Philly ‘flies’ to Buffalo for first of back-to-back games this weekend
Sabres looking for two points after tough overtime loss
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
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.
UPDATE: EICHEL IS OUT. SKINNER AND RIEDER ARE IN.
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.
UPDATE: RASMUS RISTOLAINEN WILL PLAY
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.
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
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)