The Sabres had an afternoon practice Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday night's flameout in Montreal and coach Dan Bylsma was understandably grim-faced.
Bylsma had a pointed, one-way chat with his players at the start of the 55-minute session and was far more to-the-point than normal when speaking with reporters afterward.
Asked about defenseman Zach Bogosian's career-worst minus-5 performance in the 5-2 loss to the Habs, Bylsma pointed his finger at his entire team as they prepare for Thursday's visit from the New York Rangers.
"That can’t be how we play. That can’t be who we are as a group," Bylsma said. "Zach’s part of that. That’s not who Zach is as a player. That’s not how he’s played for us over the past seven, eight, nine, 10 games for us. That wasn't a good game from from the group but that's also not who we are as a group and how we play. There's got to be a rebound as to how we respond."
"It is what it is and I know that," said Bogosian, who had twice hit minus-4 in his previous 506 NHL games. "You respect what happened because it wasn't good in any way but you have no choice but to throw it in the rear view and get ready for tomorrow night.
"We don't have much time to dwell on it anyway. We're right back at it tomorrow night. We play 82 games for a reason. We don't take what happened last night lightly. You have to come out the right way tomorrow night. It will be a good challenge for us."
The Sabres have won four straight in KeyBank Center to improve to 11-8-3 downtown this season. They've won three in a row against the Rangers, two this season, after dropping nine straight in regulation against them.
"We’ve been a hard team to play against, not necessarily physically or with how we play," Bylsma said. "But we’ve played a fast game, a game to the offensive zone and been a tough team to handle at home. That’s really where we’ve had our success in our games and had our success, whether it’s home or the road. That's what I think we've been able to do in the last recent stretch at home."
Bylsma said defenseman Josh Gorges (hip) has been skating the last three days and is closing in on a return to practice. Jake McCabe (shoulder) skated on his own Wednesday for the first time since he was injured Jan. 20 against Detroit. There's no timetable for the return of either.
The most notable line move at practice was Bylsma's demotion of Tyler Ennis to the fourth line with Cal O'Reilly and William Carrier. Matt Moulson took Ennis' spot with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.
Ennis has one goal in six games since his return from hernia surgery, and that came 19 seconds into his return Jan. 16 against Dallas.
Said Bylsma on Ennis: "He’s got to take whatever minutes he gets and do a lot more with what he’s bringing."