SLY NOTES: A MEMORABLE SEASON
Monday, 05.2.2011 / 2:45 PM ET
|Photo: Getty Images|
This year was different. This team was left for dead following Derek Roy’s injury back in December. The ownership transfer and uncertainty that naturally accompanies such change added some weight on the shoulders of the team. There were more things that could be pointed out, but those were the biggies. Through it all, this team did not give up. The Pegula family brought an extremely positive, infectious vibe to HSBC Arena that found its way into the dressing room. The experienced coaching staff continued to display belief in the players and found ways to integrate the steady and necessary invasion of Pirates over the final month. Tyler Myers started playing like Tyler Myers. Jhonas Enroth was spectacular filling in for a concussed Ryan Miller. Nathan Gerbe’s hard work paid off, and he proved he’s a gamer. Thomas Vanek made a strong case to be the next captain of the team. I could go on, but I don’t need too. You all witnessed it and were a part of it. It was special, and a reason to be proud of a team that we all poured our hearts and souls into for seven months this year. Let’s make it nine months next year!
-Now it was “feel good” in the previous note, but it still stings to lose to the Flyers. The Sabres had them on the hook, but never set it (could have used the bull and horn metaphor, but thought fishing was more appropriate in spring). The chance to win the series was in Game 6 at home on Easter. Everyone knew it. Being up 3-1 going into the second period, nobody in HSBC Arena was thinking about Game 7, except the Flyers. They came out and did what they did all series by dominating the second period. The second periods of Games 1 and 2 in Philly were a parade to the penalty box for Buffalo. Game 3 saw two tap-ins on Ryan Miller, which the team was unable to recover from. Game 4 was perhaps the best second period of the series for the team, as they played desperate to avoid going down three games to one. Game 5 was another penalty-filled affair and Flyer comeback after that quick 3-0 lead. And Game 6 was another two-goal outburst by the Flyers. Are there any second period specialists on the free agent market this summer?
|Photo: Getty Images|
-Darn it, Danny Briere is good. Without getting into back-story (I’m sure there’s more we don’t know than we do know), he was the best player in the series. He’s a great comeback story for the second time in his career. The first was here in Buffalo after being put on the trash heap in Phoenix and then being traded to Buffalo. In Philly, he was the poster boy for bad, bloated NHL contracts after injury-riddled seasons. A buyout was an often-rumored option with #48. But he has bounced back to be a big game performer and pest. All that being said, that was a brutal and disgusting hit from behind on Rob Niedermeyer in Game 7. Danny was never a choirboy, but that was cheap. He must have learned that from Mike Richards.
-Ok, the last two notes have finished with references to Mike Richards’ hit on Tim Connolly. It may sound like bitterness from losing the series or that I’m for soft hockey. Hardly. I love hitting. I love fighting. What I hate is the cheap stuff. There are only two ways that hitting from behind and hits to the head are going to end in the NHL. The first is for players to start showing respect for each other. Since that’s not going to happen, the second must occur. The NHL has to get tougher on EVERYONE, not just the post office list.
-I’m on Twitter now. I guess I’m supposed to tell you all to follow me @kevsylvester, even though I have yet to send out my first tweet. I’m not sure when that will be, either. Probably when the Pegula girls teach me how.
-Now that the season is over, everyone asks me what I’ll be doing this summer. Tee 2 Green will have a 6th season on WGRZ, and I’ll be on a treadmill trying to lose the 15 lbs. I gained this winter. I blame the World Junior Championships and an upcoming blog that will be titled Pancakes of the NHL.