BUFFALO - Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knows what to expect from the crowd Monday night at Buffalo's HSBC Arena - roof-lifting noise and wild emotion.
But when it comes to the officials, he doesn’t have a clue.
As the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal with the Philadelphia Flyers resumes, players for both teams are wondering what they will get from the refs in Game 3 after a penalty-filled affair on Saturday.
“We’re getting a good sense of what’s being called,” Ruff said, straight-faced. “We’re getting flagged for almost everything. We need to clean up some of that, but at the same time we need to play with emotion. We need to capture what the fans are going to bring.”
With all the penalties so far in the series, the power plays haven’t exactly been lighting it up: The Sabres are just two for nine through the first two games while the Flyers are one for 15.
With that in mind, Ruff is also convinced that the lift his team gets from the home crowd will be worth a couple of penalties if his players get too fired up.
“If the (emotion) means we have to make a kill now or then ... I’m not looking for a flatline game where I take all the emotion out of our players,” Ruff said. “This place is going to be rocking. I can’t wait for that part.”
The bigger question is what type of game will take place. The Sabres took the early edge in Game 1 with a 1-0 Ryan Miller shutout then fell 5-4 in Game 2 in a game defined by poor goaltending and the feistiness often showed between these two squads in their long playoff history.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette answered one question on Monday morning when he confirmed that Brian Boucher will get the start after replacing struggling Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period of Game 2.
“Honestly it doesn’t matter who is in net,” Flyers forward Daniel Briere said. “Whoever is hot, whoever is making the save, that’s all we care about.”
The No. 7 seed Sabres have a good chance to take control of the series on a home rink in which they have been extremely tough to play against down the stretch.
In the nine previous playoff meetings between these teams, only once have the Sabres come home tied at 1-1. That was in a 1998 first-round meeting that Buffalo went on to win in five games. In their eight previous playoff meetings, the Game 1 winner has gone on to capture the series each time.
Briere, meanwhile, joked that he should change his name to “boo” a sound the former expects to hear plenty of from the HSBC throng.
“I got a lot of it last year in Montreal so I’m used to it,” Briere said. “You kind of expect it at this time of year.”