Nine days ago Lindy Ruff addressed the media on the morning of Game 1 and sounded like Patton.
The Sabres were going to play their game. They were going to dictate the pace. Take care of that, the coach said, and everything else would fall into place.
On the morning of Game 5, with this series suddenly deadlocked 2-2, the tone has shifted around the team that won the President’s Trophy this season. Suddenly to the Sabres, playing their game isn’t enough.
“It’s going to be an extremely tough game,” Ruff said. “I don’t think that’s going to change. But there are times inside the game when we’re going to need a little more. I hope that message has come across.”
Since this series started I’ve made reference to the intense pressure that is on the Sabres this spring. Never has it been more palpable than right now — be in in the tone of players’ answers; to the type of questions being asked; even in Ruff’s implication that the Sabres tonight might stray from the puck possession style that marked their successful regular season.
It’s not as clear cut as saying the Rangers have nothing to lose while the Sabres have everything. But let’s just say the Sabres might not have the same swagger they had a week ago.
More from the Rangers side of things in a bit…