Ted Nolan gets his first crack at coaching the Buffalo Sabres. . . AGAIN! What better way to reopen your NHL coaching career than with a game against Buffalo’s rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs and walking away with a 3-1 victory on home ice. In the first game since the preseason brawl, the Sabres take to the ice with a whole new coach and a whole new attitude, that was evident.
Tonights three stars versus the Toronto Maple Leafs are:
Third Star: Christian Ehrhoff- Just because of his play in the last minute. Forget the fact that Toronto’s goal deflected off if him. For those who didn’t see, Ryan Miller stood out of the net to make a save, although giving off a deadly rebound, Christian Ehrhoff recognized Millers absence and dropped down to stop a shot coming in from James van Riemsdyk, had Ehrhoff not sacrificed the body, we surely would have gone to overtime. He then followed his heroic save with a rocket of a clearing shot down the ice into the open net for the third and final goal.
Second Star: Drew Stafford- Even though it’s one game, Stafford seems to have a bit more of an edge under the new coaching. Going out there on the first line may have caused some scepticism, but personally, I think Stafford delivered. Putting up two assists, he also put up some big hits. Which I know Nolan must like. He was fluid with the puck, aware of all that was going on the ice and he threw some decent hits and showed he can be a very physical presence.
First Star: Steve Ott- A power play goal and another assist for the captain, bravo! Buffalo’s captain played a very strong game both physically and statistically. Going out there and showing that he deserves the C was exactly what was needed from him and he delivered. Ott was also hardworking late in the third, laying out and also sacrificing the body, diving to clear the puck out of the Sabres zone. His assist was another beautifully placed cross ice shot that Marcus Foligno put away for the game-winner.
For the record, this was a hard pick for the stars of the game. Thats why I think the whole team deserves an honorable mention for this game. Ted Nolan has been with the team for two days, and already the change is obvious. This team earned this win from start to finish, no one showed signs of laziness (even when they were gassed from being out there so long), and everyone skated and worked hard.
If this is the type of team that Ted Nolan can construct in two days of working, then I am overly excited for what will come in the next few months. Talk about sweet entertainment.
Buffalo returns to action tomorrow night, continuing with part two of the home and home series with the Maple Leafs, 7pm.
What was your impression of the new coach and seemingly, a brand new team? Comment below and don’t forget to check back here for all your Sabres needs.