BUFFALO – Following two wretched losses in which opponents outscored the Sabres 12-5, coach Phil Housley, as expected, mixed up his lines and defense pairs today, making changes to every combination.
“You change the lines to try to get the other guys going or maybe there’s some chemistry you’re looking for,” Housley said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “That’s why I made that change today. They could change tomorrow.”
The 0-2-1 Sabres face the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the start of a four-game western road trip. The Sabres have historically done well in San Jose, although they often struggle on California trips. They also face the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and the 3-0 Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s newest team.
While it’s early, a disastrous trip could bury the Sabres.
Here are today’s forward lines and defense pairs from left to right:
– Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo
– Zemgus Girgensons, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville
– Benoit Pouliot, Johan Larsson and Sam Reinhart
– Jordan Nolan, Jacob Josefson and Seth Griffith
– Marco Scandella and Rasmus Ristolainen
– Nathan Beaulieu and Matt Tennyson
– Josh Gorges and Jake McCabe
Housley put Reinhart back at right wing after he spent training camp and the first three contests at center, his natural position. Reinhart mostly played wing his first two NHL seasons.
“Give him a different look, give our team a different look,” said Housley, who also took Reinhart off the power play.
Nolan replaced Matt Moulson. Larsson had been playing the wing. Gorges, a healthy scratch the first three games, moved in for rookie Victor Antipin.
“We need to make some changes,” Housley said. “We had to make changes because we haven’t won two games, so we’re just giving our defense a little different look.”
Housley put Eichel, Ristolainen, Pominville, O’Reilly and Kane on the first power play, promoting Pominville and Kane. The second unit consisted of Beaulieu, Tennyson, Griffith, Okposo and Pouliot.
In other news, defenseman Zach Bogosian, out since suffering a lower-body injury in the preseason finale, likely didn’t accompany the Sabres on their trip.
“We’re trying to be really careful with it,” Housley said. “He was moving in a good direction. We got to be cautious about putting him into a practice and take the right amount of time for Zach.”
Despite getting hurt 12 days ago, Housley said Bogosian is still day-to-day.
Meanwhile, goalie Robin Lehner left today’s practice early after taking a puck in the face. Lehner initially stayed on the HarborCenter ice. He departed early so he could get stitches and make the team’s flight, Housley said.