Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Ruff vs. Rolston by the numbers: Where did the Sabres improve?

By Mike Harrington

I did some number-crunching today on the Sabres' stats under Lindy Ruff and the comparable numbers under Ron Rolston and found no real dramatic changes. A bad hockey team under the old coach was still a pretty bad hockey team at times under the new one.

Games were a little tighter under Rolston, who seemed to pull back on some of Ruff's four-in-the-zone rushes with defenseman pinching up. Buffalo's goals-for dropped a little but it's goals-against came down by more than half a goal under Rolston, so that was good.

The Sabres simply didn't have the puck enough by any measure, whether you're looking at traditional stats, new-wave analytics or the basic eye test that resulted in fan boos. Opponents average 33.5 shots per game against Ruff's Sabres and 33.5 shots per game against Rolston's. Odd. The Sabres were last in the league in shots against.

The special teams have to be better too as Buffalo finished 29th overall on the power play and 26th on the penalty kill. The power play struggled more at home under Rolston (21.9 percent under Ruff, 12.0 under Rolston) as the players clearly struggled to deal with the fans' hooting and hollering. It dramatically improved on the road (3.3 percent to 17.6 percent).

Memo to Darcy Regier: Need mentally tougher players. This is the NHL.

Here's the breakdown by category, listing the team's figures under Ruff, under Rolston and then its overall. The NHL ranking out of 30 teams is included in the overall totals.

Category Under Ruff Under Rolston Overall
Overall Record 6-10-1 15-11-5 21-21-6
Home Record 3-5-1 8-5-2 11-10-3
Road Record 3-5-0 7-6-3 10-11-3
Goals For 46 (2.7) 72 (2.3) 118 (2.46, 22nd)
Goals Against 56 (3.3) 83 (2.7) 139 (2.90, 23nd)
SOG for 509 (29.9) 830 (26.8) 1339 (27.9, 22nd)
SOG against 569 (33.5) 1037 (33.5) 1606 (33.5, 30th)
PP Overall 8-62 (12.9) 15-101 (14.8) 23-163 (14.1, 29th)
PP Home 7-32 (21.9) 6-50 (12.0) 13-82 (15.9, 29th)
PP Road 1-30 (3.3) 9-51 (17.6) 10-81 (12.3, 25th)
PK Overall 13-68 (80.9) 24-110 (78.1) 37-178 (79.2, 26th)
PK Home 8-29 (72.4) 8-50 (84.0) 16-79 (79.7, 24th)
PK Road 5-39 (87.2) 16-60 (73.3) 21-99 (78.7, 19th)


Lindy Ruff | Ron Rolston
comments powered by Disqus
John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |