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Konopka eager for debut with Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO – The Buffalo Sabres will have a bit of a new look Saturday night when they play host to the New Jersey Devils at First Niagara Center.

Newly acquired forward Zenon Konopka will be in the lineup and forward Ville Leino will be out with a nagging lower-body injury. Konopka was picked up off waivers from the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

"I pride myself on other players not wanting to play against me," Konopka said. "Not just because of the fighting and hitting but just overall strength. I’m looking forward to that and also the penalty kill. I killed a lot early in Minnesota and kind of everywhere else I’ve been."

Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said Konopka will likely start on a line with John Scott and Matt Ellis. Rookie defenseman Brayden McNabb will also play against the Devils. Alexander Sulzer will be scratched.

Ryan Miller was the first goalie off at morning skate and will start.

The Devils will get defenseman Anton Volchenkov back on the against the Sabres. Volchenkov has missed the past three games with general body soreness.

With Volchenkov coming off of injured reserve, the Devils sent Eric Gelinas to the American Hockey League to make room for him. Gelinas had been playing well in his rookie season with four goals and 16 points.

"I think like a lot of young guys, you can almost map it out," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of Gelinas. "He came up and everything went right for a while and when the points dried up, like a lot of young guys, I think the tendency is to push a little bit to create more. Unfortunately it was at the expense of the defensive game."

The Devils are coming off a 5-3 loss Friday night to the Chicago Blackhawks. New Jersey is 7-1-3 in the second game of back-to-back game this season.

"We’re a veteran group," DeBoer said. "I think because we’re a system-oriented team, you know, the energy level doesn’t necessarily mean as much. I think our positioning and the way we play the game I think is more important. I think we can rely on our structure in these situations. I think that helps."

DeBoer said Cory Schneider will start in goal against the Sabres after Martin Brodeur started against the Blackhawks.

As for the lineups, here’s how they may look:


Matt MoulsonTyler EnnisZemgus Girgensons

Steve OttBrian FlynnMarcus Foligno

John ScottZenon KonopkaMatt Ellis

Linus OmarkJohan LarssonMatt D'Agostini

Tyler MyersMike Weber

Christian EhrhoffMark Pysyk

Brayden McNabbJamie McBain

Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Ville Leino (lower body), Alexander Sulzer, Drew Stafford (upper body)

Injured: Cody Hodgson (IR – thumb), Henrik Tallinder (upper body), Cody McCormick (IR – upper body), Kevin Porter (IR – lower body)


Dainius ZubrusTravis ZajacJaromir Jagr

Ryane CloweAdam HenriqueMichael Ryder

Ryan CarterStephen GiontaSteve Bernier

Reid BoucherAndrei LoktionovMike Sislo

Andy GreeneMark Fayne

Bryce Salvador – John Merrill

Anton VolchenkovMarek Zidlicky

Cory Schneider

Martin Brodeur

Scratched: Jacob Josefson, Cam Janssen

Injured: Patrik Elias (upper body), Damien Brunner (IR - knee), Adam Larsson (IR – lower body), Peter Harrold (IR – broken foot)

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