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Florida Game Goes Up In Smoke

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

December 13, 2006

By Brian Wheeler

Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff couldn't find the delete key on his laptop computer fast enough. Usually a stickler for details, the longest-tenured coach in the league chose to ignore the game film of his team's most disappointing loss of the season, a 3-1 thumping against the Florida Panthers on December 7, instead of reliving it.

"The good thing about the digital age is that I could drop that game in the trash can," said Ruff following practice on Wednesday. "It went up in a little poof of smoke.

"I didn't review it. I didn't watch it. I didn't want to. Everybody saw what they saw and that's the end of the story."

Ruff's team will have a chance for redemption as they square off with the Panthers Thursday night (MSG, WGR 550-AM, 7 p.m.). The game will be Buffalo's return home after a season-long, five-game road trip.

"We definitely remember what happened there in Florida," said co-captain Daniel Briere, who led the Sabres in their 3-2 victory in New Jersey on Tuesday with three assists. "It was our worst game and we really want to get back at them."

But don't let Ruff fool you. He's paying attention to Panthers game film, just not when it involves his team. Ruff reviewed Florida's contest against the Western Conference's powerhouse team, the Anaheim Ducks.

"I saw a team [Florida] that played very well again," said Ruff concerning Anaheim's narrow 5-4 victory at the BankAtlantic Center on Tuesday night. That night, Florida fought back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game in the third period before Chris Pronger scored the game winner with nine minutes remaining in regulation. "If you read the comments, Anaheim said they hung on for dear lives and that they probably should have been beat.

"There is a big message there. We're really going to have to be on our game."

Florida travels to HSBC Arena having lost each of their last three games by one goal to potential playoff teams, Anaheim, the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.

"[Florida] is a hard working team that has played better as of late," said Ruff. "We would really like to make amends for the game we played down there."

Teppo Numminen and Chris Drury could give Buffalo an added lift on Thursday night. Numminen could possibly dress against the Panthers after a broken toe sidelined him for the last two games. The veteran defenseman participated in a full practice on Wednesday morning.

"It's a pain threshold issue and it looks like he got through today," said Ruff. "There's a chance he could play tomorrow."

Drury sat out Tuesday's game after coming down with the flu. Ruff said the Sabres other co-captain is feeling much better and that he anticipates that Drury will be ready for game action on Thursday.

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