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Sabres coach Nolan sees growth despite mounting losses

Dec 14, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, left, takes his place behind the bench before an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert) AP

Firing bench boss Ron Rolston didn’t pay immediate dividends for the Buffalo Sabres. After all, the team is just 3-8-1 under Ted Nolan.

That’s not surprising. Buffalo was never expected to be anywhere near good this season, so it would have been truly remarkable had Nolan found a way to nearly instantly turn Buffalo into a contender.

So the Sabres remain a project, but at least Nolan is seeing signs that they are making progress.

“Before you can compete you have to trust. You have to be reliable and you have to be accountable,” Nolan told the Buffalo News. “Right now and in the last couple games, I really felt the guys are competing hard and they’re trusting one another. They’re feeling good about themselves. … Overall the trust is coming and the compete level is coming and everything is going in the right direction.”

He’s not alone in that belief. Although Buffalo suffered a 2-1 loss on Thursday to Ottawa, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller felt it “was one of our better efforts.”

The Sabres already 19 points out of a playoff spot, so even with more than half the season left, the practical question is if they can give their fanbase reasons to be hopeful for the 2014-15 campaign.

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