Let the gnashing of teeth begin

A couple of hours ago, the Buffalo Sabres went down to defeat against the Ottawa Senators, thus ending their season one series short of the Stanley Cup Finals — just where their season ended last year. I’ll leave the post-mortems for those who know more about hockey than I; I know that there are some salary cap issues looming over the team, but I don’t know if those issues are of the “let a few guys go whom we’d love to keep” variety or of the “break up the team and start rebuilding” variety. My instinct is that it’s more the former than the latter, but again, I don’t really know.

I do know this: if the Sabres are able to keep most of this year’s nucleus together, then they’ll probably enter next season as one of the favored contenders again. My sense of things — and this is from listening to people who know what they’re talking about, rather than any keen analysis on my part — is that the team’s approach to hockey doesn’t really require a massive amount of tinkering. Last year, the team was done in by injuries. This year, the team was apparently done in by poor play when they could least afford it.

And if they’re favored contenders again next year, then I think that Lindy Ruff should plaster the Sabres’ locker room with photos like this:

All the hard work this year, and that‘s what it came to: Watching another team that worked just as hard celebrate on the Sabres’ own ice.

Oh, well — now the mood will be different in Buffalo, which is a shame. I’ve really liked the mood around here lately. I hope that if the Sabres are still awesome next year, and if they do better in the playoffs, that mood can come back. It’s been fun living in the city where the best team played. That’s fleeting, you know; when you’re the best team, someone else always catches up to you. You just hope they do it after you’ve won a championship or two, not before.

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