BUFFALO – Before the Sabres started their first post-NHL All-Star break practice this afternoon inside HarborCenter, coach Dan Bylsma wanted his team to scrimmage. But instead of using five on a side, he had the entire team go out and threw two pucks on the ice.
He also instructed players to use their opposite hands, so lefties shot righty and vice versa.
As you might expect, it looked pretty odd. It wasn’t easy, either.
“It’s amazing when all you do is switch over hands and you feel like you can’t even skate properly,” Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges said. “It was a fun little way to get back, get the legs going again, have a few laughs.”
Eventually, the Sabres, who haven’t played in six days, got going and had an up-tempo practice for about an hour.
Why did Bylsma start the session so peculiarly?
“We’ve all been gone different places for five days or so,” he said. “(It was) putting your head on a different way and having a little game to start with, getting us back. You know what? You’re going to see more competition from me in our practices … the rest of the way.”
The Sabres could have close to a full crew when they resume play Wednesday in Montreal.
Gorges, out five of the last six games with an upper-body injury, practiced fully and should be able to play, Bylsma said. Ditto for winger Nick Deslauriers, who has missed the last 11 games with a lower-body injury.
Meanwhile, winger Sam Reinhart, out the last three games with an upper-body injury, practiced in a non-contact role. He should practice regularly Tuesday and could be available against the Canadiens, Bylsma said.
In other injury news, winger Tyler Ennis, out the last 13 games with an upper-body injury, is working out off the ice but hasn’t resumed skating, Bylsma said.
“He is progressing, but … it’s not enough for him to get on the ice,” Bylsma said. “I’d like to move him closer to week-to-week right now, but it’s not possible.”
Center Ryan O’Reilly didn’t practice because he was returning from the All-Star Game in Nashville.