1st Rising Star: Ryan Miller
At this point, Miller must own a fricken galaxy with the amount of stars I've given him this year. He was sensational tonight. That 2nd period was all Miller. I mean, the guy made 23 fricken saves in that period! That's like a game worth of shots for the Bruins. It was like I was reliving game one of USA vs Canada for that period. You can try and build Tyler Myers as the next Chris Pronger or Tyler Ennis as the next Moginly, but this team is nothing without Ryan Miller. I guess my whole logic that Miller wasn't under the most pressure for this series was a little bit off.
2nd Rising Star: Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek, welcome back! Vanek was awesome tonight. That was the guy we saw from last year and the Senators game from last weekend. He was innovative and really aggressive. He looked like a goal scorer tonight. He buried his scoring chances when they came across his stick and was a constant nuisance to Rask. The play he made when he deek the hell out of d-man, Johnny Boychuk (Nice f#$ken name), and almost went in all alone on Rask was incredible. Great game, Thomas.
3rd Rising Star: Derek Roy
Derek Roy is playing with an edge? Roy is back checking? No way! I hate to keep using the word aggressive, but that's how Roy played tonight. You can tell from the first two minutes of the game that Roy was on his "A" game. Any time Roy's line was on the ice, they put a ton of pressure in the offensive zone. That's the beauty of playoff hockey, everyone forgets what you did during the regular season and only cares about what's happening now. Roy and Vanek stepped it up...BIG TIME!
4th Rising Stars: Tyler Ennis and Tim Kennedy
Boy, these kids sure didn't look like rookies tonight. Ennis was one of the Sabres best forwards on the ice tonight. He looked incredible when he zipped past Chara late in the third period and almost scored on Rask. He kind of looked a little like Max. Also, Tim Kennedy looked really great. His pretty pass to set-up the Craig Rivet goal was sick. Just a lot of jump in their skates tonight. A lot of times, fans and media members get too wrapped up into whether this kid/rookie can play well in the playoffs. Yes, some will falter. However, you can't underestimate the heart of a young kid. When these kids get on the ice in the playoffs for the first time; a rookie can't help himself, but get really excited and play with a ton of energy. That's what these kids did tonight. Now go have a Beer...non-alcoholic, of course :)
5th Rising Star: Craig Rivet
You know something? I like Craig Rivet. I heard him yesterday on WGR (Check the interview out on their website, it's a good one) and his attitude was tremendous. He seems like the type of guy you could have a beer with after a long day of work. Yes, he has struggled this season, but the way he talked during the interview, showed me why he's the captain of this team. Good for Rivet to get the game-winner tonight.
6th Rising Star: MSG and the Sabres crowd
Great job by the MSG-TV crew. That was a kick ass opening video montage for the team. As for the fans, when I see a homemade Stanley Cup outside of the HSBC Arena, with a beer funnel attached to it, I can't help but smile and wish I was there. BTW, if you want to solve the problem of having such a low crowd reaction during the regular season games, just have Party in the Plaza year round. Trust me, Beer is the great equalizer to a dull game.
7th Rising Star: 1st period action
WOW! If that 1st period didn't get your playoff blood pumping, then you should call 911, because you must be dead. Great first period. Scoring chances, fights, hits, skating...it had everything! Maybe this series won't be as dull as I thought. BTW, you had to love Toni Lydman giving the hand gesture/Italian version of fu#$ off to Lucic. If you don't know what that is, just google it.
8th rising star: Hit that bitch!
I'll take a 2 to 1 margin in hits for a playoff game. Lindy Ruff always talks about playing out of character. When Toni Lydman is hitting and taking on Lucic (well, sort of), that's playing out of character. It reminded me of the 99' playoffs, when everyone, from Geoff Sanderson to Miro Satan were hitting the crap out of the opposition.
1st Falling Star: Tim Connolly
I'm already going out on a ledge and say that Tim Connolly isn't going to have a good series. He just doesn't match-up well against the Bruins defense. I think if Connolly goes against teams that take more offensive chances (Caps, Pens and Sens), he'll be a key contributor. In order to score goals against Boston, you have to forecheck and crash the net. That's just not Connolly's style.
2nd Falling Star: Steve Montador and Tyler Myers
Eh, one guy showed the intensity of playing in a scrimmage in September, while the other one was a turnover machine. I know it's only one game, but lets hope this is just a one game incident for the duo.
3rd Falling Star: Power Play
This is kind of a bitter sweet falling star. The Sabres looked good moving the puck on the power play, but you can't go 0 for 5. Especially, if it looks like the Bruins are going to try and start scrums after the whistle and get stupid penalties.
4th Falling Star: Zdeno Chara
Me, Chara. You, small. This penalty box, too small. Let me out of it!! Idiot. After tonight's game, I finally understand why the home crowd boos this guy so much. I can now say that I really don't like Chara. He's just a tall Andre the Giant looking fool. Nice mouth guard, dude. I hope that fixes your overbite. Actually, I probably just hate the guy because that's what playoff hockey is all about; Hating the opposition.
I just thought of this, but maybe the Sabres are a lot like me. I've been so bored with their regular season for the last month or two, that my hockey mind was wondering all over the place. Now that it's playoff hockey, I'm ready and focused. Maybe the Sabres were just looking forward to the playoffs to play their best games. OK, I'm sounding a little too gitty. You don't have me yet, apologists. But I'm happy.