By Mike Harrington
Lindy Ruff was a bundle of energy after the Sabres' one-hour practice today in First Niagara Center. After seeing his team take a season-high 42 shots on goal and play much better defensively in Tuesday's 2-0 loss at Ottawa, Ruff wanted to keep his players' spirits up in the face of its 5-8-1 start. And he was as upbeat as he's been with the media in a long time afterward.
"We'll find it. We've gone through it," Ruff said. "We knew we were a little young down the middle but it will come. I'm confident it will come. It's all on me to clean this mess up. I'm not done trying."
No criticism of his team today from Ruff.
"The attitude of the players has been awesome," he said. "The attitude of the players on the ice today was great. The way we went into the Ottawa game was great. We're disappointed. Do we need to be harder in some situations? Yes. We didn't quite finish a couple plays we need to finish. Some of them were offensively, some of them were defensively.
"It is on me. I understand that. This is on me to clean it up."
Ruff said he knows time is quickly slipping away from his team, which has already passed the quarter pole of the shortened season. Still, every game is essentially a four-pointer with all play in the Eastern Conference. So a three-game homestand (Friday vs. Boston, Sunday vs. Pittsburgh, Tuesday vs. Winnipeg) could quickly turn the Sabres' fortunes around.
"The team will feed off my energy," Ruff said. "I came in here, we had a couple good meetings. We talked about things we have to get going a little bit better, talked about getting the team in the right mood today and that's up to me."
For more from Ruff, including thoughts on Mikhail Grigorenko and the goal-less Drew Stafford, the lack of an "easy" game thus far and an update on the injured Ville Leino (there's nothing new), click the audio file below.