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Bogosian, Beaulieu have formed chemistry on and off the ice

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

It's been a common sight to see Zach Bogosian leading pre or post-practice stretches at Sabres training camp, and he was one of three players - along with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane - to wear an "A" on his sweater as an alternate captain on Tuesday night. 

So, what kind of impression has Bogosian made on his new coach when it comes to leadership?

"Excellent," Phil Housley said Wednesday. "He comes to the rink with a smile on his face. He's willing and eager to learn, he's jumping in there, leading the stretch, leading the skate, saying the right things in the locker room. It's been a joy for me to come in here seeing what he's brought to our team."

It turns out, that leadership effort began long before training camp was underway. Bogosian was one of the first Sabres to reach out to Nathan Beaulieu when he was acquired from Montreal in June, and has since helped him grow accustomed to the city and the team. 

Bogosian recalled that it was Marcus Foligno who first texted him when he came to Buffalo in a trade from Winnipeg in 2014-15. Foligno went on to become one of Bogosian's best friends on the Sabres, and he's formed a similar relationship with Beaulieu over the last few months.

"Right away we kind of hit it off and became pretty close," Beaulieu said. "He's kind of taken care of me, new city new faces and stuff. He's helped me out a lot in that aspect. He's a huge leader on this team."

Perhaps it's the ideal situation, then, that Beaulieu and Bogosian have spent this first week of camp playing together as a defensive pair. Apparently, their chemistry off the ice has translated on it. Both players mentioned how easy the other made it in their preseason debut against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

"I thought Zach made it really, really easy on both of us," Beaulieu said. "He made simple plays and it was nice to find instant chemistry with him right away. I thought we did a lot of good things out there so it's something to build off."

"I like playing with Nate on the blue line because we both read off each other very well," Bogosian added. "We're both able to move the puck up to the forwards or kind of interchange on the blue line and we're both comfortable playing right or left side if we do end up on opposite sides."

Comfort between defensive partners if particularly important at this point in camp as players become accustomed to the offensive responsibilities that come with playing in Housley's system. Beaulieu said he wasn't asked to activate offensively as much in Montreal as he will be now, nor were the defensemen who played for the Sabres under Dan Bylsma last season. 

In that sense, Bogosian is particularly enthused about the upcoming season. He considers himself an offensively-minded defenseman and believes that playing for Housley can unlock an element to his game that may have been missing during his last two seasons in Buffalo. Bogosian had an average ice time of 20:05 last season, his lowest mark since his rookie campaign of 2008-09.

"That's your end goal, is to keep getting better and better every year and I think this style will fit into the way I like to play," he said.

As for his leadership at camp, Bogosian said it hasn't been a calculated effort. 

"I think it's just the way I am," he said. "That obviously comes with experience. I've been around for a number of years now where you get more and more comfortable and I feel comfortable with the guys here, but I think that's more my personality.

"… I try to be as open as possible," he said. "I like to be involved with the guys and energetic and loud and try to be that way in the room and have a positive attitude. I like being that personality in the room."


Scandella absent for maintenance day

The Sabres are continuing to play it safe with Marco Scandella, who took his second maintenance day this week on Wednesday. Scandella previously sat out of practice on Sunday, but has participated in two scrimmages since. He did not play in either of Buffalo's preseason games. 

Scandella underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left hip at the end of last season. 

"He had a really good day yesterday," Housley said. "We're just being cautious, like I said before. I really like the progression he's making. Instead of pushing the envelope, he had a tough practice, a high-paced practice yesterday, it felt good, let's just take it slow. He'll probably be back tomorrow."

Housley said the team has not yet decided whether or not Scandella will appear in one of Buffalo's two preseason games this weekend.


O'Reilly offers his take on faceoff violations

The NHL has been cracking down on faceoff violations so far this preseason, with two infractions on a given draw resulting in minor penalties. We saw one such call made against Carolina's Martin Necas in Buffalo's preseason opener on Monday night.

Few people are more qualified to speak on the subject of faceoffs than Ryan O'Reilly, whose 2,063 draws taken since 2015-16 rank second in the NHL only to Boston's Patrice Bergeron. His take on the League's newfound enforcement of the rule was that it may result in an increase in clean faceoff wins. 

"A lot of times I know if I'm in a big draw you want to get on top of the puck and you shield it so you don't lose it clean," O'Reilly explained. "I think it might bring up a little more skill. Your timing is going to have to be a little bit better because you can't rely on that as much. You're not going to be as close to the dot so it's going to make it a little more skilled with your hand-eye, your timing and your strength on your stick."


Lines at Wednesday's practice

Group A
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
67 Benoit Pouliot - 23 Sam Reinhart - 52 Stevie Moses
49 C.J. Smith/62 Brandon Hagel - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 59 Cliff Pu
83 Vasily Glotov - Kyle Criscuolo - 64 Vaclav Karabacek/46 Eric Cornel

45 Brendan Guhle - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
19 Jake McCabe - 27 Taylor Fedun
53 Devante Stephens/58 Austin Osmanski - 38 Cody Goloubef 
79 Vojtech Budik - 54 Brycen Martin

40 Robin Lehner
35 Linus Ullmark
34 Jonas Johansson

Group B
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville
26 Matt Moulson - 22 Johan Larsson - 24 Hudson Fasching
25 Seth Griffith - 10 Jacob Josefson - 13 Nicholas Baptiste
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 12 Kevin Porter - 95 Justin Bailey

82 Nathan Beaulieu - 47 Zach Bogosian
41 Justin Falk - 93 Victor Antipin
4 Josh Gorges - 5 Matt Tennyson
8 Casey Nelson

31 Chad Johnson
32 Adam Wilcox
33 Jason Kasdorf

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