BUFFALO – In the last week or so, Ted Nolan has noticed a shift among the struggling Sabres.
“The good guys are starting to rise a little bit, and the guys who are not putting that effort in game in, game out, they’re starting to stick out a bit, too,” the interim coach said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “So one thing you do with the team is you kind of hold them accountable to one another. So it’s starting to work itself out.
“I said before there’s patience. But we don’t get that confused with avoiding. We’re in the production business. We have to perform. If we’re not performing, maybe you’ll have to sit and watch for a while.”
Center Ville Leino will sit tonight against the Ottawa Senators. The Finn’s probably one of the Sabres’ most talented players, although he has zero goals in 18 games this season.
“I think everybody that plays in the National Hockey League has a certain level of talent,” said Nolan, who was asked if his team lacked effort or talent and wasn’t talking about Leino specifically. “But not everybody has a certain level of grit, and grit is that perseverance and when little obstacles present themselves you don’t stop pursuing your vision. …
“It’s that grit factor that separates. … I’m not too sure if (the struggles are) talent-based or the will to do it.”
Nolan said coaches can tell if players are giving an effort.
“It’s not too big out there, and you can’t fool too many people too long and people are going to see,” he said. “One thing we want to work on that we’ve been working on is that compete level. We want to compete on a daily basis. We want to work on daily basis, and if we get outskilled, we get outskilled. We can’t do anything about that. But you should never get outworked, though.”