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Video can wait as Sabres head back to work

Viewing of the tape will wait until Monday. The talking was done Saturday. Then it was time to get back on the ice.

There was no time for the Buffalo Sabres to brood over their implosion Friday night in KeyBank Center against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was just over 13 hours after the final horn of the 7-3 drubbing that they were back at it in HarborCenter.

The Sabres are taking off on Super Bowl Sunday, perhaps a chance for some introspection along with an eye on the Patriots and Rams. The better to be ready for the video Monday and then another practice prior to Tuesday's visit by Minnesota.

"I really wanted to get back to work today," coach Phil Housley said after the team worked out for roughly an hour Saturday. "To me it's a situation where we addressed it in the room. It was very evident when you watch the film although I didn't show them the film. I don't think it was the right time. I think more important is just addressing what has made us successful."

Specifically, Housley is looking for much more attention to detail. Better decisions with the puck, both in passing and shooting. And an increased focus on checking and awareness of the opponent, especially in front of the Buffalo net.

"We just have to find a way to get back to our identity, everyone buying into that every shift," said winger Kyle Okposo. "It’s not like every shift we’re giving up chances. There’s just some times when we’re pressing for offense and we’re not making the right decisions, then the puck’s back in our own end and we’re not defending hard enough. It’s not every shift, but it’s definitely a lot more than it should be.”

"You try to make plays to create offense and there will be mistakes," added winger Jeff Skinner. "When it doesn't go well, put your head down and work back. That's the way the game is. You want to capitalize on their mistakes and limit yours. We haven't done that enough lately."

Okposo said another thing the Sabres haven't done a good enough job of is separating themselves from a game and moving on to the next one.

"You can’t get too down and you can’t get too high," he said. "You’ve got to try and remain even-keel, and I don’t think we’ve done a good job of that. After a win, we’re just flying high and after a loss it’s not good. That’s not a mentality that really good hockey teams have. I think the really good teams, they don’t play well, they lose, their mentality is they’re going to win the next game."

"There's so many ups and downs you have to find a way to keep that even keel," Skinner said. "Move on to the next day, learn from the mistakes and build from the positives and get back to work. You have to look at it as any job. When you have a tough day, you go back to work the next day and try to get better."

The Sabres had 43 shots on goal in Friday's loss and passed up several other good scoring chances, particularly in the first period.

"That group in there really cares a lot," Housley said. "I think that's when we get too low when we lose. I think when we're in adverse situation and something goes wrong, it's how we react to that from that point and I don't think we've handled that very well."

Skinner is in his first big slump of the season, with just one goal in his last seven games. But the Sabres' first 30-goal man in seven years had 10 shots on goal Friday night, so he's not overly concerned.

"Lot of chances. I'd like to bury one of those, especially a couple that I had at big moments in the game," Skinner said. "When you're in a slump but you're getting chances, you have to keep at it because it will turn around."

Once first overall in the NHL, the Sabres have slipped to 10th in the Eastern Conference after Carolina's win Friday over Vegas. And they're now six points out of third place in the Atlantic Division after Montreal's 3-2 overtime loss Saturday afternoon to New Jersey.

"Obviously the result last night was tough to take for everybody in that room," Housley said. "We addressed it but what can we control? We control how we work today, how we come to work on Monday and try to put this one behind us and move forward."


The Sabres placed forward Remi Elie on waivers Saturday in a move Housley referred to as roster spot management. Elie had one assist in 16 games after being claimed from Dallas in training camp.

Three players missed practice, with Housley saying center Johan Larsson (upper body), defenseman Matt Hunwick (lower body) and goalie Carter Hutton (ill) are all day to day. HarborCenter director of goaltending and Canisius College assistant coach John Daigneau manned a net in Hutton's place opposite Linus Ullmark.

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