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Flyers at Sabres: Preview, TV info and discussion thread

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With things quickly spiraling downward, the Flyers will once again attempt to get things back on track as they play their first game of the season against the East's worst team.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

2014-15 NHL Season :: Game 46 of 82

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17-21-7 (41 points)
5th in Metropolitan
14-28-3 (31 points)
8th in Atlantic
Saturday, January 17, 2015 :: 7:00 p.m. ET
First Niagara Center :: Buffalo, N.Y., USA
Get the Buffalo perspective at Die By The Blade


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FLYERS. SABRES. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, BABY. Pre-game notes:

* Scott Laughton will not play for the second straight night following his upper-body injury that he suffered in Washington, and on top of that we've learned that Matt Read has the flu and will be a game-time decision (though odds are he will not play).

* As a result of one or both of those inconveniences, Jason Akeson was recalled this morning. If Read is able to play, chances are that Akeson will be in the press box (there's an outside chance he would play in Zac Rinaldo's stead, but I'm not holding my breath). If he's not, then we'll probably see a top-9 featuring both Akeson and Rinaldo. We'll find our closer to game time.

* If Akeson and Rinaldo are both in, do they both slot right on Sean Couturier's line? Does R.J. Umberger bump back to that line while one of them plays with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds? Anyone's guess.

* Things will likely stay the same on the blue line. Streit-MacDonald, Del Zotto-Schultz, Schenn-Colaiacovo.

* Rob Zepp will start tonight. It'll be his fourth straight appearance in net (three out of which were starts) after he came in to replace Ray Emery in Thursday's 4-0 loss. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

* The Sabres are bad! Like holy crap the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres are really, really bad. It is not in the slightest an exaggeration to say this is one of the worst NHL teams any of us have ever seen. Here is an incomplete list of things that the Sabres currently rank last in the NHL in:

  • Goals scored per game
  • Goals allowed per game
  • Power play percentage
  • Shots taken per game
  • Shots allowed per game
  • Literally any team-wide measure of possession (in fact, they are by far the NHL's worst possession team since possession metrics have been recorded)

So ... y'know ... no pressure, guys.

(Note: despite all of this, the Sabres still aren't even last in the NHL in standings points. They're close, but not there yet. What the hell, Edmonton?)

* Now, with all of that said, we're only a couple of weeks removed from the Flyers losing four games in a row to teams all in the bottom quarter of the NHL's standings. And, of course, the Flyers walk into this game not having scored a goal in their last 144:59 of hockey. So it should be clear that this is not a team they can overlook right now, because no team like that exists.

* Still, though, this is a game that the Flyers should win. And with an Islanders/Pens back-to-back coming up right before the All-Star break next week, if the Flyers still have any remote ambitions for a playoff spot, this frankly isn't a game they can lose. For all of the talk of last Thursday's game being the end of the Flyers' season, a loss here would basically solidify what most of us already believe (that this year's Flyers team is going nowhere fast).

* Old friend Andrej Meszaros plays for the Sabres so that's neat I guess.

7:00 start. Game on TCN for you local folks. Go Flyers.