Cleat Geeks

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 6)

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game 6 of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

The Avs stayed alive thanks to Andrew Hammond’s stellar goaltending and late goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Sven Andrighetto in Game 5. They were looking to continue the momentum at home in Game 6, but the Avs got off on the wrong foot in the first period. In the first frame, Mattias Ekholm and Austin Watson both scored for the Preds, giving them a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. It became 3-0 when Filip Forsberg scored yet another unassisted goal within the first minute of the second period. Later on, Nick Bonino, who scored the Preds’ controversial lone goal in Game 5 and assisted on the first period goals, netted one in the second, making it 4-0 and giving Bonino a three-point game. 4-0 was the lead after 40, and Viktor Arvidsson’s goal in the third made it 5-0, which stood as the final score.

So with that loss, the Avalanche were eliminated, and Nashville advanced to the Central Division Final against the Winnipeg Jets. For the Avs, though, this was a spectacular turnaround for the team. Going from 48 points last season to 95 and a playoff spot this season has to be one of the biggest turnarounds in NHL history. It drew comparisons to MLB’s Minnesota Twins, who lost 100 games in 2016 and reached the postseason in 2017. Even in a series loss, the Avalanche defied odds, as many had them being swept by the defending Western Conference Champions and the current holders of the Presidents’ Trophy. However, the Avalanche didn’t make things easy for Nashville. They scored 15 goals in the six games played. They scored first in three of the six games played. They won Game 5 after being behind in the final five minutes of regulation; the first time any team won a playoff game in such a situation since the Chicago Blackhawks did so in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2013.

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Photo by; Sports Beast

Regarding personal stats, Nathan MacKinnon’s six points (3 G & 3 A) in the series gives him 16 career playoff points (5 G & 11 A). Gabriel Landeskog scored four of the team’s 15 goals in the series, including two on the power play, and Mikko Rantanen had four helpers, but no goals as of yet. This writer believes that Rantanen will have plenty of chances to score his first career playoff goal, as the Avalanche could become a perennial playoff team once again.

And that is the Burgundy Breakdown! It was a fun and terrific season; here’s to 2018-19!

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 5)

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game 5 of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

The Avalanche looked to even their Central Division Semifinal series at home, but despite a third period comeback, the Avs came up short in Game 4 and only picked up a split, leaving the team facing elimination on the road. Colorado looked to Andrew Hammond to keep the team alive, and he was spectacular in the first period of Game 5 in Nashville. Nineteen shots were recorded, with 11 of them belonging to the Preds, but Hammond shut the door and the first 20 minutes ended scoreless. The second period saw more chances from both teams and close calls from end to end. Hammond continued to stay strong in the face of pressure, including a golden chance by defenseman Roman Josi, but even after 40 minutes, it was still scoreless. The entire series had at least one goal in the previous 12 periods; the first two of Game 5 were the first to not have any goals.

All of the action happened in the second half of the third period, beginning with a highly controversial goal scored by Nick Bonino. Despite the video replay showing a clear distinct kicking motion, the officials reversed their original “no goal” call and awarded the goal to Bonino, putting the Avalanche down 1-0. The pressure was now clearly on the Avs, as that goal further put them on the brink of elimination. However, the Avalanche would take over the final five minutes of regulation, beginning with captain Gabriel Landeskog tying the game after a clever move by Nathan MacKinnon to fake out Pekka Rinne. With time winding down, it looked like overtime was on the horizon, but a two-on-one breakaway resulted in JT Compher’s shot being stopped, but Sven Andrighetto got the puck and put it past Rinne, giving the Avalanche a 2-1 lead with 88 seconds left. The Predators pulled Rinne on the face-off, but their attempts to tie the game late were all stopped by Hammond, resulting in the Avalanche holding on and winning 2-1.

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Photo by; SportSpyder

Regarding the past four games, I have had an answer regarding what went right or wrong for the Avalanche, but as for Game 5, I honestly have to say that it was just one of those games. No goals in the first two periods, followed by Nashville scoring a controversial goal, and with time winding down on the Avalanche’s season, Colorado came back with two quick goals. I can say this, though: Andrew Hammond saved the Avalanche in Game 5, racking up 44 saves in Colorado’s victory. Landeskog’s goal was his fourth of the playoffs, while MacKinnon recorded his 16th career playoff point with the assist. Andrighetto’s goal was his first career playoff goal, and his first career playoff GWG. Now the Avalanche have earned a trip back to Denver, and an opportunity to put the Predators’ backs to the proverbial wall.

Game 6 is Sunday night in Denver.

