Despite the intense rivalry between the two cities, I suppose hockey fans in Buffalo were backing the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first round playoff series with the Boston Bruins.  And the Leafs were just 20 minutes away from advancing to the second round.  They led the Bruins 4-3 entering the third period of Wednesday night's Game 7 in Boston, but the Bruins scored four times in that final 20 minutes to beat the Leafs 7-4 and win the series 4 games to 3.

But congratulations to the Leafs.  It was just two years ago that the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL standings and won the league's convoluted draft lottery giving them the first pick in the amateur draft.  The Leafs used that pick to select Auston Matthews and along with some other additions to the team and smart free agent pick-ups the Leafs have become a contender and will be for many years to come.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres are a disgrace.  They've finished dead last in the league three out of the last five years and while the Sabres only offer excuses the Leafs offer hope - for their fans.  The Leafs are proof that it can be done.  They're proof a team can rise from laughing stock to a serious contender for the Stanley Cup.

The Leafs made the Bruins work for their Game 7 victory.  The Bruins had owned a 3 games to 1 lead in the series before the Leafs won two in a row to force a deciding Game 7.  And for a good portion of the game the Leafs held the edge, but the Bruins dug down deep in the third period.

We can only hope that the Sabres can look to the Leafs for inspiration in their long journey back from oblivion to become a respected NHL franchise again.