NOTEBOOK: Power Practice
Wednesday, 05.02.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
May 2, 2007
by Brian Wheeler
The team's power play woes were on the forefront of the Buffalo Sabres minds on Wednesday. With two full practice days before Game Five, Buffalo worked exclusively on their two man advantage units.
The practice was intended to bolster not only the team's mechanics in the zone, but their mindset as well.
"Just to feel good about it again," said Ruff when asked why the team spent their entire skate on the special teams. "We wanted to move the puck around and start feeling good about it."
Converting on three of 21 opportunities in the team's best-of-seven series against the New York Rangers, the message was similar to Ruff's "playing ugly" comments from last week. Take shots when they are open and get traffic in front of netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
"A lot of things are created from the shot from the point," said Dainius Zubrus. "Somehow, we've got to develop that and get those through. Then it's up to the guys in front of the net and down low, to work hard and get those loose pucks. If not score a goal, at least recover the puck again.
"They did a good job in blocking and taking the lanes away, but then that's where you could say hockey sense needs to kick in. If it's not there, don't force it. Maybe make a pass, but then the next guy needs to shoot it because there has to be something open right then."
Paul Gaustad is close to achieving his goal of returning to Buffalo's lineup this season. A day after being cleared by team doctors, Gaustad was again on the ice for Buffalo's morning workout.
Gaustad will visit with team doctors again on Thursday. Their accessment, coupled with his performance in practice, will determine whether or not he dresses for Game Five on Friday.
"There are some days where there have been some setbacks, but lately it's been good," said Gaustad. "You have to stretch the tendon and get it strengthened. It's a long process and you have to be patient with it."
It's been more than two months since Gaustad has seen game action. The Fargo, N.D. native has missed Buffalo's last 26 games after suffered a sliced tendon on Feb. 10 against the Ottawa Senators.
"This is my first long injury that I've had, and you kind of take for granted the crowd and playing," Gaustad said. "Just sitting on the couch for a couple of months, you see how much it means to you."
Teppo Numminen was the lone Sabre absent from practice on Wednesday. The elder statesman of the blueline is nursing a bruised knee, but Ruff said that there was no cause for concern.