BUFFALO — According to Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, there are two types of teams at this point in the hockey season.
"One that's going well or one that's desperate to win a game," Ruff said today at HSBC Arena. "We've got one tonight that's desperate to win a game. We need to exceed that desperation."
Desperate? Yes, with four straight losses, the Canes do qualify. But will desperation be enough?
The Sabres come into tonight's game feeling good about themselves. They're playing at home, where they've beaten the Canes the last four times and routed them twice last season. They're coming off a stirring 5-4 shootout victory at Dallas, fighting out of a 3-0 hole.
"We want to build off that comeback victory," Ruff said. "We're in our building and we need to get the crowd behind us early. It's real important that we play well early."
And, conversely, important that the Canes keep the Sabres from doing just that. Asked today which would be more important tonight, effort or execution, Canes coach Paul Maurice said: "Winning."
"At the end of the day I don't care what it looks like. That being said ... it's not that (the Canes players) don't want to (play hard). Sometimes, you get paralyzed with wanting something and you stand and stand and stand.
"I'm trying to get to the point where, 'OK, these are the positions that we're supposed to be in and then after that, let it go and just go. And if you make a mistake I'll correct you. And when I correct you, don't panic. Go.'
"So I'd love to see the effort but it's not that this group doesn't want to work hard or they're not good guys. I'd like to see them kind of free up the bonds."