Well, at least he stopped blaming the officials.

The Globe and Mail reports from Buffalo’s Thursday’s practice that Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff has publicly pleaded for his best players to step up their games in time to save the season, as the Sabres host the Bruins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series tonight with their backs firmly against the wall.

“Our key players have to make a difference and they haven’t yet. It’s disappointing,” the coach said.

The Sabres are still waiting for Paul Gaustad’s first point in the series, while Tim Connolly, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville have recorded just one point each.

That’s all the more reason why the Bruins have to put the final nail in Buffalo’s coffin in order to avoid any or all of those Sabres standouts finding the touch.

“Yeah, we’re not contributing offensively like we want to,” Roy said in the same story. “We’re getting the minutes, we’re getting our scoring chances but we’re not putting them away. The onus is on the top six forwards. We’ve got to go out there and do a good job.”

The other big reason to put the finishing touch on Buffalo is that the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston’s likely second-round opponent, after Brian Boucher and Philadelphia eliminated New Jersey and assuming Washington disposes of Montreal, is going to have to work a little harder to defeat Ottawa. The Penguins lost a third-period lead at home last night and dropped Game 5 of their series in triple overtime to the Sens. Pittsburgh will be on the road for Game 6, so at the very least they’ll be working an extra couple days in order to move on.

The extra rest for the Bruins would also get them a chance to get Marc Savard, and maybe even Mark Stuart, back in their lineup for the start of the second round.

Elsewhere last night, the Sharks went up 3-2 on Colorado with a 5-0 shutout and Chicago evened its series at 2 with a 3-0 win over Nashville.