Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- The Buffalo Sabres took to the ice at Bud Bakewell Ice Rink on Saturday afternoon, and you could tell the players were ready to work after losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.
Head coach Ted Nolan was critical of his team's effort in the second period last night, and for good reason. The blue and gold squandered a two-goal lead, and had to play from behind before trying the game in the final minute of regulation. The final drill of the day brought out the competitive nature of the team, something Tyler Myers welcomed. The defenseman liked the intensity of the one-on-one drill, adding that, "when you get a little battle drill like that it's never a bad thing to, you know, get that feeling. Especially, you know, after a break continue that feeling after the game and making sure we are ready for tomorrow."
Myers is starting to show more and more flashes of why he won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie back in the 2009-10 season. Last night he picked up an assist on the game-tying goal in the third for his efforts pinching in from the blue line. That is one thing the Houston, TX product has done more since Nolan took over behind the bench on November 13, and he is not the only one.
We have seen Mark Pysyk join the play both before and after his brief stint with the Rochester Americans. There is no better example than his determination on the "butt goal" that gave the Sabres the win over the Phoenix Coyotes this past Monday. Christian Ehrhoff has been paired with the second-year NHL rear guard for much of the year and has liked what he has seen, adding that Pysyk has "played really good all season. For a player of his age, he shows some really good consistency too, which is often the problem with young defensemen."
This is definitely not the same Sabres team since Ron Rolston and Darcy Regier were relieved of their respective duties with the Sabres. The team is more aggressive, and you rarely get the feeling that they are out of a game. Ehrhoff agrees, saying that, "it feels a lot better going into the games, and you know, always being in the games. And even when we're down, we feel confident that we can still tie the game up and move forward." The 2-1 win over Phoenix, or 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins on December 19 would be good examples of that.
Anytime the Washington Capitals come to town you have to worry about where Alexander Ovechkin is on the ice. Already this year the Washington captain has 30 goals to lead the league, and 41 points which puts him in a tie for sixth through 36 games this year. Ehrhoff believes that Buffalo is going to have to play a simple game on Sunday, in order to shut down Ovechkin and the Capitals. His head coach agreed, adding, "you gotta limit their opportunities and you gotta make it a tough game on them. That's the only way you're gonna have some success."
Steve Ott was the only regular missing from practice, but Nolan said the captain was just given a maintenance day off. With the exception of Ott, the line pairings remained the same among the forwards:
Matt Moulson-Tyler Ennis-Zemgus Girgensons
Drew Stafford-Brian Flynn
Matt D'Agostini-Matt Ellis-John Scott
Linus Omark-Ville Leino-Marcus Foligno
Cody McCormick and Cody Hodgson were on the ice working with Jhonas Enroth before the rest of the team arrived at Riverside.
The Sabres and Capitals drop the puck just after five o'clock on Sunday afternoon. Catch all of the action, including pregame coverage with Brian Koziol at 4 p.m. on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550.