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Sabres hoping to be closer to health come Tuesday

Injury updates from Sunday's practice, plus our NFL experts pick the game between the Bills and Rams

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Well, the preseason was fun. But it's over now, and not a moment too soon - the Sabres are just four days away from their season opener at KeyBank Center against the Montreal Canadiens. That leaves them with three practices to prepare, including the 80-minute work day they had on Sunday morning. 

The team has the day off on Monday, and then the remaining two practices will emphasize fine-tuning their power play and penalty kill.

"Today was one of the longer practices that you'll see," Bylsma said. "We have practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, we have certain aspects of our game we want to get into with [those practices]. We'll see a heavy dose of special teams. Hopefully we'll have a closer complement to our full special teams those days."

Because of injuries, the Sabres still haven't had a chance to practice with their full special teams units. It looks, however, like they might be inching closer to health. Zach Bogosian (groin injury), Dmitry Kulikov (lower-body bruise) and Ryan O'Reilly (muscle spasms) did not practice, but they all skated on Sunday morning.

Bylsma said that Bogosian will return to practice on Tuesday and that he is hopeful for Kulikov to join him. O'Reilly's status is dependant to how his body reacts to skating after another day of rest. 

Kyle Okposo has yet to skate with a bruised knee and his status for Thursday's opener is up in the air.

"Long-term there's not a concern," Bylsma said. "Just his progression back to the ice is not happening, it hasn't happened quickly. The first few days were quite sore, quite stiff and hard to walk and the last three days have almost exponentially gotten better and better and better for him."

Marcus Foligno was also absent from practice due to illness. Anders Nilsson, who hasn't dressed in the past three games due to illness, did practice and Bylsma said he seems to have gotten better. 

It's football Sunday

Since ESPN has been struggling with their Buffalo Bills picks in recent weeks, we decided to ask some of our own NFL experts for their predictions for Buffalo's game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday evening. Without further ado, your Buffalo Sabres Official Week 4 NFL Picks:

Dan Bylsma: 23-17, Bills. - Bylsma called for a six-point Bills win and originally said they'd score 24, but then decided itt's unlikely for the Rams to finish with 18 points.

Jake McCabe: 21-17, Bills. 

Sam Reinhart: 24-17, Bills. - Don't let the one-possession score fool you - Reinhart said he thinks it's going to be a "heavy win" for the Bills. 

Tyler Ennis: 10-9, Bills. - Really the only deviant from this group. Ennis promised a defensive battle.

Matt Moulson: 21-13, Bills. - Moulson was the hardest player to get a pick from, but only because he didn't want to jinx the Bills. 

Sunday's practice

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
63 Tyler Ennis - 22 Johan Larsson - 26 Matt Moulson
70 Alexander Nylander - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 52 Hudson Fasching
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 27 Derek Grant - 12 Brian Gionta

Defensemen: 4 Josh Gorges, 34 Casey Nelson, 29 Jake McCabe, 45 Brendan Guhle, 41 Justin Falk, 6 Cody Franson

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

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