They worked hard, got to the net and finished their plays. It added up to four goals and a win in regulation for the Buffalo Sabres.
Now, it’s time to do it again. And again. And again.
The Ted Nolan philosophy is about consistent hard work with an emphasis on consistency.
So when the Sabres took the ice for practice Wednesday after a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, it was more of the same – drills on getting in front of the net and extra time spent on the power play.
Goals aren’t going to score themselves and practice is all about developing the habits that will hopefully lead to more goals, including tonight when the Sabres host the Boston Bruins at 7 in First Niagara Center.
“I really strongly believe you just keep doing things on a consistent basis,” Nolan said. “It might not show up today, it might not show up tomorrow, but eventually it will. We’ve been working on it now for a little bit and last night to see the reward for it was good. We have to go back to work again and see what happens.”
“I think he stressed it a little more just in the past three days about just being net-front presence,” Marcus Foligno said about the last few practices with Nolan. “We didn’t have it enough. People who were shooting the pucks, too, just are making smarter shots. You want to put them in places where the guy in front can tip them or get a rebound. We did a lot of things in drills where you’re shooting but you follow it to net and you’ve got to get a rebound.”
Go to the net and good things will happen. Just ask Foligno, who broke out of a 12-game scoring slump Tuesday night by directing in a shot from Cody Hodgson.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Foligno said. “Hopefully it’s the start of something that can keep going here. Anytime you can contribute it’s huge. For myself and for the team, to get guys who haven’t been scoring to score last game was something that we needed.”
It wasn’t just Foligno who got on the score sheet. There were 12 different players who picked up points. On a night with four goals, no player had a multiple-point night.
“I looked at the event summary sheet after the game and I saw a bunch of “1s” throughout the lineup,” said Steve Ott, referring to the total number of points players recorded on the stat sheet. “And when you see a bunch of “1s” that means your team had a complete game. … It’s nice to see because it grabs confidence for all the guys.
“There’s a lot of guys who could use a point right now. I’m sure it feels good to spread the love throughout the lineup and I think that it really helps us for the character stuff in the dressing room, knowing that everybody chipped in to have a successful night.”
Ott ended his streak of 12 games without a goal. Also ending prolonged point droughts – Brian Flynn (first assist in 30 games) and Mike Weber (first assist in 29 games).
Sometimes NHLers Matt Ellis and Kevin Porter got in on the action on the fourth line. For Ellis, it was his first goal in his last 33 NHL games while Porter’s assist was his first for the Sabres in 15 games.
And while the balanced scoring was key for the confidence in the room, the ways in which the goals were scored pleased Nolan most.
“I liked that three of the goals we scored were right from pretty close in,” Nolan said. “You look at the National Hockey League, almost 88 percent of the goals that are scored are within that close area because goaltenders are so good now. The only way you’re going to score on them is off deflections or good screens or a heck of a shot. We want to make sure we have our chances by getting some bodies in front.”