How close has this series been between the Sabres and Flyers?
Through the first six games, the teams have been tied or separated by one goal 87.5 percent of the playing time (324:03 of 370:14).
“That’s what you expect out of a playoff series,” Lindy Ruff said following the morning skate at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia as the teams prepared to face off in Game 7 tonight. “A lot of emotion back and forth, there’s been ebbs and flows with momentum in games. Teams have grabbed a hold of momentum, which I think both teams can do. You can control play for good periods of time and the other team can recover. It’s had everything. It’s had the physical side to it, it’s been a tough mental game on both teams. To this point, it’s been everything you’d want a playoff series to be.”
“We need him to do a lot. I look at it that we need him to step in and be a big player,” Ruff said. “It’s tough. He hasn’t been in a game in four months, but we’re ready to give it a go. Regular season and playoffs, there’s another notch there where it’s got to be quicker and faster, and the intensity is a lot greater, so things are going to have to happen quicker. It might take him a few shifts, but I think he’s up to the task.”
After the morning skate, Ruff was asked about the availability of forwards Mike Grier and Patrick Kaleta for Game 7, and Ruff responded that “one of them is out for the rest of the series” but did not specify which player he was referring to. He also said defenseman Jordan Leopold would be a “game-time” decision.
When asked if Jochen Hecht would be available tonight, Ruff said: “We’ll see on that.”
Aside from injury news, much of the talk leading into tonight’s Game 7 was on the opportunity to advance in the postseason and how to approach the decisive game.
“You want to stay loose, you want to treat this as every other game we have,” said Drew Stafford. “We’ve been playing with this kind of attitude for a long time now and it’s brought us some success. Some guys in here, we haven’t had the experience of a Game 7, but at the same time this has been a hard-fought series. Every game has been real close, and it comes down to their best versus our best.”
You try to get your players to embrace the fact that these Game 7’s don’t come along very often. It’s been one heck of a series and we need some guys to step through and be the hero for us.” - Lindy Ruff on Game 7Brad Boyes added, “I don’t know how many of these you’re going to get to play in, so we’ve got to enjoy it and have fun with it.”
Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette, who will be coaching his fifth career Game 7, shared his thoughts on what the seventh game of a playoff series means.
“Game 7’s are an opportunity to live a little bit. You’re going to feel something today. There’s going to be highs and there’s going to be lows, but you’re living life. They’re a lot of fun, great challenges and great opportunities,” Laviolette said.
He added that his team seemed relaxed, but said that “it’s how we play tonight that matters most.”
Ruff said it will be important for his team to not expend too much energy and emotion in the warm-up but wants the players to embrace the opportunity.
“We’ve got a chance to do something real special. We need a smile on somebody’s face like Tyler Ennis (after Game 5) after the game. That’s all we need. You try to get your players to embrace the fact that these Game 7’s don’t come along very often. It’s been one heck of a series and we need some guys to step through and be the hero for us.”
POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 1:57 PM
Buffalo will be looking to even its best-of-seven series with Philadelphia at two games apiece tonight when the Sabres and Flyers square off at HSBC Arena.
Following Monday’s 4-2 Game 3 loss in which the Sabres held a 37-26 advantage in shots, Jason Pominville said there will be an emphasis on getting better scoring opportunities.
Anytime you’ve got experience, it helps you. You look back on your situations and you’re playoff series that you’ve had. If you look at them, they battled hard to come back and beat Boston last year. They know what that’s all about. Part of ours is, we know that we were behind the eight-ball earlier in the year, we know that we were able to battle back. We came a long ways to get in the playoffs.” - Head Coach Lindy Ruff“We definitely want to create more opportunities for ourselves, especially in those dangerous scoring areas around the slot… We out-shot them but we definitely didn’t out-chance them. That’s an area where we want to be better. We want to have those second and third opportunities that usually will lead to a really good scoring chance.”
Lindy Ruff also acknowledged that the edge in shots did not translate into more quality scoring chances. On Wednesday, Ruff said that getting an early lead will help create better chances.
“If you can get the lead, you’ll get better quality, because the other team, it forces them out of their game,” Ruff said. “If you don’t, you’ve got to get in the holes. I thought we did a better job of getting in the holes, I thought we did a better job of getting people around the paint. When teams have four or five guys back, you’ve got to do a good job of making sure you’re getting to the net, you’re getting net presence when you get it back to the point.”
