Tucked in the Sabres' dressing room is a big standings board the players walk by numerous times a day. Coach Lindy Ruff figures the team can see it, so he doesn't talk about what place Buffalo holds.
He does, however, talk about where he wants the Sabres to end up.
"I haven’t talked about the standings once," Ruff said today while preparing for the visiting Minnesota Wild. "I’ve talked about where we want to go. I’ve talked about us wanting to be a championship team. If we do all of the things right inside a game and work hard, do all the things that are right for our system, we’ll get the results we need."
The Sabres, winners of three straight, control their destiny in the search for the Northeast Division title. They hold a two-point edge over Ottawa with three fewer games played. The Senators are just 1-3-1 in the five games since the Olympic break.
The Sabres will host the Wild in HSBC Arena with Patrick Lalime in net, center Paul Gaustad still out with an upper-body injury and defenseman Chris Butler on the sidelines as a healthy scratch.
"I think it’s extremely tough on him," Ruff said of Butler. "The team is winning, and right now we’re not going to change anything. It’s a hard lesson. You don’t want to get caught on the outside. Temporarily, he’s caught on the outside, but he’s going to have to work extremely hard to be ready, and he knows when steps in he’s going to have to play well."