Sabres Notebook: Rolston era gets off to a 'Ruff' start
by Mike Repertorio/Correspondent
It really was a “Ruff” week for the Sabres. After kicking it off with a loss, management made waves when they relieved former player and longtime head coach Lindy Ruff from his duties. It was announced on Wednesday that, after 16 years, someone other than Ruff would be at the helm of the Buffalo Sabres.
Darcy Regier would follow that move up by announcing that Ron Roston, the Rochester American’s bench boss, would replace Ruff as the interim head coach. The acclimation period was short for Rolston though, as the Sabres were traveling to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Rolston had a precious few hours to make an impact on his team before their first game in this new era. And while fans hope he will be a force to change the direction of this team, change doesn’t come overnight. Unfortunately, Rolston lost both his NHL and his home coaching debuts.
Rolston, a professor in hockey smarts, will be taking these boys to school as they attempt to rectify the recent losing trend.
The Week in Review
The Winnipeg matchup on Tuesday is what many people point to as the tipping point in the season. Going down early, Winnipeg continued to dominate, holding a 2-0 lead for the majority of the game. Jason Pominville, from Cody Hodgson, would eventually get one for the Sabres, as the second period winded down. Unfortunately, the Sabres weren’t able to muster any more offense in the final 20 minutes and fell to the Jets, 2-1.
Two nights later, Rolston led his new team against the Maple Leafs. Getting out to a hot start with a goal from Tyler Ennis (from Drew Stafford), a full turn-around was not on the horizon quite yet. Dion Phaneuf and James Van Riemsdyk (2 goals) spoiled Rolston’s debut, giving the Leafs a 3-1 win.
And while the offense wasn’t there for the Blue and Gold, they did muster to show a little bit of grit. John Scott had his third fight of the season while Nathan Gerbe got into a little skirmish with Phaneuf. Those two (Gerbe and Phaneuf) may not have dropped the gloves, but you have to admire Gerbe’s fearlessness and tenacity.
The break between the Leafs game and their final game of the week, Saturday vs. the Islanders, gave Rolston his first opportunity to run practice. His main lesson: “don’t blink first."
The Sabres need to go toe to toe with opponents, not giving an inch. And for the first period against the Islanders, it appeared that lesson took hold.
But from the second period on out, it was all Islander’s. Mental mistakes and a lack of pressure plagued the Sabres as they gave up four over the last two frames. The only emotion erupted after Matt Martin was pushed into Ryan Miller. Miller did his best to “fight” Martin over the incident, but other than a big grappling match, not much else came of the incident.
Luckily a rebound was in store. Rolston finally got a 'W' thanks to Ryan Miller's strong performance in a 2-1 win over the high-flying Lightning. Two nights later, the Sabres downed the Panthers in the shootout, helping their
News and Notes
- After an injury to Alex Sulzer against the Islanders, Adam Pardy was recalled from Rochester.
This Week's Three Stars
First Star: Ryan Miller
Despite letting in nine goals, Miller made a plethora of stellar saves, keeping his team in games as best he could (3 games, 3 goals against average, .909 save percentage)
Second Star: Cody Hodgson
With the team-wide faceoff issues this season, Hodgson stepped up with a 59% faceoff percentage (3 games, one assist, one point)
Third Star: Christian Ehrhoff
Ehrhoff has been one of the Sabres most reliable defenders and continued to be so, leading the team in total time on ice, averaging 27.09 minutes per game (3 games)
The Week Ahead
Sat., March, 2 | vs. New Jersey Devils
Sun. March, 3 | at New York Rangers