Proteau’s Blog: Happy days are hear again

• Consider Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final an eardrum-busting wakeup call for the Buffalo Sabres.

In falling 5-2 to Ottawa Thursday night, the Sabres looked much as they have throughout the 2007 playoffs: largely apathetic for extended periods of time, yet able to turn on the jets and present a formidable challenge at others.

However, the Senators are not the relative pushover the New York Islanders or Rangers were – and that meant Buffalo couldn’t depend on fleeting pressure pushes to eke out a win.

With apologies to the Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa is the most focused team remaining in this post-season. If the Sabres don’t put up an extended effort Saturday for Game 2, this series will be neither the marathon nor the classic many of us expected.

• Sens fans have to be happier today than at any point since Eugene Melnyk bought the franchise. Not only did they receive another stirring game from captain Daniel Alfredsson – by the way, if I can use corporate parlance for a moment, best wishes to all you Alfie-haters in your future endeavors – but they also got a clutch performance from Mike Fisher.

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Ottawa’s No. 2 center was almost single-handedly responsible for the Senators’ first two goals, scoring the first one on a shorthanded breakaway and drawing two penalties that led to the second. For someone who was feeling the heat in the first two rounds, Fisher has more than answered his critics.

• Was it just me, or did Don Cherry make a post-game reference to Fisher playing as if he were “possessed”? Not sure that’s the most appropriate term to use for a devout Christian such as Fisher, but as we all know, Don Cherry and appropriate go together like Fox News and journalism.