The Philadelphia Flyers will head to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in the first game of a back-to-back set.
Last time out the Sabres were defeated by the St. Louis Blues 6-2, in large part because of Vladimir Tarasenko’s hat trick for the Blues. The Sabres have lost four of their last five and have been out scored 22-10. Meanwhile the Flyers have also dropped four of the last five games while being out scored 23-11.
The Sabres have been lead this season up front by Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner. Thompson leads the Sabres in almost every offensive category except assist where he is second. He is tops in goals with 33, points with 60, and power play goals with nine. Skinner meanwhile is second on the team in goals and points with 31 and 55 respectively.
For the Flyers their main focus tonight and for the rest of the season will be to try and get their defense on the right track. The Flyers have struggled in all aspects of the game this season but defense has again been the biggest downfall. There have been too many defensive breakdowns this season that’s lead to breakaways or guys standing all alone right in front of the net, like we saw Tuesday against the Capitals. The surge of young players coming up on the blue line has not helped the situation, but tonight against a team that ranks 25th in goals for per game is a chance for the Flyers to get things right heading into next season and gain some confidence for the new guys.
Flyers Projected Lines
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Owen Tippett
Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Morgan Frost-Bobby Brink
Noah Cates-Nate Thompson-Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov-Egor Zamula
Travis Sanheim-Kevin Connauton
Keith Yandle-Ronnie Attard
Sabres Projected Lines
Jeff Skinner-Tage Thompson-Victor Olofsson
Peyton Krebs-Casey Mittelstadt-Alex Tuch
Rasmus Asplund-Dylan Cozens-Kyle Okposo
Anders Bjork-Zemgus Girgensons-Vinnie Hinostroza
Jacob Bryson-Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power-Henri Jokiharju
Matthias Samuelsson-Casey Fitzgerald
What to Watch for
After finishing up his sophomore season with Michigan, last year’s first overall pick Owen Power made his debut for the Sabres last Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 6’6 213 pound defenseman registered 19:50 TOI to go along with a hit, a blocked shot, and plus 2 rating. In Thursday’s loss to the Blues he picked up his first NHL point when he assisted on an Alex Tuch goal. There is a lot of promise for the Sabres who expect to have the top pairing of Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power for the next 10 or more years. Power is already a great skater especially for his size, has decent offensive skills, and has good in instincts defensively that allows his to break up plays.
Egor Zamula will be the defenseman to watch for the Flyers tonight. The 22-year-old Russian will be given a chance to play on the top line with his fellow countryman Ivan Provorov. In 57 games with the Lehigh valley Phantoms this season Zamula has four goals and 25 assist for 29 points. Zamula described it as a “dream come true” to get paired with Provorov. Zamula who is a left-hander will play the right side with Provorov.
It has been a difficult season for James van Riemsdyk but his play of late has been better. In his last 12 games van Riemsdyk has eight points including six goals. While there is much speculation about what the Flyers will do with van Riemsdyk next season, it appears he is trying to make an impact whether that be on the Flyers or another team. He has also been a streaky scorer so we will have to see if he can keep up this recent hot streak.