NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, April 8th
(All times eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (46-23-11) at Buffalo Sabres (41-29-10), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - There was a point in the season when it seemed like the
Philadelphia Flyers were a lock to claim the Atlantic Division title and the
top seed in the East. That time is not now.
The Flyers will try to avoid a fifth straight loss this evening, when they
visit the playoff-hopeful Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.
Philadelphia enters today as the second seed in the Eastern Conference and is
still one point ahead of Pittsburgh for the Atlantic lead. The Penguins have
two games left just like the Flyers and play a road game tonight against the
New York Islanders.
However, the Flyers, who cannot fall further than the fourth seed in the East,
could actually clinch their first Atlantic crown since 2004 tonight if they
beat Buffalo and Pittsburgh loses to the Islanders.
Philadelphia is also four points behind Washington and has a game in hand to
use against the idle Capitals tonight. The Caps would secure the top seed
if the Flyers lose this evening.
The Sabres, meanwhile, are currently seventh out of eight playoff seeds in the
East and could clinch a postseason berth with a point tonight. Buffalo is one
point ahead of the eighth-seeded New York Rangers and three ahead of Carolina.
Buffalo could have its franchise goaltender back to help in its postseason
quest, as Ryan Miller is expected to start either tonight against the Flyers
or tomorrow in the Sabres' regular-season finale in Columbus. Last year's
Vezina Trophy winner has missed the previous four games with an upper body
injury, but rookie backstop Jhonas Enroth has posted a 3-0-1 record in
The Sabres won their second straight game and improved to 7-1-2 over their
last 10 games with Tuesday's victory over visiting Tampa Bay. Thomas Vanek
notched a hat trick to help Buffalo claim the 4-2 win over the Lightning.
Tim Connolly had a goal and two assists and Jason Pominville added two helpers
for the Sabres. Enroth stopped 23 shots to improve his record to 8-2-2 on the
"We did a good job of limiting our turnovers cause they're a team that thrives
off of that," said Connolly. "We're playing as a group and we're playing as a
team out there and are moving things in the right direction."
This evening's tilt is Buffalo's final home test of the regular season. The
Sabres are 20-16-4 as the host this year.
Philadelphia has an 0-3-1 record since its last win, a 5-2 victory in
Pittsburgh on March 29, and the Flyers have just six victories over their last
19 games (6-8-5).
The Flyers were dealt an embarrassing loss Tuesday in Ottawa, as the Senators
slammed Philly, 5-2, at Scotiabank Place. Jason Spezza recorded a goal and
three assists to lead the bottom-feeding Senators to the victory.
Mike Richards notched both goals for the Flyers, while rookie Sergei Bobrovsky
allowed four goals on 35 shots. Bobrovsky is expected to start tonight and has
a 2-1-0 record and a 3.02 goals-against average against the Sabres this
Philadelphia has a strong 25-11-4 record as the guest this year and is playing
its final road test of the regular season tonight. The Flyers will complete
their schedule in tomorrow's home test against the New York Islanders.
Flyers forwards Danny Briere and Blair Betts have missed the last two games
with lower body injuries and both players are questionable for today's
contest. Briere is second on Philadelphia with 32 goals this season and Betts
is one of the team's best penalty killers.
In other news, Philadelphia will also welcome Michael Leighton back to the
fold tonight. Leighton, who was the Flyers' No. 1 goalie during their run to
the Stanley Cup Finals last spring, cleared waivers on Wednesday and is
expected to provide insurance for Bobrovsky and backup Brian Boucher.
Leighton has played in just one game for the Flyers this year and that was on
Dec. 30. The journeyman missed the first few months of this season after
undergoing back surgery.
04/08 11:16:06 ET