By Connor Thomas
The Flyers will look to get back on track tonight against the lowly Buffalo Sabres in the second game of the year at the Wells Fargo Center with fans in attendance later tonight. Philadelphia is coming off of a rough loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday night, and a 1-2 3 game series in Pittsburgh. With only 1 win in their last 4 times taking the ice, a matchup with the Sabres might be just what the doctor ordered for Alain Vigneault’s squad. The Flyers are 3-1 against Buffalo so far this year, and have shut out the Sabres in the teams’ last 2 meetings. And while the Flyers have taken a slight slide, Buffalo is rolling head over heels downhill, losing their last 7 games and 12 of their last 14. They are also only averaging 1.57 goals per game over the 7 game losing streak, which does not exactly inspire confidence for their chances against Philly later tonight.
All signs point to this game being a lock win for the Flyers, *knocks on wood* but there are still some things to look for in tonight’s game that will have positive indications for a turnaround for the orange and the black. Carter Hart should be back in net, and his last 3 games that were not against the Buffalo Sabres saw him let up 14 total goals. His most recent game against the Sabres, as previously mentioned, was a 3-0 shutout win in which Hart saved all 28 shots he faced. Young players need confidence boosts when they can get them, so tonight will be a great opportunity for Hart to get his head back in the right spot. Another thing to look for tonight is going to be the Flyers’ ability to break through on the power play. In the past 6 games, Philly is 2-20 on the man advantage, which is simply unacceptable for a team that plans on making a deep playoff run. In fact, the Flyers are 22nd in the NHL on the power play, and 28th in the NHL on penalty kills, putting them as one of the worst special teams units in the league. A turnaround needs to happen quickly, and while Buffalo’s special teams have been the lone bright spot, tonight is still another opportunity to get it right.
The fans returned to the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday but unfortunately left emptyhanded, so if anything, at least the team should be heading off the ice with their first win in front of the home fans in 364 days. Who knows, maybe the roar of the home crowd falling victory will be just what the team needs to build momentum.
Puck Drop: 7pm
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: Right here on 97.5 The Fanatic!