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Vanek and Ott switched as lines seek chemistry

By Mike Harrington

MONTREAL -- Thomas Vanek has two goals in the last 11 games, while Jason Pominville has two in his last 12 (and none in the last seven), so interim coach Ron Rolston is breaking up his top line for tonight's game in the Bell Centre.

Vanek will skate with Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino, while Steve Ott moves to the No. 1 unit with Pominville and Cody Hodgson. The line of Marcus Foligno-Kevin Porter-Brian Flynn stays intact while the fourth line will be Drew Stafford-Patrick Kaleta-Jochen Hecht.

"We're not winning as much as we want so obviously we're going to change things up but it doesn't matter," Vanek said. "Whoever you play with you try to make the best out of it. I've always said it doesn't matter who you play with, how much. You're a professional and you move on and deal with it.

"It's not working the way we have been. Overall as a line we haven't been going as good as we want to. We're still creating stuff, my chances aren't going in."

Rolston said Sunday he felt the line was getting stale and reiterated that point today. He also like Ott's game in Washington, where the most irascible Sabre was under the Caps' skin all night drawing penalties. "He certainly offers a lot to a line," Rolston said.

"He plays heavy, gets in there, makes space and plays with a certain attitude. He's been that way since I've been here so it gives him a good opportunity."

"I'm excited," Ott said. "Cody has been phenomenal all year. He's a young talent that's worked hard. He's progressed and you can really see it in his game."

Vanek has really enjoyed playing with Hodgson, a right-handed shot who can feed him on either side of the ice. Ennis is a left-handed shot.

"With Cody I've had good chemistry. It's going to be different for me for a little bit," Vanek said. "I just have to adjust to those two [Ennis and Leino] and see where I can find my chances."

"Thomas is an amazing player," Ennis said. "Just get him the puck. When he's got the puck on his stick, there's a good chance it's going in. Sometimes it's good to switch it up. Change things up a bit might spark something."

"It's something where we're probably trying to spread scoring throughout the lines," Ott said. "Van has been an extremely strong asset for his team. He instantly makes any line he goes on a lot better. For myself, I try to play my similar game and hopefully find some chemistry throughout the lineup."

Thomas Vanek

Tyler Ennis

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Cody Hodgson | Steve Ott | Thomas Vanek
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | [email protected]

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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