It doesn’t take much searching to find a mustache at Buffalo Sabres practice nowadays. With “Movember” in full swing, whiskers are at a premium amongst players who aim to raise awareness for The Movember Foundation, which is committed to improving men’s health.
On Friday, however, one mustache on the ice was a particularly welcoming sight. It belonged to Zach Bogosian.
“We were on the ice at 11 or 12 and I think I was out here at like 8 o’ clock,” Bogosian said. “I was a little excited.”
The excitement came for good reason. After a week of skating in Buffalo while the rest of the team played in Florida, the defenseman participated in a full-contact practice for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury during the first weekend of Training Camp.
“It went good,” Bogosian said afterwards. “I’m just trying to get my legs under me a little bit in a practice; it’s a little different doing a rehab skate rather than an actual practice so you try to get your wind as good as possible but the only way to really get into game shape it to get into games.
“Hopefully I’ll get into a game here pretty soon.”
Both Bogosian and Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that the defensman remains day-to-day, with Bylsma adding that he hopes Bogosian can participate in a morning skate to test his game readiness at some point next week.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Bogosian on the ice since his injury. He wore a red non-contact jersey while practicing on Oct. 14 and traveled with the team to Florida that day with the expectation of participating in more practices.
That didn’t take, however, and he wasn’t seen in practice again until a brief appearance in Pittsburgh on Oct. 29.
As much as the Sabres have missed his presence on the ice, neither the team nor Bogosian wanted to rush his return.
“I’ve played through injuries before but this was one where if it wasn’t taken care of right away it could be nagging for a while,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure as well as the training staff, make sure that it’s feeling good and 100 percent before I came back.”
Now, after a week of skating, Bogosian says that he finally feels like himself again.
“I’m feeling confident, something that maybe when I was skating before I wasn’t as confident with it,” he said. “I’m feeling good.”
As for the thick hair above his upper-lip, Bogosian admits he had about a four-month head start on his teammates – rather than start from scratch, he simply shaved the beard around his mustache.
The team’s Movember page – where you can donate to support the men’s health movement which focuses on prostate and tesitucular cancer, mental health and physical activity – can be found here.
WEBER TO HAVE SURGERY
Bylsma announced that Sabres defenseman Mike Weber will undergo surgery on his lower-body injury on Friday. Weber left Buffalo’s morning skate early on Tuesday in Tampa and flew back home to Buffalo for further evaluation.
Bylsma ruled Weber was week-to-week while stressing that the results of the surgery will provide better insight into a specific timetable for his return.
The Sabres have won five out of six games, and Bylsma has attributed their success in-part to a newfound expectation to win within the team. That held true on Thursday when, despite not playing at their best offensively, the Sabres were able to earn a 3-2 win against Florida.
The Sabres were outshot 38-19 and yet led for nearly the whole game.
“We’ve seen it where we’re up 2-1 in Florida and Tampa, and we needed a goal to push them out of the game and make it 3-1,” forward Marcus Foligno said. “We got both those goals.”
Foligno said that the team’s confidence in those types of game has changed from their first 10 contests, when the Sabres were playing well in certain aspects of the game, but went 3-7-0.
“Yeah, big time,” he said. “When the game’s a 2-1 hockey game or a 1-1 game, you feel like, ‘We’re not going to get scored on.’ That’s the biggest thing. I think we feel like we’re not in a defensive mindset. We’re going to attack and we’re going to be fine in our zone.”
Winning has changed the team’s mindset in games, but the positive results won’t lead to them taking their foot off the pedal in practice. Despite a late flight back from Florida on Thursday night, the Sabres had a full session on Friday.
“No days off around here, that’s the biggest thing,” Foligno said. “We got in a late last night, we won two games, but it’s no big deal. We’re .500, not first in the league. That’s our goal.”