4/20 - Lindy Ruff Pregame
Through the first three games of the series, the Sabres have led for just 14 minutes and 48 seconds. Patrick Kaleta scored with 14:04 remaining in the third period of Game 1 to give Buffalo a 1-0 win. In Game 2, during a wild first period that ended in a 3-3 tie, the Sabres led for just 44 seconds. At no point in Game 3 did Buffalo hold a lead.
“It really changes the approach the other team has to take if you’re chasing the lead all the time,” Ruff added. “They’re a pretty good counter-attack team, they’re a quick attack team. You make mistakes by trying to be aggressive, you put yourself in a tough spot,” Ruff added.
Tyler Ennis, who was back on the ice for Wednesday’s optional morning skate after being given a “maintenance” day on Tuesday, said that getting an early lead would also help in terms of feeding of the energy of the fans.
“It’s important to get the lead, especially in the playoffs. It would be good to get the first goal, get the fans behind us, get them into it and get that energy. When they score first, sometimes it can drain everyone a little bit, so that first goal is huge,” Ennis said.
There were no indications of any lineup changes for the Sabres, with Ruff pointing out that Mark Mancari would not be in the lineup for Game 4.
The Sabres are 8-7 all-time in Game 4 of a playoff series when trailing 2-1
The Sabres’ penalty killing units spent a significant portion of Game 2 on the ice as Buffalo was whistled for a total of 13 penalties resulting in 10 power play chances for the Flyers. While they were able to kill off all but one of those power plays, the team knows it will have to play a more disciplined style tonight in Game 3. However, Head Coach Lindy Ruff does not want his team to take a passive approach in order to avoid penalties.
Dating back to the regular season, the Sabres have killed off 26 of their last 28 shorthanded situations, including 14 of 15 in the first two games against the Flyers.
“We’re going to go out there and try and kill them as best we can. I think our penalty kill has done a good job so far, even this morning we talked about some things that we can still improve on,” said defenseman Chris Butler, who has led all skaters in the series thus far in ice time, averaging 26:36.
After playing the first two games of the series on the road in Philadelphia, the Sabres expect to get an extra boost by playing in front of the hometown crowd tonight, which they expect to be loud. At the same time, it will be important for the team to stay in control.
“We know that they’re going to be pretty excited, just as we are. I think we just have to control our emotions early on in the game and hopefully that works for us,” said Rob Niedermayer, a veteran of 111 Stanley Cup Playoff games. “I think it’s just, keep things simple. That’s what our approach is. There’s not a lot of ice out there right now. If we give them turnovers, that just sort of feeds their game, so we’re just trying to keep it simple.”
After Buffalo won Game 1 by a score of 1-0, the teams combined for nine goals in Game 2, including six in a wild first period. The drastic difference in styles in the two games make it tough to predict how tonight’s game will be played.
“I don’t know if (this series) is going to take on one identity,” said Ruff. “You can get tighter, you can get more open. There’s a lot of rebels, both teams, there’s a lot of characters. I don’t think one team is going to be strictly one way. There’s a looseness that both teams bring and I think we’re going to see that. I think games could be like Game 1, they could be like Game 2, it could be somewhere in between. When you get momentum in a game, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
On the Flyers’ side, Head Coach Peter Laviolette announced that Brian Boucher will start in goal for Philadelphia tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky started the first two games of the series, but was pulled in the first period of Game 2 after allowing three goals on seven shots. Boucher came in and stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to lead the Flyers to victory.
“I thought Brian came in his last couple times and has done a really nice job for us in there. He seems on top of his game and in charge of his net. He bailed us out of a couple situations and I really feel like he deserves to go in there and play,” said Laviolette.
During the regular season, Boucher posted a record of 18-10-4 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. He also appeared in 12 games during Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
According to the Flyers’ official website, defenseman Chris Pronger “is officially listed as day-to-day but will NOT be available for tonight's Game 3.”
Lindy Ruff met with the media upon the team’s arrival at Wells Fargo Center this afternoon and confirmed that defenseman Shaone Morrisonn will not be in the lineup tonight and is “day-to-day” with an undisclosed injury. In a related move, the Sabres have recalled defenseman Dennis Persson from Portland of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.
Another defenseman, Andrej Sekera, has missed the last three games with an upper body injury. Prior to Game 2, Ruff said that Sekera is “better,” but did not say whether he would play in today’s game.
Ruff also did not say whether Persson would play, but did say the Sweden native had been Portland’s best defenseman of late.
