Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

March 30, 2008

TIM SCHMITT: Sunday showed opportunity was ripe for Sabres

COMMENTARY

BUFFALO — If nothing else, the sigh that was the Sabres home schedule ended with a smile Sunday. Youngsters Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber were part of an embrace after playing integral parts in the winning goal, and the guy with the league’s highest salary (Thomas Vanek) made a pretty pass to set the table.

Those thinking about renewing their season tickets for next year, applying the hefty bill from unused playoff tickets to their deposit, might have one more positive memory to tip the scales.

Even with Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win, though, the Sabres finished the home slate with 21 losses in 41 games. Hardly a mark that instills fear in the opposition.

And what’s really disappointing about Sunday’s narrow win — one that allowed the visiting Bruins to sneak out of town with a point — was the lack of emotion from a pair of teams who should have had the building buzzing.

The Bruins entered Sunday’s snoozer in eighth place, but trailed both the Rangers and Philadelphia by a single point. Fifth-seeded Ottawa stood just a point above that, and New Jersey was just another point up the wall.

That meant Boston came in just three points out of home ice for the opening round of the playoffs.

And while the Sabres came out flat, the Bruins flat-out stunk.

Granted, Boston was on the tough end of a two-day stretch, directly on the heels of a 4-0 home win over Ottawa on Saturday, but there was plenty to play for.

And the Sabres shouldn’t have needed any motivation. Still mathematically alive at sunrise, you’d think Buffalo’s pride would demand a big effort after blown leads in two of their last three games.

So much for the big push. The emotion. The scrappiness of a team facing its final dawn.

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