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Sabres at Flyers -- Five Things to Know

PHILADELPHIA -- Welcome to today's other game. The really, really, really other game.

While you'll all be watching the Bills in Jacksonville, I'm in my normal perch at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia watching the Sabres wrap up their road trip with a 1 p.m. matinee against the Flyers.

If you want to tune in between commercials on CBS, the hockey game is on MSG as usual with Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on the call. On radio, it's on ESPN 1520. The Sabres and Flyers split their previous two meetings. This is the final matchup of the season.

The Sabres are 0-2-1 in their last three and wrapping up seven straight games outside of Buffalo (they are 1-3-2 in the first six). The Flyers have won two straight, three of four and were impressive here yesterday afternoon in a 6-3 win over St. Louis.

Here are Five Things to Know about today's game:

1. In the nets -- The Sabres go back to Robin Lehner today after Chad Johnson took the loss Friday in Winnipeg and after Johnson played the final 20 minutes in Wednesday's 6-2 loss in Minnesota. Lehner is 9-15-6 for the season with a 2.90 goals-against average and .911 save percentage but is really having trouble on the road. Consider:

Lehner at home: 5-7-2, 2.01 GAA, .935 save %
Lehner on road: 4-8-4, 3.75 GAA, .890 save %

The Flyers, meanwhile, are likely to end Brian Elliott's 16-game run in goal today and give former  tank-era Sabre Michal Neuvirth his first start since Nov. 28 against San Jose. Neuvirth is 2-5-1/2.67/.915.

Johnson remains a hanging Chad in the crease

2. In the lineup: The Sabres are returning Benoit Pouliot to the lineup after one game as a healthy scratch. Jordan Nolan will sit out today. Pouliot, with eight goals and three assists on the season, has no points in the last nine games and one goal in the last 12.

3. Defense is resting: The Sabres have given up 23 goals in the six games on this trip and you're not winning by yielding nearly four goals a game.

"We're giving up way too many goals," coach Phil Housley said today. " ... You're not going to win a lot of games doing that. We have to focus on cleaning up on our own end and capitalize on the other end."

The Buffalo penalty kill is just 7 for 12 over the last four games and has slipped to 28th in the NHL on the road at 73.3 percent. Buffalo is No. 3 at home at 90.2 percent, giving up an NHL-low five power-play goals against in KeyBank Center this season.

4. Flyers update: This is a goofy team. Philly is 18-15-8 overall, including 10-8-4 at home. The Flyers lost 10 in a row from Nov. 11-Dec 2 (going 0-5-5) before responding with a six-game winning streak. Since that ended, they're only 4-4-1 in a stretch that includes impressive wins at Tampa Bay and yesterday's drubbing of the Blues but also includes losses at Buffalo and Florida.

"They were really heavy on the forecheck, went after St. Louis' 'D' and finished checks," Housley said of the Flyers' game against the Blues. "As a result, they got good zone time. Special teams will play an important part in games. We've got to clean up that area, especially on the road on the PK."

Claude Giroux leads the Flyers in scoring with 51 points (14-37) and is third in the NHL. Jakub Voracek is at 8-41-49 and leads the league in assists. Sean Couturier is at 21-19-40 and tied for sixth in the league in goals.

5. The Prediction: On Sabres-Flyers? Nah. Whatever. On today's main event.

I'm no football expert but the Bills are definitely on a high and they can't let that end at the hands of Doug Marrone when they could be six days away from a showdown in Foxborough. Right?

Follow me here: The last playoff game was the Music City Miracle. The Titans pulled off a miracle of their own last night by turning a 21-3 deficit into a 22-21 win in Kansas City. The Bills' win over the Dolphins was by 22-16 -- the same score as that fateful day in Nashville. There's some cosmic karma at work here.

So how about the Bills go all Titans today and win by one? Let's call it Buffalo 24, Jacksonville 23.

Sabres pulling for Bills -- even as they face off right at kickoff

 

 

 

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