Buffalo Sabres: Positive steps for Zach Bogosian

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 17: Zach Bogosian
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 17: Zach Bogosian /

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian finally returned to the ice, as he took part in the team’s optional skate on Wednesday.

Thanksgiving Eve was a tough one for the Buffalo Sabres and their fans, as the team lost 5-4 to the Minnesota Wild and remained firmly rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. However, it wasn’t all bad on Wednesday and there is actually something to (sort of) give thanks for.

As per WGR 550‘s Paul HamiltonZach Bogosian finally returned to the ice, as he took part in the team’s optional skate ahead of the Wild game. The good news continued, as Bogosian was joined by Rasmus Ristolainen and Matt Tennyson.

However, let’s concentrate on Bogosian, given that he has yet to play this season. He suffered his lower-body injury back at the end of September, during a preseason game against the New York Islanders.

This was understandably a big blow for the defenseman and the Buffalo Sabres. It was predicted the 2008 third overall draft pick would benefit more than most from playing under Phil Housley, who enjoyed a Hall of Famer career on the blue line.

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It was also perceived as a crucial campaign for Bogosian, who was coming off arguably his worst season since entering the NHL. No one doubts his ability, especially with his excellent mobility for such an imposing physical presence, and yet he still hasn’t fully tapped into his potential.

If doesn’t help that the 27-year-old has had ongoing durability issues, during his nine+ years in the NHL. With this in mind, it was understandably why he felt compelled to return as soon as possible.

Unfortunately for Bogosian, this resulted in a setback in his recovery. If noting else, at least the setback caused him to stop rushing and to take a more cerebral approach, which has benefited him.

The Massena, New York native discussed his rehab on Wednesday, after the optional skate. As per John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Bogosian said:

"“I just tried to be smart about it the second time around. It seems like I’ve turned the corner, and I’m just trying to now get back into practice with the team and then into a game.”"

The Buffalo Sabres have had absolutely no luck with injuries on their blue line this season. While Bogosian and Ristolainen are two of their top defensemen, it doesn’t help when your depth players are also missing time.

As a result, the Sabres have the second-worst goals against average in the NHL, heading into Friday’s slate of games. In that respect, Ristolainen is apparently closer to a return than Bogosian, according to Hamilton.

Regardless, from Bogosian’s point of view, he’s excited and raring to go. As noted by Vogl, he said:

"“I told everyone I’m ready. I’m in good shape right now. I felt good. I felt fresh, and the legs were going.”"

The alternate captain did add that it’s up to the coaches and medical staff to determine when he returns. Whenever it is, it can’t be soon enough, with the Buffalo Sabres on a seven-game losing streak.

Next: Sabres lose wild game

In the grand scheme of the season to date, how encouraged are you by Bogosian’s progress? When he finally returns, do you see the defenseman helping get the Sabres’ season back on track? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.