BUFFALO - IT IS the most depressing of highway signs. You can be in New England, or metropolitan New York. You can be in Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. But one of life's certainties is that no matter where you are in the great Northeast, you will eventually see a sign hat reads . . . BUFFALO - 400 miles. Buffalo. It is 400 miles from everywhere and when you get there . . . there's nothing. In this spirit, it was easier for a Bostonian to stomach Wednesday's 3-2 Bruins loss to the Sabres. It was a frustrating and heartbreaking playoff defeat for the B's but on the whole, not a bad thing because the good people of Buffalo deserve a little happiness in their lives. Think about it. When this series is over, Boston fans get to live in Boston. Sabres fans will still be in Buffalo. Ugh. There are plenty of good things to say about Buffalo. It's got Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, Chippewa Street, and casinos across the border in Ontario. It's got a beautiful Triple A baseball field, and $3 parking for Sabres games. It's got Buffalo wings and hard-working, blue collar sports fans. Robert Redford shot "The Natural" in Buffalo and Calvin Murphy played his college ball nearby at Niagara. You get a lot more for your money in Buffalo (probably that's why Jeremy Jacobs lives here), but as the Sundance Kid said when he first set foot in rural Bolivia, "What could they have here . . . that you could possibly want to buy?" Let's face it. When all is said and done, it's still Buffalo, a frozen tundra, 400 miles from everywhere. This is the heart of America's snowbelt, the land of midnight boredom. I don't want to say there's nothing to do in Buffalo, but or Wednesday there was a front-page story in the Buffalo New touting a free downtown (Lafayette Square) summer concert] series 'that this year will feature the Flutie Brothers Band. Doug on drums. Darren on guitar. Wow. The Flutie Brothers get top billing? Whoop-de-doo With due respect to Doug and Darren, they'll never be mistaken for the Allman Brothers, the Doobie Brothers, or the Righteous Brothers. When it comes to sports rivalries, Boston-Buffalo is not exactly Boston-New York. It's not even (gulp) Boston-Hartford. There is no baseball history between our two cities. Boston is major league and Buffalo is minor league. Once an affiliate for the Pirates, Buffalo today is a Triple A farm club for the Indians. Unlike ancient Fenway, the Buffalo park is stunning comfortable, and affordable. Buffalo was not part of hockey's Original Six, but the Sabres and Bruins have met six times in the playoffs since Buffalo came into the league. Can anyone remember anything about those series? Not me. But the book says the B's have won five of them, losing only a four-game sweep in 1993. Oddly enough, there's some interesting basketball history involving Boston and Buffalo. The Celtics twice met the Buffalo Braves in the NBA playoffs, winning both series in six games The '74 joust was a beauty because Bob McAdoo was a scoring machine and Ernie DeGregorio was the new Bob Cousy. Thc Celts went on to win the NBA championship. A few years later, in a rather complicated deal, the Buffalo and Boston NBA entries swapped franchises. No one (with the possible exception of Will McDonough) ever figured out what all meant. In Boston, we know that Red Auerbach stayed, thc parquet floor stayed, and the banners stayed. This is the deal that brought John Y. Brown to Boston. The Buffalo Braves became the Celtics and the Celtics became the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Clippers. John Y. Brown brought in Phyllis George who brought in McAdoo, who was used to bring in Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Thank you, Buffalo. Football offers the best Boston-Buffalo rivalry. The Patriots and Bills were charter franchises in the AFL and have met twice a year for four decades. The first-ever AFL event (July 30,1960) was a Buffalo-Boston preseason game at Buffalo's old War Memorial Stadium. The Pats won, 28-7. Baby Boomer Bostonians remember the old Bills of Kemp and Cookie Gilchrist battling Babe Parilli's Patriots at Fenway Park. On Dec. 20,1964, 38,021 poured into Fenway and saw the Bills beat the Pats, 24-14. Buffalo went on to beat San Diego in the AFL championship game. A few snowballs might have been tossed at those Patriots-Bills games. Most recently, of course, the Bills got jobbed at Foxborough last fall when the refs blew a couple of crucial calls late in the game. This allowed the Patriots to finish 9-7 when they should have been 8-8. The game was instrumental in the NFL's decision to bring back instant replay. These days, Flutie is the King of Buffalo, but we have to remind them that he's still Our Doug. Without us, there would be no Flutie Flakes on all the breakfast tables of greater Buffalo. And let's not forget that we gave you the best years of Fred Smerlas. So enjoy your little Game 3 victory over the Bruins, you Buffalo folk. Maybe we'll come back and visit if this series goes six games. Maybe we'll drive. It's just a little over 400 miles, right? Dan Shaughnessy Globe columnist.