The Sabres will trot out new combinations on three of their four lines Friday when they host the Blue Jackets, and the reasoning is quite simple: The team that is averaging fewer than 2.5 goals per game wants to score more.
The Sabres, who haven't played since Saturday, finished a long week of practices with the following forward units in HSBC Arena:
Nathan Gerbe-Derek Roy-Thomas Vanek (new)
Drew Stafford-Luke Adam-Jason Pominville (new)
Tyler Ennis-Jochen Hecht-Patrick Kaleta (new)
Cody McCormick-Paul Gaustad-Mike Grier (not new)
"I’m just hoping just a little shake-up with the lines now with guys coming back in can breathe a little life into our offense," said coach Lindy Ruff, whose team is getting Drew Stafford back from a shoulder injury.
The most obvious chance belongs to Gerbe, who has no goals but is set to play with the Sabres' top two scorers.
"In Nathan’s case, he hasn’t been on the score sheet," Ruff said. "It’s a good opportunity. This is the type of opportunity he’s got to take advantage of."
The Sabres' lull in the schedule has allowed teams to play the games they had in hand and push Buffalo back in the points column. The Sabres are in 11th place, seven points behind eighth-place Boston (which has played two fewer games).
"With the start we got off to, let’s just be honest: We didn’t have many wins in those games at hand, so obviously some other teams are going to get some points," goalie Ryan Miller said. "We’re just going to have to make up ground over the course of 82 games."
They'll continue without center Tim Connolly (groin).
"He had a fairly good skate on his own today," Ruff said. "I would hope he would get involved in a more intense part of practice, a game-day practice tomorrow where he can come out with the team and start shooting. He hasn’t done any stops and starts yet."