BUFFALO, N.Y. - When the Sabres claimed Jordan Nolan off of waivers in late September, coaches probably didn't expect him to play on the second line. Then again, the Sabres didn't think they would have the NHL's lowest-scoring offense through 25 games.
As Phil Housley continues to tinker with his team's lineups, his latest shake-up has a low-scoring, hard-working grinder (four points in 23 games this season) playing alongside Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.
"I came here to look for a new opportunity. I think I'm playing pretty well so the coaches reward me by playing with those two guys," said Nolan. "I played a bit of a factor last night [against Tampa Bay], and I think we had some good chemistry. We all play the same way. We all hang onto pucks."
Okposo has struggled this season (11 points in 23 games), and hopes a new linemate can help to create more scoring chances.
"I enjoyed playing with him when it was me, him and Joey (Jacob Josefson)," said Okposo. "He's gonna work hard and he's gonna go to the net. He's gonna go win battles in the corners. I think we need some more of that."
Coach Housley praised Nolan's physical play when the Sabres claimed him off waivers, and has been pleased with Nolan's play on the third and fourth lines.
"I like the way he attacks the game," said Housley. "He's using his speed now. He's getting an opportunity. He's controlling the puck down low in the offensive zone. He's willing to go to the net."
Housley has mixed up his lines throughout the season -- if Nolan wants to stay in the Sabres top-six, he'll have to help jump-start an offense that has been held scoreless for six consecutive periods.