It’s here: Game 1 is upon us. But we, oh town of ever-so-many expats, should remember our roots and the embarrassment of sports riches into which we walked. Moving to Boston in 2003, I felt split in my desire to both root for the home team and remain true to a semblance of Buffalo pride (Buffalove, if you will). The Bruins and the Patriots were not friends. The Red Sox were a curiosity because there is no MLB in Western New York. (Though I recall recognizing the curious power of Fenway on Roger Clemens’s arm during Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS).
Buffalo’s adored teams wile in prolonged mediocrity but call to me. I recognize Rene Rancourt as a cultural icon, but I don’t connect with him like I do Rick Jeanneret, the Sabres’ play-by-play announcer. When I think of memorable first games of the Stanley Cup Finals, I remember not Patrice Bergeron’s bitten finger, but rather Jason Woolley’s overtime goal in 1999.
I’m conflicted, and it’s not because Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is from my hometown. He punched a cab driver there in 2009, so I have no warmth toward him. Rather, it’s been a tough decade for the Sabres (and the Bills). I remain a hockey fan nonetheless, but the decade of Boston championships are bittersweet when I feel what’s lacking 500 miles west on I-90. “Just walk away, Rene(e): you won’t see me follow you back home.”
Yup. That happened. Our friendly neighbors to the north, have flipped our sarcastic chant and pushed the B’s to the brink in this race to Stanley’s Cup.
The Bruins have struggled all year closing out games and with the series being so tightly contested, this really isn’t that much of a shock. What is a shock, is how Kessel has stepped up and Seguin has not. Statistically, Seguin has dominated the Leafs and Kessel has struggled versus the Bruins in regular season games. Now we see the opposite, accompanied by some grit from a “soft” player in Kessel.
So after blowing two mulligans the B’s finally have to show a sense of urgency and end this. They need to come out of the gate flying and keep the foot to the floor the entire 60 minutes. There’s no need to wait here.
Do that and hopefully we can continue to thank the Maple Leaf organization for the bounty that keeps on giving because I’m not even close to being ready for this season to be over.