The Philadelphia Flyers are facing off against the Buffalo Sabres for the first time since the Flyers eliminated the Sabres in the playoffs last year and both teams have made significant changes since the last time they met.
The biggest change is forward Ville Leino going from the Flyers to the Sabres. While the Leino experiment hasn't worked out as well as anyone would have hoped thus far, a switch to the top line to center Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville is hoped to spark some sort of offense out of Leino. Leino just hasn't seemed to find much of any role in the offense and only has two points on the season. Much of that lack of offense could be attributed to the fact that Leino only has five shots on goal as well. This will be the first time that Leino has faced off against his old teammates and according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News, he's looking forward to the game:
"It's going to be pretty fun playing against guys, a little bit nervous, too, since it's the first game," Leino said. "I'm sure it's going to be different playing on the other side of the ice against them."
The Sabres are expected to go with Ryan Miller in net after having what could be deemed his worst outing of the season on Saturday night. That game against the Panthers have many Sabres fans calling for more playing time for Jhonas Enroth or worse, trading Ryan Miller. While Miller is allowed to have a bad game here or there, the overall stats for this season, 2.14 GAA and .930 SV%, is still better than what Miller finished the season with last year.
For the Flyers, they are trying to still figure out the one position they thought they had secured in the offseason, goaltending. Philadelphia picked up Ilys Bryzgalov to start and between him and Sergei Bobrovsky the team thought that they were finally settled in net. Through the first eleven games of the season, Bryzgalov has a 3.16 goals against average and Bobrovsky has a 3.75 goals against average.
The Flyers will also be without Chris Pronger after having a scary eye injury that has kept the defenseman out of the lineup for the past week. Also missing from the lineup will be Danny Briere who has been out of the lineup with a rib injury. The Flyers have sent down Matt Walker to Adirondack and called up Ben Holmstrom and Harry Zolniercyzk from the Adirondack Phantoms to replace Briere and other injured forwards and get under the salary cap. That still leaves the Flyers with an issue and our Flyers site, Broad Street Hockey, explains the situation:
Sending down Walker and his $1.7 million salary clears that space, but it also sheds the seventh defenseman from the roster. With Pronger on IR, the Flyers are left with just six defensemen until -- at the very least -- one of Briere or Read is ready to return to the lineup. Once that happens, one of today's callups can be returned to the Phantoms and another defenseman can be called back up.
The problem? Only Kevin Marshall and Oliver Lauridsen seem like realistic, waiver-exempt options on defense to be called up from the Phantoms at this point.
Game time is 7:30 pm and can be seen on Versus.