CALGARY, AB -- The Buffalo Sabres haven’t tinkered much with a lineup that finished 12th in the Eastern Conference a season ago, opting to add from within.
Instead, the majority of the changes have come off the ice. The Sabres relieved coach Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier of their duties in mid-November.
On the ice, youngsters like Zemgus Girgensons have been given an opportunity to flourish in Buffalo while Cody Hodgson has handled a readily expanding role. Veterans, such as goaltender Ryan Miller, could be showcased with aspirations of challenging for a playoff position in 2013-14 dwindling.
This Season: 7-23-2, 16 points (16th in East)
Last season: 21-21-6, 48 points (12th in East)
Notable Additions: D Jamie McBain, D Henrik Tallinder, LW Matt Moulson
Notable Subtractions: LW Nathan Gerbe, D Adam Pardy, D Andrej Sekera, LW Thomas Vanek
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
Ennis, one of Buffalo’s most productive forwards, has three goals and four points in his past four games. The 24-year-old sits seconds on the team in goals (7) and points (13). The former Medicine Hat Tigers forward and first round pick from 2008 has played the Calgary Flames just once in his career and was held pointless.
Leino has struggled to live up to the six-year, $27 million contract signed two summers ago. The 30-year-old is still looking for his first goal of the season and has just 15 shots on net to show for his offence. Leino does have five assists in 19 games, but has failed to get on the score sheet in each of his past four outings.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Acquired in exchange for Zack Kassian at the 2012 trade deadline, Hodgson has been a key cog for the Sabres since arriving on the scene. He was second only to Thomas Vanek in scoring a year ago, while Hodgson leads all Buffalo scorers this season in goals (8) and points (18).
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, it hasn’t taken long for Girgensons to make an impact in the Sabres lineup. After spending last season in the AHL, Girgensons has played 31 games for Buffalo this year, recording three goals and 10 points.
Moulson, who joined the Sabres after being swapped for Vanek earlier this season, has acquitted himself well with his new club. The 30-year-old has four goals and 11 points in 19 games in Buffalo, running his season total to 10 goals and 20 points.