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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

BOSTON – With their playoff hopes extinguished last night by the Philadelphia Flyers, it was still business as usual for the Buffalo Sabres today as they practiced at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. The Sabres will play the final game of their season on Saturday at 4 p.m. against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Today’s business included a hard, 60-minute skate that was bookended by a pair of lengthy speeches from head coach Lindy Ruff. In each case, the attention of every player and coach on the ice was focused directly on Ruff, who spoke quietly to his troops while periodically doing nothing more than tapping his stick on the ice. Afterwards, Ruff said his message in each case was similar.

“It was the same, but different. The same message, about don’t ever like losing. Don’t ever like making the mistakes you made. The chance to make a difference, and you didn’t make the difference. You get an opportunity to get paid to score goals, and prevent them if you’re a defender. We had two-on-ones that we didn’t score. We had a two-on-one where we went offside. That’s unacceptable. It’s game on time; it’s difference time. We’ve talked about this for a good period of time. We’ve had guys push through and make the difference. In the biggest game, we weren’t able to push through.”


Ruff added: “Today’s not a good day. You can’t like losing. You can’t like getting close and losing. You can’t like leading after two periods and losing a game. You can’t like losing it the way we did. I don’t care about the missed opportunities. I mean, I do care about them. But I want those turned into situations that will put the other team away. The play that lost us the game is the play that can’t be made. We can’t like that, and we can’t accept it.”

For Sabres captain Jason Pominville, it was a frustrating end to a season that started with so much promise, going all the way back to the acquisitions of Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino last summer.

“It’s frustrating. It sucks. Any word that you can find, it’s out there,” said a dejected-looking Pominville. “I think the standards have to be high around here. We have to find a way to be better. It’s unacceptable to be out in the position we’re in right now. It’s disappointing that we came up short. I think the positives are, at least we gave ourselves a chance. Nobody would’ve thought a couple of months ago we’d put ourselves in this position. Guys battled hard, and we just ran out of time.”


The sentiments were much of the same from Thomas Vanek.

“It’s a tough day. It’s what you work for all summer. From last year on the day you lose out, you wait until the next year to get a chance. It’s tough.”


Vanek also denied any of the speculation that he was battling any serious injuries over the last two months, as his goal production tailed off dramatically from 18 in his first 38 games, to just eight over his last 39.

“Just little things,” Vanek explained. “Nothing major to sit out with. I did sit out a little bit (three games from Feb 1-8) with the chest injury. It was just little things, nothing to excuse myself of.”

The Sabres announced after practice that forwards Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp were being returned to Rochester today. They will both play tomorrow in Hamilton, as the Amerks make their own late-season push for a playoff spot. Rochester is currently 11th in the AHL’s Western Conference, two points back of eighth-place Houston with five games left to play. Rochester’s remaining games are: at Hamilton (Sat.); at Adirondack (Sun.); vs. Grand Rapids (Tues.), vs. Syracuse (Fri., Apr. 13); at Lake Erie (Sat., Apr. 14)

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