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Flyers vs Sabres preview: May the fifth (straight win) be with you

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Who would have thought this would happen?

Photo from Oct 25 2016 - Flyers/Sabres
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers head into tonight’s match up with the Buffalo Sabres winning their last four contests, including a thriller over Toronto on Tuesday. The sudden surge by Philadelphia has put them right back in the thick of the wild card race, just four points behind the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot.

Over this four game win streak the Flyers have outscored their opponents 17-7, bringing their goal differential almost back to even, currently -1. Almost everything has been clicking for the Flyers of late, and this is a game where you cannot afford to step off the pedal.

As for the Sabres? I think they’re dunking (?) for Dahlin, if you know what I mean.

(I’ll see myself out now)

Buffalo is currently second to last in the NHL, just two points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. At this point, one would imagine they could be tanking yet again for a top draft pick as they tried to do for Connor McDavid. This time there’s a defenseman projected to go number one overall, something the Sabres desperately need.

PHI Point Leaders

  1. Jakub Voracek - 37 points
  2. Claude Giroux - 34 points
  3. Sean Couturier - 30 points

BUF Point Leaders

  1. Evander Kane - 28 points
  2. Jack Eichel - 24 points
  3. Ryan O’ Rielly - 20 points

Can Elliott stay hot?

Assuming Dave Hakstol continues to ride his hot hand in Brian Elliott, can the NHL’s third star of the week put together another dazzling performance? Elliott has been playing out of this world over the Flyers win streak, stopping 123 of the 130 shots he’s faced. While this is a game where Hakstol might be able to get away with starting rookie Alex Lyon, one would tend to believe he’ll stick with his hot goaltender especially given past experiences.

Team Metrics

Flyers CF%: 49.02

Sabres CF%: 47.49

Flyers xGF%: 50.34

Sabres xGF%: 44.30

To absolutely no one’s surprise, the Sabres metrics don’t get any better. This is a game where the Flyers have the clear edge in almost each and every category, so naturally this game will come down to the wire in either overtime or late in regulation. The main key for the Flyers in this game is going to be — as expected — stopping Jack Eichel. While Eichel doesn’t have the best stats this year, he’s clearly one of the more talented players in the game, and the Flyers will have their eyes set on the former second overall pick.

And the models say....

Oh....oh geez that’s just borderline rude to Buffalo. The Flyers on average are favored at a 61% mark. Their highest projection coming in at 62.4 and the “lowest” at 59%.

Flyers Projected Lines

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Simmonds

Raffl - Filppula - Voracek

Weal - Patrick - Weise

Leier - Laughton - Konecny

Defense

Provorov - MacDonald

Hagg - Gostisbehere

Sanheim - Gudas

Goalie

Elliott

(Lyon)