I can’t be the only one out here that really hates seeing the Sabres lose to the Ottawa Senators, am I?  Sure, I mean I hate when they lose to your Flyers, your Bruins, your Maple Leaves Leafs, etc.  But I really don’t like watching the Senators take 2 points from Buffalo, ever.

See, here’s the thing, I know many of you still have bugs up ya about Carolina getting over on the team back in ’06.  I hear you.  That stunk.  For myself, the ’07 loss to Ottawa in 5 games has always bothered me way more.  And I have reasons for that.  One is Chris Neil.  A second is Chris Neil.  But there’s more.  Just how that series went down is a big part of it.  After a President’s Trophy regular season, and grinding through 2 rounds of playoffs, to get back to where the previous season ended in Carolina in 7th game heartbreak, the Sabres went out like that????

So, I thoroughly enjoy when I see the Sabres outplay the Senators like they did in the 1st period Saturday afternoon.  Looking far more desperate (as they should), Buffalo did not look the part of a 14th place squad on this day.  It was the kind of effort that many of us believed the team to capable of when in the mood to do it.  Heck, Ville Leino appeared rock solid for 1st star honors in his first game back with his performance.  The paying customers, who greeted the Sabres to the ice before faceoff with a resounding “Meh”, gathered steam as the period advanced.  By the end of the frame, it felt like Buffalo may have had an honest-to-goodness home-ice advantage.  Steve Ott had to have been smiling from ear to ear.

Of course, these are the Sabres, which means come the 2nd period…you guessed it, back to normal programming.  Any good will the Sabres had earned back with the FNC faithful was reneged with the effort in the middle period.  Yikes!  It’s my belief at this point the leatherlungs in the seats are booing purely out of spite.  They WANT to like this team.  You can feel it during the 1st period.  They really, really want to like the Sabres.  And it’s hard to blame them for their anger when the Sabres pull the ol’ “Lucy rips the football away from Charlie Brown” routine in the 2nd.  Chris Neil (Did I mention how much I cannot stand him?) was every part the pest, with Robyn Regehr finally throwing down with him late in the frame.  But by then, Ottawa was well in command.

A fairly even 3rd period featured the most Jochen –like goal Drew Stafford has scored, giving Buffalo daylight.  Immediately, the crowd gave itself another case of whiplash as “Let’s Go, Buffalo” started spontaneously after faceoff. The good vibes lasted until another late-game failure of the power play brought the boos back out.  Cue Overtime, and Kyle Turris’ 2nd goal of the afternoon leaves everyone with a resounding “Ugh”.

There were no chards of broken composite sticks lying on the carpet in the Sabres’ room postgame (Those suckers only break during the game).  No f-bombs resonating off the lockers.  Not that I was expecting any when I found my way downstairs.  What we saw was more shrugging.  More puzzlement.  More questions “Why?”  Pominville, Stafford, Miller, Rolston.  All with the same looks on their faces.  Why does the story repeat over and over for the team in blue and gold?

And it is an especially frustrating question when one knows what the Senators have dealt with this season.  No Jason Spezza.  Erik Karlsson lost a month ago.  Craig Anderson going down.  And despite predictions of a quick fade out of the Top 8 in the East, Ottawa entered the day in 5th, and left with another 2 critical points in their back pockets.  They have their faults, to be sure, but the Senators have figured out how to persevere with the chips against them.  If you are a Sabres fan out there still holding out hope for this season, pray someone from the club was on the ball and checked the visitor’s room for any clues Ottawa may have left behind.