|Toni Lydman (Getty Images) |
Head Coach Lindy Ruff conjured his best Yogi Berra impression on Thursday afternoon, saying; ‘the one thing that is consistent in this league is that players are inconsistent.’
Such is the case for the trio of Steve Montador, Toni Lydman and Clarke MacArthur.
All three players took a seat in the press box on Wednesday night for their inconsistent play as the Buffalo Sabres captured a 2-1 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils – the first time the team has claimed two points since a 7-2 victory Jan. 18 in Phoenix.
Ruff cited the team’s last two contests in a recent seven-game road trip as reason enough to pull them from the lineup. The trio combined for a minus-13 rating in those two games alone.
“I think the message was loud and clear,” Ruff said. “We need better play.”
Montador and Lydman had served as a solid defensive pairing until they began to struggle in the West Coast run, with Ruff opting to keep a healthy Andrej Sekera
out in favor of the tandem throughout January. Wednesday night’s game marked the first time this season that either blueliner has been benched.
“It’s tough. It’s never an easy decision… We thought about taking one out, finally I made a decision to take them both out,” Ruff said. “We could have won both games, San Jose and Vancouver, with that pair playing better.”
MacArthur fell under the same category for Ruff.
“In the Vancouver game, I looked at the two plays he made that cost us two goals, along with Toni and Steve,” he said. “He knows that, and that for me was just focus, being ready in those situations to pick up your assignment… five-on-five we have to be a better team and five-on-five I have to be more demanding of positioning and playing. He understands that and he wasn’t happy with his play.”
Ruff would not confirm whether Montador or Lydman would be back in the lineup Friday night to take on the Boston Bruins at HSBC Arena. He did hint that MacArthur may return, although his answer was far from definite. What Ruff was clear about, is that he expects more from his team in the coming weeks:
“That message is there and I met with other players today after practice,” he said. “We can’t be happy with where we’re at. We can’t be happy to lose four and then win one. We know that every game we have to be better. I think some guys’ play gradually improved on the trip, some guys’ play slipped. I think it’s the coach’s job to get them back to where we need to be.”