BUFFALO – Top NHL lines rarely get benched long, especially on anemic teams with little or no depth.
So why did coach Ron Rolston sit the Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis trio the final 26 minutes of the Sabres’ 6-2 loss Friday in Anaheim.
“I’m not going to discuss that,” Rolston said Monday inside the First Niagara Center after the Sabres prepared for tonight’s contest against the Los Angeles Kings.
As expected, the 3-15-1 Sabres, who have just 31 goals, mixed up their lines Monday.
Captain Steve Ott went on the right wing beside Moulson and Hodgson. Meanwhile, Ennis centered Drew Stafford and Ville Leino, a healthy scratch Friday.
Moulson clearly didn’t want to discuss the benching, although he said he “had a good talk with coach today.”
“We’re going to move on from that,” said Moulson, who has two goals and six points in six games since his Oct. 27 acquisition from the New York Islanders. “Obviously, in sports you got to put things behind you pretty quickly.”
What did Rolston want the line, which hadn’t been scored on, to do differently?
“Just to make sure we’re working,” Moulson said. “I think when you’re relied upon to produce in this league on a top line, obviously, you have to be the best line out there each game. Obviously, the staff didn’t feel like we were last game. I didn’t think we were. So move on.”
Rolston said about Moulson: “He’s a professional. He’ll be there.”
Hodgson said he hadn’t spoken to Rolston.
“That’s up to the coach,” the center said about sitting. “I just did my best to encourage the other guys.”
Ott’s presence gives the Sabres’ No. 1 trio some grit.
“We have to try to get some heaviness on that top line,” Rolston said.
Ott said he doesn’t “think there’s a first or a fourth line right now.”
“I think it’s more of a combination of who’s going and who’s not going on a nightly basis,” he said. “We need our line to be going to have any chance of success.”
The other lines Monday: Zemgus Girgensons, Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn; Corey Tropp, Cody McCormick and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Johan Larsson and John Scott appear to be the spare forwards.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (muscle strain) will return tonight following a one-game absence, he said.
Meanwhile, Mike Weber (broken thumb) practiced fully Monday. The defenseman, out the last seven games, could return this weekend, Rolston said.
Starting tonight, all fans entering the FNC will be subjected to a handheld magnetometer screening, the Sabres announced Monday.
The club began using the wands on a limited basis last season. To further comply with NHL security policies, the screening has been expanded.