BUFFALO – To ignite the NHL’s worst offense, Sabres coach Phil Housley has been changing lines almost every day, moving players up and down the lineup.
So it wasn’t shocking to see winger Jordan Nolan, who has scored 22 times in 315 career NHL games, at left wing on a “scoring” line beside center Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo during this morning’s practice.
When you’ve been blanked in two straight games, promoting a fourth-liner isn’t that radical. Nolan scored twice in last Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Minnesota.
“The way he’s been playing in the last three or four games here, he scored a couple goals recently,” Housley said. “I like the way he attacks the game. He’s using his speed, he’s getting the opportunity, he’s controlling the puck down low in the offensive zone, he’s willing to go to the net. He brings a physical element to the game as well.”
The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Nolan recently showcased some strong chemistry with Okposo and center Jacob Josefson, who tweaked his right ankle and is back in a walking boot.
“It’s great,” Nolan, a preseason waiver claim from the Los Angeles Kings, said of his new line. “I came in here looking for a new opportunity and I think I’m playing well. … We all hang on to pucks. I think we all play the right way.”
Okposo said: “(Nolan’s) really heavy in his battles, wins a lot of one-on-one pucks … and kind of creates time and space for his linemates.”
The 6-15-4 Sabres have averaged just 2.2 goals a game.
The rest of today’s lines from left to right:
– Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville
– Benoit Pouliot, Kyle Criscuolo and Matt Moulson
– Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson and Sam Reinhart
Housley said defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen, who suffered a stinger in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay, and Josh Gorges had maintenance days today.
Meanwhile, TV crews from “Road To The Winter Classic,” the documentary series that will air on NBCSN, according to ESPN, leading up the Jan. 1 outdoor game have arrived in Buffalo.
Crews were filming around KeyBank Center today.
“It’s just getting used to the people around you, that’s going to be an adjustment for a lot of players in there, then it becomes second nature, you don’t even know they’re in the room,” Housley said. “I think it’s a great way to sell the game to our fans and our community, represent our organization in the best fashion.”
Housley experienced cameras as an assistant coach during the Nashville Predators’ playoff run last season.
“Maybe it’ll spark us, hey, we got people in the trenches in our locker room,” he said. “Maybe it’ll spark us and provide some really solid efforts moving forward.”
Update: The Sabres recalled goalie Linus Ullmark from the Rochester Americans on Thursday morning to practice for Robin Lehner.
5 thoughts on “Sabres promote Jordan Nolan to scoring line”
Phil Housley needs to go. He has no clue what he’s doing. He hasn’t made any of the defensemen better. The power play is worse. Eichel and Reinhart are worse. Scrubs like Nolan, Criscoulo, Josefson, Griffith, Moulson and Pouliot are playing over promising prospects. He’s playing everybody out of position. He promised a team with speed and skill, and he’s given us the exact opposite.
I’m embarrassed I ever wanted this guy…he’s a fraud who just looked good because of the talent he coached in Nashville.
Why is the reaction in Buffalo ALWAYS fire the coach? It’s the revolving door and system changes that have kept the team screwed up for years. First it was “Fire Lindy Ruff”. Funny, that didn’t solve the problem. Last time it was “fire Bylsma”. Didn’t help either. Now you don’t want to give Housley even a half season to start getting results. What do you expect? The fairy godmother to wave her wand and suddenly the team wins the Stanley Cup? The Sabres organization isn’t awash in talent. Maybe it was their decision 10 years back to do scouting only by video tape. Fact is, all that is immaterial. They’re rebuilding, switching GM’S and coaches every other year is NOT going to cure the problem, all you get is choas and no continuity. Keep it up and no prospects will want to touch Buffalo with a 500 foot pole. Edmonton made tbe playoffs last year. This year they are barely a few points above the Sabres in the standings. Rebuilding has it’s ups and downs. Housley is doing fine, he has hardly had any opportunity to get a system in place. Already the Sabre’s have used at least 11 defensemen, injury again has played havoc with a team that has little depth. I understand the impatience, the Bills have been forever in rebuilding, and we’re used to the Sabres being contenders. Detroit was horrible for years in the 70’s and 80’s, but once they got their system stocked through the draft they had a very long stretch of contending and winning. It just takes time and patience, something in short supply in Buffalo, and not totally unjustified.
See, he says he is going to change the lines, but Eichel-Kane are always together, O’Reilly-Okposo, are always together. Maybe try something radical like… Eichel on O’Reilly’s wing or vice versa, or putting Pouilot with Eichel and Reinhart, or just SOMETHING that is actually different. His steadfast refusal to break up pairings which just don’t work is mind boggling.
Heck, Girgs-Eichel-Pominville tend to work, they get great possession, but they get 2 periods to work and then he just goes right back to Kane-Eichel.
The whole team needs an overhaul, but he’s not doing anyone any favors with the line usages. I’d just love to see him get more creative with the players he has.
The truth is that Dan Bylsma should never have been fired, Phil Housley is killing this team with defensively minded systems, which won’t work in modern day NHL
This is and never was a quick fix. This team lacks speed and talent. It will be a few years before we start to see the effects of Botts drafts. The sabres still lack elite young scorers and that only comes by losing a lot and getting those picks right. 23 is looking more 3rd line talent and that hurts. Ask yourself how is it that every single team in the league is faster than the Sabres? They look slow on tv and even more so in person. Okposo and oreilly are sloooow and don’t score however occupy an enormous amount of cap space. I really don’t see them competing for anything but a lottery pick for the next few years.