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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

With the Sabres set to begin their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, Buffalo Head Coach Lindy Ruff finds himself in a comfortable position.  The longest-tenured coach in the National Hockey League begins a playoff series on the road for the 11th time in his career. In eight of those first 10 series, Ruff’s Sabres have won Game 1. 

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Lindy Ruff Pregame
This will also be the fifth time that Ruff will face the Flyers in the postseason, so he is well aware of how passionate both teams’ fan bases are, and he is excited to renew the rivalry.

“The fans here are as great as our fans. That’s what’s great about this series, what’s great about this time of year.  It’s fun.  There’s going to be something to talk about when this series ends.  You’ve got passionate fans on their end, you’ve got passionate fans on our end.  It should be one helluva series,” Ruff said this morning.

Ruff did not provide any news regarding his lineup during his media availability, but there was an update on the Flyers’ side.  Following Philadelphia’s morning skate, the team posted on its official Website the following statement regarding All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger:

“Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Chris Pronger will be unavailable for tonight's Game 1 vs. Buffalo. He continues to be day-to-day with his hand injury.”

Flyers rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in net tonight, and Ruff talked about the simple approach his team will take in facing the 22-year-old. 

“We’re just going to try to shoot where he’s not,” Ruff said.  “You need traffic, you need to take advantage of good situations, but we don’t approach it any differently.  We know that he’s had some real good stretches this year, that he’s a good goaltender, and we’ve got to make sure that when we have opportunities that are Grade A opportunities, that we put them away.”

The Flyers enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but Head Coach Peter Laviolette said that the teams’ seeds are irrelevant heading into the series.

“I don’t think that seeds have anything to do with it.  It’s going to come down to a Buffalo Sabres team and a Philadelphia Flyers team, and they’ll go at it for a series here, and the one that has some good energy, some good execution, some bounces, some good goaltending, good specialty teams, that’s probably the one that will move on,” Laviolette said.

While Philadelphia is the higher seed, Buffalo was the hotter team down the stretch, going 16-4-4 in its final 24 games and 8-1-1 in its last 10.  According to Ruff, the Sabres will need to step it up even more.

“You would hope that the way you played, you’d be able to continue playing that way,” Ruff said.  “I already told the team, we have to find another gear now.  The playoffs are a bigger ball game.  You know that they’re going to step it up; we need to step it up, too.”

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