LIFE ON THE ROAD
Just your standard three-week run that saw me miss my wife's birthday, our youngest daughter's birthday and swim meet milestone, and our oldest daughter's three-night middle school musical.
AND Valentine's Day.
However, bookending the time period since the last #Duffalo were two super-talented bands putting on great shows in capital cities north and south of the 49th.
And with a Hamilton connection.
If you happen to be a fan of live music and have never been to The Hamilton in Washington, DC, do yourself a favor and check out this venue.
I was able to utilize the NHL All-Star Break to catch The Alternate Routes for the second time in three months (and fifth time ever - in five different states).
And given the heightened political climate these days - and being in DC - I'm not sure I've ever witnessed - in person - a more personal, powerful, and meaningful ending to a show.
Fast forward to Monday night in Canada's capital and Hamilton, Ontario's own Arkells played The Arena at TD Place in downtown Ottawa as if it were their hometown.
Buffalonians love the Arkells, as evidenced by two sold out shows at Town Ballroom just prior to Christmas. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that this was my first time seeing them.
It won't be my last.
Incorporating opening act Frank Turner into the show on multiple occasions just added another layer to an already stacked performance. The band is really hitting its stride as far as playing for bigger audiences across Canada, and here's hoping that trend continues down here.
And of course, I had to mention them throughout the broadcast last night, and Twitter took notice.
Fans of the band will love the timing of this screen grab...
My hope was that the team would duplicate the Arkells' performance when they met the Senators on Tuesday night.
An honest assessment would say they weren't nearly as consistent as the band was, but they certainly banded together at the most critical time.
Justin Bailey was our focal point during the second intermission, and right on cue, he delivered the first game-winner of his career 7:38 into the third.
Video: Justin Bailey on the postgame show
So now it's eight games in a row with alternating results, and 4-5-1 in the past 10.
They've recorded 2.6 goals per game in that stretch, down from the 37 goals in the previous 11 to kick start 2017. But Bailey and Evan Rodrigues have shown good progress as injuries have remained a factor.
And the club has won 5 of 6 within the division, a really sore point prior to these past few weeks. With 25 games to go, eight remain against Atlantic Division opponents, including the final four games of the year.
From this vantage point, I see the Sabres needing to target 92 points as the ultimate goal, which would require a finishing kick of 17-8-0.
THE BEST NEWS OF THE SEASON!
Dave Strader is truly one of the great guys in our game. Great at his craft. Greater in the way he treats others.
Keep him in your thoughts, and here's hoping this is just the start of an incredible and triumphant return.
Way to go Strades!!!
Had my not-so-little angels (now 12 and 10 years old) with me at the rink Sunday morning. I couldn't believe they had never met longtime Sabres assistant equipment manager George Babcock.
I explained to them that even though he still looks 18, he's actually been working for the team for nearly 30 years now.
And I had to emphasize to them that I'm not sure I've ever met someone who loves the Sabres more than George does. They looked at me in amazement and said, "Even more than Nana does?"
Yes, even more than Nana.
George is also a huge ambassador to the cause I've been working with/for over the last five years, the Alix Rice Peace Park Foundation.
I can't thank him and this community enough for all that's been done to push us very close to our goal of building a skate park at the Northtown Center in Amherst, in memory of Alix.
If you want to get involved please check out the ways you can in advance of our next event March 26 at the Main-Transit Fire Hall, including donating items such as merchandise or food items. The donation form can be downloaded here.
IN THE COMMUNITY
Good luck to the 144 teams taking part in the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament this weekend over at RiverWorks. Hard to believe this is already the 10th anniversary of the event!
Really looking forward to Friday night down at KeyBank Center as the Buffalo Bandits welcome and celebrate our Hometown Heroes. The Bandits visited some of these heroes last week, so stay tuned for a video feature soon on Bandits.com.
Check out a special ticket offer here.
Police, Fire, EMT, Nurse, Teachers, and Military personnel are the true day to day heroes in our world.
Can't wait for Banditland to sing their praises!
And don't forget that our second and final Sabres Road Crew Tour Stop is in Denver on Feb. 24. If you're in the area, or are planning to get there, we look forward to a night of good stories and good times under the Blue and Gold umbrella!
#DUFFALO THREE STARS
For the period ending February 14, 2017
1. My wife and our two daughters
A belated Valentine's if you will. They shape and complete my world, and I am beyond lucky.
My heart is now theirs as well!
3. Ryan O'Reilly
A masterful performance in accuracy shooting to claim the Sabres Showdown crown.
Video: Showdown: O'Reilly vs. Reinhart
(Thanks again to our incredible PSE Production crew for making it look so good!)