“He’s just a good two-way defenseman, so he’s obviously a player that’s had a good year down there,” said Ruff.
Persson, who was drafted by Buffalo in the first round (24th overall) in 2006, registered 17 points (4-13-17) in 64 games for the Pirates this season, setting career-highs in goals, assists, points and games played. In parts of three AHL seasons, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound blueliner has tallied 26 points (5-21-26) and 40 penalty minutes.
As for Game 2, Ruff expects to see lots of desperation from the Flyers as they look to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole in the series and knows the Sabres will have to counter that desperation.
“You know they’re going to step up their game; we know that we have to step up our game. It’s a tough situation. It’s a situation that we’d really like to go after. We got one here already, but at the same time, we know that their desperation level will be at a premium… you can’t take a shift for granted,” Ruff said.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 12:24 PM
The Sabres did not hold a morning skate today due to the early 5 p.m. start time for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Buffalo practiced yesterday in Voorhees, New Jersey after taking a 1-0 series lead with a 1-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday. After the session, the team talked about what it needs to do to be successful in Game 2.
Lindy Ruff on spending more time in the offensive zone:
“I think we turned over quite a few pucks on entrances and that didn’t allow us enough zone time. We spent a lot of time in the neutral zone and I thought that hurt us… We know we can be better. We played a strong game but I think we can play a better game. Offensively, we didn’t spend the time in the offensive zone that we wanted, and I think we’ve really gotta get after this one.”
Thomas Vanek on creating more scoring chances:
“Both teams took the middle away. Most of their better chances came on the power play. They did a good job but our penalty killing was good. Five-on-five, we’re just going to have to get the puck deep, cycle it a little bit more and try to get some better opportunities.”
Patrick Kaleta on getting off to a quicker start:
“In the beginning part of the game, we were a little bit nervous. We could make better plays than what we did, better O-zone presence, too. We’ve just got to step up our game a little bit.”
Nathan Gerbe on staying out of the penalty box:
“The biggest thing I see is discipline. Obviously they have so many good players that they can be deadly on the power play. We’ve got to stay out of the box; we can’t give them those chances. It all comes together. If you’re disciplined, you play more 5-on-5, and you get more chances. It’s tough to get chances when you’re penalty killing all the time.”
Tyler Myers on generating more offense:
“I think we have more to give offensively. I think we can hold the puck in their end, sustain some pressure for longer periods of time. For Game 1, I thought was a good start. We know they’re going to come out even stronger being down a game now, so we have to be ready to match it.”
With the Sabres set to begin their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, Buffalo Head Coach Lindy Ruff finds himself in a comfortable position. The longest-tenured coach in the National Hockey League begins a playoff series on the road for the 11th time in his career. In eight of those first 10 series, Ruff’s Sabres have won Game 1.
|Lindy Ruff Pregame|
“The fans here are as great as our fans. That’s what’s great about this series, what’s great about this time of year. It’s fun. There’s going to be something to talk about when this series ends. You’ve got passionate fans on their end, you’ve got passionate fans on our end. It should be one helluva series,” Ruff said this morning.
Ruff did not provide any news regarding his lineup during his media availability, but there was an update on the Flyers’ side. Following Philadelphia’s morning skate, the team posted on its official Website the following statement regarding All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger:
“Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Chris Pronger will be unavailable for tonight's Game 1 vs. Buffalo. He continues to be day-to-day with his hand injury.”
Flyers rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in net tonight, and Ruff talked about the simple approach his team will take in facing the 22-year-old.
“We’re just going to try to shoot where he’s not,” Ruff said. “You need traffic, you need to take advantage of good situations, but we don’t approach it any differently. We know that he’s had some real good stretches this year, that he’s a good goaltender, and we’ve got to make sure that when we have opportunities that are Grade A opportunities, that we put them away.”
The Flyers enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but Head Coach Peter Laviolette said that the teams’ seeds are irrelevant heading into the series.
“I don’t think that seeds have anything to do with it. It’s going to come down to a Buffalo Sabres team and a Philadelphia Flyers team, and they’ll go at it for a series here, and the one that has some good energy, some good execution, some bounces, some good goaltending, good specialty teams, that’s probably the one that will move on,” Laviolette said.
While Philadelphia is the higher seed, Buffalo was the hotter team down the stretch, going 16-4-4 in its final 24 games and 8-1-1 in its last 10. According to Ruff, the Sabres will need to step it up even more.