The Burgundy Breakdown; Central Semifinals Game 4

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game 4 of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

The Avs were looking to even things up in the Central Division Semifinals, but they are off to a bad start early. The team committed back-to-back penalties within the first two minutes, giving Nashville a lengthy two man advantage, but the Avalanche managed to kill the penalty. However, the Preds did manage to score first for the first time in the series, as Filip Forsberg made another one of his signature moves to put one past Jonathan Bernier, and that was how the first period ended, with the Avalanche down 1-0. It got worse for the Avs in the 2nd, as Colton Sissons made it 2-0, and not only did a Colorado power play fall flat, but Craig Smith left the penalty box and shot one past Bernier, making it 3-0.

3-0 was the score after two, and the Avs began the third shorthanded. The penalty was killed, and back-to-back Nashville penalties actually gave Colorado a 2-minute 5-on-3, which they capitalized on when Gabriel Landeskog ended Pekka Rinne’s shutout bid. Less than six minutes later, Alexander Kerfoot made it 3-2, leaving Colorado with plenty of time to tie it up and force OT. However, even with the extra attacker, the Avs couldn’t get that game tying goal, and when the horn sounded, the 3-2 score held up in Nashville’s favor.

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Photo by; The Denver Post

An additional note, the third period started with Andrew Hammond in net for Bernier, who left the game due to an injury, and it was announced that Hammond will start in net for Colorado in Game 5. This, for the most part, was not a well played game for the Avalanche. An argument could be made that PK Subban got away with interference on the play that preceded Forsberg’s goal, but even with that, Colorado’s play paled in comparison to the first three games. The power play has been an Achilles’ heel for the Avs in this series, as their only two goals were scored by Landeskog, and both of them came via the two-man advantage. Nathan MacKinnon was shut out completely for the first time in this series, with his only good chance hitting the crossbar in the second period.

Game 5 takes place Friday in Nashville.

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 3)

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game 3 of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

Down 2-0 in the Central Division Semifinals, the Avalanche were looking to get back on track on home ice, where they won 28 of their 43 games this season. The Avs got off to a quick start, with Blake Comeau scoring his second goal of the playoffs within the first two minutes of the game. Later on, Gabriel Bourque deflected Patrik Nemeth’s shot, sending it past Pekka Rinne and giving the Avalanche a 2-0 lead; their first two goal lead of the series. After a power play ended with no results, the lead became 3-0, when Nathan MacKinnon broke away after receiving Gabriel Landeskog’s pass, scoring past Rinne in the final minutes of the period. The Avalanche ended the first 20 minutes shorthanded, but they maintained a 3-0 lead.Image result for nathan mackinnon 2018

The Avs killed the rest of the penalty to kick off the second period, and it was in the period that MacKinnon netted his second goal of the game and his fifth career playoff goal to make it 4-0, as well as send Pekka Rinne to the bench. Bernier’s shutout bid ended with Ryan Johansen’s power play goal in the middle of the second frame, but the Avs led 4-1 after two. Colton Sissions made it a two goal game in the third, but Gabriel Landeskog’s awarded goal in the final minutes iced things for Colorado. Landeskog’s unselfish attempt to pass the puck to MacKinnon to get him the hat trick in the empty net led to him being tripped, and by rule, a penalty during a breakaway to the open net results in an awarded goal. Austin Watson scored very late in the third, but Nashville could do no more, and in the end, the Avalanche took Game 3 by a score of 5-3.

The Avalanche played with the same intensity that they had in the first two games, but the one difference was their lack of mental mistakes. The mental mistakes were made by Nashville in Game 3, and that led to Colorado’s golden opportunities. Nathan MacKinnon has three goals in three games this postseason; he had two in the entire seven-game series against the Wild in 2014. For the Avs, this victory ended a 12-game losing streak against the Nashville Predators; their last victory came on March 28, 2016 in Nashville. More importantly, it brought the Avalanche back in the series, and they have a golden chance to even things up and earn at least one more home game.

Game Four takes place Wednesday in Denver.

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 2)

Welcome to the latest Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game Two of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

The Avs were looking to rebound after their 5-2 loss in Game One on Thursday. Saturday’s game was one of two early games that took place, and like Game One, the Avalanche scored on their first shot. This time, it was Gabriel Bourque, a former Predator, who shot and scored past Rinne, with the assists coming from JT Compher and Colin Wilson. Nashville ended the first period on the power play, but the first 20 minutes also ended with the Avalanche up 1-0. However, Kevin Fiala scored just 61 seconds into the second period, and with three seconds left on Nashville’s power play, tying the score. Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen followed with breakaway goals later in the period, but Nathan MacKinnon’s third career playoff goal cut Colorado’s deficit in half.

