THE MORNING SKATE
The series between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers has been a physical one. That tone was punctuated after Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger was knocked woozy by Brian Campbell's heavy, but legal, hit in Buffalo's Game 1 victory.
But after the Sabres' shocking 8-2 win over the Flyers on Monday, the two head coaches got chippy themselves.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff didn't like some of the hits the Flyers were delivering in the lost cause.
"Use a different word if you want, but I thought they did," Ruff said. "The more they acted like idiots, the more we wanted to play."
Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock took offense to Ruff's description after the Flyers took 17 penalties, including Denis Gauthier's ejection and Ben Eager's two misconducts when play deteriorated as the Sabres built a 5-0 first-period lead.
"That's Lindy's opinion," Hitchcock said. "I've seen his teams do the same thing. So he ought not to talk about that."
Hitchcock took one more question before abruptly leaving the podium. On his way out, he used two profanities in muttering aloud that Ruff should mind his own business.
"Tell Lindy to [expletive] off, to mind his own [expletive] business."
Outside of Ruff and Hitchcock, tempers had already starting spilling over during the lop-sided game.
" Goalie Robert Esche's frustrations bubbled 16 minutes into the opening period when he dropped his gloves and challenged Buffalo's Derek Roy and Toni Lydman to fight. Peter Forsberg had given a Sabres player a light tap on the way back to his bench. When the whistle blew on a delayed call, Roy hit Forsberg from behind. Esche, who was heading toward the bench on the delayed call, went after Roy. Esche tried to throw punches and had to be restrained by a linesman (see picture to the right).
" Derian Hatcher gave an elbow to Campbell, who delivered the hit to Umberger, who missed Game 2 after failing a concussion-related test.
" The Flyers also targeted Sabres rookie Thomas Vanek. Gauthier received a five-minute major penalty and was ejected for running Vanek from behind six minutes into the second period. Eager's second misconduct came after he goaded Vanek to punch him and then started a fracas near the Sabres bench.
It all makes up for quite the welcome when the series shifts to Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
-- ESPN.com news services/The AP
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