“You would hope that the way you played, you’d be able to continue playing that way,” Ruff said. “I already told the team, we have to find another gear now. The playoffs are a bigger ball game. You know that they’re going to step it up; we need to step it up, too.”
For the ninth time in their respective histories, the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers will battle one another in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The No. 7 seeded Sabres (43-29-10, 96 points) started slow and finished strong to qualify for their second consecutive postseason, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and 16-4-4 in their final 24 outings. They punched their ticket to the playoffs in the 81st game of the season. Buffalo will enter the postseason riding a season-long four-game winning streak.
The No. 2 seeded Flyers (47-23-12, 106 points), meanwhile, won the Atlantic Division title and spent the majority of the season at or near the top of the Eastern Conference but dropped seven of their final 10 games as they went 3-4-3 down the stretch.
The different paths taken to the playoffs by the Sabres and Flyers is reflected in the season series between the clubs. Each team won two of the four games, with Philadelphia’s victories coming in the first two meetings and Buffalo’s coming in the final two.
The records will be wiped clean as the teams battle in the postseason for the first time since 2006. As we await the announcement of the series schedule on Sunday evening, here's a look at the teams by the numbers:
Buffalo: 43-29-10, 96 points
Philadelphia: 47-23-12, 106 points
Buffalo: Thomas Vanek (32 goals)
Philadelphia: Jeff Carter (36 goals)
Buffalo: Thomas Vanek (41 assists)
Philadelphia: Claude Giroux (51 assists)
Buffalo: Thomas Vanek (73 points)
Philadelphia: Claude Giroux (76 points)
DEFENSEMAN SCORING LEADERS
Buffalo: Tyler Myers (10-27-37 points)
Philadelphia: Matt Carle (1-39-40 points)
Buffalo: Ryan Miller (34-22-8 record, 2.59 GAA, .916 SV%, 5 shutouts)
Philadelphia: Sergei Bobrovsky (28-13-8 record, 2.59 GAA, .915 SV%, 0 shutouts)
Buffalo: 54-for-279 (19.4%)
Philadelphia: 49-for-295 (16.6%)
Buffalo: 249-for-300 (83.0%)
Philadelphia: 259-for-313 (82.8%)
Buffalo: 240 (2.93 per game)
Philadelphia: 256 (3.12 per game)
Buffalo: 228 (2.78 per game)
Philadelphia: (216 (2.63 per game)
The Sabres will play their 41st and final home game of the regular season tonight needing to gain just one point to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Standing in the way are the Philadelphia Flyers.
I would anticipate everything about this game to have a playoff-type atmosphere and energy and emotion that comes with playing those types of games." - Lindy Ruff on tonight's game vs. Philadelphia“I would anticipate everything about this game to have a playoff-type atmosphere and energy and emotion that comes with playing those types of games,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff. “It’s a great day, it’s a great day for the alumni. For us, it’s game day as usual.”
The opportunity to secure a spot in the postseason is the result of an impressive turnaround for the Sabres. After a 3-9-2 start to the season, as well as an 0-6-1 start on home ice, Buffalo turned in a remarkable effort to climb back into playoff contention. Since Dec. 28, when the team was 14-18-4, they have gone 27-11-6.
“It’s been great considering the way that we started the year,” said Drew Stafford. “There might be a lot of people that might have doubted us considering the start we had. It’s pretty cool to see that really none of that matters now. We’ve been in the driver’s seat for a while now controlling where we end up, so it’s just a matter of finishing strong.”
Ryan Miller, who has missed the last four games with an upper body injury, participated in the morning skate, but Ruff would give no indication as to whether Miller or Jhonas Enroth would start in goal for tonight’s showdown with the Flyers.
While Miller has been sidelined, Enroth has performed more than capably between the pipes, leading the Sabres to a 3-0-1 record while posting a 1.96 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.
Patrick Kaleta has been cleared by the medical staff to return to game action after missing the last 15 games with a bone bruise in his leg, but Ruff declined to say whether Kaleta would play tonight or not.
Below is the Sabres’ clinching scenario entering play tonight, per the NHL:
The #7 Buffalo Sabres would clinch an Eastern Conference playoff berth...
* if they get at least one point against the Philadelphia Flyers
* if the Carolina Hurricanes lose to the Atlanta Thrashers in regulation, overtime or
For the first time in a week, the Sabres had three goalies on the ice during a practice session as Ryan Miller joined Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime at Buffalo’s optional morning skate. Enroth will get his fourth straight start tonight when the Sabres take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at HSBC Arena, but Miller took a step forward in his recovery from an upper body injury by taking part in the skate.
