Better With Popcorn

Flyers locked into the fifth seed with 2-1 win over Sabres

Thursday night’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers had the potential to be a barnburner. With the Sabres tied with the Washington Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, it was assumed that the team was going to come out fighting for their lives.

It didn’t quite work out like that.

In fact, the Sabres played like their season was already over.

Following the 2-1 loss at the hands of the Flyers, it was.

For the Flyers, the game potentially could have kept them in contention for the fourth seed in the East. With a match-up against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, a win on Thursday could keep them within striking distance of a one-game ‘playoff’ for home ice advantage in the first round.

In addition, the team could still fall to the sixth seed if they failed to win their final two games and the New Jersey Devils won their final two.

Ultimately, the Capitals, Flyers and Penguins all won, which ended Buffalo’s season and cemented the Flyers as the fifth seed in the East.

They will now start the postseason against the Penguins in Pittsburgh sometime next week.

Saturday’s matchup against the Penguins will now be merely an appetizer to what will come when the real season starts.

Despite the potential ramifications of Thursday night’s game, the two teams didn’t appear as though they had much to play for.

The first period came and went without a meaningful occurrence. Sabres goaltender, Ryan Miller made a nice save on a Matt Read breakaway, but other than that the two teams didn’t even trade chances; they basically just skated end-to-end without any motivation.

In the second period, the Sabres opened the scoring when former-Flyer, Ville Leino pounded home a loose puck at the goalmouth with three minutes remaining in the period.

For Philadelphia, this is exactly where they wanted them.

The Flyers have developed a terrible tendency to allow their opponents to score the first goal of the game. Despite this, the team finds a way to come back and win.

This is exactly what happened on Thursday.

Six minutes into the third, Marc-Andre Bourdon blasted a shot from the point to score his fourth goal of the season to tie the game.

Nine minutes later, Read broke in on Miller all alone for a second time. This time he managed to beat him and in the process ended Buffalo’s season.

At the end of the day, Thursday night was a forgettable game.

Philadelphia had some flashes of brilliance, some missed opportunities and some close calls.

The most promising dynamic of the game was the play of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

After missing three games due to a bone chip fracture in his right foot, Bryzgalov had a rocky start in his first game back against the New York Rangers before finding his footing later in the game.

Against Buffalo, he looked strong, moved well and stopped all but one shot. Even on the one goal against he made a nice save, but didn’t get enough defensive support on the second chance.

With the end of the regular season all but a formality, strong play out of Bryzgalov will be the most important dynamic going into the playoffs.

Thursday displayed he's ready to do that.


Follow me on Twitter (@mattbrigidi) and make sure to "like" The Checking Line-Flyers Edition on Facebook to stay up to the minute with all the latest team news and notes.

Feel free to shoot me an email: