BUFFALO – For months, the talk surrounding the Sabres has been the fast, exciting brand of hockey they want to showcase under new coach Phil Housley.
Sure enough, after a slow start in Thursday’s season opener, they started blitzing the Canadiens, pumping 45 shots on goal in their exciting 3-2 shootout loss.
Yes, it’s just one game. Still, it was opening night. Not even a period into Housley era, his impact was noticeable.
“We did a lot of good things,” Housley said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “We can take a lot away from that game, but it’s just one game. You look at the 45 shots, it’s a great step in the right direction, but we also gave up 40. We gave up too many chances against.
“That was the result of a couple things, our puck management through the neutral zone, just our coverage coming back into our zone. Those things we can sort out, those things we can control.”
Housley has been preaching a shot mentality, and while the Sabres clearly embraced one, he wants to create more traffic for the second and third opportunities. He also wants to get pucks deeper in the opponent’s zone.
“We’re getting it in the blue line, but we’re not getting it into the corner, and as a result, it feeds their transition, and then we’re coming back and we’re spending energy in the wrong area,” Housley said.
Veteran Sabres winger Matt Moulson, a healthy scratch Thursday, will play in Saturday’s road tilt against the New York Islanders, Housley said. Moulson practiced on the right wing beside center Jacob Josefson and Johan Larsson on the fourth line today.
Moulson will replace newcomer Jordan Nolan, who mostly skated as an extra.
“Matt is a true goal scorer,” Housley said. “He can bury the puck.”
Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella, who sat out all six preseason games to rest his hip, played more than 21 minutes Thursday and practiced Friday.
“We didn’t take any chances,” he said. “I was very comfortable jumping into a game and battling. I didn’t even think about my hip.”
Scandella underwent hip surgery in May.
Housley said defenseman Zach Bogosian (lower body) has skated the last two days and is still day-to-day. He likely won’t play Saturday.