#2 Buffalo Sabresvs.#1 Philadelphia Flyers
Written by David Hess
Philadelphia Flyers (21-5-2-4 SU, 19-23 PL, 22-15-5 O/U) vs Buffalo Sabres (15-15-4-5 SU, 24-15 PL, 15-20-4 O/U)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Where: KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York
Lines: Philadelphia -111/ Buffalo +101
Tonight in NHL action, the Philadelphia Flyers will grapple with the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. The Flyers come in off a hard-fought 2-1 OT loss at Columbus, while the Sabres are off a 4-3 home win over the Jets. The Over is 34-16-3 the last 53 games played in this series. The Flyers won the lone meeting between these teams by a 4-3 score in the shootout.
The Philadelphia Flyers are not playing great hockey at the moment, but they nearly pulled a nice upset in their last game, which was at Columbus.The Flyers have now lost six of their last seven games and that offense that was so good earlier in the year has now produced just 1.80 gpg over their last 10 games. They have just lost their offense and are now sitting 12 points out of first in the Metro Division. This really looks like a team in trouble right now, especially since they just don’t have the goaltending to overcome bad offense. The Flyers trailed for much of the game vs the Blue Jackets, until Brayden Schenn scored with just 17 seconds left in regulation to send the game to OT, where the Flyers eventually lost the game. For Schenn, it was his 12th goal of the year, which is 3rd on the team behind Jakub Voracek’s 13 and Wayne Simmonds’ 17.
Taking the loss in the game was Steve Mason, who is now 14-19 with a 2.78 GAA on the year. Getting the start in this one should be Michal Neuvirth, who is 5-2 on the year, with a 3.35 GAA, including 3-1 with a 3.57 GAA on the road, while vs the Sabres in his career he has gone 4-2 with a 3.28 GAA. The Flyers enter this game ranked 7th in the league in scoring at 2.83 gpg, while also ranking 6th in shots taken (31.5 spg) and 8th in power play conversions, converting on 21.5% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have not been that good as they come in ranked 24th in goals allowed, giving up just 2.98 gpg, while also ranking 8th in shots allowed (28.6) and 16th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 18.3% of their chances.
The Buffalo Sabres are a bit below mediocre this year and that is probably the way they will stay all year. They just don’t have a lot of offense on the team and the goaltending has been average at best. The Sabres come in off a nice 4-3 win over a struggling Winnipeg team, but still they are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. They are in 7th place in the Atlantic Division and 17 points out of first. In the game vs the Jets, they trailed by a score of 3-1 heading to the 3rd period, but the final frame was all theirs and it was Brian Gionta that scored the game-winner halfway through the 3rd. It was his 8th goal of the year. Also scoring in the win was Ryan O’Reilly, which was his 8th of the year, Marcus Foligno, which was his 7th of the year and Zemgus Girgensons, which was his 5th of the year. Leading the team in scoring this year has been Kyle Okposo with 12 goals, while Evander Kane has nine and five others have eight.
Snatching up the win in the game was Robin Lehner, who is now 9-17 with a 2.53 GAA on the year, including 4-9 with a 2.45 GAA on the year, while vs the Flyers in his career he has gone 1-2 with a 3.35 GAA. Buffalo enters this game ranked 26th in the league in scoring at 2.26 gpg, while also ranking 19th in shots taken (29.1 spg) and 6th in power play conversions, converting on 21.9% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have been average as they rank 15th in goals allowed, giving up 2.67 gpg, while also ranking 28th in shots allowed (32.8) and 30th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 25.6% of their chances.
Both of these teams are struggling at the moment, which should make for an interesting game. The Flyers have lost six of their last seven games, while the Sabres have lost seven of their last 10. This game also features a couple of poor offenses and some shoddy goaltending. The kicker is the fact that the Sabres are not a great team off a win and the Flyers are 14-5 in their last 19 games in this series. I look for the Flyers to build off a good performance vs the Blue Jackets and take this one in what should be another hard-fought game for them. Take the Flyers tonight.
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