Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/31/13
The Buffalo Sabres got tougher this offseason, and many think that has to do with the defending Northeast Division champion Bruins, who the Sabres continue to chase. Buffalo isn’t just chasing Boston in the standings, though. They also proved last season that they also lack the toughness that has become one of the Bruins’ best traits. The Sabres were criticized far and wide for their reaction to Bruins forward Milan Lucic running Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller in a game early last season. The Sabres didn’t do much respond in that game, with Paul Gaustad challenging Lucic the next time they met. Their other matchups last season featured a handful of fights, all of which felt like Buffalo trying to prove they weren’t going to take it from the B’s or anyone else for that matter. They continued that thinking into the offseason. They added enforcer John Scott, who is essentially a 6-foot-8 brawler on skates, brought in to do two things — fight and make sure no one takes any liberties with Buffalo. They also added an agitator Steve Ott, who fits in nicely with Patrick Kaleta in terms of being able to get under an opponent’s skin. But as Gregory Campbell will tell you, Ott is no slouch when the gloves are on the ice, either. It was assumed, of course, that these moves were done with the Bruins in mind. That’s not the case, says head coach Lindy Ruff. “It was just overall team toughness, to make us a grittier team,” Ruff said following the team’s morning skate, according to the Buffalo News. “It had nothing to do with the Bruins. “You try to win the puck battles and the territorial battles. We have to win a game. Not coming out of [Boston on Thursday] is not being successful. In a short season we need points. We’ve answered the physical challenge. We’ve been there for each other from day one in this. We play a gritty style, a hitting style. We have to win games.” So far, the Sabres have struggled to do that. They opened the season with a pair of wins, but since then, they’ve struggled a bit. They enter Thursday’s matchup with a 2-3-1 record, making a battle with the Bruins that much more important for what they’re trying to do this year. That appears to be where the club’s focus is, despite what their offseason moves might say. “We dealt with [Lucic] last year,” Ruff added. “We had a game where Paul Gaustad fought Lucic and [Robyn] Regehr fought [Zdeno] Chara. We played a couple great games against them and came away with points. Hockey is about winning the game, winning the mental battle, winning the physical battle. It’s all about winning the territorial battles.” If the Sabres want to catch the B’s where it matters, the standings, they’re going to have start winning all of those battles starting Thursday night in Boston.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Cousins wants franchise tag to be used on him

Report: Jets likely to try and trade Sheldon Richardson

Knicks considering releasing Derrick Rose?

Report: Steelers, Brown making progress on extension

Joel Embiid out indefinitely in Sixers star’s latest setback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Adrian Peterson’s father hints at solution for son to stay with Vikings

Tim Tebow arrives at Mets spring training week before report date

Report: Noah to undergo knee surgery, miss rest of season

Shaq ends his side of JaVale McGee feud after his mother intervenes

Red Sox getting custom beds for sleep room at Fenway Park

49ers sound willing to trade the No. 2 pick

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 20 or more games in a season since 2000

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker