The Buffalo Sabres still don't have a captain on the ice, as Craig Rivet will be scratched for the 12th straight game tonight when the Anaheim Ducks come to HSBC Arena.
Perhaps a captain could have shaken his teammates in the locker room after a no-show like the 4-0 hole the Sabres dug Friday in the first period of their eventual 6-2 loss at Florida.
Perhaps a captain would have made no difference. But coach Lindy Ruff is no closer to dealing with the issue of his team's vacant captaincy than he was when Rivet was first scratched in October. Ruff, in fact, cut off his meeting with reporters Monday in HSBC Arena and left the room when questions continued about the captain.
"It's not an issue," Ruff said after practice. "A captain doesn't help you score. When you get 20 guys or the five guys on the ice, they either help you score or help you prevent [goals]. The captain can't do anything even if he's sitting on the bench."
Reminded the Sabres are going through an unusually long stretch without a captain, Ruff shot back: "We've played without one, yeah. We still have one."
Asked if he was planning on addressing the issue, Ruff said, "That's it," waved his arm and walked out.
"We have enough guys who can step up when Rivs isn't there, who can help out and speak up," fellow veteran Mike Grier said. "We had guys speak up. It was just a flat effort [at Florida]. Before the game, I felt like we were ready but we didn't go out and execute."
Tonight's game against the Anaheim Ducks is the only one on the Sabres' 82-game schedule that will not be televised.
Prior to the season, Versus claimed Tuesday night as an exclusive window in the U.S., thus precluding any telecasts on this side of the border of the game in Buffalo as well as St. Louis at Atlanta, Calgary at Columbus and Montreal at Dallas.
What game did Versus make the big claim on to shut everybody else out? New Jersey at Washington -- the disastrous Ilya Kovalchuks against the suddenly woebegone Caps, who were in an 0-6-2 slump until a win Sunday at Ottawa, 3-2.
Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert said that, despite the lack of a telecast, overhead camera views run by a league operator will still be available to the NHL war room in Toronto in the event of a dispute over whether a puck has crossed the goal line.
The Ducks are in a tough spot in the ultra-close Western Conference largely because they had already played 36 games, the most in the NHL. Anaheim entered No. 37 Monday night at Boston eighth in the West with 38 points -- but teams 9-13 were all within six points and all had at least four games in hand.
It will be the first game back in Buffalo for defenseman Toni Lydman since he signed a free-agent deal with Anaheim on July 1. Lydman, who missed much of training camp with an acute case of double vision, entered Monday's game with two goals, 10 assists and a plus-17 rating that's tied for fifth overall in the NHL.