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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

How close has this series been between the Sabres and Flyers?

Through the first six games, the teams have been tied or separated by one goal 87.5 percent of the playing time (324:03 of 370:14).

“That’s what you expect out of a playoff series,” Lindy Ruff said following the morning skate at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia as the teams prepared to face off in Game 7 tonight.  “A lot of emotion back and forth, there’s been ebbs and flows with momentum in games. Teams have grabbed a hold of momentum, which I think both teams can do.  You can control play for good periods of time and the other team can recover.  It’s had everything.  It’s had the physical side to it, it’s been a tough mental game on both teams.  To this point, it’s been everything you’d want a playoff series to be.”

Derek Roy
Ruff acknowledged that Derek Roy will be back in the lineup tonight after a four-month absence due to injury.  Roy was leading the Sabres in scoring with 35 points in 35 games at the time of his injury.

“We need him to do a lot. I look at it that we need him to step in and be a big player,” Ruff said.  “It’s tough.  He hasn’t been in a game in four months, but we’re ready to give it a go.  Regular season and playoffs, there’s another notch there where it’s got to be quicker and faster, and the intensity is a lot greater, so things are going to have to happen quicker.  It might take him a few shifts, but I think he’s up to the task.” 

After the morning skate, Ruff was asked about the availability of forwards Mike Grier and Patrick Kaleta for Game 7, and Ruff responded that “one of them is out for the rest of the series” but did not specify which player he was referring to.  He also said defenseman Jordan Leopold would be a “game-time” decision. 

When asked if Jochen Hecht would be available tonight, Ruff said: “We’ll see on that.”

Aside from injury news, much of the talk leading into tonight’s Game 7 was on the opportunity to advance in the postseason and how to approach the decisive game.

“You want to stay loose, you want to treat this as every other game we have,” said Drew Stafford.  “We’ve been playing with this kind of attitude for a long time now and it’s brought us some success.  Some guys in here, we haven’t had the experience of a Game 7, but at the same time this has been a hard-fought series. Every game has been real close, and it comes down to their best versus our best.”

You try to get your players to embrace the fact that these Game 7’s don’t come along very often. It’s been one heck of a series and we need some guys to step through and be the hero for us.” - Lindy Ruff on Game 7
Brad Boyes added, “I don’t know how many of these you’re going to get to play in, so we’ve got to enjoy it and have fun with it.”

Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette, who will be coaching his fifth career Game 7, shared his thoughts on what the seventh game of a playoff series means.

“Game 7’s are an opportunity to live a little bit.  You’re going to feel something today.  There’s going to be highs and there’s going to be lows, but you’re living life.  They’re a lot of fun, great challenges and great opportunities,” Laviolette said.

He added that his team seemed relaxed, but said that “it’s how we play tonight that matters most.”

Ruff said it will be important for his team to not expend too much energy and emotion in the warm-up but wants the players to embrace the opportunity.

“We’ve got a chance to do something real special.  We need a smile on somebody’s face like Tyler Ennis (after Game 5) after the game. That’s all we need.  You try to get your players to embrace the fact that these Game 7’s don’t come along very often. It’s been one heck of a series and we need some guys to step through and be the hero for us.”

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