Buffalo forward Cody Hodgson glad to see Sabres toughen up
DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR Buffalo’s Cody Hodgson deposits the first goal of the game past Leafs netminder Ben Scrivens during the first period Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.
The Sabres’ Cody Hodgson scored a goal in Buffalo’s 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Monday, and it was a special moment for the Toronto native.
But after the win, the former Brampton Battalion star echoed sentiments from around the Buffalo dressing room centring on the difference in this Sabres team compared to last year’s.
Monday’s win ended Buffalo’s five-game drought in visits to Toronto, including an 0-3 mark last year that became a huge factor in the team’s failure to make the playoffs.
“The organization did a good job adding the players it did,” said Hodgson, referring to agitator Steve Ott and 6-foot-8 enforcer John Scott. “You need that type of physical personnel on a team, they were great additions that added to our overall toughness.”
Hodgson recalled the exit meetings with the coaching staff and team management last spring that followed an emotion-charged season that fell apart on several fronts.
One issue centred on the now-infamous (in Buffalo) altercation early last season between goalie Ryan Miller and Boston’s Milan Lucic that called into question the team’s toughness.
Buffalo had spent big money on free agents Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, and while those additions added star power to the lineup, the club never completely gelled under them. Meanwhile, the toughness question continued to hover over the team all season.
After two games and two wins this season, the Sabres appear to have addressed that problem. Scott and Ott have looked solid so far this year after joining the Sabres in the off-season as free agents.
“You know, I looked at the scoresheet after two periods and there’s Steve Ott with seven hits,” coach Lindy Ruff said after Monday’s win. “Those are the kind of things that add up and make us a tougher team to play against.”
Asked whether last year’s lineup might have lost Monday night against the Leafs, Ruff handled the question diplomatically.
“The answer he (a member of the media) is looking for is yes, but I don’t want to give it to him,” Ruff said to laughter during the post-game scrum.
Hodgson, meanwhile, has scored two goals already this season playing on the top line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
Vanek has six points in two games while Pominville was the other goal-scorer for Buffalo on Monday night.
“When you’re having three players like that play well, then it’s only going to help the team,” Ruff said.
“Cody was around the net on that first goal and he got rewarded for it. They’re three pretty good offensive players . . . and if they get five or six good scoring chances a game, then they should see some goals.”
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