Bruins: Lindy Ruff

Chara decision doesn't surprise Julien

April, 24, 2010
BOSTON –- Even before the Bruins landed in Boston around midnight on Friday, the team already knew its captain Zdeno Chara would not be suspended for an incident that occurred in the closing seconds of Game 5 in Buffalo.

As the Buffalo Sabres were ready to celebrate their 4-1 Eastern Conference quarterfinal victory, an all-out scrum ensued with Chara right in the middle of it. The Sabres’ Paul Gaustad initiated the incident by slashing Chara, and after the on-ice officials handed out a slew of penalties, Chara was given an instigator penalty.

League rules state that a player who is given an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game automatically receives a one-game suspension. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff did his best to sell the league on a suspension to no avail.

“He shouldn’t be suspended for that anyway,” said the Bruins' Johnny Boychuk. “If they did, it would probably be a joke.”

After the game, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli put in a request with the NHL to have Chara’s instigator penalty rescinded, and after review the league acknowledged there wasn’t an issue.

“To me, it was common sense,” said Julien. “When you look at what happened and how it was put on paper after the game, it didn’t make much sense.”

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Sobotka not bothered by Ruff's comments

April, 23, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. –- Buffalo Sabres Lindy Ruff took a little verbal shot at Vladimir Sobotka on Thursday, saying the Bruins forward is ducking checks.

Sobotka has played well this series and it’s been obvious he’s been getting under the skin of the Sabres. He’s played physical and has done a very good job of avoiding hits.

“I’m not afraid of anything,” he said after this morning’s game-day skate. “I’m just trying to play hard and that’s part of my game.”

The grit and determination Sobotka has been playing with hasn’t gone unnoticed on either team, especially the Sabres. He even got into his first fight when he dropped the gloves with the Sabres’ Andrej Sekera in Game 2.

“I’m actually surprised that they’re coming for me,” Sobotka said. “They’re trying to hit me all the time and I’m just trying to play my way. I like it when someone hits me because I hit back. That’s hockey.”

Sobotka said he didn’t want to respond to Ruff’s statement, he just plans to take it out on the ice. As far as ducking checks, Sobotka says it’s just instinct to avoid getting hit, especially since he’s generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds.

“If I see that I’ve got no chance to stand up the guy and he’s going to hit me and [possibly] hurt me, I’ll try to get out of the way, but it’s instinct when I see him coming and I duck. More times the guy is bigger than me, but if I know he’s going to hurt me, I’ll stay there.”

Vanek questionable, but unlikely to play

April, 23, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knows his team is one loss away from ending its season and needs a win here in Game 5 in order to extend this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Ruff said he’s not going to make any big speeches, but he’s doing his best Houdini impression. When asked if Thomas Vanek (lower-body injury) would be in the lineup tonight, Ruff didn’t want to give too much away. A reporter made a comment, saying, “So Vanek’s out tonight?”

“I think so, yeah,” said Ruff. “It might be an illusion, though.”

Vanek, the team’s top goal scorer during the regular season, injured his left leg when he went crashing into the boards in Game 2. The Sabres haven’t been the same since Vanek’s exit.

“It’s getting closer,” admitted Ruff. “Yesterday was a pretty sore day for him. It’s encouraging and I think we’re getting closer.”

“If he felt he could play, he’d be in the lineup,” added Ruff. “We have one game to stay alive and the conversation with him, he didn’t think he was at that point yet.”

If he were playing, would it make a difference?

“That’s a tough question to answer,” said Ruff. “He was playing well for us. We can guess we’d be better, but other players need to step up.”

Expect a physical Game 4

April, 21, 2010
BOSTON -- The Stanley Cup playoffs are always exciting and the game intensifies this time of year. Every game is a battle and fans can expect just that in Game 4 between the Bruins and the Sabres tonight at the TD Garden.

The Bruins have momentum and lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1, and the Sabres would like to return to Buffalo with it tied. Boston has been winning the physical battles in the last two games, which has resulted in a pair of victories for the Bruins.

The Sabres have been shorthanded due to injuries to key players, including Thomas Vanek, Jochen Hecht and Matt Ellis, so the team recalled tough guy Cody McCormick from the Portland Pirates of the AHL.

It’s clear Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is tired of getting pushed around.

“Part of the concern is we’ve lost some players, some big bodies,” said Ruff. “If you look at our left side, we’re going to take [Drew Stafford] and put him over on the left. It will give us a bigger option over there. We’re fast enough and quick enough, but some of the battles have gone their way. I thought the first game it went our way, then we had a neutral game. Obviously the battle on the last goal [in Game 3] was something that we would like to have back.”

The goal Ruff is referring to is when Bruins veteran Mark Recchi pushed the Sabres’ Tim Kennedy off the puck behind the Buffalo net before Recchi gained control and quickly fed Patrice Bergeron in the slot for the game-winner.

The Bruins are extremely confident right now and the Sabres would like to change that mindset with a victory tonight.

“We had a real good meeting last night and a short, quick meeting this morning about how we need to play and we’re a very focused group,” said Ruff.

The Garden was rocking during Game 3 on Monday and the Bruins players acknowledged after the 2-1 victory how great the atmosphere was to play in.

