Let’s do it again in Buffalo, shall we?
The Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres finish up their two-game set this afternoon. The Flyers shut out the Sabres 3-0 behind a dominant full-team effort. Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Scott Laughton scored and Brian Elliott made 23 saves for the shutout.
Laughton and his linemates Oskar Lindblom and Jakub Voracek were returning from the COVID list and they made their mark in the win. Justin Braun also returned from the COVID list and had a solid game on the second pair.
The Flyers (10-4-3, 7-4-2 on the road) have the best point percentage in the division – heading into Sunday’s games – with the Sabres (6-9-3, 2-6-2 at home) in the basement.
Projected lines and pairs
The Flyers lineup is almost fully healthy. They only have Travis Konecny on the COVID Protocol list and he could come off on Sunday.
Here are the projected lines and pairs for the Flyers against the Rangers:
Braun replaced Philippe Myers in the lineup on Saturday, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how the defensive pairs will look. We’re going to project that Myers re-enters the lineup for Robert Hagg.
- The Flyers are 3-1-0 against the Sabres so far this season. However, the lone loss was a 6-1 blowout with Carter Hart chased after allowing four goals.
- 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.
- Buffalo is 2-5-1 in eight games since their two-week layoff at the beginning of February.
- Jack Eichel was a late scratch for Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury and missed Saturday’s game as well.
Three Things To Watch
1. How does Hart look?
Carter Hart has been really up and down to begin the season. He had a rough first stretch, put it together for a bit, then had his worst game of the season – his career? – at Lake Tahoe.
Whether it was the team in front of him, the outdoor sightlines, or whathaveyou, Hart needs to bounce back against a team that has already beaten him. He has responded well to bad losses in the past with a 33-save performance following the 6-1 loss to Boston earlier this season. Hopefully for the Flyers, he’ll do the same on Sunday.
2. Forwards starting to click
The Flyers have most of their lineup back and it is showing. Their top three lines all had pretty good games on Saturday, with the top line and third line producing goals. The second line of Giroux, Hayes, and Patrick had a hell of a game on Wednesday and didn’t look out of sorts on Saturday.
The new third line is the one to watch. The Lindblom – Laughton – Voracek line returned with a bang on Saturday, providing the third goal to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead at the end of two periods.
3. Who comes out on defense?
We’re assuming that Philippe Myers is re-entering the lineup. It’s possible that he doesn’t given that the Flyers had a shutout win, but he’s one of the Flyers’ best six (or four or three) defensemen and needs to be in the lineup.
Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere are safe, as is Travis Sanheim – who had a great game on Saturday. Justin Braun isn’t sitting unless it’s a conditioning thing, so that leaves the third pair. Either Robert Hagg or Erik Gustafsson will sit for Myers.
Gustafsson had that two-point game on Wednesday night, and Hagg had a few iffy moments on Saturday. Alain Vigneault will have a decision to make on who to bring out of the lineup.
The Flyers and Sabres are set for a 3:00 p.m. puck drop on Saturday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Heather Barry Images