Flyers-Sabres: What you need to know

Flyers-Sabres: What you need to know

April 13, 2013, 8:00 am
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Scott Hartnell and the Flyers meet Drew Stafford and the Sabres on Saturday. (USA Today Images)

Flyers at Sabres – 3 p.m., CSN
First Niagara Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

Flyers: 17-20-3 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)

Sabres: 16-19-6 (Fifth in Northeast Division, 11th in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
After a strong start, the Flyers hung on for a 3-2 win over the Sabres on March 10 at the Wells Fargo Center in the last meeting between these clubs. Simon Gagne, Max Talbot and Claude Giroux each beat Ryan Miller to help the Flyers snap a three-game losing streak. Ilya Bryzgalov was solid in net, turning aside 18 shots to pick up his 12th win of the season.

Saturday will mark the third and final contest between the Flyers and Sabres this season. The two teams have split the first two games, with Buffalo outscoring the Flyers by a 7-5 margin.

Previous games
Bryzgalov made 31 saves and played well enough for the Flyers to win, but it wasn’t enough in a crushing 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Zack Smith and Colin Greening were the only two skaters to beat Bryzgalov, before Daniel Alfredsson scored on an empty net to seal a victory for Ottawa. Claude Giroux netted the only goal for the Flyers, who dropped their third consecutive game.

The Sabres mustered only 15 shots on goal and fell to the Montreal Canadiens, 5-1, on Thursday night in Buffalo. Interim head coach Ron Rolston pulled Ryan Miller after he allowed four goals on 32 shots through two periods. Brian Flynn got on the board with a shorthanded tally in the third period to give the Sabres their lone goal.

Briere’s return
Danny Briere, who has missed the Flyers’ last 10 games with a concussion, said he will return to the lineup against Buffalo. It’s been a tough year for the veteran forward. He’s appeared in 26 games and has just five goals and eight assists to go along with his minus-13 rating.

It’s fitting Briere will return in Buffalo, as he spent parts of four seasons with the Sabres from 2003-07. He played 225 games during that span and posted 92 goals and 138 assists before signing an eight-year, $52 million contract with the Flyers in the summer of 2007.

Turn the power on
Both teams have struggled offensively as of late. Let’s take a look at the Flyers first. During their current three-game skid, the orange and black have scored just three goals. A major reason why they haven’t been able to put wins together is because of their lack of production on the power play. The Flyers haven’t converted on the man advantage in five straight games and are 0 for 13 during that stretch.

As for the Sabres, it’s pretty much the same story. They have dropped back-to-back games and have tallied just one marker in each of those two losses. What about their power-play unit? Believe it or not, it’s actually worse than the Flyers’ unit. Buffalo has gone six straight without a power-play goal and is 0 for 19 over that span.

Keep an eye on ...
The Flyers have posted a 7-1-2 record over their last 10 games in Buffalo. Before their loss to the Sabres in March, the Flyers had taken at least one point in each of their previous nine trips to the First Niagara Center.

Giroux will be looking to extend his eight-game point streak against the Sabres on Saturday. The Flyers’ captain has three goals -– two this season -– and has dished out 12 assists during his streak. In 17 career games versus Buffalo, the 25-year-old has collected four tallies and 16 helpers.

Although they held him off the scoresheet in their last meeting, one Sabre the Flyers have had trouble with is Tomas Vanek. The Sabres’ forward has registered six goals and nine assists in his last 10 contests against the Flyers. You may recall Vanek collected a career-high five points the last time the Flyers traveled to Buffalo –- a 5-2 Sabres win on Jan. 20.

Did you know?
The Flyers have lost three consecutive games in regulation four times this season. The last time they lost four in a row in regulation in the same season was Feb. 26 through March 6, 2011.

Flyers:  Braydon Coburn (separated left shoulder), Talbot (broken left leg), Zac Rinaldo (high left ankle sprain) and Jody Shelley (left hip surgery) are all on injured reserve and remain out indefinitely.
Nicklas Grossmann (concussion) and Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder surgery) are expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Sabres: Tyler Myers suffered a broken leg in Thursday’s loss to Montreal and will miss the rest of the 2013 campaign.

Former Flyer Ville Leino (upper-body) and Alexander Sulzer (right knee surgery) are out.

Sound off
With eight games remaining, the Flyers are seven points out of a playoff spot. Do you think they can still earn a postseason bid?