Tomorrow Is a Major Buffalo Sabres Anniversary
The Buffalo Sabres are currently four points back of the final wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they have a whopping six games in-hand on the Florida Panthers, who currently occupy that spot. Buffalo is also five points back of the first-place wild card team, the New York Islanders, who have also played six more games than the Sabres.
Tonight at KeyBank Center, the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs come to down and it will be a good test for the Sabres, trying to handle the Leafs firepower, although Buffao has five 20-plus goal scorers themselves.
It will be awesome to see the arena full tonight, even if it's partly because Leafs fans will come down from Ontario. The fact both teams are good will add to the experience.
It was roughly 16 years ago that the Sabres were battling for the President's trophy, as the best record (most points) in the NHL for the 2006-2007 season. The Sabres did earn that reward, but lost to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Final.
If you remember earlier that season, the Sabres and Senators were involved in one of the most infamous brawls of the last 25 years in the NHL. It took place at KeyBank Center 16 years ago, tomorrow.
Senators instigator Chris Neil hit Sabres co-captain Chris Drury from his blindside -- shoulder to the head. It was clear targeting by Neil and nowadays is a penalty that has lead to suspensions. Back in 2007, it wasn't illegal.
After Sabres rookie forward Drew Stafford fought Neil, that's when all hell broke loose.
The Senators sent out their top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Mike Comrie. Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff sent out Ander Peters, Adam Mair and rookie forward Patrick Kaleta, who was playing in his first career game in the NHL. He's an Angola native.
The Sabres went after the Senators top line and then Martin Biron fought fellow goalie, Ray Emery, which is a memorable moment; as is Peters then fighting Emery.
After Lindy Ruff and Senators head coach Bryan Murray screamed at one another, things calmed down. The Sabres eventually won the game in a shootout and fans to this day have raved about the energy in the arena that night.
You can watch below.
An underrated shot of this video is Heatley staring down Ruff, and just speechless and motionless. The message Heatley got from Ruff and Buffalo was felt.
One thing is for certain after that, the Senators and Neil never again had a cheap shot like that against the Sabres best players.