Sam Reinhart moves back to wing as Sabres shuffle lines - The Buffalo News

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Sam Reinhart moves back to wing as Sabres shuffle lines

The lines will not remain the same.

Not when the Buffalo Sabres are still looking for their first win of the season, still looking for offense, still looking for a way to keep the puck from ending up in the back of their own net.

So Phil Housley shuffled the lines Wednesday morning as the team had an hour-long practice in HarborCenter before catching a flight to San Jose to begin their four-game West Coast road trip.

"I think you change the lines to try and get other guys going or maybe there's some chemistry that you're looking for. And that's why we made that change today," Housley said. "They could change tomorrow, but we'll try these combinations moving forward."

These combinations include having Jack Eichel center Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville. Evander Kane moves to a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo. Johann Larsson moves back to center with Sam Reinhart moving to wing along with Benoit Pouliot on the third line. The fourth line featured Seth Griffith, Jacob Josefson, and Jordan Nolan.

Moving Larsson back to center and Reinhart to wing could be a function of Housley looking for more speed up the middle. But then again, the first-year Sabres coach is looking for speed from every corner of the ice.

"I thought we did an excellent job of that in practice," Housley said of generating speed up the ice. "We've got to continue to work on that element in our game. Again, we just took Sam out of the middle to give him a different look, give our team a different look and the lines a different look."

Reinhart is used to shifting between wing and center. He did that throughout his first two pro seasons. Wing. Center. It's pretty much all the same to the 21-year-old.

"I mean, like I said, wherever I am, I'm going to try and do my best," Reinhart said after Wednesday's practice.

Reinhart hasn't had much to show for his first three games this season. No points. One shot. A minus-6. It wouldn't be so pronounced if every one else on the roster, with the exception of Evander Kane, was struggling as well. Reinhart believes his way out of the funk is to find a way to relax.

"Just relax, have fun. There's so many things going on," Reinhart said. "I know I'm not the only one when I say I'm fighting the puck a little bit. Just got to relax down low and find my game. ... I think I've got to make my mind up quicker. Once I'm on the puck I've got to move my feet a little quicker and open up the ice a little bit."

While new lines may help spark some offensive chemistry, Housley seems most concerned with the team defense, especially in the premium odd-man rushes the team keeps allowing.

"I think right now we're going to focus on keeping the puck out of our net," Housley said. "So we're really going to focus on defending well, taking care of our own zone, and then get five guys up the ice. You know the old saying -- five guys in D-zone, five guys through the neutral zone, and then five guys in the offensive zone. We focused a lot today on defending and breaking out."

Speaking of defense, Josh Gorges is likely to make his season debut on the trip. Gorges, who had been a healthy scratch for the first three games, was paired with Jake McCabe in Wednesday's practice.

Zach Bogosian, who has been out with a lower-body injury, will likely not make the trip.

"We're trying to be really careful with it," Housley said of Bogosian's injury. "He's moving in a good direction but again we've got to be cautious with it. Just make sure we take the right amount of time for Zach. It's a day-to-day situation still."

The Sabres had another brief injury scare in practice when Robin Lehner was hit in the face with a puck during a drill. Lehner went to the bench briefly, returned to practice, then left the ice early.

Phil Housley said Lehner was fine and left to receive some stitches.

"It was unfortunate but just glad that the worst of it is that it's some stitches," Housley said. "We let him go a little early so he could get on the plane."

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