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Nolan shifts Sabres' lines for first game of return

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Ted Nolan's first game as interim coach of the Buffalo Sabres will be one loaded with potential storylines as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

The Sabres worked through drills during the morning skate after a vigorous practice Thursday. There will be a few notable switches in the team's lineup as Zemgus Girgensons and Ville Leino will play center and Marcus Foligno will return to the wing.

"We want to put these players in a position where they feel comfortable so there's no excuses," Nolan said of the moves.

Nolan mentioned Leino's time with the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers and cited his time before coming to the NHL playing center for making the move.

Ryan Miller was the first goalie off at morning skate and is expected to start for the Sabres.

The Maple Leafs will have issues of another kind as Nazem Kadri will serve the first of his three-game suspension on Friday for interference on Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.

"Obviously it's disappointing to miss some time, especially because it's kind of out of my character to do something like that," Kadri said. "I haven't been involved in anything like that before. Just kind of a funny play where I ended up on the wrong end of it. It's definitely disappointing."

Kadri's suspension, along with injuries to Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland, has forced the Maple Leafs to use their depth in the American Hockey League to fill in at center.

"I have to say this is a new one," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said of having to play without the trio. "That's what coaching brings you, experiences, and your experiences you can never predict. You have Plan A, B, C and D in the drawer and we're at E and F right now."

The Maple Leafs recalled center Trevor Smith from the Toronto Marlies on Friday to replace Kadri and will have him working on the third line against the Sabres.

"It's always tough to lose a couple guys at the same position, but with the leadership crew we have here and throughout the organization, we'll be all right," Smith said.

The Maple Leafs had an optional skate Friday and James Reimer was on the ice to get more work. That points to Jonathan Bernier getting the start.

Bernier and Miller faced each other during the preseason in a game that saw David Clarkson and Phil Kessel served with suspensions after separate incidents with Sabres forward John Scott. Retribution, though, isn't on anyone's mind.

"I don't really expect anything too serious to come into that Kessel thing," Scott said. "I think everyone's calmed down. It was a while ago now. We're just going to play some hockey."

As for the lines, the Sabres could have lots of changes through the game, but here's what things could look like for both teams.


Matt Moulson - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford

Steve Ott - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis

Marcus Foligno - Ville Leino - Brian Flynn

John Scott - Cody McCormick - Corey Tropp

Tyler Myers - Henrik Tallinder

Christian Ehrhoff - Mark Pysyk

Rasmus Ristolainen - Jamie McBain

Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Mikhail Grigorenko, Johan Larsson, Nikita Zadorov

Injured: Mike Weber (broken thumb)


Joffrey Lupul - James van Riemsdyk - Phil Kessel

Mason Raymond - Jay McClement - David Clarkson

Troy Bodie - Trevor Smith - Carter Ashton

Frazer McLaren - Jerred Smithson - Colton Orr

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Mark Fraser - Paul Ranger

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Morgan Rielly

Suspended: Nazem Kadri

Injured: Dave Bolland (ankle), Tyler Bozak (hamstring)

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