ANAHEIM – While the California sun was beaming outside, the Buffalo Sabres were hard at work within the cold confines of the Anaheim Ducks practice facility Tuesday.
The practice at Anaheim ICE marked one of the most energetic and up-tempo practices for the team so far this season. After a few disappointing performances on the ice, Ted Nolan challenged everyone from the coaches to the players to find solutions to their problems. He said the answers they came up with started with each individual working to the best of his ability.
“Each and every one of us, we’ve got to be better. We had a nice sit-down discussion about it and I liked to see the way the guys really took their words into action today,” Nolan said. “Hopefully it’s the start of turning this thing around.”
Buffalo is set to take on the Ducks on Wednesday at Honda Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. EST with the Tops Gamenight pregame show starting at 10 p.m. on MSG and Bell-TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Sabres alternate captain Matt Moulson noticed a difference in the team’s attitude as well in practice and noted that it was a bit more physical than usual.
“It was a good practice. We know we have to be better and bring that compete level more consistently,” Moulson said. “We demanded that out of each other.”
STICKING WITH IT
Buffalo practiced with the same line combinations and defensive pairings as they did in practice on Monday.
26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 80 Chris Stewart
17 Torrey Mitchell – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 21 Drew Stafford
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 23 Sam Reinhart – 8 Cody McCormick
36 Patrick Kaleta (red, non-contact jersey)
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
61 Andre Benoit – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
51 Nikita Zadorov – 24 Tyson Strachan
1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth
Although the team has been shut out in back-to-back games, Nolan has decided to let these combinations continue to work through it. Buffalo has never been shut out in three-straight games.
“If you look at why we didn’t score, it’s not so much that the line combinations, I don’t think. It’s the effort in order to score,” he said. “If so-and-so isn’t going to the net, he’s not going to score. If so-and-so’s not shooting the puck, it doesn’t matter who he plays with or how often he plays, we’re not going to do it.
“Over in Latvia, they always said, ‘Never look for a black cat in a dark room.’ It’s the same thing here. You ain’t gonna score if you don’t shoot. So we have to shoot and create some traffic. It doesn’t matter who you play with.”
Rookie Sam Reinhart may not dress for Wednesday’s game as Nolan said he’ll wait to make a decision. The 2014 second-overall pick was a healthy scratch Saturday night.
LOOKING FOR A BREAK THROUGH
The team is also looking for its first power-play goal of the season. While the units have had some quality chances, they haven’t been able to convert on any of their 22 opportunities thus far.
“It’s the same thing 5-on-5, when the puck’s not going in, the less you think the better. Just continue to work hard,” Moulson said. “If you’re working hard on the PP, usually you’re getting chances. Put pucks there and if you’re working to get guys there, you’re going to get goals.”
NO STARTER NAMED YET
Nolan would not divulge his starting goaltender for Wednesday, but said that both Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth will see playing time on the West Coast trip.
Enroth has started five of the team’s six games so far and has faced the most shots against in the League (183). Neuvirth made 39 saves in his lone start this year, a loss at home to the Ducks.
Neuvirth has looked especially dialed in during practice the past few days and hopes that will carry over into his next start.
“I’m just going day-by-day right now and working hard in practice,” he said. “Whenever I get a chance, I want to be ready and help my team get a win.”