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Weekly Flyers Preview: Nov. 18-24

Here is a look into this week's upcoming games through Sunday, and a brief recap of last week's events.

This week presents a great opportunity for the Flyers. 

After getting five of six points on their recent road trip, the Flyers head home for three games against struggling teams. All three teams have had trouble keeping pucks out of their net and, with a few wins, the Flyers can start to make their climb on the Metropolitan Division standings.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 vs. Ottawa Senators (8-8-4, 20 points, 6th Atlantic)

The Sens aren’t as bad as the team that lost to the Flyers 5-0 one week ago.  However, they are in the middle of struggles, going 4-6-2 in their last 12, including two of the last three. 

Ottawa has been great at putting pucks in the net (2.90 goals per game, ninth in the league)

The offense comes from the usual suspects, Bobby Ryan (10 goals, 20 points) and Jason Spezza (9 goals, 9 assists). Erik Karlsson has been an offensive dynamo (7 goals, 13 points) but still is not great in his own zone.

Keeping goals out of the net has been a problem, as can’t keep them out ranking 23rd, allowing 2.95 goals per game.  Goalie Craig Anderson (5-6-2, 3.26 GAA, .904 save %) has allowed 11 goals in three games since returning from injury.

During that twelve game stretch, they’ve allowed three or more goals seven times, all losses. 

Anderson missed some time with an injury and Robin Lehner (3-2-2, 2.13 GAA, .945%) stepped in and shined, winning all three games.  Lehner will be the starter against the Flyers tonight.

Thursday, November 21, 2013 vs. Buffalo Sabres (5-16-1, 11 points, 8th Atlantic)

The Sabres have been a mess this season, on and off of the ice.

As it seems like they have started to straighten out their off-ice issues, the on-ice ones still exist. Interim coach Ted Nolan will only do so much, but this is a team destined for the lottery. 

Ryan Miller’s statistics may look unimpressive (4-11, 3.13 GAA, .919%) but he is making his case to be USA’s #1 goalie in the Olympics. Miller has been the Sabres’ best player this season and is not the reason why Buffalo is 26th in defense (3.09 g/g).

Buffalo is last in scoring (1.73 g/g) and as a result, Cody Hodgson is the only player on the team with double digit points (7 goals, 16 points). New addition Matt Moulson has been on the scoresheet since his trade from the Islanders, with nine points in nine games as a Sabre.

This is the first meeting between the teams this season, and despite the Sabres’ poor record, they should come out hard, trying to impress their new bosses.

Saturday, November 23, 2013 vs. New York Islanders (8-10-3, 19 points, 6th Metropolitan)

The Isles have lost five of their past seven games and it is no fault of the offense (2.76 g/g). Budding superstar John Tavares (9 goals, 25 points) and Frans Neilsen (9 goals, 21 points) are putting pucks in the net. Disappointing new acquisition Thomas Vanek (1 goal, 3 points in six games) has been out with an injury, but looks to return for this matchup.

On the backend, it will likely be Kevin Poulin as the man between the pipes.  Usual starter Evgeni Nabokov will miss about a month with a strained groin. Poulin has been solid this season (3-5, 2.52 GAA, .909%) .

The Islanders have struggled on the road going 3-6, including their last four, while allowing 3.56 goals per game. Their scoring also dries up a bit as they have averaged 2.33 goals in those nine games.              

Weekly Expectations: 6 points

If the Flyers can take advantage of three defensively-challenged teams, they’ll find themselves closer to the playoffs than last place.