BUFFALO, N.Y. - It may be too early to tell if the Buffalo Sabres have put their reputation of being a soft team behind them, but the indications from game one are that they're at very least on the right path.
Sabres fans are excited to see the message sent Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The team came out hitting with new-comer Steve Ott making his presence known in the physicality department and on the score sheet. Ott opened the scoring for Buffalo.
Marcus Foligno was also a force early in the game. The turning point, however, came late in the second period with the game tied 2-2. Flyers tough guy Scott Hartnell hit Sabre forward Tyler Ennis from behind, head-first into the boards. Ennis' line mate Drew Stafford wasted no time in letting Hartnell know this is a new Sabres team. Stafford dropped the gloves, and despite taking a few good shots, sent a message to his teammates, Hartnell and the league. Sabre Alumnus Andrew Peters says that "it doesn't really matter if you win or lose that fight, you're sending a message that somebody's going to step up."
NBC Analyst Pierre McGuire agrees with the assessment that the moves in the off-season to bring in players like Steve Ott and John Scott have changed the team dynamics. "The Buffalo Sabres have made themselves tougher, they made themselves tougher to pay against, their fan-base is energized. From a national perspective, while it may be comfortable to come in and go to chef's or gabriel's gate for a meal, it will not be comfortable to go to The First Niagara Center"