Lindy Ruff took a different approach Thursday morning.
Coming off a two-game losing skid and a difficult practice Wednesday, the Sabres’ Head Coach didn’t bark orders or demand sprints from the team as they hit the ice.
Instead, he tried to ease the tension.
“We tried to give a little bit of levity to the situation, lighten things up and get a good flow, good atmosphere on the ice,” Ruff said. “Yesterday’s practice was good, I thought today was a little bit more of a relaxed type.”
The 60-minute practice included a team scrimmage, focus on the power play and a popular three-on-three drill that is played cross-ice outside the neutral zone. The mood inevitably shifted from Tuesday’s 4-2 loss the Senators, a game in which Buffalo lost a two-goal lead after taking seven consecutive penalties.
“I could see the frustration the other night [in Ottawa],” Ruff said. “The frustration with the amount of penalties that were in the game, the lack that some of the guys didn’t get involved throughout the game, there was a lot of frustration.
“I was frustrated, so how could they not be? I think some of that spilled over and we put that behind us, tried to get everything out in the air and today was a real good day.”
“[Today] was a fun day for us,” Derek Roy
echoed. “And we have to respond with a big effort tomorrow night [against Philadelphia]. This is a team that has beaten us a few times… we have to be ready for them and come out strong.”
The Sabres are 0-3 this season when facing the Flyers Their most recent meeting came March 10, a 5-2 loss in Philadelphia.
“We’ve been knocking on the door playing that team. We’ve played some strong games against them,” Ruff said. “They’ve got as much speed up front as any team in the East with the likes of [Jeff] Carter, [Mike] Richards, [Scott] Hartnell and [Simon] Gagne…. They are going to get some opportunities. That team has got the ability to spring some guys free. It’s going to be our responsibility to try to sustain some offensive zone pressure so that we can play a good period of time in their end and not be sitting there having them come at us.”
The Sabres are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, five points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the final seed in the playoffs. Buffalo has 12 games remaining in the regular season, while Carolina has 10 games left.
“We realize the situation we’re in and we know that we’ve just got to go after it and win a game tomorrow night,” Ruff said.
Ruff reported that Adam Mair
skated on his own prior to the team’s practice. Mair suffered a mild strain in his knee Saturday night during a 4-3 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.
“His penalty killing has been good. I think trying to find the right spot for him has been tough. I liked his hustle, I liked his energy… he’s given us good two-way play… I think he had a little bit more of a role on the No. 1 power play [unit in Toronto]. Our power play had been going good and so we’ve got him on our No. 2 [unit] and hopefully he helps us in that area.”
~ Ruff on centerman Dominic Moore
Finally, an NHL.com video on goal celebrations, including a memorable one from Maxim Afinogenov: