By John Vogl
It was only one win, but it obviously meant a lot to the Sabres. They beat Boston on Friday night, and they were still riding the wave today at practice.
Guys were more talkative on the ice in First Niagara Center. They cheered their teammates during a session-ending shootout drill. They loudly complimented their goalies for big saves during the breakaways.
Yes, winning feels good. Now they just have to do it again.
After knocking off the division-leading Bruins, the Sabres are settling in to host Pittsburgh at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The Penguins are fourth in the NHL with 20 points on a 10-5 record.
"We know that they’re playing well," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "They’ve probably got as much team speed as Boston. I think the depth of their lineup is just as deep as Boston. Maybe the Boston defenders have a slight edge when it comes to the back end, but I think overall they’re one of the teams that you’re going to have to deal with if you want to get to the top in the East."
There were only a couple of changes for the Sabres at practice. As expected, Andrej Sekera missed the session with a charley horse suffered Friday and is doubtful for the game. Jochen Hecht was back in the middle of wingers Nathan Gerbe and Steve Ott on the third line, while rookie Mikhail Grigorenko skated on the fourth with Patrick Kaleta, Cody McCormick and John Scott.
Grigorenko started the Boston game between Gerbe and Ott.
"Last night was a real speed duel, and I just thought that Grigo got off to a tough start," Ruff said. "I thought Jochen skated well, had two or three opportunities. We needed to match their speed. It wasn’t going well for him, and that’s all part of the process.
"That’s all part of what we’re trying to do with him here, get him the extra work, get him stronger, have him work with our skating coach, try to go through the details that are going to make him a more powerful skater and a more efficient skater. He’s only 18. He’s pretty good for 18, and I think if you do things right he should be a heck of a player in a couple years."
To hear the rest of Ruff's comments -- including his thoughts on Thomas Vanek, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- click the audio file below.
taggedJochen Hecht | Lindy Ruff | Mikhail Grigorenko