BUFFALO – Defenseman Justin Falk’s booming voice suddenly cut through the din of today’s intense Sabres practice.
“Shut the (expletive) up, you selfish (expletive),” Falk yelled as he skated at winger Evander Kane on the KeyBank Center ice.
Falk then shoved Kane before some coaches intervened.
Clearly, the Sabres’ wretched 10-win season has ignited emotions. About 30 minutes after the incident, Falk, who was battling Kane in front of the net, was still riled up.
“It’s just spur of the moment, emotions are running high,” an agitated Falk said in the dressing room. “This time of year, where we’re at, everyone’s got a situation they’re in, just heat of the moment, boiled over.
“To be honest, maybe a little bit more stuff like that is probably what we need, get things going here, get guys playing with a bit more passion, urgency.”
Kane also downplayed the incident.
“It’s just the heat of the moment,” he said. “It’s guys kind of trying to push each other, make each other better. I think that’s part of the game and you see it from time to time.”
Falk said exchanges like today’s are common.
“This is not the first time it’s happened by any means with any team I’ve been on,” he said. “To be quite honest, I think it’s healthy, you’re pushing each other, you’re honest with each other, you’re up front with each other. There’s no BS behind anything.”
Kane said: “I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal as you guys are making it out to be. It happens more often than maybe you guys see.”
Coach Phil Housley, who ripped his reeling Sabres following Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg, their fifth straight setback, said Falk and Kane’s intensity was needed.
“It’s good to see some emotion,” Housley said. “It was a pretty battle-(heavy) practice out there focusing on some areas that we need to improve on, some tempers flared up. But it was just more about being in the heat of the battle and guys being frustrated where we are.”
Falk added: “We’re all just getting impatient trying to figure out how to get things changed here.”
In injury news, the Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian left today’s session with an apparent left leg injury after getting tangled with Kane along the boards. Bogosian couldn’t put any pressure on his left foot as he was helped off the ice.
Housley said he would know more about Bogosian later today or Thursday.
Meanwhile, defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella had maintenance days today.
Center Jacob Josefson, who left Tuesday’s game after blocking a shot, is day-to-day with lower-body injury.
Goalie Linus Ullmark is still here in case as insurance for starter Robin Lehner, who was hit in the neck Sunday.
“Just precautionary for Robin in case he gets one off the shoulder in practice, we need to make sure we have a couple goaltenders out there,” Housley said.