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Immediate Reactions: Rangers 3, Sabres 1

blog by Ryan Nagelhout  • 

I paid zero dollars to watch the Buffalo Sabres lose to the New York Rangers on Thursday. I sat in the press box and drank complimentary flat Diet Coke.

I took the Metro from the free fare zone and didn’t pay to park. I had to buy myself dinner, I suppose, but I paid market prices and avoided the temptation of a $5 Delaware North pretzel. I am fortunate that the Sabres allow me to sit in the press box and tweet snarky things and sip high fructose corn syrup. I am lucky Buffalo.com pays me to do so [editor’s note: We pay him in bowling games].

If the monetary equation were reversed—if I paid to be in First Niagara Center for a 3-1 loss on Thursday—I would have a hard time justifying the ordeal.

It’s not just that the Sabres lost. You can go to a good hockey game where your team loses and feel okay about it. The way in which the Sabres lost was downright demoralizing. You could call it heartbreaking if the cardiac parts had anything to do with the tilt.

The Sabres had a paying attendance of 18,088 on Thursday, which sure sounds like a lot more people than it looked.

The last time I was here I compared going to Sabres games to attending mass. That’s not exactly fair, and I’ll probably get The Look from more faithful Catholics during holy days of obligation for it.

The comparison is off because, unlike with this hockey team, there’s always the chance for salvation when you go to church. Going to a Sabres game is more like attending the first day of kindergarten while having the understanding of time one does as an adult. “Twelve more years of this garbage? THEN college? No, thanks. When does the circus train run through town again?”

The problem with this whole thing is that there’s really nothing fans can do. The tickets are bought and you’ll only feel bad about essentially lighting your hard-earned dollars on fire if you don’t show up on game day. The secondary market is a grease fire, so no luck there. The best you can do is show up, buy the expensive pretzels and see the bad product you paid for anyway. There aren’t many options for fans with skin in the game.

If there’s hope, it lies in a date that has much in common with this team’s general manager position: to be determined. Some clarity on either topic would be encouraging.

Fresh Hot Takes
— The amount of disdain Sabres fans have for the new third jersey is actually pretty remarkable. On the way into the building I heard at least a half dozen groups of fans go “OH NO!” when they realized or read somewhere that the Sabres would be wearing the blue/yellow/silver/white numbers. I still haven’t seen someone wearing one in the wild. When I do, I have so many questions. Questions like “why?” and “who hurt you?”

— The Sabres fan playing “That Escalated Quickly” during a second period television timeout lost in a heartbreaker. Perhaps that was for the best, as the prize was a Sabres third jersey. I was bummed she didn’t know Ehrhoff is German, not Tallinder, because it meant the crowd didn’t get a chance to boo the jersey when it was announced as her prize. Come to think of it, the Sabres may have paid her to take a dive.

— During the second intermission the Sahlen’s Hot Dog ad beneath the Sabres bench was promptly replaced by an ad for Delta Airlines. This brought about more questions than answers.

Did Sahlen’s only have two periods of ad time on the boards? Did Delta just buy the third period? Did some marketing exec for Delta tune in to MSG and notice his/her ad was missing? Who took a furious call from Delta and rounded up the intern brigade to rummage through the revenue bin for the right ad? Who is doing the “30 for 30” script for this? Because I’m available. (“What would you say if a processed meat tube got extra airtime on a regional cable network?”)

— Ville Leino skated on a line with Matt D’Agostini and Steve Ott. That Ville Leino sure likes to pass. Maybe a bit TOO much. He had a partial breakaway late in the second period that was promptly flubbed but I swear, if he had the chance to pass, he would have. He’s my personal hero.

— Steve Ott had a breakaway against Henrik Lundqvist. I’ll let you guess for yourself how that turned out.

— Someone scored with 2:06 left in the game. I think it was the Sabres. I didn’t really check.

Hot Twitter Takes of the Game

This was the crowd with seven minutes left in the first period. It was about as full as it got. These Rangers games used to really draw, and at “silver” pricing on a Thursday night it’s not a horrible deal even at the teams’ current records.

This whole “the team is bad” thing doesn’t mean we’ll see an empty venue, just that whoever shows up had their tickets bought well before the season started. Expect lots of late-arriving crowds and papered houses filling the place up in March. Can’t wait.

I only put this here because the official Sabres twitter account favorited it and, well, something tells me they shouldn’t be doing that. Maybe that’s just me.

Absolutely true. It’s a funeral dirge in there for post-game. Total bummer.

Hit of the Night
We’re starting to get into the Christmas music rotation, which is great for the “songs that can slide into Let’s Go Buffalo” repertoire of the dude/dudette behind the synthesizer organ. We really could hear some magic this holiday season. But, our award goes to that song from the Godzilla soundtrack that samples Kashmir. Welcome back, 1998.

Scratch of the Game
Mikhail Grigorenko, Buffalo Sabres — How could it be anyone else? The team finally found a place to stash the 19-year-old without making Gary Bettman angry. He’s probably going to have a great World Juniors campaign. Then what happens? I have no idea.

Grigorenko might be the worst-handled Sabres prospect since Marek Zagrapan, who may or may not actually have ever existed. No Sabres fan has ever seen that guy alive. He’s Darcy Regier’s Taro Tsujimoto, except Taro was “funny ha ha” not “funny oh my god I can’t stop crying.” I’m sure he’s going to work out juuuuuuuust fine (Editor’s note: Ryan is deluding himself by believing Taro doesn’t exist. He has a rookie card, after all).

Hometown Hero Villain of the Night
Ryan Callahan — Callahan is from Rochester, which close enough to Buffalo that Rochestonians consider themselves Western New Yorkers. That’s cute. I already did Callahan this year, but this reminds me of a post I half-wrote that time everyone went “Marshawn Lynch didn’t know where Buffalo was when he got drafted harf harf harf.”

No one knows where Buffalo is. A friend of mine just moved to Massachusetts and said everyone assumed Buffalo was, like, an hour from New York City. A former New Yorker confirmed that assumption also exists in the city.

Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and, oh I don’t know, Erie, are the same place to anyone not living here. People don’t know where Buffalo is because Buffalo is nowhere. It is Syracuse with less snow.

To someone growing up in Oakland, Buffalo is as foreign as the West Coast is to me. I’m not going to sit here and say the assumed proximity of Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego and Sacramento are more than fuzzy at best for me. They are all neighboring SimCity 2000 towns as far as I’m concerned.

Did You Know: Marshawn Lynch not working for Buffalo was stupid and probably your fault.

Stat-line I liked:
1
— Tyler Ennis scored. I looked it up.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
1:18
— The length of Cody Hodgson’s tripping penalty in the third period. He took the minor just after missing on a breakaway. Brad Richards scored on the ensuing power play and the game was over.

Next Game:
Friday (12/7) vs. Montreal (7 p.m.) — Great. Can’t wait to hear the “Ole!” chant.

(Top photo courtesy of Bill Wippert at the official Sabres Facebook page)

Ryan Nagelhout is a freelance writer who blogs at The Goose’s Roost when he’s not writing children’s books.

TAGGED: buffalo sabres, downtown, hockey, immediate reactions, new york rangers, ryan nagelhout

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