Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers Game Preview 1/19/21

Expected Lines:

Buffalo Sabres

Hall – Eichel – Reinhart
Olofsson – Staal – Cozens
Rieder – Eakin – Thompson
Skinner – Lazar – Sheahan

McCabe – Ristolainen
Dahlin – Montour
Miller – Jokiharju

Hutton

Philadelphia Flyers

Giroux – Hayes – Farabee
Lindblom – Patrick – Konecny
Van Riemsdyk – Frost – Voracek
Raffl – Laughton – Aube-Kubel

Provorov – Braun
Sanheim – Myers
Haag – Gustafsson

Hart

News and Notes:

Ullmark’s Decision

Sabres G Linus Ullmark was a late scratch for Monday’s game in Philadelphia, a move that shocked many fans. Post game, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger was asked what was going on with Ullmark:

Hopefully everything with Linus is alright and he can find his way back to the lineup as soon as possible.

Ullmark skated at practice Wednesday morning and Coach Krueger noted that a goaltending decision for their second game against the Flyers would be made later on in the day.

Line Juggling a Success Thus Far

Following the Sabres second loss to the Capitals on Friday, Ralph Krueger insisted there would be changes to the lines. Those changes seemed to have paid off thus far, as the top line of Taylor Hall – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart accounted for a total of eight points Monday night.

Not to be outdone, the Jeff Skinner – Curtis Lazar – Riley Sheahan line also played an incredible game, having tallied two of Buffalo’s six goals. Lazar potted his first 2 goals of the campaign, including one on a beautiful feed from Sheahan.

It’s yet to be seen how long these line combinations stick for Ralph Krueger’s squad, however, it’s hard to argue them with such excellent production so quick. Look for much of the same Tuesday night.

Sabres – Analytical Darlings?

Through three games this season, it’s sort of a shock to see the Sabres in such high regard when it comes to analytics. Currently, they boast the fourth-best expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) in the NHL with 57.29, only trailing the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, and Vegas Golden Knights.

Not only do they boast an impressive 4th in xGF%, they also rank eighth in the NHL in xGF, 12th in xGA and 12th in CF%. Yes, the sample size is incredibly small, but for a team who has struggled mightily in years past to accumulate any sort of high rankings when it comes to these kind of stats, so to see such an incredible display so far is certainly impressive.

Forecheck’s been Flying

Buffalo’s forechecking during Monday’s contest with the Flyers was an absolute clinic. There were countless times where Philadelphia was hemmed in their own zone for over a minute, not to mention the handfuls of turnovers Sabres’ forwards created.

Here’s hoping they can keep this style of play up for the duration of the season. Nonetheless, it’s an incredible start.

Flyers goaltender

After the Sabres chased Carter Hart midway through the second period Monday night, Brian Elliott is in line for the start Tuesday evening.

Dahlin good to go; no suspension for Aube-Kubel

Flyers Forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel was fined the maximum amount possible under the NHL CBA for his punch to the face of Rasmus Dahlin in the 3rd period of Tuesday’s game. NHL Player Safety didn’t find the play suspension-worthy and Aube-Kubel will suit up against the Sabres tonight. While Krueger said on Wednesday that Dahlin is good-to-go, this is already the second time this season that Krueger has made his displeasure with the Player Safety Department vocal, “We were hoping for a suspension for a deliberate hit to the head and it looks like there won’t be one,” said Krueger.

Prediction

After losing their opening two games of the 2020/21 season, the Sabres had their most complete game in memory on Monday night beating Philadelphia convincingly 6-1. All lines were buzzing for the duration of the game and it seems Buffalo figured out their power-play woes from the games previously.

Look for Buffalo to continue to build off of Monday’s game, as their confidence and energy levels should be sky high. There’s no doubt that the Flyers will be looking to repay the favour, but Buffalo will prevail in this one, albeit a much closer scoreline.

TCB says: 3-2 Buffalo in OT, with Taylor Hall potting the overtime winner.

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