Flyers-Sabres: 5 things you need to know

Flyers-Sabres: 5 things you need to know

January 14, 2014, 11:00 am
Share This Post

The Flyers (23-19-4) will try to avoid a third consecutive loss when they battle the lowly Buffalo Sabres (13-26-5) on Tuesday night.

Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN) at First Niagara Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the game:

1. Short-term memory
It was a rough weekend for the guys wearing orange and black sweaters. The Flyers took a step backwards -- defensively and offensively -- in losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers and were outscored by a combined score of 10-4 in those games.

Forget about it. It’s a new week for the Flyers, who have a golden opportunity to get back on track with three very winnable contests on the slate.

That begins with Tuesday’s matchup with the Sabres. The Flyers were dominant in the first matchup between these two teams this season -- a 4-1 victory in Buffalo on Nov. 21 -- but they will be facing a Sabres team that has been surging at home this time around.

Buffalo, despite its offensive woes, has gone 6-0-2 in its last eight games at First Niagara Center, giving up two or fewer markers in each contest.

The Flyers’ defensive corps, which was sloppy and left its goaltenders hanging on numerous occasions, will look to bounce back against the NHL’s worst offensive club. The Sabres’ 71 goals are the fewest in the league this season.

2. Read back?
Is Matt Read ready to make his return to the lineup? Possibly.

"He is getting closer," general manager Paul Holmgren said Monday (see story). "We will make a decision after [Tuesday] morning's skate."

Read, who has 10 goals and nine assists this season, has missed the last six games with a concussion.

If he’s not ready to go, that leaves the Flyers thin at the forward position.

Tye McGinn was returned to the Adirondack Phantoms on Monday -- a sign that Read has made significant strides in his recovery -- and Zac Rinaldo is out with a high left ankle sprain.

3. What about Downie?
Another Flyer who could find himself back in game action on Tuesday is Steve Downie.

Head coach Craig Berube, who said Downie’s intensity level isn’t where it needs to be, benched Downie in favor of enforcer Jay Rosehill for Sunday’s game against the Rangers.

This is very bad news for the opposition. Being a healthy scratch will likely light a fire under the slumping Downie, who has been held pointless in eight consecutive games.

A motivated Downie is a nightmare for any team to deal with. He is a passionate, high-energy guy who will be looking to redeem himself when he’s re-inserted to the lineup.

Depending on how he’s handled the benching, Downie could claim his spot back from Rosehill against Buffalo. If Read is unable to go, Berube will have no choice but to play No. 9.

4. Miller time
If you want to know why the Sabres have been playing better as of late, look no farther than goalie Ryan Miller.

Miller, who will represent the United States in the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, has been absolutely spectacular for Buffalo. He’s gone 6-1-1 in his last eight starts and has allowed two or fewer goals in six of those contests.

In 31 total games this season, Miller is 12-18-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .928 save percentage -- eye-popping numbers for a team that has just 13 wins.

Miller put up an admirable performance in a losing effort to the Flyers back in November. He made 42 saves, but the Sabres supplied just one goal in support of their netminder.

Believe it or not, the Flyers will actually be happy to run into Miller. Why, you ask? Because he’s struggled against the Flyers in his career, posting a 13-12-2 record in 29 games (27 starts) with a 3.10 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

5. This and that
• Buffalo has been hit hard by the injury bug. Forwards Cody McCormick (upper body) and Kevin Porter (undisclosed) and defenseman Henrik Tallinder (upper body) are out vs. the Flyers. Drew Stafford (upper body) is questionable to play.

• The Flyers have scored a power-play goal in four of their last five games. Meanwhile, the Sabres have allowed just one goal in 19 shorthanded situations over their last six.

• Nicklas Grossmann is one of just two players in the NHL with over 100 blocked shots and 100-plus hits this season. The other is Calgary Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid.

• The Sabres are last in the NHL with a minus-27 goal differential in the first period this season.

• Wayne Simmonds has 10 goals in his last 13 games.

Flyers video