This isn’t Lindy Ruff’s first 48-game rodeo. Ruff was an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers from 1993-97, a stretch that included the strike-shortened season in 1995. He’s hoping to use some of that experience to his advantage as the Buffalo Sabres prepare to launch a 48-game schedule of their own next week.
“I remember going into it, you just thought every game meant so much,” the Sabres head coach told an assembled group of media Wednesday afternoon at First Niagara Center. “I think what you have to really be careful of is not putting too much into the wins, and not putting too much into the losses; try to keep a pretty level ground.”
Ruff says he’s not intimidated by what the schedule could present to his team over the next few months, because they are traditionally used to a game-heavy workload in the second half of the season.
“If you look at the schedule, our schedule really doesn’t change that much. We always play a lot in January, February and March. It really is a normal schedule. You take the All-Star break out and put some games in there. This time of year, we’re playing this amount of games. There’s no real meaningful practices this time of year; you’ve got all that work usually done in October and November. The players will need a day of rest during the week. It’s going to be a lot about playing.”
Other tidbits of info to come out of today’s press conference included:
- Ruff anticipates playing Ryan Miller in the 36-38 game range. Ruff said he’s been getting good reports on Jhonas Enroth’s play in Sweden, and hopes he’s able to recapture his form from late in the 2010-11 season.
- Expect the line of Drew Stafford-Tyler Ennis-Marcus Foligno to remain intact following their late season success. Ruff also wants to keep Thomas Vanek paired on a line with Jason Pominville, and is considering playing truculent newcomer Steve Ott with Ville Leino.
- Ruff was happy with the play of Hodgson and Foligno in Rochester, and his first thought is to play Hodgson at center with Vanek because of the chemistry the two had at times last season. But he also hinted that he’d consider putting rookie Mikhail Grigorenko between Vanek and Pominville at some point during training camp next week.
- Ruff said the Sabres are set with Ennis and Hodgson as their top two centers. After that, the mix of centers will include Ott, Leino, Grigorenko and Matt Ellis.
- Ruff has only seen Grigorenko play on video, but said he is “very intrigued” by what he can bring to the team and how he’ll stack up against bigger and stronger opponents.
John Scott signed with the Sabres as unrestricted free agent on July 1, and today he skated with some of his new teammates for the first time during an informal workout the Northtown Center in Amherst.
The hulking, 6-foot-8, 270-pound winger, is known for his rugged style, as evidenced by the 236 career penalty minutes in 146 career games with Minnesota, Chicago and the New York Rangers. With just one goal and five points to his credit, the 30-year-old Scott will be the first to admit that he knows exactly what his role is when he steps on to the ice.
“I don’t think anyone will go out there and say they like to fight all the time, but I enjoy it,” said Scott, who had to duck through an arena doorway while on skates on his way to talk to reporters. “I enjoy protecting my teammates and creating a good atmosphere for us to play in. I want to go out there and win. I want to see those guys score goals and do highlight reel things. I think me being on the ice helps them do that.”