Buffalo Sabres vs Philadelphia Flyers 3/29/31 Game Preview

Losing streak by the numbers: The Sabres have been outscored by a 70-32 margin during their 17 game losing streak. Two of those losses have come at the expense of the Flyers — a weekend full of two 3-0 shutouts and a 5-4 shootout loss in early March. 

Expected Lines

Sabres

Olofsson – Cozens – Reinhart

Hall – Mittelstadt – Thompson

Rieder – Eakin – Sheahan

Skinner – Lazar – Okposo

Montour – Miller

Dahlin – Jokiharju

Irwin – Ristolainen

Ullmark

Flyers

van Riemsdyk – Couturier – Konecny

Giroux – Hayes – Farabee

Lindblom – Patrick – Voracek

Raffl – Laughton – Aube Kubel

Provorov – Braun

Sanheim – Myers

Gostisbehere – Morin

Elliot

Tale of the Tape

Record: Buffalo (6-23-4; 8th division/31st league) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (16-13-4; 5th division/19th league)

5v5 Goals For %: Buffalo (34.17%; 31st) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (43.79%; 28th)

5v5 xGoals For %: Buffalo (47.31%; 24th) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (48.59%; 21st)

Point Leaders: Olofsson/Reinhart (21) vs. van Riemsdyk (31)

News and Notes:

Staal not reminiscing on time in Buffalo

Eric Staal isn’t thinking any more than he needs to about the Buffalo Sabres… The veteran didn’t mince his words when discussing his time in Buffalo upon being traded to Montreal this weekend: 

While trading for Staal was a worthy gamble for the 2C deprived Sabres last offseason, the trade simply just didn’t work out. Staal registered just three goals and 10 points in 32 games with the Sabres this season and seemed miserable along the way. Despite that, Granato told this media this weekend that Staal’s attitude with the media wasn’t reflective of him behind the scenes:

“He was amazing. Keeping guys up on the bench through this adversity and challenge [and] in the locker room, saying the right thing.” Granato said.

Brian Elliott – The Sabres Kryptonite

Brian Elliott gets the nod in net for Philly this evening and looks to continue his dominant play against the Sabres.

Elliott is 3-0 against Buffalo this season with a 0.92 GAA and .967 save%

Cozens back at Center

It was a bit of a surprise last game when the Sabres lined up with Jean-Sebastian Dea as their first line center despite having Cozens and Reinhart in the lineup. While they ultimately played their best game over the course of this losing skid, it still seemed like an opportune time to let Cozens get his reps at 1C. There’s not much left to play for and if the Sabres opt to trade Jack Eichel, Cozens will eventually fill that void regardless. You might as well let him get comfortable now and work through the learning pains while the points don’t matter.

Granato and the coaching staff must’ve felt similarly after the loss to Boston because Cozens has retaken his spot as the Sabres’ top line Center.

Casey Mittelstadt, one of the few bright spots this season, will also get a look down the middle. The former 8th overall pick is expected to line up between Taylor Hall and Tage Thompson.

Thompson rejoins the lineup along with Tobias Rieder.

Prediction:

While last game’s effort was more inspiring than the previous 16 losses, It’s still hard to take the Sabres in this one. Elliott has had their number. 

Final Score: 4-1 Flyers win 

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