Ruff expects battle

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff expects a much more game effort from the Maple Leafs tonight than the weak one they turned in on Feb. 4 in Buffalo.

In that game, the Sabres jumped on the Leafs for a 5-0 win in one of the Leafs' worst losses of the season.

"They were flat, but they won't be flat (tonight)," Ruff said yesterday. "We're going to have to be ready for them and be a lot better. You saw a (Leafs) team that turned it up and flat out smoked Pittsburgh."

Ruff still was smarting from the Sabres' 3-0 home loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in a crucial game with respect to the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"I've always told them don't be a happy guy with losing and don't be happy when you lose at home," Ruff said. "Especially in that fashion."

TRADE TALK

With tight playoff races, Leafs coach Ron Wilson expects there will be plenty of teams looking to upgrade around the trade deadline. And if the Leafs, as expected, are out of the race, the shopping might be interesting.

"A lot of the teams, if you look at the Western Conference in particular, just about everybody's still in it," Wilson said. "I'll be an interested spectator (at the trade deadline.)

"If we're a player around the deadline, (general manager Brian Burke) is really going to have a lot of teams he's going to have a possibility of talking with."

Wilson doesn't feel that the increasing trade talk should be a major distraction to his team.

"I'm sure there's going to be people waiting for the other shoe to drop, but we're going to go about our business like it's normal and try to get the most out of everybody."

FEAR FACTOR

Wilson believes the Leafs tend to get up for teams loaded with skilled players to avoid being humiliated, hence a 3-1 season series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins this season.

"We've been ready for their skill people," Wilson said. "It seems that when we play those types of teams, a lot of our guys are fearful of being embarrassed and are a lot more focused. We're a lot more ready when we're playing the Bostons and the Pittsburghs and the teams that have all this talent on paper."

LOOSE LEAFS

The return of defenceman Mike Van Ryn won't happen as soon as expected. Wilson figures the hard-luck defencemen will be out for at least another week with his lower body injury ... Several Leafs players participated in yesterday's Leafs Skate for Easter Seals Kids at the Air Canada Centre.


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