Less than 24 hours after their longshot rally to make the postseason came crashing to the end, the Buffalo Sabres took the ice for practice at Boston University's Agganis Arena in preparation for the season finale at 4 p.m. today against the Bruins.
The Sabres' 2011-12 campaign will not extend into next week's opening round of the NHL playoffs, and instead wraps up after today's matinee before heading back to Buffalo to clean out their locker room stalls and prepare for an early offseason.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff held a 60-minute skate, which included a pair of lengthy speeches Friday, according to the team web site.
The message was simple: he doesn't like to lose.
"Don’t ever like making the mistakes you made," he said in regards to the Sabres' 2-1 loss in Philadelphia Thursday. "The chance to make a difference, and you didn’t make the difference. You get an opportunity to get paid to score goals, and prevent them if you’re a defender. We had two-on-ones that we didn’t score. We had a two-on-one where we went offside. That’s unacceptable. It’s game on time; it’s difference time. We’ve talked about this for a good period of time. We’ve had guys push through and make the difference. In the biggest game, we weren’t able to push through.”
Ruff added: "You can’t like losing. You can’t like getting close and losing. You can’t like leading after two periods and losing a game. You can’t like losing it the way we did. I don’t care about the missed opportunities. I mean, I do care about them. But I want those turned into situations that will put the other team away. The play that lost us the game is the play that can’t be made. We can’t like that, and we can’t accept it."
The Sabres mounted a remarkable second-half surge in which they went 20-8-5 in the last 33 games.
Captain Jason Pominville didn't have any answers, either, when he spoke to a group of reporters Friday in Boston.
"I think the standards have to be high around here. We have to find a way to be better," he said, according to the team' site. "It’s unacceptable to be out in the position we’re in right now. It’s disappointing that we came up short. I think the positives are, at least we gave ourselves a chance. Nobody would’ve thought a couple of months ago we’d put ourselves in this position. Guys battled hard, and we just ran out of time.”