“It’s going to be a close game,” said Recchi. “It’s going to be a hard-fought game. Each team will be trying to get their space and trying to create some energy and opportunities. We expect nothing different and it’s been that way all year against them.”

Morning skate quick hits

April, 19, 2010
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are on the verge of producing a complete 60-minute effort. Their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres is tied at 1-1 with Game 3 at 7 p.m. tonight at the TD Garden. The Bruins are hoping their first period struggles in both Games 1 and 2 are now a thing of the past.

“We have to have a better start,” said Bruins forward David Krejci. “The first two games we were sloppy. Maybe we were waiting to see what they were going to throw at us. Now we know and we’re playing in our building and we have to be ready from the first minute.”

In the first two games, the Bruins completely dominated the second period. After an impressive 5-3 victory in Game 2 on Saturday, Boston has momentum and has an opportunity to build on that tonight.

“Tonight will be a big game if we can get a second win,” said Krejci. “It’s important for us to do something here tonight.”

Here are some other notes from this morning’s skate:

STAFFORD IN/VANEK OUT FOR SABRES: Buffalo forward Drew Stafford, who has been out of action the last couple of weeks due to a concussion, will be in the lineup for the Sabres tonight, according to coach Lindy Ruff. The coach believes Stafford is 80 to 90 percent prepared for game action.

“We were racking him up to play on Saturday, but the test results didn’t go our way,” said Ruff.

Thomas Vanek walked into the Garden this morning, sporting a walking cast on his left leg. Ruff said after Buffalo’s skate that Vanek, the team’s top goal scorer during the regular season, will not play in Game 3.

Vanek left Game 2 in the first period on Saturday after crashing into the boards behind Boston’s net. He was on a breakaway when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk broke up the play before both slammed into the boards. Boychuk said he was just trying to make a hockey play, and Bruins coach Claude Julien concurs.

Boston’s coach was asked about the play this morning, and he said he’s ready to turn the page.

“I don’t think he was over aggressive,” said Julien. “He did a hockey play. I think it’s pretty obvious and I don’t want to dwell on this stuff. Vanek got hurt going into the boards. It’s his left leg and not his right, so he got hurt [crashing into the boards].

“It’s pretty obvious those are things that happen in the game of hockey. We all have injuries on every team, so let’s turn the page and move on. I don’t think [Boychuk] was over aggressive. He’s played well for us and I think that’s where we see Johnny Boychuk being a pretty good defenseman for us.”

SAVARD’S PRESENCE FELT: It was clear the presence of Marc Savard on the ice and in the dressing room was a welcome sign for the Bruins. Savard, who suffered a Grade 2 concussion on March 7 in Pittsburgh, passed an exertion test on Sunday and skated on his own for 30 minutes on Monday. He’s scheduled for a neuro-psyche test on Tuesday afternoon and if he passes it, he will be cleared to practice with the team. There is a possibility he could return later in this series.

“As far as spirits go, it’s good to see that he’s not looking like a ghost anymore,” said Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton. “He looks a lot healthier, which is nice. To see him smiling again is great. You never want to see anyone hurt like that, so to see him bounce back is pretty exciting.”

Sabres lose game and Vanek

April, 17, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The image of an injured Thomas Vanek needing help down the runway with 6:21 remaining in the first period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals silenced Buffalo Sabres fans at HSBC Arena.

Vanek, the Sabres’ top goal scorer during the regular season who had scored in Game 1 and assisted on Buffalo’s first goal on Saturday, suffered what is being called a lower-body injury and missed the rest of the game.

Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said after Boston’s 5-3 victory that he anticipates Vanek will go to Boston, but didn’t say whether he’ll be available to play in Game 3 on Monday.

Vanek was on a breakaway when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was called for a hooking penalty at 13:39 before both went crashing into the boards. When Vanek got to his feet, he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg and was clearly in pain.

“It looked like a two-handed slash,” said Ruff. “He was trying to break up the play.”

The injury to their top goal scorer completely discombobulated the Sabres for the rest of the game.

“Was trying to mix and match lines after that and we seemed to have lost a little bit of energy there,” said Ruff. “I thought we got it back with about eight minutes left in the second. It seemed pretty quiet and we didn’t get much going on.”

Boychuk said after the game that he didn’t know it was Vanek at the time of the penalty.

“I was just trying to get back and prevent a scoring chance,” Boychuk said.

With the series now tied at 1-1, the possibility of losing Vanek could result in a crushing blow for the Sabres.

Sabres' Hecht out against Bruins

April, 15, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres suffered a blow to their lineup as forward Jochen Hecht will not be available for the first-round series against the Boston Bruins with a finger injury.

Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said Hecht was re-evaluated and will need further work done.

“He’s out now what would be weeks instead of days,” said Ruff.

Ruff admitted Hecht had a small procedure.

“It’s disappointing,” Ruff said.

“The playoffs are about losing people and other people stepping in and playing bigger roles,” added Ruff. “He’s obviously been an important part of our team for the year and now somebody has to step in and fill that void for us.”

Hecht recorded 21 goals and 21 assists for42 points in 79 games for the Sabres this season.