Brandon Montour is a possibility to play this weekend after taking part in his second full practice with the Sabres this afternoon as KeyBank Center.
Montour first skated with the team Sunday, his first practice since sustaining a hand injury during Buffalo's second game of the preseason. Following a game day Monday and a day off on Tuesday, he practiced today on a defense pair with Rasmus Dahlin.
With the Sabres scheduled for back-to-back games this weekend - in Washington on Friday, followed by a home game against the New York Islanders on Saturday - coach Ralph Krueger said it is unlikely that the defenseman sees action in both contests. A final determination will be made later in the week.
"We still haven't made a call," Krueger said. "Today was really the first practice where he started to feel comfortable with all the traffic out there. I mean, he's been doing a lot of solo figure skating, which is skating, skating, skating with nobody else on the ice.
"You add all those other bodies, suddenly it becomes a different world. We thought he's evolved quickly. We'll look at the skate tomorrow and then we'll assess, but he's definitely doubtful for two games this weekend."
Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Ralph Krueger Press Conference
Montour was exposed to more physicality in practice No. 2, a product of where the Sabres are in their schedule. They're currently amid of stretch of three days between games, the first such occurrence this season. They played 13 contests in 26 days concluding with Monday's shootout loss to Arizona.
Preparation for Washington - currently the only team above Buffalo in the league standings - begins Thursday. Wednesday was more about learning from their game against the Coyotes and continuing to form habits they have begun to instill during a 9-1-2 start to the season.
"More than anything, it's improving what's happened," Krueger said. "I thought we got a little bit softer on our defensive game after the quick lead against Arizona. We let a little bit loose. We found our way back in again and then a little bit loose at the end of the game again, the last four or five minutes. Then in overtime, we were strong again. So, we kind of drifted.
"We're not reinventing anything at all anymore. We're just trying to stick with our plan right through 60 minutes. That, I've told you all along, will be an issue for a while because the natural instincts, with a little bit of fatigue, end of a long shift or whatever, will take over. But it's really about just improving on the foundation that we've laid down."
Let the guys play
Players have spoken since the start of camp about Krueger's calm presence on the bench during games. Likewise, the coach has explained his tendency to not want to overload players with information between shifts.
Krueger offered more insight into that philosophy Tuesday, responding to a question about the teaching responsibilities of assistants Chris Taylor and Steve Smith within games.
"First of all, we all, more than anything, are staying in that game and keeping the guys on topic, which is their next shift," he said. "We don't do teaching to the extent that it distracts or disrupts their processes. You don't see a lot of iPads flying around on our bench. I'm not a big fan of distraction because they need to stay focused on the next step.
"Chris will bring inputs here and there if they're relevant for the game and the same with Smitty. Otherwise, we leave it. If it's something that has a minute chance of showing up again in the game, it's not going to be addressed during the game. It's important to understand the difference between those two, to let the guys play. That's what it's really all about on the bench."
Lines at practice
68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
43 Conor Sheary - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 71 Evan Rodrigues
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 62 Brandon Montour
19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
33 Colin Miller - 10 Henri Jokiharju
58 John Gilmour
40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark