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Sabres return from bye with something to prove

Beaulieu day-to-day with illness; Nelson recalled

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

With their bye week behind them and a trip to New York on the docket, the Buffalo Sabres returned to practice at KeyBank Center with renewed energy and focus on Wednesday morning. Not only did the team have five days off to rest and recover, they went into that break with a win over Columbus last Thursday.

Given the way they played in that victory, Phil Housley admitted his preference would have been to keep playing. The effect it had seemed to be positive nonetheless. 

"It was great that we won that game before the break because you could see the energy in our practice," Housley said. "[The team had] really good life out there. I think the guys are feeling good about themselves. I think the coaches are feeling good about themselves."

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Bogosian leaves physical, emotional practice with injury

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Following a loss to the Winnipeg Jets that prompted Phil Housley to call for his team to show a greater sense of defensive urgency, the Buffalo Sabres held a physical, competitive practice at KeyBank Center on Wednesday morning.

With that physicality came emotion, and potentially a loss on defense. Zach Bogosian had to be helped off the ice while battling Evander Kane for a loose puck in the corner on one drill. On another, emotions boiled over and prompted an exchange between Kane and Justin Falk. 

Housley said that the team will know more regarding Bogosian's status once he's finished being evaluated later in the day. As for the confrontation between Kane and Falk, all sides agreed that the emotions shown may have been healthy for a struggling team.

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After developing in Rochester, Guhle earns his chance in Buffalo

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

For the first half of this season, the Buffalo Sabres chose patience as their approach when it came to the development of defensive prospect Brendan Guhle. Veterans were recalled to fill injury-induced holes on the back end while Guhle adjusted to the professional game as a rookie in Rochester.

With two games remaining prior to Buffalo's bye week, the Sabres now see an opportunity to give Guhle his shot at the NHL level. The defenseman was one of two recalls, along with goaltender Linus Ullmark, to join the team for practice on Monday morning. 

"I think he's just earned his way up," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "He's in a good spot. He's in a winning environment down there which is great for the culture of the team. It's just a great opportunity to see what he can bring to practice."

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Following high of Winter Classic, Sabres get back to business in St. Paul

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - For a couple of days, all eyes in the hockey world were on the Buffalo Sabres. Evander Kane described the buildup to the 2018 Bridgestone Winter Classic as being almost NFL-like, between the media attention and the anticipation toward playing on a national stage. 

With that game now behind them, though, it was back to their usual daily routine for practice at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday. 

"I think it's just business as usual," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We had a day off yesterday to calm down from the Winter Classic game, and I thought we had terrific energy at practice today, really good execution."

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Smiles, memories abound as Sabres take the ice for outdoor practice

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

NEW YORK - It's been said so much, it's almost become cliché. When players have spoken throughout the buildup to the 2018 Bridgestone Winter Classic, they've almost always cited how playing in the event might take them back to their childhoods. Many of them learned the game on ponds or outdoor rinks. 

Seeing the smiles on the players' faces as they took the ice for practice at Citi Field on Sunday, however, one might have thought they were kids. As they skated through their drills and then welcomed their families onto the ice, the statement felt less like a cliché and more like reality.

Zach Bogosian, who has yet to play an outdoor game in 10 NHL seasons, may have summed it up best.

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Coming off of win in New Jersey, excitement for Winter Classic builds

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

NEWARK - Following their win over New Jersey on Friday night, Phil Housley said it was time for the Buffalo Sabres to enjoy the buildup to the 2018 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Citi Field on Monday. The team practiced indoors for the last time in 2017 on Saturday as families arrived to take part in the event.

"We're very fortunate to be in this Winter Classic number one," Housley said afte practice at Prudential Center. "But personally, being a first-time head coach and being right into it, it's pretty much a blessing for me. Not only for me, our coaching staff and our players and management and their families. We're going to take it all in. 

"It's great to go in with a win, I'm not going to lie. I think the vibe around the team's really good right now. We're looking forward to it."

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Josefson looks forward to 'special' return to New Jersey

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

NEWARK - As practice wrapped up for the Buffalo Sabres at the auxiliary rink at Prudential Center on Thursday afternoon, Jacob Josefson was called upon by his teammates to lead the closing stretch. This season, it's become customary for the player who leads the stretch to then give a message to the team before breaking the huddle. 

Josefson, a quiet presence in the Sabres dressing room, said he kept his message short and sweet.

"I just told the guys we have to win," he said. 

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As Winter Classic approaches, Lehner has fun with equipment at practice

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

As the new year continues to draw closer, more and more signs of the Buffalo Sabres' involvement in the upcoming Winter Classic continue to pop up in their dressing room at KeyBank Center. First royal blue gloves appeared in the stalls, followed by pants of the same color. 

After Chad Johnson debuted a Winter Classic inspired goalie mask earlier in the week, Robin Lehner joined in on the fun on Thursday. The goalie took warm-up shots prior to practice sporting an old-fashioned mask reminiscent of the 1970s, topped with a toque. 

Sadly, it was a short-lived experiment. After testing what it felt like to take a shot off the face, Lehner switched into a more traditional mask he had customized for the upcoming event. At the very least, he plans to wear the old-school mask for warm ups.  

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In the midst of scoring rut, Reinhart earns chance alongside Eichel

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Well after practice ended at KeyBank Center on Wednesday morning, Sam Reinhart and Ryan O'Reilly were the last two members of the Buffalo Sabres to leave the ice and enter the dressing room. That much is no surprise; the two have been participating in post-practice drills together dating back to Reinhart's rookie season.

But while Reinhart has continued to work as hard as anyone, it hasn't translated into production as of late. The third-year forward has tallied just one point, an assist, in his last 12 games. He admitted Wednesday that it's been the most difficult stretch of his young career.

"It's not easy," Reinhart said. "I'm showing up and working as hard as I can every day, and that's all I can do right now."

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Following another full practice, Josefson could return Tuesday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Following a second straight full day of practice, signs are continuing to point in the right direction for Jacob Josefson. The forward reacted well to practice on Sunday and, if he continues to make progress, he could be in the lineup for the Buffalo Sabres against Boston on Tuesday night.

Sabres coach Phil Housley said that Josefson's availability will be based on how his ankle responds to Monday's practice.

"We'll see how he reacts after today," Housley said. "Another good-paced practice for him, we'll see how he is tomorrow."

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