The Sabres won Sunday Night’s Hockey Game 2-1 on a Patrick Kaleta overtime goal.  Sunday Night’s game can be looked at two ways.  First, a matchup between 2 teams fighting for their respective spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  An original 6 team, in a world famous arena, playing against a team which sports a well traveling passionate army of supporters.  The old Sabre Captain versus the New Captain America, Ryan Miller…. Or we could face facts, the atmosphere and the game were both snooze-fests. 

First, outside the arena.  There’s always a lot going on in Manhattan, but there was no excitement surrounding the Hockey game.  The only screams I heard were from a group of middle aged women on their way to a “Wicked” matinee.  There was a stray “Let’s Go Buffalo!” Here and there, but it was nothing like the walk from your car (or the subway ride) down Main St. Buffalo.  The atmosphere outside was pitiful.  I acknowledge that it was a Sunday game, however, it’s still a hockey game.  Let’s show some excitement people!

Inside the arena was no different.  It felt like a funeral.  No yelling, no little kids playing knee-hockey in the concourse, just quiet fans with expensive jerseys, filing to their assigned seats.  Maybe the fans were depressed by the Knicks posters on the walls?  We arrived 40 minutes before faceoff and went straight down to the ice.  The teams weren’t out yet.  I don’t even think there was music playing in the Stadium.  Cheap vinyl removable Rangers signs were draped over the balconies.  Including a hilariously sad “Wade’s World” sign, in reference to the huge mistake that is the Wade Redden signing.

When the boys came out 15 minutes later there were about 50 Buffalo fans gathered at the visitors end.  Raffi Torres sported the #17, while Marc Mancari dusted off the Blue & Gold #12.  I almost lost my stomach full of Sbarro Pizza in a temporary(#12) Ales Kotalik Flashback.  Hopefully this right winger(Mancari) can show us more emotion than the stoic Kotalik.

If the Sabres had won The Cup 15 years ago would they still use footage of Pat Lafontaine hoisting The Cup in the video opener?... Probably.  But it seemed lame that they still used footage from 1994 in their intro.

Tyler Myers is huge.  It takes him about 3 strides to get across the rink.  The national anthem (US only) was well done, but still emotionless.  Only a few “Go Rangers!” shouts at random times during the anthem.  Then the puck dropped and we saw 2 periods of ECHL Hockey.(without the fighting).  BORING!  The play was poor, there were very few penalties, very few good scoring chances.

The biggest outpouring of emotion came on an off-sides call that The Rangers actually scored on.  A predictable chorus of boos, followed the NO Goal announcement. [Can we trade in that NO GOAL for one that happened 11 years ago?]  Then came our goal.  Adam Mair brought the puck into the zone and dished it off to Derek Roy, who tossed it on net.  Vanek and Mair converged and Mair got wood on it and put it up & over Lundqvist for the 1-0 lead with 5 minutes remaining in the game.        

I was excited to see Tyler Myers in person.  Late in the 3rd, Myers was toasted by Rochester, NY(Hilton) Native, Ryan Callahan in a play that led to a key power play for the Blue Shirts.  Brandon Dubinsky(guarded by Myers) scored the Rangers lone goal on a crease scramble.  Myers has shown he’s not perfect.  I’m still not at all worried.

4 on 4 was a bit more exciting than the 5 on 5 portion.  Both teams’ fans, fueled by excitement of late 3rd period goals, got into the action.  Kaleta showed great effort, picking a puck up behind the net and stuffing it through Lundqvist, 2:22 into the extra frame.

My opinion of Rangers fans took a hit on Sunday.  The ones we were next to were emotionally intense, but they had poor hockey etiquette and little knowledge of the game.  They seemed to care more about a fan in a Sabres jersey getting kicked out, than they cared about winning.  While the teams on the rink were “going through the motions”, the fans in the stands followed suit.  I was heckled twice in my Jason Pominville jersey.  I appreciate the energy, but how about putting some effort into cheering for your own team. 

We met a nice Austrian Couple, sporting an Austrian Flag and Sabres gear.  They were there specifically to see Thomas Vanek.  They laughed when I suggested that they try to meet him.  But why not?  How many people from Austria show up to Vanek’s games in the US?  I bet he’d appreciate it.

Final opinion of MSG: it’s probably an arena that you want to “check off the list” of places to see an event.  But don’t feel that you absolutely HAVE to see the Sabres play here.  At least not during the regular season…On a Sunday. 

 

Notes: Raffi Torres looked like a lost puppy on the ice.  I really hope he finds chemistry with his new team in time for the 2nd season.  I did like his intensity.

It seemed like Ruff was mixing lines all night.  Perhaps his comment about “starting fresh” and mixing up the lines was put into action on Sunday.  This could account for some of the poor play we paid good money to see.  I don’t hate the idea of experimenting with line combos as long as we settle on the combos before the playoffs.