A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sabres take first game, set tone

Yeah. I know I'm a little late with this.

The Sabres took the first game of their series with Philly with a 3-2 double overtime victory on Friday night. They also set the tone with some very physical play. Most of it had to do with a very uncharacteristic hit by Brian "Soupy" Campbell on Philly's RJ Umberger. By now, you've all seen the clip of the hit, and I wouldn't point to it if the player was badly hurt, but in case you haven't seen it, here it is. Tip of the cap to Jes Golbez for making the clip short and simple. OLN replayed it ad nauseum, like the Joe Theismann leg breaking, and apparently the Jumbotron at HSBC showed it a few too many times.

Not just that hit, but the way the Sabres played in general was a statement that they won't be pushed around by a more physical team. I like to see that.

I also like to see this. Brian Campbell showed class in his post game quotes on the hit, like this one:
"It was just the situation," said Campbell. "It doesn't happen too often. I think he got a bad suicide pass and skated forward with his head down. It was a good, clean hit but it stinks that he got hurt. You never want to see that."

It was undoubtedly a clean hit, but you always worry about serious injury on a play like that. Although Umberger didn't return to the game after the hit, which occurred at 11:26 of the first overtime, he has been deemed "fine" and "good to go" for game two. It's almost impossible to not think of Paul Kariya when looking at the above photo, from the Buffalo News . You know exactly what I'm talking about, and you probably remember exactly where you were when you first saw Scott Stevens lay out Kariya. The two hits are similar in that they were open ice where the skater never saw it coming. In Stevens/Kariya though, the play was well off the puck. It went unpenalized, but was filed away with all the others as "spectacular, but questionable".

Although I didn't see a single minute of the Buffalo/Philly game, and I probably won't see a single minute of any of those games (I've got my own team to watch), I expect this one to go to seven, and I expect that whomever emerges from this matchup will be a little banged up. I initially picked Philly to win in seven. In my heart, I want the Sabres to win, but in my head, I'll stick with my initial pick.

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