The Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers will meet for the final time this season tonight in Buffalo. Both clubs are in the Eastern Conference wild-card mix, but on the outside looking in. Two points tonight would be big for both teams on making a move in the playoff race.
The Flyers are 2-0-1 in their last three games and have played better since a rough start to 2017. A win tonight and some help on the out-of-town scoreboard, they would be only one point out of a playoff spot. The Flyers have let the Sabres jump out to 3-0 leads in both games this season. They were able to come back in the October matchup, but not in January. They’ll look to get the quick start tonight.
The Sabres are trending in the opposite direction. They’ve lost six of seven and any real chance of being a playoff team this season are out the window. A win tonight could get them back within three points of the final wild-card spot. Another loss would be the final blow to their hopes with a home and home series against the Columbus Blue Jackets on tap this weekend.
Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres
Key Bank Center – 7:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – NBCSN
2016-17 Season Series:
Oct. 25 – Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO)
Jan. 10 – Sabres 4, Flyers 1
Philadelphia Flyers – 30-26-8 – 68 Points
Road Record: 11-16-4
Hot Players: Jakub Voracek and Steve Mason
Key Injuries: Michael Raffl
Jordan Weal – Claude Giroux – Wayne Simmonds
Brayden Schenn – Valtteri Filppula – Jakub Voracek
Nick Cousins – Sean Couturier – Dale Weise
Chris VandeVelde – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Travis Konecny
Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere – Nick Schultz
Michael Del Zotto – Radko Gudas
* Lines subject to change
Buffalo Sabres – 27-27-12 – 66 Points
Home Record: 16-11-6
Hot Players: Evander Kane and Jack Eichel
Key Injuries: Kyle Okposo, William Carrier, Dmitry Kulikov and Johan Larsson
Marcus Foligno – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane – Ryan O’Reilly – Brian Gionta
Justin Bailey – Evan Rodrigues – Matt Moulson
Tyler Ennis – Zemgus Girgensons – Nic Deslauriers
Rasmus Ristolainen – Jake McCabe
Justin Falk – Zach Bogosian
Cody Franson – Josh Gorges
** Lines subject to change.
1) Jack Eichel comes into tonight riding the longest active point streak in the NHL of ten games. He’s quietly putting together an excellent season with 42 points in 45 games, which would be a 76 point pace over 82 games.
2) Robin Lehner will get the start tonight for the Sabres. He played well against the Lightning in his last start on Saturday but again struggled in the shootout. In eight shootout attempts against this season, the 25-year old has yet to make a save. The Flyers will counter with Steve Mason who has played very well as of late. Mason has allowed two goals or less in his last three starts.
3) Tonight is another important game in the wild-card race for both the Sabres and Flyers. Buffalo’s playoff hopes are on life support and they need the two points badly tonight to keep the slim hope alive. The Flyers, on the other hand, have played better as of late and can pull within one point of the final playoff spot with a win.
4) The Sabres power-play has helped them win a lot of games this season and ranks tied for first in the league entering play tonight with a 22.9 percent conversion rate. The penalty kill has also lost them a lot of games and ranks 29th entering tonight. The Flyers are middle of the pack on both the power-play (11th) and penalty kill (13th).
5) The Sabres and Flyers are two of the lower scoring teams in the league this season. Buffalo is 21st in the NHL in scoring, while the Flyers sit 22nd in the league. In fact, the two clubs have allowed the same amount of goals against of 190 and are only separated by two goals in goal differential. The Sabres are a -24 and the Flyers a -26. Another indication tonight should be a close matchup.