Dan Bylsma wants more out of Sam Reinhart. He wants more out of the Sabres’ offense.
By switching the position of one, Bylsma hopes to change the fortunes of the other.
Reinhart, who had been the right winger on the top line through four games, shifted to second-line center Sunday when the Sabres practiced in KeyBank Center. He skated in the middle of Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons, and the trio should be together Tuesday when Buffalo visits Philadelphia.
“Sam needs to get a little bit more feet moving, a little bit more speed to his game,” Bylsma said. “He’s made some great plays for us early on … but we need to get more out of Sam, moving his feet more, playing a little bit faster, a little bit quicker and providing a little bit more offense for our team.”
A league-wide increase in scoring is one of the NHL’s early story lines, but that trend hasn’t included Buffalo.
“We’ve got six goals in one game,” Bylsma said. “You subtract that, we’ve got four in the other three games. We need to get more goals. We need to get more goals throughout.”
The Sabres rank tied for 21st at 2.75 goals per game but, as Bylsma noted, a 6-2 victory in Edmonton skews the numbers. The coach hopes a better showing from Reinhart can boost the output. Reinhart has no goals, two assists and nine shots in four games.
“We need to get more offense from throughout our lineup,” Bylsma said. “Sam playing in the middle, Sam playing on that line is something we’re looking for from that line.”
The move of Reinhart meant a promotion for Matt Moulson. The left winger skated on the top line alongside center Ryan O’Reilly and right wing Kyle Okposo. Moulson, who started training camp on the fourth line, has bolstered his position with two goals on 11 shots.
“The chance to go out with those two guys is an opportunity,” Moulson said. “They’re two great players.”
Moulson and Okposo often played on the same line with the New York Islanders from 2009 to 2013.
“We’re just going to try to rekindle some old magic,” Okposo said.
The Sabres’ other lines featured Johan Larsson in the middle of Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta, and Derek Grant between Nicolas Deslauriers and Hudson Fasching.
The Sabres recalled Fasching and defenseman Casey Nelson before practice after letting the duo play with Rochester on Friday and Saturday. Both scored once with the Amerks.
“I’m glad we could just put some minutes in there,” Nelson said. “When you don’t play for a while you kind of get out of it a little bit, so it was nice to get back in there.”
Nelson played in the Sabres’ opener Oct. 13, then sat for three games. Fasching played in the first two, then sat for two. Nelson is the Sabres’ seventh defenseman, so the rookie needs to learn how to stay ready with limited opportunities.
“It almost feels like I’m a freshman in college again,” said Nelson, who sat for long stretches at Minnesota State Mankato. “I didn’t get into the lineup until the end of the year in the playoffs, and it was practice that really set me up for the end of that year. It’s kind of the same thing here.”
Buffalo opted not to recall right wing Nicholas Baptiste, who was sent to Rochester with Fasching and Nelson. Though the 21-year-old is certain to get another call someday, he could become a historical footnote if he doesn’t return to the NHL.
Despite having one goal, Baptiste has no career shots and holds a shooting percentage of .000. Baptiste chipped the puck to the front Thursday in Vancouver, and it bounced off one Canucks player before being kicked into the net by another.