Preparing for a Dog Fight
Monday, 10.16.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
October 16, 2006
By Brian Wheeler
The Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers are two teams that seem to be on the opposite ends of the hockey spectrum through the first five games of the 2006-07 regular season if you look simply at the league standings.
Despite not playing their best hockey in each game, Buffalo surged out of the starting blocks with its first 5-0 start since the 1975-76 season. Philadelphia is struggling to find its bearings and the city of "Brotherly Love" has been forced to watch its team fall to the bottom of the Atlantic Division with a 1-3-1 record in the process.
But a wounded animal is the most dangerous kind and Buffalo knows the team must have its best foot forward when the Flyers come to HSBC Arena on Tuesday night (7 p.m., Versus).
"We know they are a team that's going to come in here desperate for a win," said head coach Lindy Ruff.
Although their record suggests perfection, Buffalo is still looking for a complete 60-minute performance from the team, which has been forced to comeback from a two-goal deficit in three of its five games.
The contest against the Rangers on Saturday night came close to being the performance Ruff is looking for, excluding another slow start.
"Subtract the first 10 minutes [against the Rangers] and that game becomes the most complete game we've played all year," said Ruff. "We looked like the team that we should look like, from a skating, creating chances and defensive standpoint.
While Buffalo's record may be indicative of its strength in the Eastern Division, Philadelphia's is not.
The Flyers lineup changed only slightly from last season, when the team finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with 101 points, and still features one of the deadliest lines in the league.
In five games, the trio of Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne centered by Peter Forsberg has scored 73 per cent of Philadelphia's goals and 50 per cent of the team's point production.
Knuble and Foresberg share the team lead in scoring with six points each.
"You've got to shut that line down," said defenseman Brian Campbell. "If we can do that and continue to skate, we should have some good success."
"You get on a roll like this; you want to stay on it," said Ruff. "We just want to maintain that momentum that we created against New York.
"When you are winning, there are a lot of times that you don't expect to lose again. It works the other way too. When you start losing, you wonder when you're going to win."