Phil Housley says his positivity shouldn't be viewed as lack of accountability. The coach showed that to his struggling team Monday with a detailed meeting and hard practice.
Housley seemed to be lowering expectations Saturday night when he said Buffalo played well in a 5-1 loss to Dallas. On Monday, he showed the 4-8-2 squad what it did wrong.
"I tend to look at things in a different perspective just as a former player and now a coach," Housley said in KeyBank Center. "It's easy to be a master of obvious and really hammer the nail. I try to put the players in a position to succeed.
"We're going to still hold the players accountable – believe me. I think the message today was pretty strong in our meetings of doing the right things, playing the right way. That's where the accountability comes in because I think we have to have more urgency in our game defending when we don't have the puck.
"Until you see it on film, you can see what I'm talking about. That's more about the accountability. I don't think it's a negative message. It's just where we're at right now as a group."
Given the chance to expand on his comments in Dallas, Housley looked ahead.
"That game's behind us personally, and we're moving forward to the next game," said Housley, whose club hosts Washington on Tuesday. "We have an opponent that's been one of the best teams in the league. We're not going to dwell on it. We're going to work and learn from it, and that's the message I delivered today.
"I thought our practice was really good stressing some of the things we need to get better at."
When the Sabres took the ice, four of their top eight defensemen were still absent. That may not be the case much longer.
Housley said Nathan Beaulieu and Josh Gorges could return to practice this week, and Zach Bogosian has skated on his own the past few days.
"The bottom line is it's good to see the guys are starting to get healthy now," Housley said. "We've been depleted back there. It's given other guys opportunities, but it's good to see we're getting close to healthy."
The Sabres have already used 10 defensemen this season, which is part of the reason they're 4-8-2. They will still be testing their depth chart Tuesday. Rasmus Ristolainen didn't practice Monday, so he could miss his second straight game.
Here are Housley's updates on Buffalo's banged-up players, none of which skated with the team:
* Ristolainen (upper body) – "Rasmus is still day to day."
* Bogosian (lower body) – "Zach skated. He's moved back to day to day now with his injury. He's making progress. He's been skating now two or three days, which is encouraging."
* Beaulieu (upper body) – "Nate Beaulieu skated. He'll probably join us in practice this week, so that was encouraging."
* Forward Justin Bailey (lower body) – "He's still day to day."
* Gorges (lower body) – "Josh Gorges has made some great strides. He's been skating, and he'll probably join us for practice this week."
* Forward Evan Rodrigues (hand) – "He has been skating, but his situation with his hand, upper-body injury, it's taking a little bit longer."
* Forward Jacob Josefson (foot) – "Joey hasn't skated yet, so his lower-body injury is more of a week-to-week situation still."
Nick Baptiste's time on the sidelines could be over.
The winger joined the Sabres for their trip to Arizona and Dallas, but he didn't play. Baptiste spent all of Monday's practice on a line with center Sam Reinhart and right wing Seth Griffith.
The Sabres recalled Baptiste from Rochester last week. He had three goals and five points in eight games with the Amerks.
"My goal isn't to be a top scorer in the AHL," Baptiste said. "It's to play in the NHL. I'm excited to hopefully get in the lineup."
Monday's workout was Baptiste's first real one with the Sabres. He didn't skate the day Buffalo flew to Arizona, and the Sabres canceled practice after arriving in Dallas. Baptiste only took part in the light morning and pregame skates on game days.
"We wanted to give him a good practice," Housley said. "That was good to see him. I really liked that line and what they brought."
Baptiste took the spot of Zemgus Girgensons, who dropped down to skate with Johan Larsson and Jordan Nolan. Matt Moulson served as the extra forward.
Baptiste brings speed to the roster.
"That's something that I can bring to the table every night, shooting the puck and getting in hard on battles," Baptiste said. "I think I'm the type of guy that can bring a lot of energy to the team no matter where I am and who I'm playing with."