The Sabres need goals. Dan Bylsma hopes changing the scoring lines will help.
The coach swapped the right wingers on Buffalo’s top two lines Sunday. Kyle Okposo joined center Jack Eichel and left wing Evander Kane. Sam Reinhart moved alongside center Ryan O’Reilly and left wing William Carrier.
They’re expected to remain that way Tuesday when the Los Angeles Kings come to town.
“A little shakeup in the lines and combinations,” Bylsma said in HarborCenter. “Evander, Jack and Kyle, give them a chance to see what they can do as a line.”
Okposo has been one of the Sabres’ most productive players. He scored the lone goal during Friday’s 4-1 loss to Washington, giving him four goals and eight points in nine games.
Okposo may help reinvigorate Eichel, who has one assist in the last four games. He’s cooled off since coming back from his ankle injury with three goals and four points in two games.
Reinhart has been kept off the score sheet in three straight after a run of two goals and seven points in six games. O’Reilly has three-game point streak, recording four assists during the span.
The other lines featured Johan Larsson in the middle of Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta, and a four-man rotation of Zemgus Girgensons, Matt Moulson, Derek Grant and Nicolas Deslauriers.
While goals from the top of the lineup will help, the Sabres need some from other forwards, too. Girgensons has one goal in 16 games. Moulson has been blanked in the last eight. Larsson has two goals and no assists in the last 16.
“I think it will come,” said Larsson, whose line usually faces the opponents’ top scorers. “Clean up our own end first and think about offense later. There’s a balance there. We want to be good defensively. First of all, we want to be that, but we want to score goals, too."
While the Sabres went through an hourlong workout on the main rink in HarborCenter, injured defenseman Zach Bogosian skated in full uniform with rehab and development coach Dennis Miller on the secondary rink.
“He’s ramping up his skating from being on the ice to being on the ice with gear,” Bylsma said. “His skating level is going higher here. Hopefully, he continues to progress here.”
Bylsma said there’s no timetable for Bogosian to start practicing with the Sabres. He has been out since suffering a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee Nov. 1.
It’s been one month since forward Tyler Ennis had sports hernia surgery, an operation that could keep him out two months.
“Ennis is doing real well,” Bylsma said. “He’s progressed off the ice. He could very well shortly get to skating, but it would be skating. It wouldn’t be with the team.”
The Sabres’ only other injury is a shoulder ailment for defenseman Taylor Fedun. He will miss his fourth game when the Sabres host the Kings in KeyBank Center.
“Taylor Fedun is doing well, getting better, getting stronger,” Bylsma said. “There’s a possibility maybe after Tuesday’s game of getting on the ice.”
It wasn’t a lazy Sunday at the rink for the Sabres. They did an extended drill in which one group of five tried to keep the puck in the zone, while another group of five tried to clear it. It got intense physically.
“I’m glad that was evident,” Bylsma said. “We really just got down to the basics of what our game is there and how we need to play. I thought the last 20 minutes was how we need to play, and you’re going to see more of that drill from us in practice and hopefully see it in the game.”