We’re 17 games into the Ted Nolan experience. As a whole, the team is playing better than under Ron Rolston. Their record under Rolston this season is now set in stone at 4-15-1. So far with Ted Nolan manning the controls they are 6-9-2. Not exactly the record of a Stanley Cup contender, but getting better.
Ever since that fateful day, when the Sabres cleaned house, fired their long time GM and brought Pat Lafontaine in to run the hockey operations, I wondered how the team would be managed differently than under the prior regime of Regier and Rolston. More specifically, which players would gain favor (and ice time) with the new coach, and which players would see their ice time slashed, or even worse, be shipped off to Rochester or Juniors.
Let’s take a look at how each player’s TOI has changed since Ted Nolan took over behind the Buffalo bench. For comparative purposes, I’m only going to look at players that have played more than one game for both coaches. That eliminates Johan Larsson (1 game under Nolan) and Alex Sulzer (1 game under Rolston).
** Font size indicates the degree to which one coach used that player more than the other coach.
Players With More Ice Per Game Under Rolston (TOI difference):
Corey Tropp (3:49)
Marcus Foligno (3:24)
Kevin Porter (3:00)
Brian Flynn (2:52)
Mark Pysyk (2:51)
Cody McCormick (1:13)
Cody Hodgson (1:12)
Christian Ehrhoff (0:28)
Players With More Ice Per Game Under Nolan (TOI difference):
Ville Leino (5:23)
Drew Stafford (1:53)
Matt Moulson (1:46)
Jamie McBain (1:37)
Zemgus Girgensons (1:30)
John Scott (0:49)
Mikhail Grigorenko (0:46)
Henrik Tallinder (0:46)
Tyler Myers (0:46)
Steve Ott (0:42)
Rasmus Ristolainen (0:40)
Mike Weber (0:26)
Tyler Ennis (0:19)
A Chart Showing the Average TOI for each player under Rolston (Yellow) and Nolan (Blue):
Looking at the chart above and knowing the Ted Nolan of the past, is it possible that the tiger has changed his stripes? Don’t the names in the “used more by Rolston” list look like guys Ted Nolan would love to have? I would have thought that guys like Marcus Foligno, Corey Tropp, and Cody McCormick would have seen more ice under Nolan’s “hardest working team in hockey” mentality. Not so. Instead, the skill players like Leino, Stafford and Moulson have seen the biggest increase in ice time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I think Nolan looked at this roster as it is and realized that it wasn’t the same team he coached in the 90’s. He knows this team was struggling to score goals and so he’s put his goal scorers on the ice more often, while continuing to preach the need to compete.
The bottom line is that the Sabres look considerably more competitive under Ted Nolan than they ever did under Ron Rolston. Regardless of who’s playing more, and who’s playing less, they are starting to win hockey games. And that’s alright by me.
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LET’S GO BUFFALO!