Ruff leaves Buffalo in victory while Sabres smoulder

Adam Proteau
186146773 Ruff

The hockey gods know what they’re doing. You could see that in Buffalo Monday night, when that city’s adopted prodigal son Lindy Ruff and his Dallas Stars came to town just in time to help close out an era and beat the Sabres 4-3. Coming just one day after the trade that sent longtime Sabres winger Thomas Vanek to the Islanders for Matt Moulson and draft picks, Ruff’s visit was the second-last nail in the coffin of an old, often-exciting-but-ultimately-disappointing time in Buffalo. (The final nail will come when goalie Ryan Miller is traded in the coming months.)

And the way Ruff’s Stars won – getting two goals from cornerstone talents – represents a vision of the future Sabres fans can look to for some solace in these increasingly bleak days.

Ruff was given a hero’s welcome that included a video tribute in his first game back in Western New York since being fired by the Sabres Feb. 20.

Once that was through, Dallas hung on for the victory after going up 4-1 midway through the second period.

For as bad as the Sabres have been – and make no mistake, they’ve been mind-numbingly, Black-Eyed Peas-ingly bad – the Stars needed this win. They were still only 5-5-1 on the season after beating Buffalo and sit second-last in the Western Conference. But at least they’re getting production from star forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, who scored the Stars’ final two goals of the game.

Buffalo might have a load of promising prospects and high draft picks in its system, but they don’t have anyone comparable to Benn and Seguin right now. Right now, they’re still in the smouldering crater mode of their organizational disaster. If there were anything positive to take away from the game, it was the excellent Sabres debut of Matt Moulson, who was part of the return in the Vanek trade; Moulson scored two goals, lending credence to the already-rather-credible theory that he is a talented player who didn’t score only because John Tavares allowed him to. That should make him a more valuable trade chip to cash in before the March 5 deadline.

But on a night that included a nod to the past, that’s what it’s come down to for the Sabres: they have to look to the future, because the present is too unsightly to focus your eyes on for any extended period.