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SHOULDERING THE LOAD

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

A shoulder injury hampered his play for pretty much all of the 2013-14 season, but after a summer of rehab, Marcus Foligno is back and he hopes he’s better than ever.

He had shoulder surgery in the offseason and he’s eager to test it out again in game action, whenever he gets his first game in.

“I’d like to say I’m stronger than I was before, but you can only really know that until you get into a game situation,” he said. “It feels good to get some bumps out there and starting working with the guys and get physical again.”

Foligno’s game has been the strongest when he’s around the net and also taking the body. The injury last season prevented him from consistently doing many of the things that make him successful.

WATCH: MARCUS FOLIGNO INTERVIEW

“If I’m not hitting or finishing checks, it’s noticeable out there. It’s noticeable to the coaching staff and everyone,” he said. “To be healthy again, it’s great and I’m looking forward to going out there and being physical again.”

The new assistant coaching staff consisting of Bryan Trottier, Danny Flynn, Tom Coolen and Arturs Irbe has received high praise from the players – including Foligno – in the early stages of training camp. Foligno said that the positive feedback they’ve been getting from the coaches has been very helpful.

In addition to tips and tricks when it comes to improving play on the ice, Trottier also has the players’ ears when it comes to stories and anecdotes he’s wont to share.

“You listen to a guy that has seven Stanley Cup rings. If you don’t, you’re stupid,” Foligno said. “He’s got stories upon stories. When you play for that long, you’ve got good stories.”


A HUMAN TOUCH
Sabres coach Ted Nolan said that Trottier will work a lot with Marcus this season and that in addition to building his game, they’ll look to limit the lapses in focus that can affect every young player. A lot of that, according to Nolan, can come from connecting with a player on a personal level.

“In modern day hockey, there’s a lot of emphasis put on analytics and how much possession time. ou can never overestimate the human aspect of the game,” he said. “Marcus is a good citizen. He’s a good man. He pays attention.”

The Sabres front office features a few employees dedicated to tracking statistics and trends, but during a game or in the moment, Nolan trusts his gut more than anything.

“The information I use is with my eyes and my soul and my heart,” he said. “If I see someone who’s competing and I know he’s competing, that’s good enough for me. I don’t need a machine telling me how hard he worked. I can see it for myself.

“…My No. 1 analytic is, you score one more goal than the opposition, you win.”

When asked about possession time and Corsi numbers, Nolan said in most cases, the best teams in the League often rank high in those statistical categories because of the talent on the roster. He also made a point later on to mention that a good mix of skills – and not just raw talent – is necessary in building a winning team and culture.

“Building a team and assembling talent, I always believe, are two separate things. Because talent doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a better team,” he said. “We need to make sure that we have the best group of guys to make the city of Buffalo proud to watch on a nightly basis.”


WHO'S PLAYING TUESDAY?
The lineup for Buffalo’s home game Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes will have a more veteran presence than the squad Buffalo dressed for their first preseason game on Sunday, according to Nolan. Sam Reinhart will play again and it’s looking like Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.

WATCH: ENROTH ON HIS NEW MASK

Reinhart has been skating on a line with Foligno and Chris Stewart, but that might not necessarily be the line that takes the ice on Tuesday.

“With Sam, it’s another young kid coming in. He’s a great person off the ice and he’s got the right attitude,” Foligno said. “He’s eager to learn and he’s got a great skill set. There’s a reason he was a first-round pick.”


AND NOW, TRAFFIC
In anticipation of the first home preseason games of the 2014-15 season, the Buffalo Sabres are reminding fans about the limited traffic patterns surrounding First Niagara Center due to the construction of HARBORCENTER.

The following street restrictions are in effect until further notice:
•    Washington Street (between Scott and Perry streets) is closed to traffic in both directions
•    Scott Street (between Washington and Main streets) is closed to traffic in both directions
•    Main Street (between Scott and Perry streets) is closed to traffic in both directions
•    South Park Avenue is open eastbound only (between Main and Illinois streets)

All normal event parking – in both the arena ramp and the surrounding surface lots – will remain open.

Fans that plan on visiting First Niagara Center while the limited traffic routes are in effect should plan on using Michigan Avenue instead of Washington Street. It is strongly suggested that fans plan ahead and leave extra time for traveling to and from the arena.

During First Niagara Center events, the Buffalo Police Department Traffic Division will control all affected intersections and will direct traffic accordingly.

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