April 3, 2006
Ruff practice for SabresBuffalo coach holds intense workout after blowout
By TERRY KOSHAN
The 7-0 thrashing of his team by the Maple Leafs made Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff furious and that anger didn't abate yesterday.
Ruff put his club through an intense 90-minute, mid-afternoon practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena.
"There have been areas of our game where we have tried to use video, and it has not reached some players," Ruff said. "By going through an hour-and-a-half practice, with the number of games we have played, I may have done some damage. I will take that risk. We need to get better in two or three key areas -- one is transition and one is just playing in our end. We have been flat-out sloppy.
"Right now it is not ham and egg. We got a whole lot of ham and no egg."
Ruff will make some lineup changes for the rematch tonight at the Air Canada Centre, and two are automatic. Daniel Briere, who has served a two-game suspension for high-sticking Brian Leetch of the Boston Bruins, and Jochen Hecht, who has not played since suffering a sprained knee March 16 against the Leafs, will suit up. Former Leaf Adam Mair has been cleared to play after being out since mid-January with a concussion.
Ruff refused to say whether Ryan Miller or his colleague, Martin Biron, would start in goal tonight.
The long high-tempo workout didn't faze co-captain Chris Drury. He pointed out that Saturday's bad effort may be one thing, but also that the Sabres have won just once in their past nine games. It's not a good state for a group that has the potential to make some hay in the playoffs.
"I think it was exactly what we needed," Drury said. "Hopefully, it translates (tonight). I don't know if payback is the right word, but it's nice when you get blown out like that to have a game right away against the same team."
Ruff's Sabres are 20 points ahead of the Leafs, who are an extreme long shot to make the post-season. Who knows what Ruff would have in store if his players repeat their previous effort?
"I will be a very disappointed man if things aren't different," Ruff said. "(The Leafs) looked like they had been playing pool for a couple of days because everything banked in. They got some breaks and I would anticipate (tonight) would be different. We should have a lot more fire in our belly."
LET'S ALL PRAY FOR BERTUZZI
More than two years after he attacked Steve Moore in a game, Todd Bertuzzi has not been able to shake the incident but thinks he has more than paid a price. In fact, he still is paying it, and that bothers him.
"I don't think the media attention and the focus on me has been justified," the Canucks forward said in an interview with the Vancouver Province. "I paid a penalty two years ago and it's a lingering thing in this city for whatever reason. I don't believe I deserve it anymore. I've got other issues I've got to deal with, obviously, but with everything combined there has been a lot of off-ice drama that this team doesn't need. I don't want it but I've got to deal with it.
"The toughest part is I'm human like everyone and at times the criticism takes its toll. It sucks. I don't like to hear I'm stuff, that I shouldn't be in this city, that I'm a bad player.
"Being told that for a full season absolutely sucks. I can't say I've had fun playing in this city this year."
Also eating at Bertuzzi have been the various lawsuits filed by Moore. The most recent one, a civil suit, came while Bertuzzi was in Italy playing for Canada at the Olympics.
"It just keeps on happening and happening," Bertuzzi said. "Just when I see the light at the end of the tunnel, something else appears. Those are the shoes I have to walk in every day."
Maybe if Bertuzzi hadn't attacked Moore in the first place none of this would be happening.
GIVE IT TO SID
Some of the flak Sidney Crosby has taken this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins has not taken away from the determination that helped define him as a junior player.
On a team that doesn't win much, the 18-year-old has a team-high five game-winning goals, and of the five games the Pens have won in overtime or in a shootout, Crosby has provided the deciding goal four times.
"Those are the situations you get excited for," Crosby said. "You try to thrive on those. It's part of being competitive. When the time comes in situations like that, someone has to make sure they step up, and I try to be someone who does that."
That Crosby wants the puck when the game is on the line speaks not only to his ability but also to his confidence. Not all players want the puck in high-pressure situations.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Hockey Canada will announce today the rest of its management and coaching staff for the men's world championship in Latvia next month ... The result of tomorrow night's game between the Flyers and Rangers at Madison Square Garden will help determine who wins the Atlantic Division ... The three clubs directly above the Leafs in the standings -- Florida, Atlanta and Tampa -- are in three games involving each other.