Friday, October 27, 2006

The Opposite of Sluggish

Say what you want about the new Sabres' uniforms (I like the colors, the logo is still way too abstract for me) but the Buffalo Sabres tied an NHL record tonight by winning their first ten games of the season. Now, granted, this might not be quite as impressive as the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs (whose record they tied, but who lose points for bad grammar) because it's not possible to have a tie game anymore, and the Erie County Assassins have won a few games in shootouts.

But this team -- named after a blade from the city where William McKinley was assassinated in 1901 -- are dominating all their opponents. It's only 1/8 of the way through the season, but they have it all. Four solid lines on offense and defense. Speed. Finesse. Toughness. Penalty killing. And a solid one-two punch at goaltender. Goalie Ryan Miller is becoming a breakout star. And he's an American for Pete's sake!

They are so deep. They don't have one major star (although Chris Drury should be one and Maxim Afinogenov is possibly the most electrifying player in the league at the moment), but they are so full of talent that they could be hard to stop if they stay healthy. According to today's ESPN Fantasy Hockey tracker, they have 5 players in the top 40 in the league. (#6 Miller, #13 Drury, #29 Thomas Vanek, #32 Daniel Briere and #37 Afinogenov).

It just makes me that much sadder that their entire defense went down in the Eastern Conference Finals this past summer. I'm hoping they bring the City of Good Neighbors (and those of us fans in the Flower City and the Salt City) a sorely needed championship.

Personally, I have led sort of a sad-sack life. I know, I know. You would think that I'd be on top of the world. Well, it's true that many areas of my life along the way have been lacking. But the area that has been the most bone-dry is my sports teams. There have only been three championships that any of my teams have won in my waking memory: the 1986-87 and '95-96 Rochester Amerks, who won the Calder Cup, and the 2003 Syracuse Orange(men), who won the NCAA Tournament. The Bills will clearly never win one in my lifetime, no matter how hard I hope and pray for them to.

But this year, the Sabres actually have a shot. Let's bring home the hardware, gents...

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