Friday, October 15, 2010

Truckin' up to Buffalo

It was 40 years ago today...

Game four of the regular season, and tonight Centre Hice will be taking it in live from the HSBC arena.

I've always found Buffalo to be a strange hockey town. It has a rich hockey history, and in fact before tonight's game the Sabres will hold a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of their first game. But to me it's always felt like a minor-league town. I don't mean that in any offensive way, it's just that Buffalo has never struck me as a place that a player would go to play in the limelight. On top of that, the HSBC, though a competent arena, feels like an overgrown AHL rink. Thank goodness their fans tend to breathe a little life into the place, and having thousands of Hab fans descend on the place when the Canadiens roll into town definitely helps the atmosphere.

The pregame ceremony should be interesting; the Pocket Rocket will be on hand to help commemorate the Sabres' first game, which just so happened to be against the Habs 40 years ago tonight. Hopefully the Habs will be able to lend a hand with the retro feel of the game by repeating the score in that first game: a 3-0 shutout for the guys in blue, white and red.

Speaking of uniforms, the Habs will be sporting the red unis tonight; Buffalo will be wearing their "new retro" whites. On this point I have to tip my cap to the Sabres' organization; thank goodness that they killed off the BuffaSlug. Mind you, a logo that looked like a cross between something slimy and Barney Rubble's hair was always fodder for a good taunting to a Sabre fan, especially in their own building, but it had no place on an NHL jersey. Thanks for coming to your senses, Buffalo.

In any event, the Habs need to start converting some chances. Buffalo hasn't had a good start to the season, and at 1-1-1, the Habs, if not for some great goaltending in their last two games, could easily be 0-3.He Gio... pot a couple tonight, would ya? Preferable on the power play. And Cammy... no lame-ass penalties, please.

The best news from today is that Andrei Markov is targeting next Thursday for his return from knee surgery. One can hope.

Well, off to sit in line at the Peace Bridge border crossing. I might update this after the game. Or not.

Patrick Kaleta makes his "I'm Carey's bitch" face. Photo courtesy Habs Inside/Out.

UPDATE > > > Victory in the Sabrehood! (I'm trademarking that, by the way) 

In a repeat of the Sabres' first ever game, the Habs come in to town and ruin the party. 2-1 final. Alexandre Picard and Josh Georges with the goals. Carey great. AK great. Moen great. Spacek save, great. Pre-game ceremonies? Not so much. I found the waiting room at U.S. Customs more interesting. And who the hell does a ceremonial face-off in one end of the rink? The Sabres, that's who. What, too lazy to stroll all the way to centre ice?

The Slug lives. Even though the Sabres have dropped the BuffaSlug/Barney Rubble's hair as their logo, it's still plastered all over HSBC including their entertaining, kid-friendly ridiculous smoke-belching scoreboard. I guess that they forgot to call the exterminators. Somebody step on that thing, will ya?!

Light crowd tonight, too. Upper corners in the 300 level were empty, as were noticeable stretches of seats in the lower bowl. Good thing so many Hab fans were in the arena, or it would have looked like a Toronto Marlies game. They announced the crowd at 17,500. The 15,000 in attendance shared a good laugh at that. 

By the way, great song selection by the Buffalo production staff to serenade the Sabre faithful out of the arena after the Sabres collected 1 out of a possible 8 points in their first four games: "Up" by Shania Twain.

It's 'bout as bad as it could be
Seems everybody's buggin' me
Like nothing wants to go my way 

Yeah, it just ain't been my day
Nothin's comin' easily...

There's no way but up from here

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