BUFFALO – Before they could even begin practicing this morning, Ted Nolan wanted the Sabres to “fine tune” a little bit, “revisit things they used to do,” the interim coach said.
So for about 45 minutes on the First Niagara Center ice, Dawn Braid, the Sabres’ skating coach, put most of team through a series of non-traditional drills.
“Some of the things they used to do when they’re younger they don’t quite do it as naturally as they do now,” Nolan said. “So it’s just a reminder.”
Players often squatted. One drill they kicked out their legs. Another had them on their knees holding the boards.
It looked unusual. But players, many of whom work with Braid individually or in smaller groups during the summer, have seen results from it.
“It’s not trying to change everything,” Sabres forward Cody McCormick said. “It’s just trying to make sure you get the most out of every stride and having a slight adjustment to your technique so you can get something maybe a half-step quicker.”
It’s better working with Braid in the offseason, McCormick said.
“That’s when I think you can get the most out of it, when you’re repetitive with it,” he said.
The Sabres then practiced normally about 45 minutes. Their four-day break before Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers is the longest this season.
“There’s not going to be too many times in a season you’re going to have breaks like this, especially an Olympic year,” Nolan said.
McCormick added: “We’re going to be working hard. But at the same time, we’re going to make sure we’re doing our systems without having to think twice about them so it’s muscle memory on what we have to do out there.”
Nolan said McCormick should return from a four-game absence (lower body) Thursday.
Defenseman Alexander Sulzer missed today’s session (maintenance).