In a chaotic third period, Austin Watson scored while the Avs were avoiding being caught with too many men, giving Nashville their two goal lead back. Back-to-back Predator penalties gave the Avalanche a two man advantage, and on the 5-on-3, MacKinnon’s shot bounced off captain Gabriel Landeskog and went past Rinne, making it 4-3. The remainder of the power play time was killed off, and the Avalanche later pulled Jonathan Bernier for the extra attacker. Nashville’s clearing attempt saw the puck bounce off the wall and in front of the net, and it was Ryan Hartman who beat the Avalanche to the punch and put it in the empty net. Alexander Kerfoot kept things alive for Colorado with his first career playoff goal with 35.8 seconds left, but the Avs’ inability to get the puck out of their own zone sealed the team’s fate, handing them a 5-4 loss.

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Photo by; NHL.com

In all, the Avalanche played better in Game Two than they did in Game One, including a strong third period. In two games, the Avs have scored six goals on Pekka Rinne, but their 2-0 hole is mainly due to mental mistakes, mainly giving up breakaways and committing too many penalties. The team’s depth is showing, as it’s not just the main players providing offense. Nathan MacKinnon has three points already, while Nikita Zadorov, Gabriel Landeskog, and Tyson Barrie have two points each. If the Avalanche continue this offense onslaught on home ice, where they’ve won 28 games, and keep the mental mistakes to a minimum, this could be a real series.

Game Three takes place Monday evening in Denver.

The Burgundy Breakdown (Central Semifinals Game 1)

Welcome to the first Stanley Cup Playoff edition of The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps Game One of the Colorado Avalanche’s series against the Nashville Predators.

It was on Saturday that the Colorado Avalanche locked in the last remaining spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it would put them in a match-up against the defending Western Conference Champions, the Nashville Predators. Thursday’s Game One of the Central Division Semifinals marked the Avalanche’s first playoff game since April 30, 2014, and it started slow for the Avs at first, but it was late in the first half of the period that Nikita Zadorov opened the scoring with a shot past Pekka Rinne. The Avs drew back-to-back penalties on Nashville, leading to a brief 5-on-3 opportunity for Colorado. Though the power plays were unsuccessful, the Avalanche ended the first 20 minutes with a 1-0 lead.

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The last ten seconds of Colorado’s second PP were killed in the beginning of the second period, and it was minutes later that Austin Watson tied things up for the Predators. Less than two minutes later, Blake Comeau tipped Carl Soderberg’s shot past Rinne to give the Avalanche their lead back, but it would be short lived, as Craig Smith tied it up just 10 seconds into their first power play opportunity, and that’s where it stood after 2 periods. The third period was all Predators, mainly Filip Forsberg, who gave Nashville the lead and then added a second goal after going from end to end. Colton Sissons scored an empty-netter in the final minute, and the game ended with the Avalanche losing Game One by a score of 5-2.

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Despite the three-goal loss, the Avalanche played well for the first two periods, but it was the most important one–the third–that was their downfall. For the Avs, they have now lost three straight playoff games dating back to Games Six and Seven against the Wild in 2014. Nathan MacKinnon picked up an assist on Zadorov’s goal, giving him his 11th career playoff point. Zadorov’s goal was his first career playoff goal, while Comeau’s tip in gave him his second playoff goal of his career.

Game Two takes place Saturday afternoon in Nashville.

The Burgundy Breakdown

Welcome to the Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps the latest week of action featuring the Colorado Avalanche!

The Avalanche ended the previous week with an OT loss in Anaheim, but the one point they picked up moved the team past the Blues in the playoff race. After a Blues regulation loss this past Monday at home against Washington, the Avs had a chance to move further ahead later that evening, but they fell to the Los Angeles Kings in regulation, 3-1. The Avs were off for two days, but the Blues were in action on Wednesday; facing the Blackhawks in St. Louis’ home finale. The Blues led 3-1 in that game, but the Blackhawks came back and tied it, and with 8.5 seconds left, Duncan Keith scored on the power play to hand the Blues a 4-3 loss that kept the Avalanche one point ahead.

Despite this, the Avs again failed to move further away from St. Louis, as Thursday’s game in San Jose saw the team fall to the Sharks by a score of 4-2. One of Colorado’s two goals was a power play goal from Mikko Rantanen, which is a small feather in the team’s cap, as San Jose has the top penalty kill in the league, but the loss not only left the Avs with just one point in the three game California road trip, it would mean that the team would have to beat St. Louis in order to clinch the remaining playoff spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis’ 4-1 win in Chicago on Friday meant that in order to get in, the Avalanche had to win in regulation.

