The Philadelphia Flyers are back on the road.
The Flyers are up in Buffalo for a back-to-back set against the Sabres after a 4-3 home win on Wednesday night. They got Claude Giroux back for their last game and they’ll have more than a few players joining him on Saturday.
The Flyers (9-4-3, 6-4-2 on the road) have the second-best point percentage in the division with the Sabres (6-8-3, 2-5-2) at the bottom.
Projected lines and pairs
The Flyers lineup is almost back to normal. The players coming off the COVID list could be game-time decisions, but hopefully, they’ll be good to go.
Here are the projected lines and pairs for the Flyers against the Rangers:
*Healthy scratch: Philippe Myers
Braun skated in Myers’ place on the second pair in Friday’s practice. That could just be a wake-up call after a poor performance Wednesday, but Myers may be a healthy scratch.
- The Flyers split their two-game set with the Sabres at the start of the season in Philadelphia. The Sabres handed the Flyers their first loss – and chased Carter Hart – in a 6-1 win. The next night, Brian Elliott shut the door with 40 saves in a 3-0 shutout win.
- The Flyers only have one player – Travis Konecny – still on the NHL COVID Protocol list. He could be removed on Sunday as that will be the two-week mark for him.
- The Sabres are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils on Thursday night. Buffalo is 2-4-1 in seven games since their two-week layoff at the beginning of February.
- Jeff Skinner has been a healthy scratch for three straight games. The Sabres had no hesitation scratching the $9 million cap hit.
- Jack Eichel was a late scratch for Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.
Three Things To Watch
1. How do the reinforcements look?
The Flyers saw what a player coming off a layoff can do on Wednesday night when Claude Giroux reminded everyone just how good he is. However, it’d be unfair to expect that type of performance from everyone. A first game back should look like a solid game with more focus on getting back in a rhythm.
Braun has been skating for a few days, and Voracek has been off the COVID list for two days as well. On the other hand, Laughton and Lindblom practiced for the first time on Friday. It may take them some time to get back up to speed.
That line of Lindblom, Laughton, and Voracek will need to be monitored throughout the game.
2. Top six stays intact
With Lindblom, Laughton, and Voracek all on one line, the Flyers will have the same top-six forwards that they did in Wednesday night’s win.
The top line has been clicking over the past three games with James van Riemsdyk and Joel Farabee among the team leaders in points. That line has been great with the Selke-winning Sean Couturier at center.
The new-look second line debuted on Wednesday and looked pretty good. It’s comprised of three players that have primarily played center in their career. Giroux is on the left wing, where he’s been for a few years, with Patrick getting a chance on the right wing. They had some chemistry with Hayes at the pivot.
If these lines can continue to play well, the Flyers might finally show their forward depth.
3. Can Elliott keep it up?
Brian Elliott was tasked with righting the ship on Wednesday after Carter Hart’s rough game at Lake Tahoe. Now, he’ll get a chance to keep it up.
Elliott will get the start against the Sabres. He already has a 40-save shutout against them under his belt this season.
Elliott is 4-1-0 with a .922 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average this season. In five starts, he is 4-1-0 with a .928 SV% He’s allowed no more than three goals in a start this season.
Hart will get back between the pipes on Sunday, and if Elliott does the job on Saturday the Flyers could be going for the sweep.
The Flyers and Sabres are set for a 1:00 p.m. puck drop on Saturday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Heather Barry Images