BOSTON (CBS) — When Lindy Ruff called a timeout with 13.6 seconds left on Thursday night, just after the Sabres had scored an empty-net goal to take a 7-4 lead, many eyebrows went up in the arena and in living rooms watching from home.
In a newfound rivalry with Boston which has seen Buffalo on the losing end much more often than the winning side, it made sense to most folks that the Sabres’ coach called the timeout to soak in the victory and rub it in the Bruins’ faces.
If that were the case, it wouldn’t be a major deal, but it would have added an intriguing pro-wrestling angle to a division rivalry.
However, after the game, in the tunnel behind the visiting locker room, Ruff offered up his reasoning for the timeout.
“Well when [Lane] MacDermid was [lined up on the faceoff] with one of our skill players, I didn’t want anything to happen,” Ruff said. “That’s really all it was about.”
Ruff then ended his media session, his explanation given, but was that reasoning really less offensive than the perception of taking an extra 30 seconds to bask in the glory of victory?
Consider what Ruff was saying. By claiming he “didn’t want anything to happen,” he was insinuating that he thought there was a chance that Lane MacDermid, he of six total NHL games, would risk a suspension by jumping a Sabres forward in the closing seconds of an already-decided game. Ruff’s players obviously had no intention of getting physical or fighting when they were just 13.6 seconds away from a big win, so the coach was essentially saying that MacDermid would possibly ambush Jason Pominville.
That’s worse than what we all originally thought, right?
“I don’t know. I don’t know why he took it … I really don’t know. But, he’s entitled to it, so I just played along with it,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He might’ve thought that something was going to happen, which wasn’t, but that’s probably for him to answer. I don’t know.”
Ruff’s fears weren’t entirely out of the blue. The thought was before the game when Julien announced MacDermid would take Chris Bourque’s spot in the lineup that the B’s were gearing up for a heavily physical matchup with the Sabres. However, after John Scott knocked Shawn Thornton out of the game in the opening three minutes of the first period, the game hardly had a physical tone at all. In fact, the Sabres were credited with 20 hits on the night, while the Bruins were credited with just 17 hits.
Not many Bruins offered their opinions on the timeout, but one player who wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts was Brad Marchand.
“Yeah, he wants to be a big shot,” Marchand said of Ruff. “It was not the best play to do, but pretty disrespectful. So if he wants to be like that, that’s fine and we just have to move on.”
The Bruins no doubt will move on, as they have three games to play before their next meeting with the Sabres on Feb. 10 in Buffalo. They’ll then face the Sabres again just five nights later in Buffalo again, and it’s safe to assume that timeout might be in the back of the minds of the Bruins.
It’s certainly not the biggest deal in the world, and frankly, a little gamesmanship is always appreciated. It is, however, a notable addition to a rivalry between two teams that simply cannot help but increase the bad blood seemingly every time they meet.
Toucher & Rich discuss Lindy Ruff’s late timeout with Billy Jaffe.