Another season on the line tonight in Game 6
As a hockey fan, the amount of games your team plays leaves many opportunities to rebound after a poor performance. There’s an 82 game regular season. Except for the Rangers/Flyers game on the final day of the season, each team had plenty of chances to make up for a loss and find a way to make the playoffs. For fans in New York and Philadelphia, it came down to a shootout for a playoff berth. The Flyers won, and found their way into the playoffs. The Rangers were left wondering what they could have done to avoid the situation.
The stress of the “do or die” scenario isn’t laid upon hockey fans very often, especially not in the NHL. It always ends up rearing its ugly head come playoff time. Knowing one game could be the end of your season, but still having the hope that you’ll get another chance to live to fight another day. Game 7’s are a different animal, knowing you’re either moving on or moving home.
But tonight is different. Tonight is Game 6 for the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins.
The Sabres know they need to win. A loss tonight and it’s locker clean-out day at HSBC Arena on Wednesday.
For the Bruins, they know they can’t let the Sabres get another chance in Game 7. Going to Buffalo for a Game 7 after dropping two in a row to tie the series? Blowing a 3-1 series lead and playing for your lives on the road? Probably not the most enticing scenario for Claude Julien and his crew.
“Desperation” is the word you’d be looking for here. The Sabres showed it in Game 5, and they earned themselves a 4-1 win to earn a Game 6. Game 5 showed the Sabres giving everything they had to win the game, laying out and blocking shots. The Sabres blocked 26 shots to Boston’s 9 in that game, and outhit Boston 35-25. Will Boston match Buffalo’s willingness to sacrifice their bodies for a win? You would think they’d recognize that they’d be walking into a buzzsaw on Wednesday if they allowed that to happen.
Buffalo would have to have the momentum here after the first convincing victory of the series. Removing empty net goals from the equation, each of the first four games were decided by one goal. Boston’s victories have all come from late collapses by Buffalo and the double overtime thriller in Game 4. Hell, Boston has held the lead on the scoreboard for a mere 19 minutes and 40 seconds in the entire series. Not exactly a convincing three wins.
So, it basically comes down to the Sabres’ ability to overcome their past failures and man-up for tonight. Anything can happen in a Game 7 in your barn. But all you need is one win to get there.
Just one win.