Tempers boil over during Sabres practice

January 10, 2018

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Phil Housley went after his team hard after Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg and he expected some passion in Wednesday’s practice.

He got what he asked for as there was plenty of hitting that resulted in Zach Bogosian getting hurt and an almost fight between Evander Kane and Justin Falk.

Bogosian hit Kane against the back wall with a hard body check. Both players went to the ice, but Bogosian stayed down. He was taken to the room not being able to put any weight on his left skate. Phil Housley said, “We’ll know more on Zach later today and tomorrow.”

Kane felt bad for Bogosian. They’ve been teammates since Atlanta and he said, “It was weird, we were just battling and got tangled up and we were both falling and obviously he was in some discomfort and just a freak accident and hopefully he’ll be OK.

“I’ve been playing with him my whole career and he’s had some tough breaks and hopefully this one isn’t too bad.”

The emotions in practice didn’t end there. Kane was battling in front with Justin Falk. Falk’s stick came up and clipped Kane who verbally took exception by repeatedly telling him to keep his stick down. On the next play, Falk caught Jordan Nolan up high and Kane started again from the neutral zone. Falk yelled to him to shut the blank up and then charged him yelling, “Shut the blank up you selfish blank.” Falk pushed Kane, but coaches got between them.

Practiced ended soon afterwards and Falk was on his way towards Kane. Jason Pominville intercepted him and wouldn’t let him get near him.

Falk was still angry as we approached him to talk. He’s angry because of where the team is and he’s angry because he’s not in the lineup. Falk said, “It was the heat of the moment, the emotions are running high this time of year where we’re at. Personally, everybody has a different situation that they’re in and it boiled over. To be honest, maybe a little more stuff like that is probably what we need.

“I think it's healthy. We're pushing each other, you’re honest with each other, you're up front with each other, there's no B.S. behind anything and that's just the way you have to have it."

Kane wasn’t upset about it at all. He 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 you guys see. It was just a battle and pretty quickly over after that."

“It’s just the heat of the moment, guys just trying to push each other to make each other better and I think that’s part of the game.”

Jason Pominville has been around the NHL for a long time now and he has zero problem with what happened in practice, “I liked seeing that, I mean yes, you don’t want it to get to the point where guys are fighting, but if it has to happens, it happens.”

Housley said the players have been cheating the system defensively and they won’t win until that changes. Kane said, “Surprised, no. When you’ve got 10 wins all year, something’s going wrong.

“There’s times where we’re cheating or we’re in between and I think you have to make a decision and stick with it, whether you’re thinking, you get caught and we’re getting caught too much and it’s leading to goals in the back of our net.”

Pominville has no problem with his coach calling them out. He said, “I totally agree with it and until we understand and take more pride in defending, it’s tough to win.

“The teams that are at the top, they understand how to play and how to play the right way and how to defend.”

Pominville liked today’s practice but he stressed that one practice doesn’t fix things. They need to do it more often, “It can’t only be one practice, yes today there might be more anger than there usually is, but the way we competed and the way we work has to be that way every day, not just one day.”

Jacob Josefson, Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella all missed practice. Housley said Ristolainen and Scandella were maintenance days while Josefson’s lower body injury is day-to-day.

Wednesday’s lines:

Pouliot - Ecihel - Okposo

Girgensons - Rodrigues - Reinhart

Wilson - Larsson - Nolan

Kane - O’Reilly - Pominville

Linus Ullmark practiced with the team for a third straight day. Housley said it’s just because Lehner is still a little sore and they’re just making sure he can get through practice.