Niagara Gazette

Tim's Take

November 1, 2006

TIM SCHMITT: Don't fight it — Sabres are just plain fun


BUFFALO — Enough already, I give.


I’ve tried, sometimes begrudgingly, to stay focused on the fact that Stanley Cups aren’t won in October, and that these Buffalo Sabres will have to perform miracles when the talk has turned to the new Thursday at the Square lineup.

Tried to remind fans that the Ottawa Senators also seemed invincible through the first few months last season.

Tried to rationalize that a winning streak to start the season isn’t the same since the advent of 4-on-4 overtime and the shootout.

I’m done trying.

During Saturday night’s battle of the league’s best two teams, statistically speaking, the Sabres came out flat. Ales Kotalik looked like he was stuck in a Grand Island marsh. Thomas Vanek, despite a second-period goal, thought this was last year’s postseason — and should have again been in the press box.

But through it all, those crazy kids found another way to leave you sweating, squirming and ultimately smiling.

This is as fun as NHL hockey gets.

Even when Vanek’s shootout attempt rung off the crossbar and over the net, meaning the Sabres’ streak was over, you still got a sense that there’s something special happening in downtown Buffalo. That days like this, where Buffalo ends up on the short end of the stick, will be few and far between.

When Ilya Kovalchuk, man-child that he is, snapped a wrister past Ryan Miller in the third to give Atlanta a 4-3 edge, the Sabres didn’t fret.

No biggie.

Jochen Hecht, who took a puck in the grill two days prior, realized he was falling behind in the Sabres’ scoring race. Hecht’s goal off the rebound of a Jason Pominville shot tied it with just a few minutes remaining, and the tentative HSBC crowd, waiting for something to cheer about, sprung to life.

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