Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

October 15, 2009

SABRES: Can Buffalo beat bad teams, too?

You’d assume Tuesday’s home date against Detroit, one in which they scored an impressive 6-2 victory on national television over a team that’s played in the last two Stanley Cup finals, was the measuring-stick game for the Buffalo Sabres.

But the next two games could prove more important.

A pair of home contests against lesser-lights in the New York Islanders and Atlanta Thrashers could go a long way in showing the Sabres plan to stay near the top of the Northeast Division standings. Last year, Buffalo struggled against both teams, dropping a total of six games to the two teams.

Coach Lindy Ruff said he’s liked what he’s seen from his team through the first four contests, and he doesn’t expect the squad to lose it’s focus this weekend.

“What we realize is that it’s a long year. You going to have some tough times, you’re going to have some good ones. I like the fact that we came out of training camp, we had a good camp, and we stayed locked in,” Ruff said. “Now it’s just to maintain. You’re going to get some breaks in games that make a difference. You’re going to have a have some breaks that go against you.

“But there a lot of little areas that you can control. And we need to keep controlling them.”

Star Thomas Vanek did practice with the team on Thursday, but he’s not expected to play in either contest. Vanek suffered an upper-body injury in Tuesday’s win. Consider than Vanek was originally expected to be out for weeks, Ruff seems content to let his star sniper sit this weekend.

“We were pleasantly surprised he felt the way he did (Wednesday), and even more surprised he was out trying to practice (Thursday). That’s all good things, but it’s still not quite where we think we need him to be,” Ruff said. “One day, I don’t think is going to make a world of difference. But he’s close.”

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