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RUFF HOLDS FORWARDS ACCOUNTABLE

Tuesday, 12.30.2008 / 11:15 PM / Features
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
Matt Ellis (Photo: Bill Wippert)
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 Lindy Ruff:
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Game Summary
Expect some changes in the Buffalo Sabres lineup - Head Coach Lindy Ruff has had enough.

Following a dismal 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, Ruff had a message for his forwards – step up or sit out.

“That’s not an idle threat either,” Ruff said in his post-game press conference. “We will take them out of the lineup. Some of them will come out.

“If Jochen Hecht, Derek Roy isn’t our best player, if those veteran guys aren’t our best players, we don’t have a chance at winning… it’s disappointing, it’s frustrating and I’m not going to hide it. It’s upsetting.

Hecht and Roy each held a minus-1 rating in the loss. Roy took a penalty less than a minute into the game, which resulted in Washington’s first goal of the night. The Capitals then gained a two-goal lead when Hecht lost a battle behind the net to Tyler Sloan, allowing Chris Bourqe to tally his first NHL goal.

“If Matt Ellis wants to compete harder and Adam Mair wants to compete harder, then we will play the guys that want to compete harder,” Ruff said. “That’s the only fair thing to do.”

The consensus was the same in the locker room.

“We need better than just average. I need to start elevating my game and paying attention to the little things that add up at the end of the night,” Ryan Miller said. “We have to offer constructive criticism and guys have to be able to take it… Guys can’t be immune to it.

“We’re getting into maybe a little bit of a see-saw situation here where we have been good for some spurts and then not so good. You expect that over the course of a season but we expect more out of ourselves.”

The Sabres have won only two of the last seven games, including squandering third period leads in three of the last four games. However, Tuesday night at HSBC Arena, Washington never trailed – capitalizing on two power play opportunities.

“Everybody has to hold each other accountable. This is unacceptable for our team,” Paul Gaustad said. “We are going to fix it. It’s going to start from the players. The coaches have given us the right game plan and we need to execute it. It’s on us. It’s on our shoulders. It’s the players’ fault tonight.”

“But I want to see the action,” Ruff said. “I don’t want to have to give them a two-hour practice tomorrow, I don’t want to have to grind them into the ice. I don’t want to. That should come from them… That should come from them.”

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