Thursday, April 21, 2011
The Sabres aren't usually the team heading into the corners with reckless abandon; clearing Ryan Miller's crease with welt producing cross checks; they're supposed to keep their play to the perimeter, use their team speed to make pylons out of opposition bluelines. They're the ones who find themselves speaking out on the stick infractions that have crept back into the "New NHL"; they're the ones strewn about the ice after being railroaded by the bigger, stronger rosters.
But here we are, heading into a best of 3 starting Friday, and that's the exact opposite situation we find ourselves in. That's playoff hockey.
What exactly led us to this point? As it stands through 4 games the Sabres have (in the most subjective of stats) 117 hits to the Flyers 105. But it's not just Pat Kaleta who's getting under the Flyers skin, it's the sudden thick skin that developed around the Sabres, eliciting reactions like the elbow to the chin of Kaleta by Mike Richard's that launched Flyer Phans into a frenzy and sent the Captain to the box for a questionable 5 minutes.
Of course the hockey Gods spoke with the 5 minutes PP being one of the worst ever run on this planet. Richard's explanation of his actions? "I saw him take a couple of hard strides at me. I had to protect myself. They're not going to call anything, so I had to protect myself."
Those words are telling. The Flyers seem to feel, as punctuated by their frustrated leader, that the Refs have it in for them (remember now; 28 minors called against Buffalo so far, 24 against Philadelphia, just so you know, that it ain't true) and they'll be taking care of things on their own.
Like say, for example, the 2 minute "slashing" call levied to noted pugilist Kimmo Timonen for his upsy-daisy on Nathan Gerbe at 00:00 of the 3rd period. Video, naturally.
Now of course that's not to say the Sabres are innocent of the goonish behavior that is warranting such vigilante on-ice justice. Of course it's almost all coming from your friend and mine, Patrick Kaleta.
And Mike Weber and Tyler Myers were doing the kind of crease clearing that we're predisposed to seeing Chris Pronger dish out. Again; not something the Flyers are used to; not at all. Like here. And here.
Of course, who could forget the move that has Flyers' fans bouncing off the walls (while the fans of 29 other franchises laughed hysterically. Go ahead, ask, they did), Kaleta conveniently, inconspicuously, coyly, opens the door for his teammates to enter the bench, except it seems that Nik Zherdev was in the midst of a scrum on it.
Add it all up and what do you get? One of the best damn Friday nights of your life. And a pretty entertaining morning on Twitter.