Sabres face another critical test vs. Flyers
SABRES (39-31-10) at FLYERS (46-25-9)
TV: MSG-Buffalo (HD), CSN-Philadelphia (HD)
Buffalo 6-2-2; Philadelphia 5-3-2
The Flyers will go for the season sweep when the teams meet Thursday. In their most recent game, the Sabres took a 2-0 lead and the Flyers then scored the next seven in a 7-2 win in Philadelphia.
It's a potential must-win game for the Sabres, who would be eliminated from playoff contention if they lose in regulation and the Capitals win their game Thursday against the Panthers.
Already missing defenseman Christian Ehrhoff
, the Sabres suffered another blow when blueliner Tyler Myers
was ruled out of the team's final two regular-season games, Thursday at the Flyers and Saturday at the Bruins, due to what coach Lindy Ruff called a "bad foot."
"He won't be on the trip," Ruff told reporters Wednesday. "Tyler's out. It'll be a period of time. What time frame that is? It's more than just this week."
In three games without Ehrhoff and Myers, the Sabres allowed 14 goals, including five in a 6-5 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
"We went through that game, we went through the first period, went through the chances, and emphasized the importance of staying inside some of the mistakes we made," Ruff said. "Some of it was lack of communication. Some of it was the coverage. But we do have to tighten up, there's no secret. That's on myself and my staff to make sure that we tighten up those areas so it's not a game where you give 16 or 17 [chances]. We've got to get it back to the norm, which is somewhere around 10 or 11, in that area. And not give up the high quality."
In his first game back after missing three with a chip fracture in his right foot, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov allowed five goals on 24 shots. That wasn't the kind of play that earned him the NHL's Player of the Month award for March, but none of his teammates saw anything wrong with him.
"He looked good," Claude Giroux said. "Obviously, with his foot, I don't know how he's feeling, but we're not worried about him. He knows what to do, he's a good goalie and he'll find a way to play at his best."
Bryzgalov deflected talk of the condition of his foot after Tuesday's game.
"I think I can be better," he said. "I think I could play better. Like I said before, I was rusty and after missing a couple games and practices I have to recreate the game motions again."
Since the beginning of March, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller
is 11-3-2 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. … Flyers center Claude Giroux has 6 points in his last two games, and 92 on the season. It's the most points scored by a Philadelphia player since Eric Lindros had 93 in 1998-99.
Ehrhoff (knee) and Tyler Myers
(foot) are out for the Sabres. Forward Matt Ellis
(knee) is questionable. … Flyers forwards James van Riemsdyk (foot) and Danny Briere (back) and defensemen Andrej Meszaros (back) and Nicklas Grossmann (lower body) are out.
Since absorbing that 7-2 loss the last time they played the Flyers, the Sabres are 15-4-4.
After Thursday's game, the Flyers will head back to Pittsburgh, where they are unbeaten in the last two seasons.
However, one off-ice reason for their success might be missing -- their post-game meal.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has credited post-game ribs delivered right to their plane from Dee Jay's in Weirton, W.Va., as one major reason for the team's success.
Laviolette became friendly with Dee Jay's owner Dewey Guida during Laviolette's tenure as coach of the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.
Guida, however, is a Penguins fan, and said his restaurant no longer will be delivering food to the Flyers.
"No more ribs for them," Guida told the Steubenville (Ohio) Herald-Star. "And I pray, I hope, that the Penguins beat their skates off."