Flyers-Sabres: What you need to know

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Flyers-Sabres: What you need to know

Flyers at Sabres -- 12:30 p.m., NBC
First Niagara Center, Buffalo

The Flyers are back in action a day after opening their lockout-shortened, 48-game season with a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Next up for the Flyers are the Buffalo Sabres, who haven't enjoyed much success against the orange and black over the past few seasons.

That especially goes for Sabres netminder Ryan Miller, who has posted a 12-10-0-2 record with a 3.15 goals against average and .899 save percentage in 26 career games against the Flyers.

Records
Flyers: 0-1-0

Sabres: 0-0-0

Last meeting
The last time these two teams met, the Flyers eliminated the Sabres from postseason contention with a 2-1 win on April 5. Matt Read and Marc-Andre Bourdon each scored in the third period to help the Flyers sweep the season series against Buffalo, 4-0. Former Flyer Ville Leino netted the Sabres' only marker.

Previous games
The Flyers opened their 2013 campaign with a sloppy 3-1 loss to the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. The Penguins jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov performed well overall. He made 24 saves on 26 shots. Captain Claude Giroux scored the Flyers' lone goal courtesy of a nifty saucer pass from linemate Scott Hartnell on the opening shift of the second period.

Buffalo was one of only four teams -- along with Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose -- that did not play on Saturday. Sunday's contest with the Flyers will be the Sabres' first game since they ended their 2011-12 season with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins.

Inside the box score
The Flyers outhit the Penguins on Sunday, 40-37. Zac Rinaldo and Matt Cooke each delivered a game-high seven checks.

Kimmo Timonen led the Flyers in ice time at 23:52. The 37-year-old recorded two shots and was a plus-1 in the loss.

The Flyers' power play unit went 0 for 5 on the man advantage. The Flyers took only three penalties, but allowed two goals while shorthanded -- one on an empty net.

Keep an eye on ...
Flyers rookie Scott Laughton had a strong debut on Saturday. The 18-year-old delivered four checks, blocked a shot and went 2 for 6 on faceoffs in just over 12 minutes of ice time against Pittsburgh. The Flyers now have four games to decide whether they want to keep Laughton or send him back to juniors in Oshawa. Last season, Laughton scored 21 goals and had 32 assists in 64 games for the Generals in the OHL.

Similarly, Sabres rookie Mikhail Grigorenko is in the same position as Laughton. Grigorenko has five games to prove that he belongs in the NHL before Buffalo is forced to make a decision on whether to keep him on its roster or send him back to juniors in Quebec. The 18-year-old recorded 40 goals and 45 assists in 59 games with the Remparts in the QMJHL last season.

Did you know?
The Flyers are 6-2 against Buffalo over the past two regular seasons and have outscored the Sabres 36-23 in those eight games.

The last time Buffalo reached the postseason was in 2010-11, when the Flyers eliminated the Sabres in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in seven games before being swept out of the playoffs by the Bruins in the second round.

Injuries
Flyers: Danny Briere is still recovering from a hairline fracture in his left wrist and will not play against his former club on Sunday.

Sabres: Leino is questionable for Sunday's game with a nagging knee injury. Forwards Cody McCormick (finger) and Nathan Gerbe (back surgery) are on Injured Reserve.

Sound off
Should the Flyers keep Laughton or send him back to juniors?

E-mail Tim Riday at triday@comcastsportsnet.com.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.