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Latvian Locomotive down the middle: Girgensons back at center

By Mike Harrington

There's a Latvian Locomotive heading down the middle of the ice for the Sabres on what now looks to be a permanent basis.

Interim coach Ted Nolan said after practice today that moving Zemgus Girgensons back to center, his natural position, was not just a way to get him up to speed for playing there for Latvia during the Olympics. In fact, Nolan said, new GM Tim Murray and he have pushed aside Nolan's original thought of having Girgensons morph into a power winger and instead want him back in the middle.

Girgensons got some time there Monday against Edmonton and will be there Wednesday against Pittsburgh, with Phil Varone shifting to wing. The other winger in the current line configuration is Brian Flynn. Girgensons has five goals and 12 assists in 54 games this season.

"We talked about going forward and who we're going forward with," Nolan said. "It's really tough to find a real good center ice man. Wingers are a litle bit easier. We got a guy that grew up playing center ice. I had a good talk with him and he's real comfortable in that position."

Nolan made the change initially to relieve some of the pressure of playing center on Girgensons, who turned 20 this season.

"I was kind of flip-flopping back-and-forth when I first got here," Nolan said. "I put him at center ice because I thought he would be real good, Then you talk to some people and you have that thought, that maybe he’s a power forward. It kind of switched my mind a little bit too.

“All of sudden Tim comes in, who’s had a tremendous amount of experience in looking at this. So we kind of go back to sometimes your initial thoughts are probably some of the best. We’ll try him at that position.”


Olympics | Zemgus Girgensons
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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.

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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 |

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 |