GAME PREVIEW: Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres

The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers look to get themselves back on the right track tonight when they take on the Buffalo Sabres in Western New York.  The Flyers are currently 33-26-3 on the season (3rd, Atlantic; 6th, East), while the Sabres find themselves at a 33-20-9 mark (2nd, Northeast; 5th, East). 

Each team is coming off a loss in its most recent game, as the Flyers and Sabres lost to the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals respectively on Wednesday night.  A Sabres win tonight would vault them into third place in the East by way of gaining the Northeast Division lead over Ottawa.  A Flyers win would gain them ground on the fifth seeded Sabres and allow them to sure up their spot as the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed.  This is a possible first round playoff preview.

The Story: After dropping a “gimme” of sorts against Florida on Wednesday, this game takes on even more importance for the Flyers.  It marks Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller’s first start at home since a stellar performance for Team USA during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.  It also marks the beginning of the Raffi Torres era in Western New York, as the winger was acquired by Buffalo at the trade deadline to try and bolster a struggling offensive unit.

Who to Watch on the Sabres: All the attention will be surrounding Miller in net, but keep an eye on Torres.

Torres is set to make his Buffalo debut tonight

It’s his first game in a Sabres uniform and you can bet he’ll be ready to prove he was worth the price it took Buffalo to acquire him.  He’s a solid forward, and is having a career year so far in 2009-2010.  Between Miller and Torres, the Sabres are going to give the Flyers everything they can handle tonight in Buffalo.

The Skinny: The Sabres have had the upper hand in the season series with the Flyers, taking two of three games.  However, if there’s any silver lining for the Flyers, it’s that their lone victory against Buffalo this season came at HSBC Arena.  With this game marking the end of the regular season meetings against Buffalo, we’ll see if the Flyers can continue their winning ways in Western New York.

Notes: Despite an off-game against the Panthers, expect Michael Leighton in net for the Flyers tonight.  Ryan Miller should definitely go for Buffalo and should get a resounding ovation when introduced due to his play as Team USA’s goaltender in Vancouver.  The Flyers will be without Oskars Bartulis who is still a few games away with a groin injury, and winger Darroll Powe should miss the game with a foot injury as well.  Winger Ville Leino, who scored his first goal as a Flyer in the loss against Florida Wednesday night, will take Powe’s spot in the line-up once again.

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