Preview: Flyers Vs. Sabres
The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off back to back losses for the first time since December. It is unfamiliar territory for the team and for fans. It's hard to put it into perspective since a two game losing streak is nothing compared to a five game slump that could hit a team. At the same time, the Flyers haven't won more than two games in a row since early February. While the team has not been horrible, they have struggled to finish games lately and have almost consistently blown third period leads.
The Buffalo Sabres are one of the bubble teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They are currently on the outside looking in, but that only means that they are going to be competing harder. Today's game should not be looked at as an easy game. The Sabres should be a tough opponent.
The Flyers held a tough practice on Friday as expected. It is not a sign of panic or concern. Peter Laviolette knows that his team has not been the same lately, and hard work and determination are all that can turn it around, as cliche as that sounds. You never want to be too lackadaisical or optimistic, but at the same time, panicking is just as bad.
Jeff Carter. Darroll Powe, and Daniel Carcillo were all scratched with the flu on Thursday night. Carcillo and Powe were back to work at practice yesterday. Jeff Carter was not present due to the loss of his grandfather. (Condolences go out to Jeff and his family)
It would seem monotonous to say that one of the biggest priories for the Flyers should be to improve on the power play, but it cannot be ignored. The power play has not struck since the 4-2 victory over the Rangers on February 20th. Despite sitting 1st in the East and still having such a dry PP, it is something that has to change. It's hard to remember a time in the season when the PP was consistently successful, but it is easy to recall talking about missed opportunities for timely power play goals. It could have been brought up in just about every close game Philadelphia has been involved it lately.
Games against the Sabres always tend to be close and intense games. While they are no Montreal Canadiens or an Atlantic Division foe, the Sabres are still a good rival. The Flyers have had the upper-hand so far this season with a 6-3 victory in October and a 5-2 victory in January.
Here are the highlights from the last time the two teams met up:
Players to Watch:
1) Danny Briere: Danny has been very quiet lately. He has not scored a goal other than an empty netter since February 10th. He's certainly due for a goal. Even though it's been quite some time since he's been a Sabre, players always seem to get up to play against their former teams.
2-3) Mike Richards and Kris Versteeg: The chemistry is now visible with these two guys. It's very exciting to watch. Versteeg is doing exactly what he was brought in for. Now that Richards has a solid winger, it would not be surprising to see him offensive game improve.