BOSTON – A stone-faced coach Lindy Ruff denied after the morning skate the Sabres signed 6-foot-8 John Scott last July to beef up their team largely for when they played the Boston Bruins.
No one listening believed Ruff. Scott, meanwhile, was swarmed by Boston reporters and strongly proclaimed, “I’m not afraid of anybody.”
Then he went out and showed it by crushing Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton in the first period and setting a positive tone in the Sabres’ 7-4 win.
During the pregame warmup, Scott menacingly skated back and forth by the center red line. He even stopped to have a brief chat with Thornton near the boards. They were clearly planning their rendezvous and it took place 2:53 into the period.
Just off a faceoff outside the Buffalo blue line, Scott and Thornton dropped their sticks and gloves and gave everyone in TD Garden what they expected to see, given the buildup to this one. What surprised the crowd, however, was the carnage involved.
Scott dropped Thornton with a series of punishing rights and Thornton went to the locker room after leaving the penalty box, never to return. There was no immediate word on his injury.
“We both wanted to get our teams going,” said Scott, adding that Thornton “told me in the box I got him pretty good when I knocked him out. It was a good fight and he stood in there. ... I was asking our trainers how he’s doing. You never want to hurt somebody; I was kind of concerned after the first period we never saw him again.”
“It’s a square off of two tough guys in the building,” Ruff said. “I didn’t really anticipate what was going to happen. John has provided us some team toughness and it’s spilled off into other guys. I thought he did a nice job for us.”
The Sabres called timeout with 13.6 seconds left when the Bruins put AHL call-up Lane MacDermid (73 penalty minutes in 32 games) on the ice against some of Buffalo’s skill players. Ruff put Scott back on the ice and the move didn’t go over well in some parts of the Boston locker room.
“He wants to be a big shot,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said of Ruff. “Not the best play to do. Pretty disrespectful. If he wants to be like that, that’s fine.”
“I didn’t want anything to happen,” Ruff said. “That’s what it was all about.”
Boston coach Claude Julien wasn’t overly bothered by the move.
“I don’t know why he took it, I really don’t know,” Julien said. “But he’s entitled to it, so I just played along with it. He might’ve thought that something was going to happen, which wasn’t.”
The defense pair of Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold continued to struggle, getting burned for three of Boston’s four goals although still finishing the game at minus-1.
“They had a couple tough ones,” Ruff admitted. “They battled through it, had a good third period. Those were tough but I liked the way the team rallied around them.”
The Sabres were on the ice Thursday morning for nearly 45 minutes, certainly longer than usual for a game-day skate. But they had a CBA-mandated day off Wednesday and will only have time for a light practice this morning at the Bell Centre in Montreal before playing games against the Habs Saturday and the Florida Panthers Sunday in First Niagara Center.
“You have to do things different now,” said Ruff. “From not practicing [Wednesday] to having a longer practice here, almost an in-between-games type practice. You have to do that.”
The Sabres scratched T.J. Brennan (healthy), Robyn Regehr (foot) and Patrick Kaleta (neck). Ruff said prior to the game Kaleta will be out “a while” after taking a hit from behind Tuesday from Toronto’s Mike Brown. Alexander Sulzer returned to the lineup.
The Sabres announced that MSG will air “Beyond Blue & Gold,” the team’s behind-the-scenes video series that debuted on Sabres.com. The first airing is Saturday at 1 prior to the pregame show from Montreal and the 30-minute program will re-air at 5 p.m.
The first four Web epsiodes, which stretch from early June to late November, were melded together for the television version. Events included are the combine held for draft prospects at First Niagara Center last June.