Toni Lydman had never been a healthy scratch in five years with the Buffalo Sabres until coach Lindy Ruff held him out of the lineup for Wednesday night’s meeting New Jersey.
If Lydman’s reaction was any indication, it’s not something the veteran defenseman hopes to get comfortable with.
Admitting his play has been “sub-par” of late, Lydman said he understood why Ruff gave he and Steve Montador the night off, but he’s hoping that the same won’t hold true when the Sabres host the Boston Bruins at HSBC Arena tonight.
“The last two games on that trip weren’t what we want to play like,” Lydman said of his effort with Montador in losses at San Jose and Vancouver. “But I think it’s not just the last two games of that trip. Our game has been very sub-par for a while, and we can only try to get better. I’ll just try to prepare as any other game.
“I don’t think I should change anything and I don’t think I could change anything. Having said that, I need to focus on keeping it simple.”
With Lydman and Montador out, Andrej Sekera and Nathan Paetsch returned to the lineup and contributed on the team’s only goal in a 2-1 shootout victory.
That might make Ruff’s decision a difficult one as his team had snapped a four-game losing skid with Sekera and Paetsch.
“I haven’t made a decision yet. It was based on two games that they ended up out of the lineup. We’ve got to get them back in, they’ve obviously been important pieces of our team,” Ruff said. “It’s never an easy decision. You’ve got to make tough decisions sometimes. The message was we’ve lost four in a row, that pair had played poorly. We thought about taking one out, then made a decision to take both out.”
Buffalo still holds a five-point lead over Ottawa in the Northeast Division, but the Senators are charging hard, winning their eighth straight decision by a 4-1 count over Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Ruff insisted his team isn’t going to rest on its spot in the standings.
“I think the message was loud and clear, we need better play,” he said of benching the defensive duo. “We could have won both games, San Jose and Vancouver, with that pair playing better.
“I think the one thing that’s consistent in this league is that players are inconsistent.”
• WHAT: Boston at Buffalo
• WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
• WHERE: HSBC Arena
• RADIO: WGR 550
• TV: MSG