The do-or-die head-to-head match-up took place on Saturday in Denver. The scenario was simple. Regulation win for Colorado puts them in, going to OT means elimination for the Avs. Samuel Girard kicked off the scoring for Colorado in the final minute of the opening period, and in the second, Barrie scored on the power play to make it 2-0. Jaden Schwartz picked up a power play goal of his own later in the period, but Nathan MacKinnon would score his 39th goal of the season to give the Avs their two-goal lead back. The third period saw back and forth action from both teams, with the Avalanche having odd man rushes on more than one occasion. With just over four minutes left in regulation, goaltender Jake Allen was pulled, but Jonathan Bernier continued to stop the Blues’ onslaught. Gabriel Landeskog finally took possession, and fired a shot all the way to the empty net, prompting a massive celebration as the playoffs were literally on the horizon.

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Photo by; NHL.com

The Avalanche went on to defeat the Blues, 5-2, to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the Avs, this was a huge turnaround; going from the worst record in the NHL last year, to the playoffs this year. The Avalanche improved by 47 points, nearly doubling their point total from last season (48 last year, 95 this year), and one of many factors behind the resurgence was Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon fell one goal short of 40 for the season, and nearly had a 100-point season, and his effort puts him in the conversation for the Hart Trophy. The only thing literally keeping Jared Bednar from getting the Adams Trophy this year is what Gerard Gallant has done with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. This is the Avalanche’s first playoff appearance since the 2013-14 season.

An amazing regular season is in the books for the Avalanche, and so is the last Burgundy Breakdown of the regular season. The Avalanche will face the Nashville Predators in the Central Division Semifinals, a team the Avs failed to defeat this season (0-3-1). Game One will take place Thursday in Nashville, and I will post single game recaps! Until then!

The Sabres Shootout

And just like that, the Buffalo Sabres 2017-2018 has come to an end. The Sabres have ended their season with a record of 25-45-12 to total 62 points. The Sabres did set a team record this year though. With the addition of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, then Sabres are the first team in NHL history to finish in 31st place.
The last week of the season did not go well for the Sabres, where they did not amass a single point in their final 4 games and were outscored by a total of 20-12.

The most exciting game of the week happened last Friday when the Sabres were down in Tampa Bay to take on the Lightening. Not only did the Sabres score 5 goals, but they saw a pair of first NHL goals. Both Alexander Nylander and Casey Mittelstadt.

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Photo by; Buffalonews.com

The first game of the week brought the Sabres a 5-2 loss to the Stanley Cup Playoff contender Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres had goals scored by Same Reinhart, in the 2nd period, and Jason Pominville, in the 3rd period, a power play goal.

On fan appreciation night at the Key Bank Center, the fans thought they were going to see something to be appreciative of. The Sabres scored a goal within the opening 30 seconds of the 1st period, courtesy of Ryan O’Reilly. After that is was all Senators scoring 3 unanswered goals until Kyle Okposo scored 16:41 into the 2nd period. That would be all the scoring that the fans would see of the Sabres in their final home game of the season.

When the Sabres took on the best team in the Eastern Conference on Friday they came with a purpose. The Lightening started off the game by scoring the first goal just 30 seconds into the 1st period. The Sabres answered back 2:27 seconds later when Casey Mittelstadt scored his first NHL goal The Lightening once again answered back scoring a goal of their own. Less than 2 minutes later, Alexander Nylander tallied his first NHL goal, to tie the game at 2. The Lightening would go ahead and score 2 unanswered goals, before the Sabres struck again. The Sabres scored 3 unanswered goals in the 2nd period to take a 5-4 lead. The goal were courtesy of Jason Pominville, Jordan Nolan, and Kyle Okposo. In the 3rd period, the best team in the East showed why they are on top, scoring 3 unanswered goals to had the Sabres a 7-5 loss.

The Sabres stayed in Florida for their final game of the season to take on the Panthers. The Panthers came out swinging scoring 3 goals in the 1st period. There were no more goals scored until 5:30 left in the 3rd period. The Sabres scored 2 goals in 21 seconds, by Jason Pominville and Sam Reinhart to cut the lead to 1. The Panthers wanted nothing to do with that, and extended their lead with a goal 1:46 seconds after Reinhart’s goal. The Sabres would tally their final goal of the season by Ryan O’Reilly, but it wasn’t enough and the Sabres suffered their 45th loss of the season.

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Photo by; Puck Prose

The Sabres season was another one with highs and lows and although the Sabres did not make the playoffs for the 7th straight year. The Sabres showed a lot of promise this season with their younger core coming together. The years to come could be very exciting for Sabres fans.

So until next time Sabres fans, Lets Go Buffalo!

