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SABRES FOCUS ON CHALLENGES AHEAD

Thursday, 03.25.2010 / 4:15 PM / News
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
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SABRES FOCUS ON CHALLENGES AHEAD
Jochen Hecht (Photo: Bill Wippert)
A two-goal deficit may not be the most difficult thing the Buffalo Sabres have to overcome this week. After rallying Wednesday night to claim a 3-2 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens, the Sabres have to prepare for their next challenge – defeating the Ottawa Senators.

In order to beat a team that has won seven of the last nine meetings at HSBC Arena, the Sabres ultimately have to conquer themselves.

“It’s just a mental block,” Steve Montador said. “We know we’re a good team. We know they’re a good team. But if we play the way we know we can play, starting from our D zone out to the neutral zone through the offensive zone… the result will take care of itself.”

Head Coach Lindy Ruff said if the Sabres can overcome the mental aspect and stick to their game plan, success will be imminent.
MULTIMEDIA

Lindy Ruff Interview
Raffi Torres Interview
Steve Montador Interview
Patrick Kaleta Interview
Jason Pominville Interview

“The last [game] here at home, until the final minute, we were real close to playing our game,” Ruff said of Buffalo’s 4-2 loss to the Sens on Feb. 2, in which Daniel Alfredsson scored twice in the waning seconds of regulation to win. “We went over them, and we found a lot of different ways of losing; from not playing our neutral zone system very well to not having proper positioning in our zone to losing the special teams battle.

“I think you’ve got to guard against that [frustration] but it’s there and we know we’re going to have to deal with it.”

The Sabres primarily worked on special teams during Thursday’s practice, preparing to meet the Sens. After scoring five goals with the man advantage in the last six games, the Sabres struggled on the power play Wednesday night. Tim Connolly eventually beat Carey Price with the Habs in the box; however, Ruff said it still needs improvement.

“Last night I just thought we got off track,” he said. “We turned into individuals, we tried individual efforts, we didn’t get a lot of pucks to the net. I didn’t think it was giving us momentum in the game. I thought it was taking it away.”

The Sabres are going to need all the momentum they can get on Friday. Ottawa is coming into Buffalo riding a two-game winning streak and is doing its best to close the gap in the Northeast. The Sabres are currently in first in the division with 90 points and 10 games remaining in the regular season. However, the Senators aren’t far behind in second place with 83 points and eight games remaining.

“Both teams for the most part have been playing really well over the last week or so,” Montador said. “Obviously it’s as crucial for them standings-wise as it is for us. It’s important for both teams to set the tone for playoffs and beyond.”

So how do they overcome the mental stigma that comes with playing Ottawa?

“The only way of getting rid of it – going out and winning a game,” Ruff said.

“If we keep thinking that big, bad Ottawa is going to come and beat us, then that’s our fault,” Montador added. “We’re at a stage now where we’ve had many lessons to have learned from this year. Tomorrow should be a good game to prove that we have done that.”

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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