Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin/38Photography
In three of the Flyers last four games, the focal point has been the lost point. Three valuable points in the standings were there for the taking and the Flyers failed to gain any of them.
That's what makes Sunday's game against the lowly Buffalo Sabres not only a huge game for the Flyers dimming playoff hopes, but adds a certain sense of loss. If the Flyers would have earned even two of the three extra points, they would be five points out of a playoff spot as Sunday night's game gets underway. Instead, they are seven back.
A chance to trim into that margin comes at 7:30 when the puck hits the ice at First Niagara Center.
The Flyers will get a boost with the return of Michael Raffl to the lineup. Despite Raffl's success on the first line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, he will move into the center position on the third line with Ryan White and R.J. Umberger. The other three lines will stay intact.
One Flyer who has been hot of late is Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds scored two goals in Friday's loss in Columbus and has five points over the last three games. He leads the team with 21 goals on the season.
The Flyers will also get Braydon Coburn back in the lineup. Coburn has been out since Jan. 12 with a broken foot. Andrew MacDonald is also back with the team after being a late scratch on Friday due to a death in his family. He will be a healthy scratch.
In goal, Ray Emery will make his third straight start in wake of Steve Mason's injury. Emery is 9-9-3 with a 3.29 GAA and .890 save percentage.
The Sabres have struggled mightily all season, but have been horrendous of late. Entering Sunday's game, they have lost 20 of their last 24 games, including nine of their last 11 games at home.
The Sabres recently made headlines with a blockbuster trade, acquiring injured forward Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian from Winnipeg for Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford.
Tyler Ennis leads the Sabres with 31 points and 18 assists. Five Flyers have at least 32 points this season.
The Sabres lone All-Star, Zemgus Girgensons, leads the team with 14 goals and is second on the team with 26 points. Stafford was third on the team in points with 24 points.
Bogosian joins a blue line that includes Mike Weber, Rasmus Ristolainen and former Flyer Andrej Meszaros.
The Sabres also recently traded their top goaltender, Jhonas Enroth, to Dallas for Anders Lindback. In goal, the Sabres will start Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth is 3-14-1 with a 3.37 GAA and .907 save percentage.
- Power Play: Flyers (3rd, 12th on road), Sabres (30th, 29th at home)
- Penalty Kill: Flyers (28th, 29th on road), Sabres (30th, 25th at home)
- The Flyers picked up a 4-3 win over the Sabres on Jan. 17. R.J. Umberger, Mark Streit, Chris VandeVelde and Michael Raffl scored for the Flyers. Rob Zepp made 24 saves in the win.
- Milestone Watch: Claude Giroux needs three assists to reach 300 in his career.
Flyers scratches: Andrew MacDonald, Carlo Colaiacovo, Steve Mason, Zac Rinaldo
Flyers Projected Lineup
Line 1: Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Line 3: Ryan White-Michael Raffl-R.J. Umberger
Line 4: Chris VandeVelde–Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Vincent Lecavalier
D-Pair 1: Nick Schultz-Mark Streit
D-Pair 2: Michael Del Zotto-Luke Schenn
D-Pair 3: Nick Grossmann-Braydon Coburn
Goalie: Ray Emery
Where to Watch
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Kevin Durso is the managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @Kevin_Durso.