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SABRES NEED CONSISTENT PLAY

Monday, 10.29.2007 / 4:20 PM / Features
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SABRES NEED CONSISTENT PLAY
Maxim Afinogenov
As practice leads to perfection, it seems repetition has led to consistency for the Buffalo Sabres.

That was the message Lindy Ruff tried to embed into the minds of the Sabres during their five-game road trip- repeatedly- to keep it simple and steady on the road.

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“It’s something we’ve talked about. Our expectations are to be a real consistent team,” Ruff said. “The one thing that has lacked is being consistent. That kind of goes from player to player.”

That began to change Friday night against the Panthers. Buffalo left the Sunshine State with a 4-2 victory over Florida and a 4-3 overtime win Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We played, what I felt was, more consistent road hockey,” Ruff said. “A little bit simpler game I thought.”

More importantly, the Sabres started to play together.

In the games against the Panthers and the Lightning, eight different skaters scored a goal for Buffalo. In all, there were 13 players that added a point on the weekend.

As a comparison, in the first two road games against the Canadiens and the Hurricanes, only three different players scored a goal, with seven players adding a point.

Contributions came from all four lines, including young players such as Andrej Sekera.

"He has played good hockey,” Ruff said of Sekera, who is filling in for an injured Jaroslav Spacek. “For a young player he has obviously made some decisions that young defensemen will make, but he has stepped in and done a pretty good job for us.”

Injuries may be to blame in part for the lack of consistency for the Sabres, especially on the back end. Spacek has missed four games with a sprained shoulder, and Dmitri Kalinin is expected to be out at least four weeks with a MCL injury he suffered Wednesday  against Carolina.

Yet even with the injuries, Ruff argued that Buffalo may have been its own worst enemy.

“We were beating ourselves. I think when you go on the road, if you’re going to try some of the plays we tried and give the puck away in situations we gave it away, you’re going to lose the hockey game. I thought we did a better job taking care of the puck and trusting our system [against the Panthers and Lightning].”

"I don’t think we were playing well as a team," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "We weren’t playing our system well. I don’t think we were committed all at the same time. Those would be areas that we are trying to fix and it’s slowly coming. We’re going to need that. We’re a team that it’s not going to come easy [for]. It never does in this league. When you win and you work hard and go out for games like that it feels good and you know what it takes."

The Sabres are going to have to continue to prove themselves Thursday when they complete the road trip in Boston.

It’s going to be a big test," Campbell said. "There is no easy game. It’s always going to be tough. Its something that we want to extend the road trip and keep that going... You win one game and you want to get the next one. It’s very demanding for everybody in the room but it’s something that we’re trying to do and ask a lot of each other."

Above all, the Sabres just have to continue to be consistent.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82