Video: Sabres in :90 (2/10/17)
As the Buffalo Sabres continue to navigate their way through as busy a portion of their schedule as they'll see all season - they're now three games into a stretch of nine in 14 days - they called a bit of an audible before hitting the road for Toronto on Friday.
What had been scheduled as a practice day at HarborCenter instead was used for a team activity.
"We play a ton of hockey the last 10 days and we play six in nine here," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We had a meeting, we had a video, and just an activation here and an activity with the group."
Video: BYLSMA: After Practice
"It was just nice to have a little fun," forward Kyle Okposo said. "You're playing so many games here and your mind is on hockey constantly. It's nice to get a little change of pace, take your mind off things and hopefully be rejuvenated tomorrow."
The Sabres are coming off of a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, a game in which they were unable to carry the momentum from their 5-4 come-from-behind win over San Jose in the game prior. There were few bright spots to choose from in that game, but with little time to rest between games, the focus on Friday was quickly putting the loss in the rearview mirror.
"It was tough sleeping last night knowing I could've been a lot better and impacted the game a lot," forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "But coming to the rink today, it's a new day and we've got to prepare for Toronto. It's going to happen but my focus is on tomorrow's game and making an impact."
Buffalo's game in Toronto on Saturday is the first of three remaining games against the Maple Leafs this season. The Sabres are 7-10-3 against the Atlantic Division this season and 0-2-0 against the Maple Leafs, who they trail by seven points in the standings.
"Any divisional game right now is huge for us," O'Reilly said. "They're four point swings and this Toronto team, last few games I think have been disappointing against them. We can be a lot better against them and they're right above us. They're a team we can catch if we chip away and get back in this."
"That's where you make the playoffs is right there, pretty much," Okposo added.
Zemgus Girgensons did not play on Thursday, and Bylsma said he hasn't recovered as quickly as the team had hoped. He'll sit for at least the next two games on Saturday and Sunday and then be revaluated on Monday.
Defenseman Cody Franson, meanwhile, was injured while blocking a shot with his foot against Anaheim and underwent further evaluation on Friday. He will not play in Toronto.
With Franson, the Sabres already had seven healthy defensemen on their roster, meaning Taylor Fedun can step into the lineup without making a recall necessary if they so choose.