By Mike Harrington
BOSTON -- It's been nearly 15 months but Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller was still on the media's minds today in TD Garden in advance of tonight's Sabres-Bruins game. Boston reporters swarmed new Sabres Steve Ott and John Scott in the locker room after the team's 40-minute pregame skate and peppered Lindy Ruff with questions about the Sabres' new approach.
Was adding Ott and Scott a reaction to Lucic? "It was just overall team toughness, make us a grittier team," said a clearly agitated Ruff. "It had nothing to do with the Bruins."
"You try to win the puck battles and the territorial battles. We have to win a game. Not coming out of here with points is not being successful. In a short season we need points. We've answered the physcial challenge. We've been there for each other from day one in this. We play a gritty style, a hitting style. We have to win games."
Good approach. The Sabres are last in the Northeast Division, 11th in the Eastern Conference and on an 0-3-1 skid. Winning the game is a tad more important
"We dealt with [Lucic] last year," Ruff said. "We had a game where Paul Gaustad fought Lucic and [Robyn] Regehr fought [Zdeno] Chara. We played a couple great games against them and came away with points. Hockey is about winning the game, winning the mental battle, winning the physical battle. It's about winning the territorial battles."
There will likely be some battles of the other kind tonight. The Bruins are scratching Chris Bourque and 6-3, 205-pound Lane MacDermid is in for his first game of the year. He had 73 penalty minutes in 32 games with Providence of the AHL during the lockout.
Scott said he'll be ready for MacDermid, Shawn Thornton, Lucic or anyone else who comes calling.
"Boston is physical and we try to be the most physical team on the ice," Scott said. "Steve and I were brought in for that, to try to play a role."
"Team toughness is [from] within," Ott said. "You don't have to go out there and drop the gloves every five minutes to prove how tough you are. I think the toughness comes from the locker room, every guy in here having each other's back."
Lucic and Miller didn't speak to the media today. Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn't getting drawn into the whole kerfuffle.
"That's their choice to build a team they want," Julien said of the Sabres. "As far as I'm concerned, speculations [about fights] are speculations. We've played our style of game forever and we don't plan on changing that."
Asked directly if there's still carryover from last year, Julien said: "You'll have to ask them that question. You're asking the wrong coach."
As for the roster, Ruff said Patrick Kaleta will be "out a while" with his neck injury suffered Tuesday. T.J. Brennan is going back to being a healthy scratch and Alexander Sulzer returns to the lineup after sitting out Tuesday.
Click below for audio from Ruff and Ott.
taggedBoston Bruins | John Scott | Lindy Ruff | Patrick Kaleta | Steve Ott