The wrath of Lindy Ruff is not a fun thing to endure. The coach has been with the Buffalo Sabres for 11 years, so by now fans know what it's like when he gets angry. The mouth tightens between spurts of profanities. The eyes squint, as if trying to send out daggers. Then, after his head angrily turns away for a moment, the scrunched face and squint return. The index finger points in the face of the person who's drawn his ire.
Normally, it's a referee, who takes the abuse for a second then skates away. Dmitri Kalinin, on the other hand, had nowhere to go Tuesday. The coach was upset with the defenseman, and Kalinin was going to hear about it.
Boy, did he. Kalinin coasted lap after lap around the Wachovia Center ice Tuesday during the morning warm-up, and Ruff was right with him. He skated next to Kalinin, yelling in his ear. He skated backward, nearly nose-to-nose with the defenseman, firing profanities in Kalinin's face.
"Play with some passion!" screamed Ruff, who benched the veteran for Tuesday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. "Play with some [expletive] passion! You're better than that!"
It was no coincidence Ruff conducted his session in front of the other players. He could have pulled the defenseman aside in the hotel, but with only one month left in the season, it was time to show the team there is no more fooling around.
"I'm just trying to inject a little fire into him," Ruff said. "I liked his response. He was fired up. He was upset, which is what he you want."
Kalinin was obviously upset. He'd occasionally say something back to Ruff, and was still red-faced and steaming when he talked with The Buffalo News after practice.
"I think he just tried to make a point," Kalinin said. "I think maybe he knows what he's doing.
"Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect. There is things I could have done better. It seems like it's not enough effort I put into the game. That's what he tried to tell me, and I'm fine with that. We'll see next game."
Kalinin, disappointed at being scratched, said the coach gave him no hints whether he'd be back in the lineup tonight when the Sabres host Washington in HSBC Arena. He will be. Henrik Tallinder will miss the game. Tallinder was injured at the end of the first period.
"He's talented," Ruff said of Kalinin, "but you've got to put the energy and passion into it at the same time. That's the point I was trying to make with him."
Ruff had room to put Kalinin on the bench because the Sabres recalled defenseman Andrej Sekera. The 21-year-old is back for his third stint of the season and was paired with Jaroslav Spacek on Tuesday.
Sekera had played 21 games this season, scoring once with two assists and a minus-5 rating. He was much better during his second stop than his first.
"He had a good 10-game segment," Ruff said. "He was averaging, the first eight games, 22 minutes a game, playing against all the top lines. He was very solid for us, and we need his wheels."
Sekera had a feeling a call might be coming after Brian Campbell was traded last week.
"I was a little excited when I got called up," he said. "Now I've got to bring the excitement to the game."
Daniel Paille, who has just two points in his last 13 games, also was scratched. Ruff dressed Andrew Peters instead of Paille or Clarke MacArthur. Paille or MacArthur will be back tonight because Tim Connolly cannot play in back-to-back games.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org