Sabres hoping Boyes will be Boyes

Brad Boyes. (JOCELYN MALETTE/QMI Agency)

Brad Boyes. (JOCELYN MALETTE/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:19 PM ET

BUFFALO -- In the eyes of Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, Brad Boyes did plenty during the final months of the regular season to help get the Sabres to where they are now.

But the present is all about production, and Boyes -- the big-ticket item the Sabres added at the trade deadline in a swap with the St. Louis Blues -- was looking at zeros across the board as the Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers prepared for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

"We would like a little bit more right now, but (Boyes) is a big reason we made the post-season," Ruff said after the Sabres practised Tuesday at HSBC Arena. "The media scrutiny this time of year is tough, but if he plays like he did (in Game 3 Monday night), does the work he did, he will get results. He paid attention to detail, and he is the type of guy who can finish."

Boyes might have been more involved, but the 29-year-old Mississauga native and one-time Toronto Maple Leafs first-round pick knows that close is not good enough. With more than 20 friends and family in attendance, Boyes -- who was a salary cap hit of $4-million US during the season and will be again in 2011-12 -- had three shots on goal. That was one more than he had in the first two games of the series combined.

"Produce, that's what you have to do," Boyes said. "You get traded to do that, to help out, to chip in, and you have to do it. For me, it's about watching videos and getting on the ice and finding ways to do that. I had a lot more chances, but still, it is about producing."

Boyes had 17 goals and 38 assists with the Blues and Sabres.

As the prize acquisition, Boyes is getting most of the attention. But Jason Pominville has yet to score through three games, and Drew Stafford has just one goal.

In Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobrovsky -- whoever may be tending goal for the Flyers on any given day -- the Sabres aren't facing world-class netminding. Solid, sure, but beatable.

"We've had a lot of shots but not enough quality chances to make a difference," Pominville said. "We have to sharpen up on five-on-five and create more."

Part of the theme that was coming out of the Sabres dressing room Tuesday was the fact each of the first three games was decided by one goal, taking away the empty-netter by Kimmo Timonen on Monday night.

But for the Sabres to emerge as the winners of this series -- a formidable challenge, considering they have to win three out of four against a Flyers team that has beaten them in two out of three -- it will take more than putting the puck in the net. Since shutting out Philly in Game 1, goalie Ryan Miller has allowed eight goals in two games, not including Timonen's Game 3 empty-net clincher.

"Every detail and every small play will make a difference," Pominville said. "Every time you are out there, you have to lay it on the line because that shift might make a difference.

"We're in the same situation they were in after Game 1. We're at home and we know we have to be better."

Scoring goals has come without much difficulty at times in the past for Boyes, with a 43-goal output in 2007-08 representing his personal high-water mark.

But Boyes has gone 14 games in a row without scoring.

"You try to (stay even-keel)," said Boyes, who practised Tuesday with Paul Gaustad and Nathan Gerbe.

"It was just good in (Game 3) to get it simple again. Get it to the inside, get it to the net. A goal here or there, it changes momentum and could be the difference in the game."

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


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