Ville Leino is going with the program for now, but he feels his time and treatment options might run out. If they do, surgery awaits.

Leino has yet to suit up for Buffalo this season because of a right hip ailment, and he’s not close to returning. He’ll miss tonight’s game against Boston in First Niagara Center as the Sabres pass the 30 percent mark of their schedule.

“It hasn’t been easy, and it’s taking its time,” Leino told The Buffalo News on Thursday. “You can’t take forever. At some point you’re just going to have to say if it doesn’t work out then there’s nothing much you can do about it.

“For now we’re trying to work on it kind of day-to-day, trying to get better.”

The Sabres have tried multiple treatment options for Leino, but none have helped.

“I thought we were making a little headway, but I think we’re still kind of in the same spot,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “I have no better news.”

Leino, who had surgery on his left hip when he played in Philadelphia, has no timetable for returning.

“I skated last week a little bit, and I’m going to try at the end of the week a little bit,” he said. “It kind of depends how it feels. It’s no fun.”


With his team slumping and calls for change increasing, Ruff addressed the Sabres’ critics head-on following practice.

“It’s all on me to clean this mess up,” he said. “I’m not done trying.”

The Sabres have lost two straight and are 3-8-1 in the last 12. They totaled just one goal in the last two outings.

“You worry after every loss,” Ruff said. “I’m concerned after every time we lose because of the shortened season. At the same time, you have an opportunity every night to knock somebody off that’s right around you, which gives you a chance to catch up. But you have to win games.”

Ruff made a point of deflecting attention away from his struggling players.

“It is on me,” the coach said. “I understand that. I understand this is on me to clean it up. How I deal with my players, that’s my business.

“The team will feed off my energy. I came in here, we had a couple good meetings. We talked about things that we’ve got to get going a little bit better. We talked about getting the team in the right mood, and that’s up to me.”


Starting with tonight’s visit by the Bruins, the Sabres play four of the next five games at home. The lone trip is a bus ride to Toronto.

After an arduous stretch of 14 games in 24 days, including eight games on the road, the Sabres welcome the breather.

“That’s a lot of hockey,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “That’s a lot of days where you can’t recover, can’t heal up some bruises and bumps and things like that. It’s good to have a couple days here to kind of rest the body and mentally relax and get some sleep.

“It’s nice to be back in Buffalo. It’s nice to be home and see your family and stuff like that.”

It remains to be seen whether it’s nice to see the Bruins again. Buffalo won, 7-4, in Boston on Jan. 31 but lost the second game, 3-1, at home Sunday.

“That’s the nice thing about this shortened season is you can get revenge on a lot of teams really quick,” Weber said. “It’s nice to have them back in here. We need these two points. It’s huge. It’s a team we know we can beat. We beat them earlier.”

The Bruins controlled the puck throughout Sunday’s victory over the Sabres. They want to continue playing keep-away in an attempt to improve their 8-1-2 record.

“You’ve got to make sure you frustrate other teams by giving them the least amount of chances, the least amount of times that they can spend with the puck,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told Boston reporters. “At the same time, you want to be physical, and when it’s time to be physical you don’t want guys running out of position just to throw a check to show that you’re a tough team. You want to be smart.”

Said Ruff: “We had a big deficit against Boston when it came to zone time, and you can’t win games. If you start winning that battle, you start winning games.”