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It has become quite the controversy…well, maybe more so down in Philadelphia than here in Buffalo. It all happened in the overtime of game one, when Brian Campbell leveled Umberger with a clean, open-ice hit. Umberger lay there motionless for what seemed like forever before finally being helped off of the ice. And then the infamous replay—on the Jumbotron—prompting gasps and wild applause from the Buffalo faithful.

The hit was shown again during the intermission as part of the MSG simulcast.

Down in Philadelphia, the entire issue quickly became fodder for outrage, with several players and team personnel calling out the Sabres for acting in poor taste. The story turned into an urban legend in the City of Brotherly Love, with calls to talk shows and postings on message boards blasting the team for showing the replay “over and over again.”

Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert was emphatic in stating “the replay was shown but once, after Umberger was taken off the ice.” Gilbert called the incident no big deal. “Our senior management talked to their senior management, and the matter was quickly laid to rest,” explained Gilbert.

This explanation did not deter Philly fans from turning up the temperature on the issue. And retribution was swift and loud in game three at the Wachovia Center, when Buffalo’s J.P. Dumont was speared in the breadbasket by Flyer’s bad boy Denis Gauthier (no penalty was called). As Dumont was buckled over in obvious pain, the Flyers fans cheered wildly, and the noise just got more intense when their public address announcer implored the fans to “show some class.”

To be fair, many of the visiting media may have gotten the impression that indeed the hit was displayed multiple times. The in-house video system and feeds shown in the pressbox are completely different than what the fans see on the Jumbotron. While Umberger was being tended to, the replay was being shown numerous times for the media. Similarly when there is a video goal review, that replay is made immediately available to the pressbox, while it is only shown to the fans in attendance after the outcome of the review is decided.

Game 5 recap…Buffalo 3, Philadelphia 0

A week ago we listened to Sabres coach Lindy Ruff throwing around the word “idiots” while Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock dropped f-bombs to anyone who cared to listen. Well. after game five both were in agreement: “Today was as good a game as any that we put together,” said Ruff, while Hitchcock added, “Overall, this is the best game they have played in the series.” All this comes after the Sabres’ huge 3-0 win this past Sunday at HSBC Arena. Many were calling out Ryan Miller after allowing a soft game-winning goal in game four, but he answered the call with his first career playoff shutout. Responding to the recent criticism, goaltender Ryan Miller said, “I guess I get motivated. I do take it to heart because of all the people in my life that have told me maybe I’m not good enough or lacking something.” Miller then got a good laugh when he gave this zinger to the assembled press corps: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not reading anything you guys write right now.”

Bandits to play for NLL Champion’s Cup

After so many playoff disappointments against the hated Rochester Knighthawks, the Buffalo Bandits finally put away Rochester at HSBC Arena this past Saturday with a convincing 15-10 win. Goaltender Steve Dietrich was sensational in net, facing 56 shots and pitching a shutout until midway into the second quarter. “What more can you say about Chugger?” asked coach Darris Kilgour. “You don’t see too many teams holding an opponent scoreless that deep into a game.”

Buffalo will host the Champion’s Cup game on Saturday, May 13 at 6pm, in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. The opponent will be the Colorado Mammoth, who the Bandits beat 14-12 in the regular season. The last time Buffalo hosted a championship game was in 1997, losing to Rochester. The opposing goalie that day? Yes, Steve Dietrich. “That was the greatest day of my professional life, but in two weeks I’m hoping to eclipse that moment for the Bandits.”

Let’s hope so, Chugger.


NBA Playoff update: The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the first series win for the franchise since 1976 when they were known as the Buffalo Braves. Two for McAdoo!

The game five shutout of the Flyers was the first in the postseason for the Sabres since the 8-0 hammering of the Flyers in game six of the 2001 series.

The Sabres have met the Flyers eight times in the postseason, the most of any opponent. Yet 2006 is only the third time the series went as far as a sixth game (1975, 2001).

Apparently they showed a clip at the Wachovia Center prior to game four suggesting that “Buffalo is known for choking.” Coming from the home of Mitch Williams, two straight NFC title losses at home as heavy favorites and a baseball team that blew a 6 1/2 game lead with 11 games left in the season, we say Buffalo’s got nothing on Philly in that department. Pot, meet kettle.