BUFFALO – If you had told Phil Housley prior to the season the Sabres would finish October a solid 6-4-2, the second-year coach said he would’ve been pretty happy.
The Sabres, of course, hardly enjoyed a perfect month. They suffered some blowout losses. Right now, they’ve lost two straight games in overtime.
Still, the Sabres have a five-game point streak (3-0-2) entering Thursday’s tilt in Ottawa. They’re clearly a much better team than last season, when they finished dead last.
This Sabres just finished their best October since they started 6-4-0 in 2011-12 and their best month overall since going 7-4-4 in March 2016.
Naturally, Housley said “you always want more.”
“But when you look over the body of work, I really like the way we played maybe since the game in San Jose (on Oct. 18),” he said following today’s practice inside KeyBank Center. “Even though it was a lopsided loss, I liked the way we played five-on-five, and that carried through to Los Angeles and Anaheim and even Montreal.
“So if you’re asking me if I had to evaluate October, we’ve met our expectations moving forward, but we can’t rest on our laurels.”
Following Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary, a game in which the Sabres blew a 1-0 lead in the final minute, Housley switched up his lines today.
Remi Elie, a healthy scratch nine times this year, moved beside center Casey Mittelstadt and Sam Reinhart. Elie is from Cornwall, about an hour away from Ottawa.
“He’s sitting out, he’s fresh,” Housley said of Elie. “He’s going to bring some tenacity and physicality on the forecheck, his speed of the game is going to be important. His background … I think will give us a spark. He’s going to get an opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Vladimir Sobotka centered Conor Sheary and Kyle Okposo.
Defenseman Jake McCabe, out with an upper-body injury Tuesday, practiced beside Rasmus Ristolainen today. Rookie Rasmus Dahlin went back beside Casey Nelson.
Nathan Beaulieu was the odd defenseman out.