After snapping a four game skid against the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers head to KeyBank Arena to begin a four game trip against a team that can’t even spell its own name correctly; the Buffalo Sabres.
Although the Flyers have had a dreadful month of March, their struggles are nothing compared to Buffalo, which has set a new franchise record by losing a remarkable SEVENTEEN CONSECUTIVE GAMES; their last win coming against the New Jersey Devils on February 23rd. If the Flyers win tonight, Buffalo would tie the 2003-04 Penguins for the longest losing streak in NHL history.
While this may look like a wonderful opportunity for the Flyers to start a winning streak against a free-falling opponent, it’s also set up to be the biggest trap since the battle of Endor. Philadelphia has had a few games like this recently where they came out flat against an opponent they should have had no trouble with, and ended up losing (Tuesday’s game against New Jersey comes to mind), so they MUST come out with an aggressive forecheck and attentive defense in this one. If they do so, they should be able to handle a very dis-interested Buffalo squad.
The Flyers will stick with the hot hand in goal, as they will start Brian Elliott for tonight’s game. He has already shut out the Sabres twice this year and owns a career 16-2-2 record with a .943 save % and a 1.67 goals against average versus Buffalo, by far his best numbers against any opponent. He’ll be our player to watch for the evening. Alex Lyon will be backing Elliott up tonight, as Alain Vigneault has elected to scratch Carter Hart both today and Wednesday to give the net-minder more time to “work on his game” during practice per Adam Kimelman.
On the injury front, Buffalo captain Jack Eichel will miss his eleventh straight game with an upper body injury, and goalie Carter Hutton will miss his fourth in a row with a lower body injury. Forward Rasmus Asplund and defensemen Jacob Bryson and William Borgen are also out with injuries for the Sabres. Defenseman Matt Irwin will be a healthy scratch.
NHL.com projects tonight’s lineups will look like this:
Projected Lineup (PHI)
Projected Lineup (BUF)
7:00 Eastern Daylight Time
NBC Sports Philadelphia (TV), 97.5 the Fanatic (Radio)