By Mike Harrington
The criticism around the Sabres is there's too much status quo, and rightly so. That changed a little this morning for Drew Stafford and Jordan Leopold.
As John Vogl reported here while the team was on the ice this morning, Stafford will start tonight's game against Winnipeg on the fourth line with John Scott and Cody McCormick. Leopold, meanwhile, will be a healthy scratch for the first time in this three years with the Sabres.
"I just haven't got off to a good start," said Leopold, who has one goal, three assists and a minus-7 rating. "I'm trying to keep the confidence up, trying to get into plays, trying to make things. It's the little things, not big things that have been getting me a little bit. It's not the first time I've sat and watched a game. You learn from it. It creates a fire underneath you and urgency to get better."
Leopold said he was in the dumps all day Monday over Pittsburgh's tying goal Sunday, the Pascal Dupuis tally that came after a Jason Pominville turnover at the Buffalo line. Leopold dropped coverage on the cross-ice pass from Kris Letang.
You can see the play here:
"That's an easy read for me," Leopold said. "Having that one sneak by, there's nobody to fault but myself. You look at it and learn from it. Lindy's got to make his choices with lineup. We got 8 D here. Sometimes you find yourself out.
"I've played a lot of games in this league, a lot of games against that team and with that team particularly and I know those types of plays what they're looking for. It's a blown coverage. You can say it's a five-man group but that's a pretty easy read for me and I didn't end up making it."
"The last game, I expect more out of him," Ruff said. "I expect more out of a veteran defenseman. He's going to have to work hard to get back in now."
Stafford, meanwhile, has just one goal and is minus-5. He broke the ice Friday against Boston but regressed Sunday against Pittsburgh.
"It's a matter of getting back to work and making sure I'm focusing on winning battles, skating and getting to the net," Stafford said. "It's pretty simple. Just looking for a shakeup."
In other news, Ruff initially said he didn't read what Ryan Miller's tirade was all about after Sunday's game against Pittsburgh -- and then went on to describe how much he liked it. (Make no mistake, Ruff reads and hears just about everything, no matter what he says).
"I think the conversation was great," Ruff said. "When you start holding each other accountable inside the room, you've almost got your team in the right place. A room without confrontation and a room without holding each other accountable, you've got a lot of places to hide.
"I think it's great. I think we need more of it. I think we need more guys
to say it wasn't good enough inside the room. When you get that, you've
got a powerful group."
Click below to hear audio files from this morning's sessions with Ruff and Leopold, with the coach also talking about Stafford and the changes to the power play:
taggedDrew Stafford | Jordan Leopold | Lindy Ruff