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Sabres Notebook: Sunday scrimmage will change pace of camp

Two groups of Buffalo Sabres have combined to endure seven hours of often-grueling practices the last two days, so the team will be getting a change of pace on Day Three.

The team will be holding its lone scrimmage of training camp at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The activity on KeyBank Rink is free and open to the public.

"I just want to see some competitive fire. I want to see some speed," coach Phil Housley said Saturday. "I want to see our checking come into play. We've been working on that the last couple days, just trying to squeeze off people in the neutral zone. They've done a good job of adjusting to that. It will be interesting."

The coaching staff spent considerable time drawing up teams in advance of camp, and those teams have been split into the practice groups that have been utilized the first two days.

Group A seems to have a bit of an edge, roster-wise. Its top forward line features Jack Eichel between Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo, and it has what figures to be the team's top two defense pairs heading into the regular season of Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen and No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin with Jake McCabe.

Group B features Casey Mittelstadt between Conor Sheary and Jason Pominville, as well as presumptive starting goaltender Carter Hutton.

Housley revealed at the end of the day he's been trying to stoke the emotion and get Group B fired up.

"When I was talking to the second group I said to them, 'They're talking trash about you guys,'" Housley joked. "I was just trying to set the tone."

Sunday's activities will start with both teams having a practice/warmup from 9:45-10:15 a.m., one team on each rink. The scrimmage is slated to run until approximately 11:15 a.m.


The full roster for Group A looks like this:

Forwards: Skinner-Eichel-Okposo, Alexander Nylander-Patrik Berglund-Justin Bailey, Victor Olofsson-Johan Larsson-Andrew Oglevie, Scott Wilson-Kyle Criscuolo-Eric Cornel, with Matej Pekar-Vasily Glotov as extras.

Defense: Scandella-Ristolainen, Dahlin-McCabe, Lawrence Pilut-Taylor Fedun-Zach Redmond.

Goalies: Linus Ullmark, Scott Wedgewood, Jonas Johansson.

The Group B roster:

Forwards: Sheary-Mittelstadt-Pominville, C.J. Smith-Vladimir Sobotka-Tage Thompson, Evan Rodrigues-Rasmus Asplund-Nick Baptiste, Zemgus Girgensons-Kevin Porter-Dan O'Regan, with Sean Malone-Tyler Randell as extras.

Defense: Nathan Beaulieu-Zach Bogosian, Brendan Guhle-Casey Nelson, Brandon Hickey-Matt Tennyson, Devante Stephens-Will Borgen.

Goalies: Carter Hutton, Adam Wilcox, Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen.


The Sabres worked on speed during Friday's opening day of camp and ratcheted things up Saturday with some heavy battle drills in the offensive zone in the second half of each session, once the groups moved from KeyBank Rink to New Wave Energy Rink.

"I like the physicality that we've brought," Housley said. "The guys are really competing. Each and every rep they're doing is really meaningful. ... Everybody pushing each other to get better. It got physical. It's great to see some emotion out there but it's all pointed in the right direction."


Housley said he will watch Sunday's scrimmage from the team's HarborCenter suite along with assistant coaches Davis Payne and Steve Smith.

Smith, the three-time Stanley Cup champion from Edmonton, played with Housley in Calgary and was hired away from Carolina over the summer. Housley said Smith will be on the bench this season running the defense and penalty-killing units. Chris Hajt, who was in charge of them last year, will continue to work with them but will be in the press box during games.

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