The Buffalo Sabres (14-11-1) have had their struggles at home of late, losing five of their last six contests at the First Niagara Center. The task at hand doesn’t get any easier with a home matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers (15-6-3) on Wednesday night (7:30pm EST). The Flyers come into Buffalo having won two straight road contests at Anaheim and Phoenix. Overall Philadelphia is 4-1-0 in their last five games.
The Sabres are coming off a road victory of their own, a 3-2 win in Nashville on Saturday night, but are looking to reverse their fortunes on home ice. Tonight’s game against the Flyers is the first of four in a row at home for the Sabres which includes games against the the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and Ottawa Senators.
On the season Buffalo is 6-8-1 at home, however one of those wins was a game in which the Sabres were the designated home team, but the game was played in Helsinki, Finland.
This is the second of four meetings this season between Buffalo and Philadelphia, and the second straight in Buffalo. The Flyers edged the Sabres 3-2 on November 2nd behind three first period tallies in the games first 10 minutes.
After falling behind by three goals, Lindy Ruff pulled Ryan Miller and the team rallied behind Jhonas Enroth with goals by goals by Andrej Sekera, and Luke Adam, but ultimately failed to tie the game giving Philadelphia the 3-2 victory.
The Sabres offense would benefit from continued strong play by the suddenly resurgent former Flyer Ville Leino, who has three points in his last two games. Tyler Ennis’s presence should also provide a boost as he returned to the lineup recently after recovering from an ankle injury and recorded his first point of the season by scoring the game winning goal in Nashville Saturday night.
Tyler Ennis was not active the last time these two teams met. The Sabres will also be flexing some additional muscle in the lineup, with big bodied forward Zack Kassian, and physical defensemen Brayden McNabb and Joe Finley expected to be in the lineup against Philadelphia.
The Flyers boast the league’s highest scoring offense, and that offense is led by Claude Giroux who is tied for second in the NHL in total points with 32 (15g 17a). His line along with Jaromir Jagr, and Scott Hartnell contributed the game winning goal against Buffalo in their first meeting. The Flyers continue to be without future hall of fame defenseman Chris Pronger who is still recovering from knee surgery.
The Sabres would do well to stay out of the penalty box against the Flyers who boast one of the league’s most potent power play attacks. Ranked 7th in the NHL, Philadelphia is lighting the lamp on an impressive 20% of their man advantages. The Sabres meanwhile rank 18th in the NHL at 17%. On the penalty kill the Sabres have a slight advantage at 86.6% (4th in NHL) versus the Flyers 83.6% (13th in the NHL).