PHILADELPHIA -- Lindy Ruff's message to the Sabres today is simple. There's no new message.
"It’s really at a time where you don’t have to say too much," Ruff said after an optional morning skate for tonight's game in Philadelphia. "Everybody should understand. I think the players all understand. I don’t have to go talk to them and say, 'Let’s go. We’ve got to win a game tonight.’ We know that. We’ve said that for two months that we’ve got to win a game. We’ve been stuck in that spot for a long time."
Although the Sabres' playoff dreams could end tonight -- they would be eliminated if they lose to the Flyers and the eighth-place Capitals beat Florida -- Ruff doesn't want anyone to be uptight.
"You’ve got to have a relaxed sense," the coach said in Wells Fargo Center. "You can’t get uptight going into the game. You’ve got to be able to relax, and you’ve got to be able to focus all your energy on the shift that you’re on.
"I think sometimes you get too jacked up, 'I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that,’ and you’re not breathing, you’re not relaxed, you can’t play. There’s a fine line there. You’ve got to be able to put your energy in the right place and get yourself ready to play that shift at a really high level.
"For every player, the way they approach that is different. It’s knowing my responsibility and where I’ve got to be, and then playing that shift to your fullest. Don’t at the end of the night say, 'I should’ve done this better.'"
The Sabres-Flyers and Caps-Panthers both start at 7 p.m. The Sabres can pass the Caps and Panthers in the standings, though Washington is much easier since the teams are tied. Still, Ruff won't have a Florida pompon in his back pocket tonight.
"I have one rooting interest. It would be no three-point game," Ruff said. "And I’m rooting for us tonight."