Last night's Buffalo Sabres loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was nothing that we all haven't seen about 20 times already this season; a 4-1 drubbing where the Sabres took too many penalties, never seemed to really possess the puck, and were outshot 46-30.
For new interim head coach Ted Nolan, however, it was the first time he had seen "his team" (without all the rookies they just sent down) play, and boy was he angry afterwards (audio from the Sabres Edge).
I talked to the coaches who were here for 25 games now, and it's not like it wasn't here before. We really found out tonight, and we have to put the lay of the land down, and we have to play a certain way. If we don't play that certain way, you just can't play. We've got one of the best goaltenders in the world playing for us and we gotta play a certain way in order to give us a chance to compete and a chance to win, and by doing stupid things like we have been, it's not gonna work. It's gonna be ugly games like this all night. So the gloves are officially off - we gotta do certain things in order to play - if you don't, you're not.
Nolan has long has the reputation for benching players who aren't doing the things he asks them to, and it sounds like tonight was his breaking point as far as "getting to know the guys". When asked about stopping the stream of penalties, the coach continued along the same lines:
The penalties are going to stop by the people are doing them aren't going to be in the lineup. It's as plain and simple as that. In order to change something, we've gotta change to whole thing. You can't hope anymore. We've seen it enough - it's been 25 games, I've seen in it in four games only. We have to change some thing, and the payers are either going to do it, or it's going to be a very, very long year, and they might not be here.
Woah - after only four games, the new coach is already threatening to both bench and possibly waive or trade players who aren't willing to commit to Nolan's hard-nosed, simple style of play. How's that search for a new GM going, Mr. LaFontaine?
We got a team that wants to play a certain way, we just can't do it. We have to know what we have and who we are, and you can't be something you're not. We have to grind it out, make sure we do the simple plays all the time. It's not a sometime thing, it has to be an all the time thing.
With the amount of talent they have on the roster (very little) this Sabres team is one that needs to outwork opponents to win games, and Nolan has realized that after a little more than a week in town. As for the fear that the coach will ruin the rebuilding process by playing all veteran and trying to win, he had this to say about the team's leaders.
Everybody's telling me that the young guys are the problem - the young guys ain't here anymore, so we don't have that excuse anymore....That's not the problem at all.
Sounds like more big changes could be coming to the team's personnel, healthy scratches, and line combinations in the coming days, and if most fans share Nolan's thoughts no this team's veterans, they'll likely be very welcome changes.
More from Die By The Blade:
- Sabres at Flyers Recap: Buffalo leads early, ultimately falls 4-1
- Sabres announce third jersey schedule, will debut on Sunday 11/25
- Sabres Links: Adam and McNabb to make season debuts, Sabres in talks with Benning, Rochester returns to Buffalo
- Sabres Roster Changes - Three to Rochester, One to London
- Grigorenko to be sent back to Quebec, according to reports