By Mike Harrington
There's no real practice time in the NHL this season. Not with this bottleneck of a schedule. So the Sabres were on the ice less than 45 minutes today in First Niagara Center before heading to Ottawa for tomorrow's game against the Senators.
And they were still shaking their heads over the way Sunday's 3-1 lead against Florida -- which hit town last in the Eastern Conference -- turned into a 4-3 loss.
"We have some things to clean up," said defenseman Tyler Myers. "A 3-1 lead, we didn't bury a lot of chances in the second period ... There's a way you have to play and we gave up too much and let them back in the game."
Of course, there's little scoring from anyone other than the top line right now. Drew Stafford, a former 31-goal scorer stuck at zero for his $4 million contract, said more scoring and more awareness in games is needed.
"It needs to happen and it needs to happen right now," Stafford said. "We don't have a lot of time to turn it back around. If you do lose a couple in a row, that hurts. That's something we're doing our best to address but we need to be even better."
Ruff said the Sabres had enough chances to have a 5-1 or 6-1 lead after two periods but didn't convert.
"If you look at some of the point-blank opportunities, I would shake my head last night. And I didn't sleep well," he said. "This building could have been rocking and the building turned the other direction by the end
of the night. I'm a little above disbelief."
Ruff said a couple players he refused to name are nicked up and may be doubtful for tomorrow's game. The missing today included the likes of Jason Pominville, Cody Hodgson, Christian Ehrhoff and Steve Ott. Yikes. (Ott has not played over 14 minutes the last two games after going at least 19:44 in the previous three).
As far as other injuries go, Ruff said Patrick Kaleta (neck) is progressing and might start skating on his own Tuesday. Ville Leino (hip) is not improving and Ruff said for the first time he's worried about Leino playing at all this season unless another treatment option the team is working on can have an impact.
"This latest treatment option we hope will work," Ruff said. "Surgery is always the the end of the line. You go to a surgeon, he's going to recommend surgery. That's just the way it goes."
Go around the locker room and click below to hear audio from Myers, Stafford and Ruff.
The coach's meeting with reporters today went over 10 minutes and discussed in great detail how he's trying to spread around ice time, the continued lack of secondary scoring and the major mistakes when the Sabres should have been protecting and building a lead.
Alexander Sulzer and Christian Ehrhoff were guilty on the goal by George Parros that helped turn the game around yesterday. Watch that one below.
taggedDrew Stafford | Lindy Ruff | Tyler Myers