Â• Consider Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final an eardrum-busting wakeup call for the Buffalo Sabres.
In falling 5-2 to Ottawa Thursday night, the Sabres looked much as they have throughout the 2007 playoffs: largely apathetic for extended periods of time, yet able to turn on the jets and present a formidable challenge at others.
However, the Senators are not the relative pushover the New York Islanders or Rangers were Â– and that meant Buffalo couldn't depend on fleeting pressure pushes to eke out a win.
With apologies to the Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa is the most focused team remaining in this post-season. If the Sabres don't put up an extended effort Saturday for Game 2, this series will be neither the marathon nor the classic many of us expected.
Â• Sens fans have to be happier today than at any point since Eugene Melnyk bought the franchise. Not only did they receive another stirring game from captain Daniel Alfredsson Â– by the way, if I can use corporate parlance for a moment, best wishes to all you Alfie-haters in your future endeavors Â– but they also got a clutch performance from Mike Fisher.
Ottawa's No. 2 center was almost single-handedly responsible for the Senators' first two goals, scoring the first one on a shorthanded breakaway and drawing two penalties that led to the second. For someone who was feeling the heat in the first two rounds, Fisher has more than answered his critics.
Â• Was it just me, or did Don Cherry make a post-game reference to Fisher playing as if he were Â“possessedÂ”? Not sure that's the most appropriate term to use for a devout Christian such as Fisher, but as we all know, Don Cherry and appropriate go together like Fox News and journalism.