The Sabres have held a lot of optional practices this season, and assistant coach James Patrick has run nearly every one of them, if not all. So when Lindy Ruff missed today's full practice because of broken ribs, Patrick felt right at home taking over for the head coach.
"Obviously, he wasn’t on the ice and we missed having him here, but it wasn’t too different outside of that," said Patrick, in his sixth season as Ruff's assistant.
General Manager Darcy Regier said Ruff is day-to-day and may be back for Wednesday's game against Boston. Patrick fully expects it. Ruff hasn't missed a game since March 20, 2006, a 5-0 loss in Atlanta while he was attending to a medical matter regarding his daughter, Madeleine.
"I’m hoping and expecting to see him here tomorrow," Patrick said. "I don’t know if it’ll be in the morning or later on.
"We’re going to prepare the team like normal. It’s going to be the same routine. We’re going to meet with Lindy today and go over preparation for tomorrow. We’re going to do everything we can to get ready to win a game tomorrow. That’s our focus. If he isn’t behind the bench, we’re confident we can handle it."
The Sabres will host the Bruins without Thomas Vanek. The team's leading scorer, out with an upper-body injury, skated on his own but won't be back until the weekend, at the earliest.
"It’s a huge game. That’s our focus," Patrick said. "It’s a game that we’ve got to get ready to win. We’ve got to do all we can to prepare. They’ve been probably the toughest or the best team in the East, them and the Rangers all year.
"We feel we competed with the Rangers and we had chances to win that game. We beat New Jersey in a shootout a week ago, probably the other team that’s been as hot as any team over the last month, and we know Boston is going to be a big challenge, but we feel we can beat any team in league."