After a dismal 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday night, Head Coach Lindy Ruff wanted to do one thing:
“Let’s just wipe the slate and move forward,” he said.
The team participated in a long meeting on Tuesday morning before practice with the message that the first quarter of the season, including a 3-7-0 stretch in last 10 games, is forgotten.
“We discussed where we want to go from here. We’ve put this part of the season behind us and we’re starting fresh,” Ruff said. “We told them everybody’s stats are the same… We’re getting everybody back on the same page.”
“It was a team effort today, a team talk,” Craig Rivet said, who held a meeting in addition to the coaches’ discussion. “Lindy laid some stuff out on the line that obviously we need to be accountable… The way that you prepare for a game, the way that you play, that was pretty much the message today. We need to be more accountable.”
Rivet was back on the ice after missing last night’s game against the Predators due to an upper body injury.
The captain said he took a hit midway through the first period of Saturday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens and although he was hurt, played the remainder of the game.
Ruff said while he was surprised Rivet skated, the defenseman could play as early as Thursday in time for the first of a three-game road trip.
“When adrenaline and emotions are high it’s easier to play,” Rivet said of finishing Saturday’s game with an injury. “I just don’t think it would have been a smart idea for me to play last night just in case I hurt it and made it that much worse. I decided to take that day, see if it could settle down. Today feels better than yesterday and we’ll keep on monitoring it.”
While both pain and adversity are nothing new to Rivet, he would like to rid himself of both.
“I think he wanted to make sure he went out and practiced,” Ruff said. “He’s been around long enough, he’s been through the wars, he’s been through the meetings… I think he took it upon himself to be a part of them.”
The team practiced for about an hour following the meetings, focusing on shooting drills, puck handling and passing.
“Part of the day was execution and part of the day was finishing,” Ruff said. “We didn’t really want to go as long as we did, but we did because we wanted every drill to be done right. I thought by the end we started to look pretty good.”
“Guys came in today obviously with a frustrated look on their face,” Rivet added. “But they seemed to pick that frown up and put a smile on their face and just work hard. I thought the practice today was a good starting point and we’ll go from there.
“We’re excited to have a clean slate, start new and we’ll be looking forward to next game.”
Several players were missing from practice Tuesday afternoon.Derek Roy
sat out with back spasms while Toni Lydman was absent because of a blocked shot he took in last night’s game against the Predators.
Ruff said he expects both players to practice tomorrow.
Andrew Peters was also missing due to an abdominal strain which Ruff said was “a little more severe” than the other injuries.
“But we will know more tomorrow,” Ruff said.
“The road is sometimes a better place. You don’t have to worry about trying to entertain and we can do what teams have done to us in our building. It might be an easier place. The players are all together. It’s a time of year where it gets pretty busy at home. We’ve just gone through Thanksgiving and family and friends and I think sometimes your focus is better on the road when you get away from home.”
~Lindy Ruff on the Sabres upcoming three-game road trip beginning in Florida