Buffalo Sabres (11-4-1, 23 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (10-4-1, 21 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN HD, MSG Buffalo
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 207
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Die By The Blade
Last Friday, as the Flyers cruised to a 5-2 victory in Buffalo over the Sabres, they rode the coattails of the third and fourth lines. Tonight in a rematch at the Wachovia Center, they'll look for a full-team performance as the orange and black go for a sixth straight win.
The team is red-hot right now. With 24 goals in their last five games, they are proving their offensive depth while Simon Gagne sits on the shelf. Danny Briere missed a few of those games, but he's back and trying to prove to the Philadelphia faithful that his injury issues are not a repeat of last season's nightmare.
Ryan Parent will also return to the lineup this evening after sitting on the sidelines since Halloween. That means Oskars Bartulis, who played better than expected in his NHL debut Thursday night, will sit. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen is still out with a mild concussion.
As noted earlier here at BSH, James van Riemsdyk is likely out of the lineup with a case of the flu. Riley Cote will replace him, playing on the fourth line. Mika Pyorala will probably jump up and take JVR's spot on the first line with Jeff Carter and Briere.
The Flyers are finally starting to play some actual hockey games. Long, frustrating breaks between games were common early in the season, but beginning now the team plays practically every other day until Christmas. That means we'll likely start to see backup goaltender Brian Boucher start a few games here and there, but not quite yet. John Stevens is opting to start the hot hand, Ray Emery, who has looked great over the course of this winning streak.
The defense in front of Emery has been solid too, a key component in this win streak. Braydon Coburn has fallen out of his early slump, Kimmo Timonen has been Kimmo Timonen, and Matt Carle succeeded learning his trade from one of the best teachers in the world, Chris Pronger.
If the Flyers want to win again tonight, they'll need the same effort they've been getting this entire win streak. It starts in goal and stretches to the defense while the offense takes the pressure away. Ryan Miller will try to steal a game for the Sabres, but the Flyers have to make sure he can't do that.
After the jump, a few questions to answer tonight.
Questions To Answer
- How much ice time does Riley Cote get if, in fact, JVR doesn't play?
- Can the Flyers beat Ryan Miller for the second time in just over a week?
- How does Mika Pyorala play up on a top line, and can he finally pot his first goal?
- Does the Carcillo-Betts-Laperriere line dominate the game as they did last Friday in Buffalo?
Tonight's game is broadcast locally on CSN and 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!