It's not quite a version of "Where's Waldo" when looking for Sam Reinhart in the Buffalo Sabres lineup.
The forward played right wing and center for his first two professional hockey seasons. And the 21-year-old always maintains he's happy to play wherever, happy to have the opportunity to show what he's capable of while contributing to the team.
But there's something to be said for having a defined role. And since the Sabres opened camp on Sept. 14, Reinhart has found himself consistently at center.
"I think if you look at my last two years when I'm out playing my best and I do get moved to center, it elevates my game. It kinda forces me to move," Reinhart said Friday morning after practice in KeyBank Center before the Sabres hosted the New York Islanders.
Last season, Reinhart spent time on the wing of Jack Eichel then on occasion with Ryan O'Reilly. No complaints there. But having the opportunity to start the season at center has allowed Reinhart to grow into the position with a little more confidence over a longer period of time.
"I think this opportunity at center ... I was able to come in and get my confidence going right away, get the feel of the puck, get my legs under me. I think last game I really felt that," Reinhart said.
"I've been happy with my ability to pick up speed through the middle, to support plays. Like I've said in the past, I'm ready to go back and forth whether it's in the middle of a game or the middle of a season. I'm going to be ready whenever my opportunity comes whether it's with Jack to get ourselves going or with Ryan. Whenever the opportunity arises."
At Friday's morning skate, Reinhart was centering the third line with Matt Moulson and Seth Griffith. In Wednesday's game in Pittsburgh, he played on the third line centering Justin Bailey and Benoit Pouliot.
Reinhart is still looking for his first points of the preseason. He is a plus-one in three games. In his last game, against the Penguins, he had two shots on goal and played 15:01, including 2:03 on the power play.
More than the stat sheet, new coach Phil Housley has seen progress in Reinhart's game at center and sees potential for a boost in secondary scoring off Reinhart's stick, an important need for the Sabres this season.
"I think in this league, anytime you can be strong down the middle really helps your team. Everybody sort of gets in the right seat on the bus," Housley said. "We've been trying Sam in every game to get him some familiarity with it and get comfortable with it. It's been a work in progress. He's done a really good job of listening and trying to correct the things that he needs to correct. If we can get that third and fourth line to give us some secondary scoring which I think Sam can provide, that would really help our team."
The Rochester Americans will be in town Saturday, hosting the Toronto Marlies in a preseason game in HarborCenter.
Most of the Amerks, including head coach Chris Taylor, just left Buffalo to set up shop in Rochester. The return is part of a back-to-back series with the Marlies as the teams played Friday at the Polisseni Center on the RIT campus.
"We come back here right away, but it's kind of good," Taylor said. "The staff can see what they've done in the last week and how they're reacting to being in Rochester. It's a good thing that a lot of people will be watching again in Buffalo."
Individual game tickets are on sale for the opening round games of the IIHF Men's World Junior Championship being held in Buffalo Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.
Game tickets range in price from $10 to $75 with prices varying on teams and location. Games will be held in HarborCenter and KeyBank Center.
The Sabres Road Crew will make its first stop on Friday, Nov. 3 in Dallas before the team's game against the Stars on Nov. 4. The event will be held at Parlay Sports Club in Dallas Texas from 6-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and benefit the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
Fans in attendance have a chance to win two round-trip tickets home from Delta and can meet Sabres alumni Rene Robert, Danny Gare, and Rob Ray. Tickets can be purchased at sabres.com or by contacting Nick Fearby at 855-4452.
Story topics: Sam Reinhart