Continuing the tradition of selecting the dark-horse of the playoffs, I have used just about every neuron and fired off every brain cell to possibly chose the right candidate without jinxing my own hometown team. Of course, I continue to do that, but find it harder to divide my brain from my heart.
The "endorsement" is usually shaded by the idea that the team highlighted is actually an up-and-coming dark horse selection that may or may not win it all this year, but will surely be around the next. But as my hometown team returns to their rightful spot among the NHL elite, it is more difficult to overlook them and try to pick another new team each year.
The Buffalo Sabres have impressed me with the way they have rebounded from losing all the players that grew up in their system since their Adelphia cable days. The familiar names to the franchise like Briere, Drury, and company have left Buffalo's talent cabinet pretty bare, but drafting a large Calder Trophy candidate defenseman in Tyler Myers and others have seen the Sabres turn yet another corner. And who else can't forget the herculean efforts of Ryan Miller who now knows what it takes to win at a high level.
So, this year, I would recommend keeping an eye on the Buffalo Sabres as they progress through these playoffs and on to next year.