Preview: Critical points on the line as Sabres square-off with Flyers
Buffalo and Philadelphia jockey for position in a tightly contested Eastern Conference race
Buffalo Sabres (16-12-7) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (18-11-5)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, PA
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Flyers Blog: Broad Street Hockey
Know Your Opponent
Record: (18-11-5) | 41 PTS
Last 10: 6-4-0
Division Ranking: 5th in Metropolitan Division
Conference Ranking: 6th in Eastern Conference
PP: 19th (17.8%)
PK: 8th (83.3%)
What to Watch
1. Critical Points on the Line
With just two points separating the Sabres and Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings, a win tonight would help both teams keep pace in a tightly contested playoff race. While we’ve barely approached the mid-way point of the season, these two evenly-matched foes would like to take points away from each other.
At the moment, the Sabres still hold the second place slot in the Atlantic Division, but with just three points separating them from the sixth place team in the division, every win matters, even in December.
2. Hutton Back In Net
Following back-to-back .950 save-percentage performances to close out the month of October, it’s been rough sailing for the veteran netminder. Only once in his last six starts has he posted over a .875. The Flyers are a tough opponent, especially at Wells Fargo Center, where they hold an 11-2-4 record this season (good for 26 of their 41 points so far).
Though Hutton has become the team’s number two goaltender behind Linus Ullmark, he needs to be reliable in spot duty. With the Los Angeles Kings traveling to Buffalo for a matinee game on Saturday, it’s a little surprising to see Hutton get the nod here. We’ll see if he can turn the tides.
3. Dahlin and the Sabres Power-Play Unit
Ever since Rasmus Dahlin returned to the ice following a concussion that caused him to miss eight games, the Sabres’ power-play unit has been revitalized to an extent. For a group that finished the month of November allowing more goals-against than goals-for with the man-advantage, going 3-for-6 since Dahlin’s return to the top unit is a welcome change.
If the Sabres hope to remain competitive in a parity-filled Eastern Conference, they need the power-play to be an area of strength. Hopefully Dahlin’s inclusion on the back-end can continue to be a catalyst for a unit that currently ranks 15th in the NHL.
Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Jimmy Vesey - Marcus Johansson - Rasmus Asplund
Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Conor Sheary
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Brandon Montour - Colin Miller
Marco Scandella - Rasmus Dahlin
Zach Bogosian - Henri Jokiharju (Scratched pair will be known closer to game time)
Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton (confirmed)
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk - Kevin Hayes - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
David Kase - Morgan Frost - Jakub Voracek
Andy Andreoff - Mikhail Vorobyev - Tyler Pitlick
Ivan Provorov - Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim - Justin Braun
Robert Hagg - Shayne Gostisbehere
Starting Goaltender: Carter Hart (confirmed)