In a league where fans and media members have been calling for John Maclean's head only ten games or so into his rookie season as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, it is rather amazing that earlier this week Lindy Ruff reached the 1,000 games coached plateau---ironically in a game against Maclean's Devils.
Perhaps even more incredible is that Ruff has coached all 1,000---or 1,001 now after last night's contest with the Rangers---with the same team, the Buffalo Sabres.
He is one of only 18 men to have coached more than 1,000 games in the National Hockey League, one of only three to have been behind the bench for that many for one team, and the only coach in league history to reach the 1,000 games coached milestone having coached for only one NHL organization.
Ruff became head coach of the Sabres back in July of 1997. Since then there have been 155 coaching changes in the league, with every team except the Sabres and Nashville Predators (who entered the league in 1998-99) having made at least one.
Now with the Sabres off to a 5-9-2 start---a record that mainly reveals the early struggles and subsequent injury absence of the team's most important player, goaltender Ryan Miller---some have called for an end to Ruff's time in Buffalo. This after an even-keeled approach that has seen Ruff compile a solid 488-370-142 all-time mark with seven post-season appearances in 12 years for a small-market club that has undergone multiple ownership changes in his tenure and has never been known to ice a team with a large payroll. Not to mention Ruff led the Sabres to another division title last year.
Ludicrous, I say. Ruff has adapted to different personnel and different rules and style of play in the NHL from year-to-year as well, if not better, than any coach I can remember.
There might be issues with the Sabres, but Ruff is not one of them.
Congrats to a good man. And may these rumors soon fall by the side.
St. Louis and Tampa Bay Hit With Big Losses
The St. Louis Blues have been pretty much rolling along to start the season, winning 8 of their first ten games. However they hit some speed bumps this week, getting hammered by the Blue Jackets 8-1 on Wednesday and then finding out that the team's leading scorer T.J. Oshie (1-9-10) is going to miss three months of action with a fractured left ankle---joining four other key Blues, including forward David Perron and defenseman Barret Jackman---on the IR.
The Blues have a tremendous team-first concept and their depth of many interchangable parts is impressive. But now they are really being put to the test, and it will be quite interesting to see how they navigate this stretch. Since two of their five players out of the lineup have concussion-like symptoms, there is no telling how long coach Davis Payne will have to piece things together, especially now with Oshie gone until mid-February, as well.
There will be an inordinate amount of pressure on Jaroslav Halak to work some magic in goal in order to keep the good ship St. Louis sailing along.
And Tampa Bay is off to a pretty strong start, too, 8-5-2 good for second place in the Southeast and fourth in the Eastern Conference with 18 points. However during last night's 6-3 loss to Washington, the Lightning lost Vincent Lecavalier to a broken bone in his left hand. He will be sidelined 3-4 weeks.
Because Tampa Bay does not have a host of top-flight scorers outside of the league's leading goal scorer Steven Stamkos, high-flying Martin St. Louis, and Lecavalier, this injury could really slow down what has been a strong start to Guy Boucher's rookie season behind the Lightning bench.
Though his numbers are a bit down, Lecavalier has been creating scoring chances on a consistent basis and is still considered a threat when he's on the ice. His absence makes it easier for opposing teams to zero in even more on shutting down Stamkos and St. Louis.
Just as the Blues are faced with a big challenge, so, too, now are the Lightning.
A Real Boogey Night
Rangers coach John Tortorella scratched Derek Boogaard for last night's game against the Sabres. During his pre-game press briefing, Tortorella was asked by a half-joking reporter, "How can you do that? He's on a goal scring streak!"
Torts laughed, and you can't count one goal in 235 games a streak, but indeed the Boogey Man did pot a goal Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, and it was a real legit goal, too. Long hard slap shot. It's the type of goal no other Ranger has scored this season really. Not red-hot Brandon Dubinsky and his 10 goals, not sniper Marian Gaborik (who only played his fourth game last night due to an early season shoulder injury), not the revived Brian Boyle and his 7 goals.
No one on the Blueshirts has ripped a slapper past the goalie like that all season. Except for the Boogey Man.
If you have not seen it already, check out Boogaard's work here.
And enjoy it. Savor it.
Boogey's goals only come once every four-or-five years.
Follow Me On Twitter: @jimcerny and @thenyrangers