It's not unusual for the Buffalo Sabres to follow a day away from the rink with a work day at practice. Even by that standard, it's not every day that they dial up the type of intensity that was on display in a 5-on-5 drill to conclude their session at HarborCenter on Sunday morning.
"Really we just got down to the basics of what our game is there at the end and how we need to play," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "That last 20 minutes was how we need to play and you're going to see more of that drill form us in practice and hopefully see it in the game."
Video: Sabres in :90 (12/11/16)
Alternate captain Ryan O'Reilly said the physical practice was a means to the end of regrouping from a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
"I think we had a good day off. Obviously that was a tough loss," O'Reilly said. "We needed a good practice, we needed to regroup here, and I thought it was a good one. A lot of compete drills and battling, and that's what it comes down to at the end of the day is winning battles. The team usually that wins the most battles wins the game and it was just a good practice to get us physical and get us back into that mindset."
With 27 games under their belt, the Sabres are now nearly one third of the way through their regular season and sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points. They also rank last in the League with 55 goals scored.
Having said that, they're still only six points behind Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand. The Sabres and Bruins still have two head-to-head games remaining, both of which will take place at the end of December.
"I think we're a little bit disappointed right now," O'Reilly said. "We've lost a lot of games that we easily could've won, it's the small little details. For myself, scoring's been down and that's frustrating, that's something I have to be better at but we aren't happy with where we are. We want to be better and we want to be back in this race. Look at the teams ahead of us, it's there. We get on a bit of a roll we can get back into. That's our focus here and we have to start soon."
The Sabres next game is at home against Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
While the Sabres practiced on one rink at HarborCenter, Zach Bogosian skated alone on the other. Bogosian has missed 18 games with an MCL sprain sustained on Nov. 3. Bylsma said there is still no timetable for his potential return to practice.
"He's ramping up his skating from being on the ice to being on the ice with gear and his skating level is going higher here," Bylsma said. "Hopefully he continues to progress here. We haven't put a timetable on it yet. "
Fellow defenseman Taylor Fedun did not skate on Sunday, but Bylsma said he is progressing and may be able to return to the ice following Tuesday's game against Los Angeles. Fedun has missed three games with a shoulder injury.
Tyler Ennis, meanwhile, is nearing a return to ice after missing the last 15 games with a groin injury.
"Ennis is doing real well," Bylsma said. "He's progressed off the ice and could very well shortly get to skating here soon. But it would be skating, it wouldn't be with the team in that regard."
Lines at practice
48 William Carrier - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 23 Sam Reinhart
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 27 Derek Grant - 28 Zemgus Girgensons
29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 6 Cody Franson
4 Josh Gorges - 41 Justin Falk
40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson