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Sabres know the routine: They need to win

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."

---John Vogl

Lindy Ruff

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

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