Preview: Sabre slash!

The Philadelphia Flyers welcome the Buffalo Sabres for their final match of the 2022-23 season.

Preview: Sabre slash!

The Philadelphia Flyers are 5-3-2 in their last ten, and currently on a seven-game point streak–a streak that started with a decisive victory over the Buffalo Sabres on St. Patrick’s Day.

Well, the Sabres are back in town and things have changed quite a bit for them. A few weeks ago, they were well positioned to make a run at one of the wildcard spots in the Eastern Conference, but they have since collapsed and are 4-3-3 in their last ten. They were never a favorite to make the playoffs this season, but it looked like they had a chance for the first time in years. Unfortunately, it appears they will extend their league-leading playoff drought to 12 seasons.

The news isn’t all bad though. They still have a very young, very talented core in Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin, and Dylan Cozens, and the Sabres recently re-signed defensive defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to an extension. Their biggest weakness this season has been keeping pucks out of their own net: since their loss to the Flyers, they have allowed seven goals twice–once in a shutout by the Bruins, and a 7-3 loss to the Nashville Predators. The Sabres hold one of the highest goals-for in the league, but they’re still minus-9 overall. All the offense in the world (and they have a lot of offense) won’t make up for a weak defense and a goaltender who couldn’t stop a puck if his life depended on it.

A pile of goalie injuries hasn’t helped, either, and with newly-signed rookie Devon Levi getting the nod to start last night's OT win over the Rangers, the Flyers will likely face starter Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (best name) tonight. The Flyers may not need to face Buffalo star Tage Thompson, who has been day-to-day with an upper body injury.

The Flyers, meanwhile, are one game removed from a 5-1-1 homestand–one of the best in franchise history. Their most recent game, an overtime loss to the Senators, saw them overcome a three goal deficit to force the extra inning (it’s the start of baseball season, folks). That doesn’t mean they played well, though: Cam Talbot posted a .636 save percentage, allowing four goals on a total of 11 shots, and the shot differential of 35 nearly set a league record. Now they face Buffalo, a team with a similarly tenuous goaltending situation. If the Flyers are going to win without generating much in the way of offense, they need to make their shots count and hope their goalies come up big. Carter Hart may still be dealing with an injury, so we could see Felix Sandstrom start once more.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. from the Farg.

Players to Watch

Cam York

After taking a pretty rough hit against the boards in the second period against the Sens, York scored a great unassisted goal for the Flyers in the third. He also had an assist on Tony DeAngelo’s power play goal at the start of the second. York has been very good this season, and he’s in the last year of his ELC–his play now is crucial for the value of his next contract. In an ideal world, York gets locked up long term, and not put on a bridge contract.

Morgan Frost

He may not yet have won over his coach, but Frost has certainly been piling on the points as the season winds down. He has interim GM Danny Briere in his corner (they do wear the same number, after all), but Frost's future with the Flyers still depends on whether Torts envisions him being a long-term solution for the roster.

Travis Konecny

Surprise! Guess who's back? Back again? TK's back--tell a friend. Konecny will draw back into the lineup after missing several weeks due to injury. He's been the Flyers' best forward this season, and it'll be fun to see him back on the ice. That means either Kieffer Bellows or Tanner Laczynski are out--or both, and the Flyers run 11 forwards and seven D again.

Rasmus Dahlin

The other--and far more talented--Rasmus from Buffalo. Dahlin's having the breakout season everyone had been waiting for, with 66 points in 70 games played. He's quickly becoming one of the most elite puck moving defensemen in the league, and turns just 23 next week. Buffalo's only hurdle moving forward is Dahlin's contract ending next year and, if this is the first successful season of many, he'll be due a significant raise.

Projected Lineups

Philadelphia Flyers

Joel Farabee--Morgan Frost--TK
Scott Laughton--Noah Cates--Owen Tippett
JvR--Kevin Hayes--Wade Allison
Nic Deslauriers--Brendan Lemieux

Ivan Provorov--Cam York
Travis Sanheim--Rasmus Ristolainen
Nick Seeler--TDA
Justin Braun

Felix Sandstrom
(Sam Ersson)

Buffalo Sabres

Jeff Skinner--Casey Mittelstadt--Alex Tuch
Jack Quinn--Dylan Cozens--JJ Peterka
Zemgus Girgensons--Peyton Krebs--Kyle Okposo
Victor Olofsson--Tyson Jost--Jordan Greenway

Mattias Samuelsson--Rasmus Dahlin
Henri Jokiharju--Owen Power
Ilya Lyubushkin--Jacob Bryson

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
(Devon Levi)

Gameday Tunes

This used to be a part of previews, and I'm bringing it back for the new website. Speaking of new, the new boygenius record is awesome, and perfect for this rainy day and often miserable season. Promise there will be more upbeat ones in the future!