Six games into the Ron Rolston era, are the Sabres any better? If you look at some of the key numbers, the answer is yes.
The most important numbers are the record. Under Rolston, the Sabres are 3-2-1 so they’ve earned seven out of a possible 12 points which equals 58%. Under Lindy Ruff, Buffalo was 6-10-1, getting just 13 out of 34 points or 38%.
One of the areas in which the Sabres were struggling was team defense. With Ruff behind the bench, the Sabres goals against average was 3.52 but in Rolston’s six games, its 2.56 so nearly a goal per game has been shaved off.
Secondary scoring has improved as well. In the first 17 games of the season, forwards not named Vanek, Pominville or Hodgson combined for just 11 goals. That same group has scored eight goals in the last six games.
Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Jochan Hecht have all broken into the goal scoring column since Rolston took over. Gerbe has three, Stafford with two and Hecht with one.
The Sabres are also doing a better job of handling some adversity. If you go back to Rolston’s first win, at Tampa, his club gave up a goal just 84 seconds into the game but instead of being rattled and giving up another, they shutout the Lightning over the remaining 58 plus minutes.
Tyler Myers put Buffalo up 52 seconds into the third period and they did something else that hadn’t been done with much frequency this season, protect a lead.
Two nights later against Florida, the Sabres blew a 2-0 first period lead in a matter of 56 seconds. But a minute and twenty six seconds after seeing the Panthers tie the game, Gerbe scored to restore the lead.
The Sabres couldn’t close that game out, giving up a tying goal to Brian Campbell with 1:26 left but they went on to win in a shootout.
At home against New Jersey, Rolston’s troops opened the third period on the power play, in a 1-1 tie but gave up a shorthanded goal. Pominville, who basically gave up on that goal, redeemed himself 1:49 later by scoring to tie the game at two.
Hecht put the Sabres up and once again they couldn’t hold on to a lead but still earned two points with a shootout victory.
In New York two nights ago, the Sabres quickly went from leading 1-0 to trailing 2-1 after the Rangers scored a pair of power play goals in 43 seconds. Still killing the Patrick Kaleta major, the Sabres tied the game on a Gerbe goal and gained one point with a shootout loss. http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2013/03/04/video-does-patrick-kaleta-need-to-change/
There are still areas that have yet to improve like the power play, which is 1-22 under Rolston.