Philly ‘flies’ to Buffalo for first of back-to-back games this weekend

Sabres looking for two points after tough overtime loss

Game 18

Buffalo Sabres (6-8-3) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (9-4-3)

Puck Drop: 1:00 PM | First Niagara Center | Buffalo, NY


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Flyers Blog: Broad Street Hockey

Know Your Opponent

Philadelphia Flyers

Record: (9-4-3) | 21 PTS

Last 10: (6-2-2)

Division Ranking: 4th in East Division

PP: 16th (20.7%)

PK: 29th (70.2%)

What to Watch

1. Eichel Out, Skinner In?

To say the Sabres are suffering between COVID cases and injuries this year is an understatement. The lineup has turned into a disaster because of this (perhaps coupled with coaching) and now they are dealing with the absence of Captain Jack on the ice and Linus Ullmark in the net. Both players are suffering day-to-day with lower-body injuries. With Ullmark out, Jonas Johansson has been recalled from the taxi squad.

In the midst of all of this may be some positive news, though (if there is such a thing with the Sabres these days). Jeff Skinner practiced on Friday, so his three-day stint on the bench will hopefully be coming to an end this weekend.


2. Risto’s Return

Also back on the ice after a very tough bout of COVID with varying symptoms, should be Rasmus Ristolainen. The top defenseman has been part of practices the past two days and, while head coach Ralph Krueger noted that his return on Saturday was not definite, he did say it was a “high possibility.” In his start this season, Risto tallied six points in 10 games and was securing significant ice time. The Buffalo defense should see some improvement with him back on the ice.


3. Flyers Leaders

Buffalo should be ready for a tough matchup this weekend, especially if they want to outscore Philly’s top guys. Forward James van Riemsdyk leads the team in both goals (9) and assists (13) and is currently at a +4. And, after missing two games with his own COVID protocol, Claude Giroux returned to the ice against the Rangers on Wednesday night and made quite the impression. He had eight shots on goal, three assists, and won faceoff after faceoff. He was utilized on both the penalty kill and the power play and seemed to rejuvenate both. Let’s be honest: can you even mention the Flyers without thinking of their captain? At 33, Giroux is in his 14th season with Philly and shows no signs of slowing down.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Victor Olofsson - Curtis Lazar - Sam Reinhart

Taylor Hall - Eric Staal - Dylan Cozens

Tobias Rieder - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo

Jeff Skinner - Casey Mittelstadt - Riley Sheahan


Jacob Bryson - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller

Henri Jokiharju - Brandon Montour

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Philadelphia Flyers


James van Riemsdyk - Sean Couturier - Joel Farabee

Claude Giroux - Kevin Hayes - Nolan Patrick

Oskar Lindblom - Scott Laughton - Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl - Connor Bunnaman - Nicolas Aube-Kubel


Ivan Provorov - Shayne Gostisbehere

Travis Sanheim - Justin Braun

Robert Hagg - Erik Gustafsson

Starting Goaltender: Brian Elliott (expected)