EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If Los Angeles Kings right wing Jordan Nolan has an extra jump in his step or more snarl Thursday, it will be because his father, Ted, is watching closely.
Nolan will play against his father, coach of the Buffalo Sabres, for the first time in an NHL game when the Kings and Sabres play at Staples Center.
"He's an NHL coach and he's also my dad, but he knows a lot about the game so I'm always trying to impress him, I would say," Jordan Nolan said. "I'm always looking for advice, and whenever he's in the building I push a little harder because I want to make him proud and show him what I got.
"I always seem to work a little harder when he's in the building, so hopefully the night goes well."
Jordan Nolan attended the Buffalo-Anaheim Ducks game Wednesday and the two got in some family time this week. Ted Nolan became Buffalo's coach in March when the organization removed the interim tag he had worn since November 2013. It was a reunion after Ted Nolan coached Buffalo from 1995-97, guiding it to the Northeast Division title and winning the the Jack Adams Award in 1997.
"We never thought this would happen again," Jordan Nolan said. "We always hoped to get another chance. But to do it in Buffalo, it's pretty special for him and for our family to back in that organization. And for myself to be here, it's pretty remarkable."
Prior to his second Sabres stint, Ted Nolan coached the Latvian national team. The time allowed him to watch Jordan play, which almost harkened back to when Ted coached Jordan's bantam team.
"I think he favored me a little bit; he played me a lot," Jordan Nolan said. "It was always nice to play for him. He always got the best out of me and he always pushed me hard."
So what is the scouting report that Ted gave to his team regarding Jordan?
"Hopefully he's telling them to not touch me [Thursday]," Jordan Nolan said. "They're hard working, they're physical and I'm sure they'll bring it [Thursday]."
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin will make his season debut after he was cleared to play from an upper-body injury. His return gives the Kings six available defensemen after Slava Voynov's suspension. The Kings could place Trevor Lewis on long-term injured reserve and recall another defenseman but that move doesn't appear imminent.
Muzzin said Wednesday that he's not 100 percent but can play. He expects some adrenaline in his first game, when he will be back with partner Drew Doughty.
"I'm definitely excited to play," Muzzin said. "I'd love to get into game mode early and often."
The Sabres will go with seven defensemen Thursday, with Nikita Zadorov making his season debut. The 16th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, Zadorov had been a healthy scratch in the Sabres' first seven games.
Here are the projected lineups:
Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Brian Gionta
Torrey Mitchell - Zemgus Girgensons - Drew Stafford
Marcus Foligno - Cody Hodgson - Chris Stewart
Nicolas Deslauriers - Cody McCormick
Josh Gorges - Tyler Myers
Mike Weber - Andrej Meszaros
Andre Benoit - Rasmus Ristolainen
Scratched: Tyson Strachan, Sam Reinhart, Brian Flynn
Injured: Matt Hackett (lower body), Patrick Kaleta (upper body)
Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Andy Andreoff - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez - Robyn Regehr
Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene
Suspended: Slava Voynov
Injured: Trevor Lewis (upper body), Marian Gaborik (upper body)
Status report: Carter did not skate but is expected to play. ... Kings coach Darryl Sutter changed his lines again, notably putting King with Kopitar and Brown. ... Quick was first off the ice. He has stopped 83 of 84 shots the past two games. … Enroth will start in goal for the Sabres. ... With Zadorov in Reinhart will be a healthy scratch.
Who's hot: Toffoli comes off his third multipoint game this season and has seven points in his past four games. ... Pearson has seven points to match his total in 25 regular-season games last season. ... The line of Toffoli, Carter and Pearson has combined for a plus-25 rating.