Keys to beating Buffalo: Flyers must stop Sabres second line

The Sabres have been a different team in 2011 than the one that played in 2010, and since the late-February trade deadline, that contrast has been even more clear. A large part of that success has been thanks to the acquisition of Brad Boyes, who came to Buffalo via a trade with St. Louis at the deadline.

Since the trade, Boyes has 14 points with his new team. Sure, he's only scored five goals in 21 games with Buffalo, but in those 21 games, the Sabres jumped from a team goal differential of minus-1 to plus-16, the mark where they finished the regular season. That might not be a coincidence. Eric T. will have more later today on just what the Boyes acquisition meant to the Sabres (re: a Pronger-like impact), but just know that he's been vital for them. 

Boyes gives the Sabres a lot more depth on the second line. He plays with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, and while much of the Flyers focus should rightfully be on the top line of Tim Connolly, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, this second line can burn you if you give it too much room to work. It's why secondary scoring is so often talked about as a key in the playoffs, right? 

Boyes has pretty deceptive vision and a keen ability to get pucks on the sticks of his linemates in vital scoring areas. Playing with Stafford and Ennis obviously helps, too, as those are guys that certainly have a nice bit of finishing ability. Stafford is having a breakout season with 31 goals, while Ennis has 20 goals in just his second NHL season.

The key to stopping this unit, in my eyes, is simply to play physical. Stafford is the only player of the trio that has anything that could be considered a strong frame. Ennis is a tiny widdle bugger and can be bumped off the puck rather easily, and while Boyes isn't a small guy, he's not known for being tough with the puck. Based on this, it seems to me like it'd be ideal to match one of the bottom two lines against this group. 

If the Flyers can largely eliminate the threat of the Sabres second line, it'll greatly lessen the potential blow that Buffalo can dish out. It isn't an easy task, as this unit has been a driving force in Buffalo's second half resurgence, but the Flyers do have the personnel to get it done. 

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