Do you believe it now?

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Chuzwazza, May 27, 2006.

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  1. Chuzwazza

    Chuzwazza Registered User

    Mar 5, 2002
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    It's official, the Sabres will face the Columbus BlueJackets in the Stanley Cup Finals. Culminating a rivalry that started some 4+ years ago when Rookie GM Joshua Pitt and HFNHL veteran GM Douglas Emerson were locked in a battle for the #1 pick. On that occasion, the Sabres won, and selected Jay Bouwmeester with the #1 pick. That said, Columbus walked out of there with their own ace, Joni Pitkanen. "I thought were were going to get Joni for sure." pitt said, "But in the end, we landed Rick Nash, so forgive me if I don't complain too loudly." :D

    This time, the Jackets appear to be the likely winners. They've dominated the West after eliminated all 3 opponents in just 5 games. That said, the Sabres have just come through the top 3 teams in the East (arguably) on their way to the cup, disposing of all 3 in 6 while causing a run of upsets the league has never seen before. So it really comes down to the immoveably object (Jackets) vs. the irresistable force (Sabres).

    Who will give way?


    Future HOF defenseman Chris Chelios declared after a 5-1 shock loss in game 5 that the Flyers would win games 6 and 7. Oh how wrong he was. Buffalo, true to their nickname, took the sword to the Flyers and finished them off in such a clinical and sharp manner it resembled that of a doctor on the operating table. Whether the Flyers collapsed, or the Sabres just took it from them remains to be seen, but it definitely sounds a warning to the Jackets, who have to face a team that is as hot as any underdog has ever been.

    Alexander Frolov opened the night's scoring half way through the 1st. The super rook took the playoff lead in goals to 9 with a gutsy piece of hard work in front of the net, squeezing a rebound from a Tarnstrom shot under the skate of goalie Ed Belfour.

    Goals from Nash and Hartnell (yet another on the PP) put the Sabres in a commanding lead by the game's midway point, but the Flyers fought back, realising that their season was on the line. Chris Chelios tried to live up to his promise, scoring the team's 1st goal late in the 2nd, and Scott Mellanby soon followed. The series was poised on a knife edge going into the 3rd period. Sabres coach Craig McTavish took his men into the locker room and demanded every last ounce of effort from his players.

    "It was awesome." said Sabres center Daniel Briere. "He gave us one of those stirring speeches that would put Al Pacino to shame. Everybody was pumped. We just wanted to show them that we weren't about to let them run us over on their way to a 'promised' series win."

    It took less than 2 minutes for that intensity to spill all over the ice. Marc-Andre Bergeron lined up and ran right through Chelios leaving the veteran sprawled over the ice, in considerable pain. He would not return, and may have watched the last moments of his career slip by while being adid by team doctors in the locker room. Not the way a legend wants to end his career.

    Scott Mellanby took exception to the hit and immediately came in to defend his fallen team-mate. In hindsight that might have been the dumbest thing he could have done, as the Flyers were ready to be handed a PP right before he was slapped with a roughing call. As it turned out, it was Briere who took over when 5 on 5 hockey resumed, setting up Nash to make it 4-2 and then putting another one past and banged up and weary Belfour to make it 5-2.

    Jacques lemaire could see his veteran netminder was done for the night, and sent Brent Johnson in to hold the fort while the Flyers tried to mount one last comeback.

    After a torrid 4 minutes where the Flyers fired 6 shots on Thibault, Ivan Novoseltsev scored a lucky goal against the flow of play. It was their 1st shot since their last goal, and it sounded the end of the road for the Flyers. another goal by Olli Jokinen was cheered by 17,000 fans as they realised that they were going to the cup finals on the back of a 7-2 hiding.

    Yet there was no rejoicing in the Sabres Locker room, no celebration. Coach Craig McTavish was already talking to his troops about preparation for the upcoming finals and how to handle the pressue. That look of steely determination was showing more than ever, and resounded through the room. GM Joshua Pitt backed up that approach with his statement to the media.

    "Celebrate? We don't have time to celebrate. That's a fans luxury. Players play, coaches coach. Its a fans job to do the celebrating, and they'e doing a mighty fine job at that. we haven't won anything but hearts and souls right now. We must first defeat the dragon at the top of the mountain if we are to claim our prize. Then, and only then, will we celebrate."

    So there you have it. The Sabres, without a doubt the people's champ in this years playoffs, will march into battle to face a far superior opponent on paper. Then again, there is no way to rate a players heart, or a team's chemistry and passion to play for each other, so maybe the Sabres aren't that outmatched at all...

    That's all...for now.

    Buffalo Bill
    Hockey Editor for The Buffalo News
    Last edited: May 27, 2006
  2. Mandaou

    Mandaou Registered User

    Mar 6, 2002
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    GM Claudio Mannarino disappointment could not be hidden despite his congratulatory statement. "I want to congratulate Josh and the Buffalo Sabres. They have a heck of a team. I'm proud of our guys but we're all scratching our heads and trying to find out how the wheels came off so quickly in game 5 & 6. It will be a tough, long summer," said Mannarino. "In addition, I want to congratulate Doug and the CBJ for an outstanding season and wish both teams luck in the Stanley Cup Finals."

    The Flyer organization gave it their all this offseason and although bitterly disappointed right now, it was a season of great achievements for a team that was facing potential bankruptcy and whom most pundits were predicting would have a difficult time making the playoffs in 2005-06. A Stanley Cup Final appearance would have been a great achievement but it was not meant to be. Karma, neh?
  3. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

    Feb 28, 2002
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    Great White North
    "Um", Jackets GM Doug Emerson said in response to Buffalo GM Joshua Pitt's comments following the Sabres Eastern Conference win, "grrr?

    "I guess we're the dragon, which makes bufflo the underdogs? I know people use being an underdog as a motivator, but quite frankly our goal was to be the best, and we worked for that all year. If that means that now we're considered favourites - or dragons, or whatever - we're ok with that. We know what success looks like, and we don't define that success based on labels like favourite and underdog - we define it by one thing. Winning that cup.

    "And that's what we intend to do."

    Emerson paused, then added: "For the record, Nash and Bouwmeester are great young players, but we got the guy we had our sights on in the '02 draft, and we couldn't be happier with how he's turned out. Joni is a big part of this club."

    * * *

    Congratulations, Josh - I look forward to locking horns with you. Claudio, kudos for making the moves necessary to bring your team from the brink of financial collapse, and for taking them all the way to the Conference finals. Good luck next year.

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