When I think about the playoffs, I think of this picture:
Game Five against Ottawa, second period. Chris Drury takes a shot to the face in front of the net and goes down hard. It wasn’t the first time we saw him lying on the ice against the Sens, and a hush fell over the building as he writhed in pain. Still, there was something about that moment that I’ll never forget: Chris Drury was coming back.
I’m no medial expert, and I wasn’t close enough to the action to know just how hurt he was. But none of that mattered, the game was tied and the Sabres trailed in the series 3-1; there was no way this season was ending with Chris Drury in the locker room. So he came back.
We all know what happened in that game. Alfredsson takes a shot that hits Brian Campbell’s stick and goes in, and almost 30,000 people go home in silence. It’s a story that’s not very fun to relive, especially since we know what happens a few months later.
But forget about all that. This story isn’t about Chris Drury, or even the idea of Chris Drury, this is about that moment I was absolutely sure Chris Drury was coming back. Other people felt it, too. I got at least one text message saying “He’s coming back,” and it’s something that Chris and I talk about a lot when the last trip to the playoffs is mentioned.
As the playoffs came closer and closer, I couldn’t escape the feelings I had in that moment during Game Five. I don’t want to relive this or feel this, I want to add to it. I want to feel the playoffs again, but most of all I want to feel that moment again. The more I think about it, that’s what the playoffs are all about.
There is the anxiety and the excitement and the dramatic games, but most of all, it’s about knowing something special is going to happen. Every game is a chance for something amazing, and you may not get it but that chance is there.
Sixteen wins. Let’s go out and get them.