BUFFALO – Having won eight of the last 11 contests, 29 games into what was once a trying season, the Sabres have quickly become one of the NHL’s hottest teams.
Forget about “the tank” and finishing last for a moment. The rebuilding club has crept to within seven points of last playoff spot.
Pride, Sabres coach Ted Nolan said, has helped fuel the turnaround.
“There’s a room full of guys that have a lot of pride,” Nolan said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “Telling someone they’re not very good or they expect you to be at that position, I’ve been in that position my whole life growing up where I grew up. It’s not a good feeling. The one thing people fight for is respect. I think that’s the one thing this team has really been battling to gain is respect.
“We don’t think we’re the best team in the world, but at least we deserve respect the rest of this league gets. We’re going out to compete and battle and try to win. I mean, even if you do all those things right all the time, it doesn’t guarantee you wins.”
He added: “Guys took it personally. It filtered into the game now where we’re starting to play the game we’re capable of playing.”