Sabres bringing new lines out west

Sabres head coach Phil Housley is making some changes after a winless start to the season

Paul Hamilton
October 11, 2017 - 4:48 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


San Jose, CA (WGR 550) - After a mandatory day off, Phil Housley changed his lines and defensive pairs. One of the biggest changes was Sam Reinhart moved to right wing and Johan Larsson went to center. Benoit Pouliot was the left winger on that line.

I believe Housley made the move to get more speed down the middle. He said, “I’m looking for speed in every situation up ice. I thought we did a good job of that today in practice and we’ve got the continue to work on that element of our game, but we just took Sam out of the middle to give him a different look and to give our team a different look.”

“You change the lines to try to get other guys going or maybe there’s some chemistry that you’re looking for."

Reinhart was pretty good against Montreal, but was awful against the Islanders and Devils. Overall he has no points and is minus six in three games. I asked Reinhart of he had trouble getting used to Housley’s system while playing center. He said, “No, I felt coming back into our own zone, picking up speed, I was feeling a lot more comfortable as I was going.”

For the Sabres to be a good team, they must get production out of Reinhart. He believes, “I’m just going to try to relax. I find there’s so many things going on and I’m fighting the puck a little bit, so I’ve just got to relax down low and find my game.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m squeezing my stick too hard, but I think I’ve got to make my mind up quicker and move my feet a little quicker and open up the ice a little bit.”

For Larsson, I think he plays much better up the middle. He said, “I’m happy, but I think I work well on the wing too, but it’s time for the middle and I’ll play where he wants me to.”

When Housley got here he talked about a fast game up ice with the defensemen joining, but he stressed that they couldn’t sacrifice the defense. That didn’t happen so practice on Wednesday had a different focus, “Right now, we’re going to focus on keeping the puck out of our net, so we’re going to focus on defending well, taking care of our own zone.”

Larsson said as bad as this team has played, it’s not just one thing, “We’ve got to work on a lot of things to get better. We have to start battling, we have to start to compete out there.”

Robin Lehner took a shot in the mask from Zemgus Girgensons. He got patched up and went back in net, but he had to come off again to get stitches.

Zach Bogosian did not make the trip, which will give him another week to get better. The same goes for Justin Falk and Evan Rodrigues.


Wednesday’s lines:


Kane - O’Reilly - Okposo

Girgensons - Eichel - Pominville

Pouliot - Larsson - Reinhart

Nolan - Josefson - Griffith (Moulson)


Scandella - Ristolainen

Beaulieu - Tennyson

Gorges - McCabe (Antipin)


PP1: Kane - O’Reilly - Pominville - Eichel - Ristolainen

PP2: Pouliot - Okposo - Griffith - Beaulieu - Tennyson

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