Man Ted Nolan has the Buffalo Sabres skating hard! The Sabres- as usual- got off to a very slow start and fell behind by two, but unlike when Ron Rolston was in charge they battled hard right until Ville Leino‘s backbreaking penalty in the final minutes. The effort of the Buffalo Sabres has certainly been better the last two games and it’s refreshing to see them not quitting before the game is over.
There will be a lot of close games in which this young team drops, but there is no excuse for not skating hard right to the final buzzer and Nolan has them doing that. Now to the Buffalo Sabres three stars from tonight’s affair.
First Star- Tyler Ennis
Tyler Ennis has been set free and he is playing like it. The speedy Ennis is playing as if he was shot out of a cannon, he’s flying all over the ice and working harder than ever and as a result ended up on the scoreboard tonight. The last two games have arguably been Ennis’ best of the season and tonight he scored the 2nd goal to bring the Sabres back within one goal.
Nolan seems to be trusting more and more players with bigger roles and just letting them play their game, Ennis is playing with great confidence and generating tons of offence alongside Matt Moulson and Cody Hodgson. Hopefully Ennis will continue this effort and he will turn into a solid player for the Sabres this season.
Second Star- Steve Ott
Everyone can relax now, Steve Ott is back to playing the game that made everyone fall in love with him and earned him the C. He’s hitting people, being aggressive and generating offence. In short, he’s become a pest to play against once again. He didn’t get on the scoreboard tonight but still had an impact on the game.
Ott stepped up by fighting David Clarkson to stand up for McBain and energize the Sabres. He played like a leader tonight and is the type of guy who can get the rest of the team going. If Ott continues to play like this he will either land a solid return at the trade deadline or will stick with the Sabres long term.
Third Star- Jamie McBain
McBain has been a quiet guy on the blueline this season, he just goes along playing strong defence without causing much of stir. Tonight he caused a stir by scoring the Buffalo Sabres first goal and getting the team back in the game when they were down 3-0. In addition to his goal McBain lead all Sabres defencemen in ice time with just over 21 minutes on the night. Nolan seems to trust McBain and he will likely continue to be utilized in the coming weeks.
Honourable mention goes to Zemgus Girgensons who is going to be an absolute beast in a couple seasons and Drew Stafford, who once again imitated a real hockey player tonight with his play on the 2nd PP unit and 5 hits.
While the Sabres didn’t rack up a W tonight and had their two-game win streak snapped, they played a solid game and are showing signs of improvement. They’re not going to win a lot but they are going to give it their all every night.