Lindy Ruff took one for the team on Monday.
Following an ugly 6-2 loss in Colorado, Ruff deflected criticism of his young, inexperienced defense by saying he needed to do a better job of preparing them.
“Our defense were a step slow — they were a step slow on the coverage,” Ruff said postgame. “I’m going to work with them. They’ve got to play in big situations against big players and they’ve got to make those plays for us.
“It really falls on my shoulders to get them there. Because they’re the guys that are going to have to play.”
Without injured veterans Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas, Dallas leaned heavily on the likes of Jamie Oleksiak (20 years old) and Kevin Connauton (23), more so after another veteran — Aaron Rome — was lost to injury after playing just 2:36 in the opening period.
Things blew up in the second period, as Colorado scored four times in an 11-minute span to put the game out of reach. All four goals came at even strength with Oleksiak on for one and Connauton on for two.
In protecting his youngsters, Ruff re-iterated that it’s on the coach to get them ready for the speed and pace of the NHL.
“We got some young defense that are playing in some bigger places,” he explained. “I’ve got to get them in a better spot.”