The Buffalo Sabres' 2006-07 lineup is steadily solidifying with only a week remaining in training camp.
A total of 15 players have been reassigned to various teams - five returned to juniors and 10 traveled down the I-90 to become members of the Rochester Americans - dropping the current roster to 30 players.
Daily practices are now taking on more of a likeness to those during the regular season, with the team spending more time honing offensive and defensive systems rather than working on fundamentals.
The coaching staff's focus has shifted from evaluation to preparation for the Carolina Hurricanes on October 4.
"We just continue to work on the system," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff following practice on Monday, "which is puck possession and a lot of offensive zone time."
Repetition breeds habits, and good habits can be explained as simply being predictable for your teammates. That predictability will allow for sharper passing and a more cohesive offensive attack.
"We want to move the puck to where people are and sometimes where we anticipate where people are going," Ruff said.
But the Sabres offense continues to be without one of its leaders.
Buffalo's offensive lines will remain in limbo until co-captain Daniel Briere makes his return to the ice. Briere sustained a hip flexor in the first period of Buffalo's 4-0 win over Toronto last week and has been absent from practice since.
"It's pretty tough to get lines set with Danny [Briere] out of the lineup," said Ruff. "I just don't think too much will be set in stone until he returns. [Briere] still has the hip flexor problem, but hopefully, we can get through that and get him back on the ice."
On defense, the team continues to preach limitation of opponent opportunities and chemistry between defensive partners. With five of their top six defensemen returning from last season, familiarity among pairings shouldn't be an issue.