Mike Grier is looking for more of the same.
With a similar core of players, and an attitude unchanged, the winger is hoping the Buffalo Sabres can deliver matching results in the 2010-11 season and take the campaign a few steps further.
“I don’t think any of us are happy with the way the season ended last year,” he said. “We had a pretty good regular season and accomplished some goals there, but I think if you ask everyone in the room – we feel that we should have won the Boston series.
“[We left with] a bitter taste going into the summer and you can see that a lot of the guys came into camp in better shape than they were last year… now we’re quicker and hungrier. Hopefully that will lead to us being a better team.”
The first-round playoff elimination is still fresh in the minds of many of the Sabres. Grier believes it was a learning experience and will only help the younger players down the road.
He’s seen it first-hand. He’s watched players like Jason Pominville
and Derek Roy
progress from tentative rookies to confident playmakers in just a few short years.
“When I was here before Pommer was kind of a quiet guy that would just go about his business,” Grier said. “But now he wants the puck all the time and wants to be the guy that’s out there when the team needs a goal. Royzie, he’s got another year under his belt being a go-to guy – and I think he relishes that responsibility. He’s one of the guys that’s come into camp in great shape and has looked good in camp.”
It’s that individual development that makes Grier hold on to the belief that the Sabres have the right players in the dressing room. Although he agrees that a few more veterans – with the likes of Rob Niedermayer on the roster - won’t hurt.
“It’s always good to have another veteran guy in the room who has been through it all and who has won,” Grier said. “I’m sure sometimes there might be times where the guys get sick of hearing me or [Craig Rivet] talking all the time. It might be good to have another voice in there sometimes.
As for himself…
“It’ll pretty much be the same. I’ll try to be good defensively, lead the penalty killing group, give some leadership in the room so the guys don’t get too high or too low and try to chip in offensively,” he said. “Basically I’ll just try to be a guy that can be relied on every night.”