So, Friday night in Buffalo. The mighty Ottawa Senators had come for a visit and friends had procured some tickets. I've been to a few Sens/Sabres games at the HSBC arena in the past but since leaving the Niagara region I've been going directly to the source for my live Sens action.
And going to Ottawa is a comfortable feeling. Wearing the Sens jersey and surrounded by people in their Sens jerseys is awesome. You really get a sense of how thrilling a mob could be. But wearing that same jersey into enemy territory takes a different mindset. Now you stick out, you do not belong, you are surrounded by the mob. And that is awesome too. You've made the decision before even entering the arena to provoke, offend, and at the very least annoy people in their own home. It's all part of being a fan though and if everyone understands, good times can still be had by all.
And the people in Buffalo understand. We had a great time. Starting right at the bridge we had a border guard yip at us because of my jersey. And it carried right through to the parking lot, the bar we wandered into before the game, in the arena, at our seats, in the bathroom between periods, after the game, on the streets, and finally at the bar we almost went into before bailing and heading home. All good natured ribbing and trash talking. Completely asshole-free.
Not to forget the game itself. Elliott proved he deserved the number 1 spot in net. I thought Neil and Ruutu were particularly energetic in their energy line role. I think our "top" two lines are still lacking in some offensive urgency and creativity. And Spezza is still a tool. The playoffs aren't going to be easy but if we can shut down Buffalo, Ottawa has a real shot against New Jersey in the first round.
It's easy to take shots at Buffalo. The city has definitely seen better days and their sports teams never quite get the job done but the sports fans are top notch. Passionate without being dicks about it. The HSBC is a great venue too with reasonably priced seating and easy access from the interstate. I'd love to see another NHL team in Ontario but it really would be a shame for that to be at the cost of the Buffalo Sabres.
A great way to kick off the weekend. Thanks to J, J, & A for suggesting, organizing, and transporting. And, as always, GO SENS GO!