It’s safe to say the Buffalo Sabres haven’t gotten off to the start that they had hoped to this season. The team has started the season 1-3, and have had their offense go missing at crucial times.
Coach Dan Bylsma hasn’t kept the same line combinations for more than a game, and it doesn’t appear that that’s going to change anytime soon. After falling to Florida on Thursday by a score of 3-2, Bylsma is switching things up once again, and in a pretty big way.
For the first time all season, rookie Sam Reinhart will get his opportunity on the top line at wing alongside Tyler Ennis and Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly is being moved back to center after a couple of games on the wing.
Reinhart has shown an impressive front net presence during his chances on the power play, which has lead to this opportunity on the top line. Until now, the 19-year old has been predominantly on the fourth line alongside Nicolas Deslauriers and Marcus Foligno.
Bylsma also confirmed that veteran David Legwand will be back in the lineup after sitting Thursday’s game in favor of the returning Brian Gionta. With his return, Johan Larsson will be watching the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night from the press box. Joining him is Carlo Colaiacovo, who is sitting in favor of rookie Jake McCabe for the third consecutive game.
The rest of the lineups for tonight’s contest appear to be, based on reports from the morning skate, as follows:
Jack Eichel and Evander Kane have shown signs of great chemistry early on, but Kane has yet to find the back of the net. One has to feel it’s coming soon when he gets chances as good as what he had against the Panthers.
Chad Johnson will get his fourth start in a row for Buffalo; Nathan Lieuwen will once again back up “ocho cinco”.
Buffalo may get some help from the Lightning due to injury as defenseman Victor Hedman is likely to miss the game after suffering what appeared to be another concussion in their loss to the Dallas Stars. Without Hedman, Tampa Bay will be missing a big — 6’6″ 230lb big — presence in their back end. This should give the Sabres a little more space to work in the offensive zone.
Ben Bishop will start in net for the Lightning, giving his team some insurance against a team he has the number of. Bishop has a record of 7-0-1 with a 1.71 goals against average against Buffalo for his career.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.