Well, the Eastern Conference finals are set up, and I'm sorry to see the Rangers go, if only because it means the most fun series of the tournament is now over.
The Rangers have nothing to be ashamed of, played a terrific game six, and it was nice to see the salute to the fans at the end of it all. Ultimately, the better team won, and I'm kind of glad about it, seeing Brendan Shanahan was starting to look like Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away. I'm all for a playoff beard, but Jesus Christ. If the Rangers woulda pulled it out, fans showing up for game three of the Ottawa series would have seen a toothless, shaggy lunatic lurching around the parking lot, giving the Braveheart speech to a bloody volleyball.
And while I'm praising the Rangers, who were not expected to do very well, and did, it makes sense to also praise the Sabres, who were expected to play great, and also did. I have a hard time imagining that Ottawa is going to fare any better than the Rangers did, seeing as the Sabres have now proven that they can play through stifling defense as well as a more open run-and-gun style of game. Add the fact that Ray Emery, while no slouch, is the weakest goaltender in the entire tournament, and it looks good for the Sabres.
It also bears mentioning that Buffalo has had a final second, incredible, game saving, series defining moment in each of their first two series, and those are the kinds of things that championships are built on.
The first was Miller's fantastic rolling save in the final moments of the Islander series, and the second was Chris Drury's astounding goal in game 5 of the Rangers series, allowing them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Seeing him celebrate that goal, literally carrying his teammates on his shoulders as he did, was extraordinary. For a great look at it, check out this great fan footage taken from behind the Ranger bench.
And here's the save:
That save, and that goal were as great as any other single play in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, including Bobby Orr's flying goal, Matteau sending the Devils home in 1994, and fuck it, Bruce Shoebottom's goal for the Boston Bruins in their 1988 playoff run.
Jesus that was a great goal.
People threw their shoes to celebrate.
I can't find the goal, but here's Shoe taking on the Sabres in those same playoffs. Hats off to the announcers in this one- it's true, Bruce Shoebottom would "scare you in a coffee shop."
Shoebottom, by the way, is the only player I know of to both score a goal in an Stanley Cup playoff game, and also be carried off the ice of a minor league playoff game after being pepper sprayed and subdued by anywhere from 2 to 5 policemen.