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The more the Sabres win, the more the games matter

November 18, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Photo: Marilyn Indahl - USA TODAY Sports


They say old habits die hard. But what about new habits? We should get over them relatively quickly, no?

I hope so.

Here’s why I ask. My Giant Goalie Son’s Buffalo Regals team had a game in Oakville, Ontario Saturday night. We arrived at the rink at 5:45 p.m. for the 7 p.m. faceoff. The Buffalo Sabres were just getting ready for a road game of their own in Minnesota against the Wild, fresh off a 2-1 shootout win in Winnipeg over the Jets that had ended only 19 hours earlier.

Tough spot for sure. I scrambled to a very busy place up the road after unloading the boy, (yes parents, there comes a day if you’ve put enough time in with youth hockey where you don’t have to even go in the rink until the game starts), hoping to catch some of the Sabres game.

I couldn’t even bring myself to ask about the Sabres and Wild game. A few reasons...

It appeared as though people around the large rectangular bar were into the college football games that were on.

The place was crazy busy, and the bartenders were hustling to fill drink orders for a half dozen servers in addition to the crowded bar area.

Despite being in Canada, the place didn’t strike me as the sort of place that would have all the NHL games. More likely just the ones being broadcast in Canada

I was only going to be sitting there for about 40 minutes and was alone. Bigger group, longer visit, maybe I ask the busy bartender to look for the Sabres.

I wasn’t exactly optimistic about the Sabres' chances given the back-to-back, travel, and the quality of the opponent.

I thought to try and watch on my phone but MSG GO was a NO GO in Canada, so I settled for watching ye’ old Twitter timeline like the early settlers did. So here’s where the new habit thing comes in to play.

Last Sabres season, for the first time ever, I gave up and stopped regularly watching every game. The losing had finally gotten the better of me after spending most of my life watching nearly every game. I’ve talked and written about this a few times since last winter, so I won’t bore you with all the details again. Suffice to say that as a Sabres fan, I was broken.

So the Sabres fall behind quickly. 2-0 before the first period is even half over and it’s time for me to pay my tab and head back to the rink to watch the Regals. I put my phone in my pocket and wrote the Sabres off for the night. Not angrily by any means, by the way. Just matter of factly accepting that it’s not going to be their night. And despite texting my wife a few times to update her on the Regals game, I never once thought to check the Sabres score.

That’s the new habit that I hope doesn’t die hard. Maybe last night killed it. By the time the Oakville Rangers were done with the Regals at about 8:30 p.m., I remembered the Sabres game. Pominville had just scored to give them a 3-2 lead and I’m pretty sure I made a sound and my body shook a little. You know, the little kind of jolt that might cause you to drop your phone, which I did.

The week began with games against three of the NHL’s best, and ends with the Sabres trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs in points, at least as of Sunday morning. Minnesota plays Sunday night and can leapfrog the Sabres, but you get the point. It was a great week in the standings.

Things move quickly. As I sit writing this Sunday morning, the Sabres are staring at another four-game week. They’re in Pittsburgh on Monday to take on the Penguins, home for the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday and Friday, and then in Detroit on Saturday night to face the Red Wings.

One way or another, I’m going to see those games; and the more the Sabres win, the more the games matter. Funny how that works. The Regals have a home game Saturday night and the Sabres game will be on in the lobby. Last year, 100-percent of the time my choice was the Regals. So far this season, the Sabres are making that a much tougher call for me.

Need I say, I welcome the dilemma.

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