The Burgundy Breakdown

Welcome to The Burgundy Breakdown, which recaps the latest bit of action featuring the Colorado Avalanche!

The week began with the second half of Colorado’s home-and-home against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, which did not end well for the Avs, as they were defeated 4-1 in Vegas. The Avs returned home this past Wednesday, losing a heartbreaker to the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 2-1, but on Friday, the team bounced back with a 5-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. On Sunday, the Avalanche kicked off their California road swing in Anaheim against the Ducks, but after scoring first on a faceoff and taking a 3-1 lead, the Ducks bounced back and forced OT with two third period goals, and then scored in OT to give the Avs a 4-3 loss.

So the season is now in the month of April and entering the final week of the season. The Avs had a 1-2-1 week, but the one point they picked up in Anaheim put them in a playoff position past the St. Louis Blues. The Avalanche have 93 points and hold the 2nd Wild Card spot, one point behind their next opponents, the Los Angeles Kings. If the season ended today, the Avalanche would be facing off against the defending Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators; a team the Avs failed to defeat this season (0-3-1).

The final week will obviously tell if the Avalanche will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014. Their final three games are in Los Angeles (on Monday), in San Jose (on Thursday), and at home against the Blues (on Saturday).

That’s the Burgundy Breakdown! Until next week!

The Sabres Shootout

The win loss record isn’t something that matters at this point of the season, it matter who is playing and how they look playing. Jack Eichel has been red hot this week scoring 3 goals (2 versus the Maple Leafs and 1 against the Red Wings). There has also been some excitement in Buffalo surrounding the Sabres and that is due to the fact that the young 19 year old Casey Mittelstadt made his NHL debut last Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. Mittelstadt, in his NHL debut also tallied his first NHL point with an assist Oman Evan Rodrigues goal in the third period. 

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The Sabres started the week well when the went up the Toronto Monday and beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. As afore mentioned Jack Eichel had two goals and Casey Nelson added the third to take two points from the Maple Leafs, who have already punched their tickets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

When the Red Wings came into the Key Bank Center on Thursday, the Sabres did not quite play to their full potential, falling 6-3. The Sabres started hot with goals from Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly to take an early 2-0 lead. From that point on the Red Wings scored 4 unanswered goals to make the game 4-2. Even though the Sabres scored 3 minutes after the 4th Red Wings goal to pull within one, the Red Wings continued to pour it in scoring 2 more goals in the 3rd period. 

When the Sabres travel to Nashville on Saturday for a battle between the best and worst in the NHL. The Sabres trailed 4-3 late in the 2nd period when Scott Hartnell sent Victor Antipin into the boards causing Antipin to be taken off the ice on the stretcher. This caused a 5 minute major penalty, and the Sabres took advantage scoring 3 goals. I had said to myself during the five minute power play “who is this team and why haven’t they played like this all year? That penalty marked a turning point in the Game where the Sabres never looked back and scored 4 unanswered goals to go on to defeat the best team in the league 7-4. 

This is the first time this season that the Sabres scored 6 or more goals. Even more impressively, this is the first time the Sabres scored 7 goals since they did so on 1/31/13 at home versus the Boston Bruins. Also in Saturday’s contest, Jack Eichel recorded 5 assists which ties the franchise single game record. 

Around 12 am EST the Buffalo Sabres tweeted that defenseman Victor Antipin had been released from the hospital and further information on his injury will be released later on in the day. It has been further determined that Antipin has suffered a concussion, a broken nose, facial lacerations and various dental injuries. As expected, he will be out indefinitely. 

The Sabres have games on Monday (at Toronto), Wednesday (home versus the Senators), then two games to finish the season in Florida when the take on the Tampa Bay Lightening on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Even though it could be a mute point at that time, the Sabres have one chance to play spoiler with the Florida Panthers being the only team with not having clinched a playoff spot or eliminated of the last four Sabres opponents of the season. 

The Sabres have a special “Fan Appreciation Night” on Wednesday for their last home game of the season. Every fan in attendance with receive a Dominik Hasek bobble head as they enter the arena. The Hasek bottle head was chosen from a list of plays by the fans for this giveaway, and in my opinion, is fantastic and I wish I could make the voyage out to Buffalo to get my hands on one of these. There will also be the always famous “Jersey Off My Back” promotion where lucky season ticket holders will get game worn Winter Classic jerseys. And finally the Sabres “Fan of the Year” will be presented. All of this on top of discounted concession items and various other fan experiences will all be apart of the Sabres 2017-2018 season Fan Appreciation Night.

 

I have one final wrap up coming next week, so until then Sabres fans, Let’s Go Buffalo. 

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