Flyers vs. Sabres preview: Time to crush Buffalo's playoff hopes

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 26: Philadelphia Flyers fans celebrate during the second period of their game against the Buffalo Sabres in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 26, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center
South Philadelphia

TV: CSN Philly, MSG Buffalo
TICKETS: Starting at $46
BUF BLOG: Die By The Blade

Believe it or not, there's still something for the Philadelphia Flyers to play for this regular season. One point in the final two games of the regular season (or one lost point by the Devils) will clinch them at least the No. 5 seed and a date with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, but unfortunately, thanks to the loss Tuesday to the New York Rangers, home ice in that series is not in their control.

Even though the Flyers have a game remaining against Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Pens can clinch the No. 4 seed with two points against the New York Rangers tonight. Should the Penguins lose in regulation to the Rangers, the Flyers would be able to clinch the No. 4 seed with two points Saturday and at least one point tonight. Should the Pens lose in overtime or a shootout, the Flyers would have to grab two points tonight vs. Buffalo and they'd have to beat Pittsburgh in regulation on Saturday to grab the home-ice edge. All is moot, however, if Pittsburgh beats New York tonight.

More directly, though, the Flyers can potentially eliminate the Buffalo Sabres from playoff contention with two points tonight. The Sabres are locked in a tie (88 points each) with the Washington Capitals for the No. 8 seed with two games left in the season. Washington battles Florida tonight, and if the Caps grab two points, the Sabres won't be able to catch them. Two Washington points and two Philadelphia points would put the Caps and the Panthers into the postseason.

As much as we can't stand the Capitals, hearing Ryan Miller's whiny voice after the game tonight, realizing his season is over, would be ridiculously satisfying.

Of course, Danny Briere and Nick Grossmann are both out again tonight. Ilya Bryzgalov is the expected starter for the Flyers, and our buddy Miller will be in goal for Buffalo.

It should be interesting to see how the Flyers battle Buffalo's intensity off the opening draw. With the stakes as high as they are tonight for the Sabres -- not technically a must-win, but it's basically a must-win -- you know they'll come out hot, and it'll be up to the Flyers to weather that storm.

It's safe to say we shouldn't necessarily be confident in the Flyers' ability to seal up defensively early in a game, but well ... now would be a good time to start. Game thread at 5 p.m., catch the action on CSN. Go Flyers (and Phillies too!).

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