“He’ll hopefully get almost a full workout with the limited practice today, but it’s a big step,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff.
If we win games, we’re in. It’s pretty simple. There’s not a lot of math that needs to be done, there’s no crazy formulas or anything. It’s just making sure that we play well and we produce the way we need to.” - Brad Boyes on the playoff raceMiller, who also skated on Monday but did not take any shots, rotated in and out of drills with Enroth and Lalime this morning while facing shots for the first time since last Tuesday’s game at Toronto. Ruff said that the plan is to “ramp up” Miller’s workouts over the next few days and that Miller “will play when he’s ready.”
4/5 - Lindy Ruff Pregame
Enroth, meanwhile, will look to continue the run that netted him NHL Third Star of the Week honors. In his three starts since Miller’s injury, the rookie has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.94 goals against average, a .936 save percentage and one shutout. Each game bears a significant impact on the playoff race, which, according to Enroth, makes it fun.
“These games are very fun to play and these games are the ones you always wanted to play when you were younger, so I’m just having fun with it right now,” Enroth said.
Brad Boyes, who played his first game with Buffalo on March 1 and has helped the team go 11-4-3 since arriving, talked about the importance of each and every game.
“I think right now, we did a great job against Carolina in getting some distance from them, and it’s a matter of just continuing that,” Boyes said. “If we win games, we’re in. It’s pretty simple. There’s not a lot of math that needs to be done, there’s no crazy formulas or anything. It’s just making sure that we play well and we produce the way we need to.”
Buffalo (40-29-10, 90 points) enters tonight’s game in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a three-point lead over ninth-place Carolina. However, the Sabres trail the Rangers (43-32-5, 91 points) and Canadiens (42-30-7, 91 points) by just one point each.
“He’s seen the doctor, he’s been evaluated and the timeline will be the same. He’ll be able to skate now,” said Ruff, who added that the timeline for Leopold’s return is “a minimum of around four weeks” from the time of the injury, which occurred March 25 against Florida.
Tampa Bay comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game winning streak and has already locked up a playoff berth. Over the last five games, the Lightning has allowed just six goals and is coming off a 2-0 shutout win over Chicago on Sunday. Offensively, the team is led by the dynamic pair of Martin St. Louis (30-64-94) and Steven Stamkos (44-45-89).
According to Ruff, St. Louis, who ranks second in the NHL in scoring, is an exemplary player.
“Marty is a great two-way player. He’s a guy that, if you want to look at work ethic, you could study him and watch his game day in and day out.”
As late season matchups go, today’s tilt between the Sabres and Hurricanes should be a good one given what’s at stake. Buffalo enters the day in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and leads the eighth place Rangers by one point and ninth place Carolina by two points.
With all three teams in action today, and the Sabres and ‘Canes going head to head, the race for the final two playoff spots will get even more interesting.
The Rangers play early as they take on the Flyers in Philadelphia at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Buffalo and Carolina renew the rivalry at 5 p.m. ET in Raleigh. Both teams have played well of late, with the Sabres going 12-4-4 in their last 20 games and the Hurricanes winning seven of their last 10. The season series between the clubs has been extremely close, with each of the first three meetings being decided by one goal. That includes a 3-2 overtime win by Carolina on March 3 and a 1-0 ‘Canes victory in Buffalo on March 15. The Sabres won the first meeting of the season by a 3-2 score back on Jan. 13.
Both teams played Saturday night, with the Hurricanes defeating the Islanders 4-2 on the road while Buffalo fell in overtime to Washington. The Sabres will be completing their 21st set of back-to-back games on the season; the Hurricanes, their 20th set. Following today’s game, each team will have three games remaining. Buffalo plays vs. Tampa Bay (Apr. 5), vs. Philadelphia (Apr. 8) and at Columbus (Apr. 9). The Hurricanes will close out the season by playing Detroit (Apr. 6), at Atlanta (Apr. 8) and vs. Tampa Bay (Apr. 9).
The Sabres will look to bounce back from last night’s loss the same way they have for the last month-and-a-half. The team has not lost consecutive games since Feb. 18-20.
Congratulations to Thomas Vanek, who scored his 200th career goal in last night’s game, making him just the 11th player in franchise history to reach the 200-goal milestone. He is now just 11 goals behind Alexander Mogilny for 10th place on the Sabres’ all-time list. Here’s a look at Vanek’s 200th goal: