BUFFALO – It was a simple execution drill – “Attacking with wide speed and a middle lane drive,” Phil Housley explained – that forced the coach to lay into the Sabres.
Fresh off Wednesday’s embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Sabres looked sluggish early during this morning’s practice. At one point, associate coach Davis Payne yelled at the players to stop coasting.
Housley finally had enough after watching his players execute the drill incorrectly, yelling, “Get on your toes and start (expletive) working!”
“We weren’t doing what I told them to do … so I just tried to get their attention,” Housley said inside KeyBank Center. “The execution after that point was good.”
But should it have taken that much to get the NHL’s worst team to start working? The Sabres’ wretched effort left Housley seething after Wednesday’s game.
Eleven hours later, they still looked lethargic.
“You look at the body of work the last 20 games (9-9-2), we’ve moved in the right direction,” Housley said. “But it reminds us that we have to come prepared to play, whether you’re playing the best team in the league or one of the lower teams in this league, that it’s tough to win in this league and you have to have the same mindset, you can’t take anything for granted.
“I thought we didn’t have what it was going to take to win in yesterday’s game.”
Check back later for more from today.
In other news, Housley said goalie Chad Johnson, who took a shot off his mask Wednesday and left in the second period, is day-to-day. Johnson didn’t practice today.
“He’s a little banged up,” Housley said. “He hasn’t been diagnosed with a concussion.”
Housley said goalie Linus Ullmark will start Friday’s home tilt against the Montreal Canadiens. Robin Lehner, who’s been banged up and hasn’t dressed for three games, will likely back him up.
Meanwhile, winger Zemgus Girgensons, out the last two games with an upper-body injury, practiced today and has been cleared to play. Housley said Girgensons still needs to be evaluated.
Housley said defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella had maintenance days today.
Update: The Sabres sent winger Seth Griffith back to the Rochester Americans this afternoon.