Game 21 Preview: Buffalo Sabres @ Philadelphia Flyers

hartnell-stafford

Image courtesy of Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres (5-17-1) @ Philadelphia Flyers (8-10-2), 7:00PM EST, MSG-B, BELL TV, CSN-PH

RECORDS:

Buffalo Sabres (5-17-1)
Away: 3-8-0
vs. Eastern Conference: 3-8-1
vs. Metropolitan Division: 1-3-0

Philadelphia Flyers: 8-10-2
Home: 4-7-0
vs. Eastern Conference: 7-7-1
vs. Atlantic Division: 3-3-0

GAME 21 PREVIEW:

Looking for points in six straight, the Philadelphia Flyers (8-10-2) play host to the Buffalo Sabres (5-17-1) at the Wells Fargo Center this Thursday night.  The match-up will be televised locally on CSN-PH at 7:00 EST.

After tonight, the Flyers have one more home game (Saturday night against the New York Islanders) before they embark on a two game road-trip next week.  This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season; they won’t face each other again until after the new year; that game will be in Buffalo on January 14th.

The Sabres come into tonight having lost two straight.  On Tuesday night, the Sabres were completely dominated in St. Louis en route to a 4-1 loss.  Despite scoring the game’s first goal only 10 seconds in, there was little the team could do to combat the Blues’ depth up front.  The response from St. Louis was almost immediate.  Brenden Morrow evened things up a mere 59 seconds later, and the Blues never looked back.  Buffalo is now 3-7-0 in their last 10.  This will be the squad’s fourth game under new (old) interim coach Ted Nolan.

The Flyers are back at the Wells Fargo Center for the second game in a row.  Like the Sabres, the Flyers’ last game came on Tuesday night, although it brought a much better result.  A strong third-period, in which the Flyers’ were able to score 3 goals in a span of eight minutes, propelled the team to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.  Three players notched their first goals of the season: Sean Couturier, Kimmo Timonen and Adam Hall (EN).

The team is now 4-0-1 in their last five.  It’s incredible what one good week can do for a team in the Metropolitan division.  The Flyers can now move up to fourth place in the division with 2 points against the Sabres tonight.  After scoring 22 goals in their first 15 games, the team has gone on to score 18 in their last 5.  Claude Giroux is 2-3-5 in his last five, including a power-play goal this past Tuesday night.  The team has scored at least one power-play goal in four straight.  Things are looking up.

Ray Emery (2.82 GAA, .898 SV%) looks to be getting the start this evening.  It’ll be his sixth of the season.  His last start was his best of the season, as he earned first-star honors backstopping the Flyers to a 2-1 win in Pittsburgh, posting a .968 SV% (30/31 saves) in the process.  Mason should have enough rest to start the team’s final game of the home-stand against the Islanders this Saturday night.  Don’t expect any other changes re: the Flyers’ lineup.  If it’s not broken, why fix it?

A win tonight would give the Flyers 11 out of a possible 12 points over a period of a week and a half.  Time for the fan-base to start putting away the pitchforks?

PROJECTED LINEUPS *UPDATED 12:05 PM EST*:

Buffalo Sabres:

Matt Moulson (26) : Cody Hodgson (19) : Drew Stafford (21)
Zemgus Girgensons (28) : Steve Ott (9) : Luke Adam (72)
Marcus Foligno (82) : Ville Leino (23) : Tyler Ennis (63)
Brian Flynn (65) : Cody McCormick (8) : Corey Tropp (78)

Brayden McNabb (81) : Christian Ehrhoff (10)
Henrik Tallinder (20) : Tyler Myers (57)
Jamie McBain (4) : Mike Weber (6)

Ryan Miller (30)
Backup: Jhonas Enroth (1)

Scratches:

Mikhail Grigorenko
Mark Pysyk
John Scott

Philadelphia Flyers:

Scott Hartnell (19) : Claude Giroux (28) : Jakub Voracek (93)
Brayden Schenn (10): Vincent Lecavalier (40) : Wayne Simmonds (17)
Steve Downie (9) : Sean Couturier (14) : Matt Read (24)
Jay Rosehill (37) : Adam Hall (18) : Zac Rinaldo (36)

Kimmo Timonen (44) : Braydon Coburn (5)
Nicklas Grossmann (8) : Mark Streit (32)
Erik Gustafsson (26) : Luke Schenn (22)

Ray Emery (29)
Backup: Steve Mason (35)

Scratches:

Hal Gill
Andrej Meszaros
Chris Pronger
Michael Raffl