Lindy Ruff sent a message to the Buffalo Sabres today following a 7-4 loss in Boston: correct the mistakes or take a seat on the bench.
Upset over the lack of focus the team has displayed, dropping its third consecutive contest Wednesday night against the Bruins, Ruff said if players continue to be undisciplined they may miss some shifts.
“It’s going to have to cost guys dearly with ice time,” Ruff said. “If you want to get focus, you want to get desperate, maybe some players will have to miss games… Really, that’s the only choice you have as a coach.”
Henrik Tallinder was the first to experience it. The blueliner was limited to just 5:49 minutes of ice time after giving away the puck in front the Sabres’ net early in the first period. Boston’s Blake Wheeler intercepted the pass and the Bruins capitalized on the play to tie the game at 1-1.
“The play on the first goal, that’s just lack of focus. That’s careless... It was a wee little detail, but the wee little details end up leading up to big things in our game,” Ruff said. “All the little detail plays that turned into goals for us that we worked hard, that our defense got up and made some good plays, they are wiped out by the poor plays we made defensively.”
One of Ruff’s concerns keeping the puck out of the middle of the ice, an issue he discussed with the team prior to the match-up against Boston. The coach said he stressed getting the puck in deep and working it on the boards to pressure the Bruins.
“Then all of a sudden we make a pass that’s in the middle of the ice, gets picked off, they go down and score. That’s lack of focus,” Craig Rivet said. “That’s something that we can be better at, that we can clean up that is going to give us a better chance to win.”
“In this League, mistakes are insinuated by the circumstances,” Ryan Miller
said. “If it happens in a dangerous spot, like in the middle of the ice, it’s even worse than if you have a little slip up around the corner or a dead zone. That’s the way it goes. We’re going to have to back each other up and stick together.”
What the Sabres are taking comfort in is that the losses have not been due to a lack of effort and believe the mistakes can be easily fixed.
“The guys work, but right now we’re not working smart,” Rivet said. “We’re giving up scoring opportunities that we need to clean up. They’re not big things; they’re little things that are creating breakdowns that translate into goals.
“The effort is there,” Miller said. “It’s small mistakes and it’s not just one guy… we’ve got to be better with our focus.
“You just have to try and stop the bleeding as quick as you can, learn as quick as you can and get back at it."