By Mike Harrington
Ted Nolan took over yesterday, hustled off the dais into some sweats and hit the ice to basically watch the Buffalo Sabres practices. Assistants, notably Joe Sacco, ran a bunch of drills.
Nolan really took over today.
His whistle was going nonstop and his voice echoed through First Niagara Center. There was tempo, chatter, sticks banging on the ice. It wasn't what anyone has seen around here when Ron Rolston was in charge. But don't think Nolan was satisfied because he wasn't.
"It went OK,' Nolan said. "We've got a lot of work to do. The biggest thing is to get these guys to feel good about themselves. If you feel good about yourself, you'll get better." Players seemed to handle the practice well but there were times where Nolan was pushing the envelope demanding more and there didn't seem to be a lot to give. Where is this team's conditioning?
"There's not much we can do right now," Nolan said. "We're 20 games into the season. We got what we got. We've got to work with what we have. ... these guys are all professional athletes and I'm quite sure they worked their tails off in the summer. Physically, I don't think there's much of a concern.
Mentally is the thing we have to work on."
Nolan said he's giving the Sabres a clean slate and what they do with it is up to them.
"What happened yesterday is done. It's over with," Nolan said. "What happened in the first 20 games in your season is done. It's over with. We're turning a new page, we're starting a new chapter. I talked to some of the players and every stat they have is out the door. Forget about it.
"Tomorrow night aginst the Leafs we start anew and we're going to compete. Toronto is a very good team. They've turned it around quite a bit in the last year or so. I know their coach demands a lot and we're going to demand a lot here too."
All players were on the ice today. The extras appeared to be defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Jamie McBain and forwards Johan Larsson and Mikhail Grigorenko. Mike Weber took a regular turn with Rasmus Ristolainen but would need to be cleared off injured reserve to play and a roster move would have to be made.
The top line was Cody Hodgson centering Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford. Nolan said rookie Zemgus Girgensons will center Tyler Ennis and Steve Ott, although Ennis often played in the middle too. Marcus Foligno was between Ville Leino and Brian Flynn while Cody McCormick centered John Scott and Corey Tropp.
Click below to hear Nolan's session with reporters today. The room was filled with Toronto media as the Leafs are practicing here as well so it went nearly 17 minutes.
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