Leafs' Wilson: "Finish strong"

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:31 PM ET

TORONTO - Ron Wilson has seen it all before.

And by ‘all,’ we mean tight races late in the regular season.

“I have been in a situation where you feel the same way about trying to finish first in the conference,” the Maple Leafs coach said, referring to his time with the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals.

“You have the exact same feeling, whether it is for first, third, fifth. You want to finish strong and go on a roll to get in the playoffs, or in our case, keep the pressure on. It’s a good learning experience for so many of our young guys who have played excellent in these pressure-packed games.”

With that in mind, Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff shares Wilson’s feelings.

Ruff was asked on Tuesday morning if he is looking forward to possibly eliminating the Leafs from playoff contention.

“I don’t know if we look at it that way,” Ruff said. “Every game has been so important for us to pop back up in the standings, and it has not been about eliminating one team or another team. We are trying to get our game where we need it so we can move up in the standings.”

Never mind shaking off the Leafs or the Carolina Hurricanes, who were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Entering play on Tuesday night, the Sabres had 85 points and were two behind both the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.

FIELD GOAL IS GOOD

Wilson doesn’t mind the three-point games, even if it appears to be harder to move up because clubs get a point if they lose in overtime or a shootout.

“I don’t mind those games at all,” Wilson said. “It gives the teams in the bottom third a chance to stay alive. If we’re going to go to a shootout, I think you deserve a point if you get to that situation.

“Over the years, (you hear the argument) that a regular win should be worth three points and then you go from there. I don’t have an answer for that, but I don’t have a problem with three-point games.”

The Leafs had 10 points from extra-time losses before Tuesday, and the Sabres had nine.

CUTTING WORDS

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller usually is not one to say much to reporters in the form of sound bites and following the morning skate on Tuesday, it was no different.

Miller offered up the following nuggets.

About playing his best hockey at a crucial time: “I’m just trying to be in shape like everybody in this room. I think a goaltender complements his team and the team complements a goaltender.”

About being more consistent now than he was earlier this season: “We have our ups and downs, but for the most part I have felt pretty much the same.”


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