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Sabres eager to move forward following productive team meeting

Team addressed bad habits that led to loss on Saturday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Phil Housley chalked up a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday as "a stinker," and said his team could only control how it came to work the next day. 

The Buffalo Sabres didn't hide from that loss when they came to KeyBank Center on Sunday morning. They held a team meeting to go over what went wrong against the Flyers and addressed what they need to do to fix it. 

"We had to revisit it, for sure, just what happened, because that can't happen," alternate captain Kyle Okposo said. "We've been pretty good at home this year and I think that that game might've been coming for a little bit. That's unacceptable. 

"We've addressed it and we feel like we have a pretty good plan in place for how to deal with it and how we're going to come out on Tuesday. We've just got to get back to being us and we've got to learn from that game for sure."

Okposo suggested that the bad habits that led to the Sabres squandering a two-goal lead against the Flyers began to creep in during their 10-game winning streak in November. They were finding ways to win, however, which allowed those habits to slide. 

With a 0-3-2 record in five games since, including four one-goal losses, the Sabres used Sunday to evaluate their current position. They still sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 38 points, eight points ahead of the ninth-placed team in the Eastern Conference.

"Just to have some tough conversations, have some honest conversations about where we're at, good and bad," Okposo said when asked about the importance of Sunday. "We're in a good position, and it's not to discount anything we've done over the first 30 games. 

"But we probably were trending in the wrong direction. You could say before last game it didn't feel like we had lost four in a row, but there were some signs that we weren't going in the right direction. We should've nipped it earlier but we're here now and we're addressing it and we're going to fix it."

Players who spoke Sunday agreed that checking detail has been the biggest area of concern as of late.

"Just our overall urgency on the puck," forward Sam Reinhart said. "I think we're giving too much time and space to opposing teams. There's so much skill in this league, when you do that, teams are going to make plays. I think reloading on top of guys, closing on guys quicker in our own end and helping our goaltender is important."

The Sabres have a chance to rebound on home ice, where they're 9-3-2 this season. They'll practice on Monday in preparation for home games against Los Angeles on Tuesday and Arizona on Thursday.

"The foundation and the way we need to play, that shouldn't come and go," Okposo said. "That started to crack a little bit. You have to control the things you can control, that's our work and our attitude. We're going to move forward."

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