Game 47 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Buffalo Sabres

Image courtesy of gcobb.com

Philadelphia Flyers (23-19-4) @ Buffalo Sabres (13-26-5), 7:30pm, NBCSN/CSN-Philly/TSN

After a pair of rough contests over the weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers are hoping that they’ll be able to rebound tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. Tonight should equate to a win for the Orange and Black, but a loss could put the Flyers in a World of hurt.

Neither of the losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Rangers this past weekend could be described as pretty, but they weren’t losses that should cause this team to fold. If it wasn’t for one of Steve Mason’s worst starts of the season and one of Henrik Lundqvist’s best tilts of the year, it’s not too much of a stretch to say the Flyers don’t split the weekend games. Unfortunately, both things did happen and now Philly is trying to avoid a three-game skid.

One thing that might help the Flyers immensely tonight is the return of Matt Read to lineup. The bottom six of Philadelphia’s roster hasn’t been too effective since Read’s early exit from the team’s 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames on New Year’s Eve. The Orange and Black were 3-3-0 in the six games Read missed, while Sean Couturier recorded two points in that time and Steve Downie was made a healthy scratch. Downie will be scratched for a second straight game, but Read will most likely cause the third line, which will also boast Couturier and Vincent Lecavalier, to become a positive force in tonight’s game.

Along with Read’s return, one has to think Mason comes out focused this evening, as he’ll want to prove that he is better than his performance Saturday against the Lightning. With Mason hopefully returning to form and a productive third line, things look to be leaning Philadelphia’s way.

In net for Buffalo is Jhonas Enroth, who is 1-8-4 on the season and has lost his last nine decisions. The luck of taking on Enroth, rather than an elite goaltender in Ryan Miller, paired with the Sabres’ offense, that averages a league low 1.61 goals per game, means there is no excuse if Philly loses tonight.

One downside to tonight’s game is the impact a loss would have on this team for their next few games. Although it looked to be an easy stretch of games earlier in the season, the Flyers’ schedule doesn’t get any easier after tonight. After they host the Nashville Predators on Thursday, the Orange and Black take part in a home-and-home against the red hot New York Islanders. The second game of the home-and-home is the first part of a back-to-back that concludes against another surging team in the Carolina Hurricanes. After facing yet another team rapidly moving up the standings on Thursday in the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flyers finish the month with games against the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and Anaheim Ducks.

RECORDS
Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 23-19-4
Away: 11-11-4
Against the Eastern Conference: 15-12-3
Against the Atlantic Division: 7-6-1

Buffalo Sabres
Overall: 13-26-5
Home: 9-12-3
Against the Eastern Conference: 9-15-4
Against the Metropolitan Division: 4-5-1

PROJECTED LINEUPS
Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Vincent Lecavalier
Jay Rosehill – Chris VandeVelde – Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Andrej Meszaros

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

Buffalo Sabres
Matt Moulson – Tyler Ennis – Zemgus Girgensons
Matt D’Agostini – Cody Hodgson – Steve Ott
Linus Omark – Ville Leino – Brian Flynn
Marcus Foligno – Zenon Konopka – Matt Ellis

Mark Pysyk – Christian Ehrhoff
Mike Weber – Alexander Sulzer
Jamie McBain – Brayden McNabb

Jhonas Enroth
Ryan Miller

TEAM LEADERS
Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Wayne Simmonds, 15
Assists: Claude Giroux, 28
Points: Claude Giroux, 41
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux, 18
Plus/Minus: Erik Gustafsson, plus-4
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 101
Average TOI: Braydon Coburn, 22:51
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.46
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .918

Buffalo Sabres
Goals: Tyler Ennis, 9
Assists: Christian Ehrhoff, 14
Points: Cody Hodgson, 20
Power-Play Points: Cody Hodgson, 9
Plus/Minus: Brayden McNabb, plus-1
PIMs: John Scott, 70
Average TOI: Christian Ehrhoff, 24:06
GAA: Jhonas Enroth, 2.46
Save Percentage: Ryan Miller, .928

INJURIES
Philadelphia Flyers
Matt Read – Concussion (Injured Reserve)
Zac Rinaldo – Left ankle injury (Injured Reserve)

Buffalo Sabres
Tyler Myers – Suspended (out)
Patrick Kaleta – Torn ACL (out for season)
Drew Stafford – Upper-body Injury (Injured Reserve)
Henrik Tallinder – Upper-body Injury (Injured Reserve)
Cody McCormick – Upper-body injury (Injured Reserve)
Kevin Porter – Lower-body injury (Injured Reserve)

FORMER PLAYERS
Former Sabres in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: NONE
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Rob Bordson (Rochester Americans)
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): Connor Knapp (Drafted by Buffalo in 2009 NHL Entry Draft), Scott Arnold (Gwinnett Gladiators).

Former Flyers in Buffalo’s organization
With Buffalo: Ville Leino, Joe Sacco (assistant coach), Bo Berglund (scout), Al MacAdam (scout), Eric Weinrich (scout).
With the Rochester Americans (AHL): Nathan Lieuwen (Greenville Road Warriors), Ryan Grimshaw (Trenton Titans), Matt MacKenzie (Greenville Road Warriors), Brayden Irwin (Greenville Road Warriors).