It's a landmark date.
For the past five seasons--a period marked at the beginning by the loss of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere (another landmark date)--the team as languished in mediocrity. And thus, for the past five seasons, there was a debate amongst Sabres fans: were those results because of inadequate coaching or the players they had to work with?
With Ruff now gone, we should begin to a better idea. But don't take my word.
We'll let the words of interim coach Ron Rolston speak about the team.
Roslton had been on the job less than 48 hours and his comments were pretty direct.
In his words, this is what he has to work with:
“From what I saw [looking at video,] it was more there were just a lot of shortcuts … a lot of rest in shifts,” Rolston said prior to the Sabres’ 3-1 loss to the Leafs. “The things that you just have to eliminate if you’re going to be a good hockey team.”--February 21
“We’re the team that blinks first when you have a stare down,” Rolston said this afternoon inside the Northtown Center following his first full practice as coach. “The faceoff's in the (Toronto) zone and we make a mistake in execution, and the next thing you know it’s a 2-1 game going into the third,” Rolston said. “And that’s part of the reason things aren’t going the way we want them to go.” He added: “In this league, if you have even a short span of a couple of shifts where you don’t execute, that can be the difference in a game. A lot of times that’s been the case here.”--February 22
Bill Hoppe, who does exceptional work at buffalohockeybeat.com, used a term in that last link that we've been seeing a lot of over the past five-plus seasons--the Sabres wilted. And that's not a good thing.
Tonight Rolston will be coaching his first home game against the NY Islanders. The team is 3-5-1 at home this season, 115-73-28 during the last five-plus seasons.