Lindy Ruff was in a good mood this afternoon. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ruff on cleaning up Sabres’ poor start: ‘It’s on me’

BUFFALO – Lindy Ruff’s mood belied his team’s plight. The Sabres coach was smiling and brimming with energy during a frank nine-minute chat with the media this afternoon following a 70-minute practice inside the First Niagara Center.

No one would’ve known the Sabres are 5-8-1 and mired in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

“It is on me,” Ruff said about the challenge of cleaning up the Sabres’ poor start. “I understand that. I understand this is on me to clean it up, and how I deal with my players, that’s my business.”

Clearly, Ruff, who’s been much more upbeat with the media this season, is trying to be the positive face of the club and deflect blame from his players.

It’s a difficult balance, no doubt. Ruff usually has no problem criticizing his players. Aside from a few positives, there’s been little to like about the Sabres’ first 14 games.

“We’ll find it,” Ruff said. “I mean, we’ve gone through it. We knew we were a little young down the middle. But it will come. I’m confident it’ll come. It’s all on me to clean this mess up. I’m not done trying. I think the attitude of the players has been awesome. The attitude today on the ice was great. The way we went into the Ottawa game (a 2-0 loss Tuesday) was great.

“Yeah, we’re disappointed. Do we need to be harder in some situations? Yes. We didn’t quite finish a couple plays we needed to finish. Some of them were offensively, some of them were defensively.”

Ruff believes “the team will feed off my energy.” He spent Wednesday’s off day reviewing video.

“ I came in here, we had a couple good meetings, we talked about things we got to get going a little bit better, talked about getting the team in the right mood today, and that’s up to me,” Ruff said.

He added: “I thought today’s practice was what we needed.”

In other news, Ruff still worries winger Ville Leino (hip) won’t play this season. The Finn went down late in training camp.

“Probably we’re making a little headway,” Ruff said. “But we’re still in the same spot. So I have no better news to give you.”

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