take a shift, isn’t stretching the truth much at all. Christian Ehrhoff is a big, strong man. He gets an unjust rap for being a bit soft, and is much, much tougher than he is given credit for. He is merely a sleeping giant at times. Wake that giant, and it’s game on. The man has a mean streak a mile long when provoked. Ehrhoff has missed an average of three games a year over the past five seasons. He is the anti-Tim Connolly. I am not delusional to think that injuries won’t happen to this hockey club. But to have a scare so early in the season, when there is so much hype, expectation and promise, isn’t fair to my blood pressure.

And I’m usually the guy who, though watching every game with intensity, focus and reliability, isn’t on the edge of my seat until playoff time.

Thus, the evidence of expectations.

Thinking that, Ehrhoff, one of our top free-agent acquisitions, and the minute-munching quarterback to our now promising power-play, was crumpling to the ground with what could have been some serious injury is proof that this year is different, folks. It’s proof that, even though it’s still early, Terry, Ted, Darcy, Lindy, and this deep lineup of skilled, determined players has us all believing that we are on the cusp of something big, something unprecedented here in Buffalo.

It’s also proof that I need to relax a little. As Gavin Rossdale once sang, “Breathe in, breathe out”.

Cripes, there’s 80 more of these to go?


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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Buffalo Sabres Christian Ehrhoff Darcy Regier Hockey And Blood Pressure Jason Pominville Lindy Ruff Los Angeles Kings Luke Adam Recording Sabres Games Ryan Miller Ted Black Terry Pegula Thoams Vanek Vezina Trophy Winners

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