Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Zemgus Girgensons, who's name means "one who eats lions," has been playing up and down the line-up all season playing mostly in the bottom-six. On a few occasions he was placed in a scoring role with the likes of Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly that line has had a modicum of success. But as things dried up a bit and "Disco Dan" Bylsma got his dancing shoes on and juggled his lines, Girgensons invariably found himself back in a checking role.
The 2012 first-rounder (14th-overall) has had a rough go of it this season. Last year he scored 15 goals and added 15 assists in 61 games centering Buffalo's top line before being shut down for the season due to injury. Even though top-line center was a bit above his talent-level, a top-nine/top-six role seemed to be about right for him heading into the season. Expectations were high for him coming in but he wound up starting the season-opener vs. Ottawa on the left side with Johan Larsson at center and Marcus Foligno on the right.
For posterity's sake the number one line this year was O'Reilly centering Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis while the second line consisted of Eichel centering Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart. With the Sabres down 2-0 heading into the third period vs. the Senators, Bylsma trotted out a line of Eichel, Kane and Girgensons. The Sabres would tie the game on a powerplay goal from Eichel then the trio tied the game before the goal was overturned on an offsides call. Bylsma said that the trio "lead the charge" that almost got the game to overtime.
Bylsma continued to juggle things preferring to think in terms of pairs on the forward lines and Girgensons found himself moving from top-line to the next two lines for a majority of the first half of the season. Many thought that Bylsma had himself a nice pairing when Eichel and Girgensons were having success, but as the points disappeared, so did the pairing.
Now, after a trying 67 games, Girgensons looks to have a golden opportunity to stake a claim to a top-six role as he's been practicing the last two days with Eichel and Reinhart. With the return of O'Reilly expected tomorrow, Bylsma broke up his top line by moving Kane to O'Reilly's left wing and using bottom-six forward Nicolas Deslauriers on the right. He kept the Larsson, Foligno, Brian Gionta line intact.
Will "Gus" make his mark?