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Sabres search for lines for Foligno, Grigorenko

by Staff /

Entering the 2013-14 season, the Buffalo Sabres already know what to expect from veterans Ryan Miller (strong goaltending), Thomas Vanek (timely scoring) and Steve Ott (agitating opponents).

But when it comes to finding the right spot for young up-and-coming prospects, coach Ron Rolston is tinkering with his lineup.

That will continue to be the case Saturday night when the Sabres take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC).

It starts with wing Marcus Foligno, who has played well this preseason and will flank the team's top line alongside Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. Foligno scored two goals in his prior preseason appearance against the Columbus Blue Jackets, flourishing on a line with Vanek and Cody Hodgson. His second was a highlight-reel goal that held up as the game-winner in Buffalo's 3-1 win.

"That's where I'm most comfortable (wing), but center or wing doesn't matter," Foligno told the Buffalo News earlier in camp. "I'm happy to be on the wing though. Board play is kind of where my size comes in and I can get the pucks out and get up ice quicker."

The insurance goal was scored by center Mikhail Grigorenko, another prized prospect who has been moved around the Sabres lineup with the hopes of finding him a permanent spot. After scoring the shootout winner in the preseason opener against the Montreal Canadiens, Grigorenko centered Corey Tropp and fellow prospect Zemgus Girgensons against Columbus.

Against Toronto, Grigorenko will see more ice time centering the team's second line between veteran wings Ott and Ville Leino.

"It doesn't really matter who I play with. The most important thing is to make the team," Grigorenko said prior to the Sabres' 5-2 win Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I've already played in the NHL and know all the guys. My confidence is getting high."

Based on the play of Grigorenko, 19, and Foligno, 22, so far this preseason, each forward could find himself on Buffalo's top two lines opening night, which would inject some youthful energy into a team looking to improve in 2013-14.

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